Europe’s most southern terrain
guided, vehicle support
Biking guided tour to Minoan ruins, a highlight of the Captivating Crete tour. At Knossos you will learn from the professional guide that the peaceful Minoan empire was the first civilization on European soil and King Minos’ chair was replicated for the chief judge at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Throughout the tour you encounter Minoan ruins left and right.
This tour is for cyclists accustomed to climbing ascents ranging from 1500-2500 foot (450-760 meters). Captivating Crete has flat sections hugging the sea coast, hilly sections near the sea and mountains in the rural interior where passing vehicles are less frequent.
The most endearing part of the tour is your immersion into the local culture. In a Greek language class you learn to greet the locals, “Kali Mera!” There is a cooking class where you learn to prepare healthy Cretan cuisine. Tasting raki, Crete’s national spirit akin to Italy’s grappa, is unavoidable. Indeed, it is rude to turn down the first and second offerings. You can pass when a third round is extended.
Be sure to consider the Libyan Sea Coast Hiking add-on for a post-tour hiking in the Samaria Gorge and along the car-free Libyan Sea coast with some villages accessible only by foot or boat.
Before departing for Crete, take an opportunity to get used to your bicycle by booking one or more warm-up rides in the Attica region surrounding Athens. These day tours are guided with vehicle support. See Athens Day Tours
|2019 Dates||May 4 – 12 and Sept 9 – 17|
|Duration||8 nights, 9 days|
|Add-ons||4 Night Libyan Sea Coast Hiking.
1 day Samaria Gorge Hike. See Add-on tab
|Arrival City||Athens or Chania|
|Arrival transfer||in Athens, no. In Chania, start biking from port|
|Tour Start Point||Chania (for west to east route)|
|Tour End Point||Arhanes (south of Herakleion)|
|Total Mileage||368 km, 229 miles|
|Highest Elevation||2345 feet, 715 meters|
|Rating||Active to Advanced – see Rating System|
Day 1: Athens – Overnight Ferry
In the afternoon we meet at the Acropolis pedestrian walkway to fit and test ride your road bikes. After the technical business is taken care of, then there’s the Meet & Greet at a roof top bar with stunning views of the Acropolis. After socializing and a discussion of tour logistics, by 20:00 we transfer by vehicle to Piraeus port for the overnight ferry to Crete, departing 21:00.
Day 2: Chania
From Chania’s Souda Bay port we bike to the Akrotiri Peninsula to the end of the road to the Gouvernatou monastery. The stone path descends to Catholikon where St. John the hermit retreated over 700 years ago. The hike takes about 30 minutes round trip (1 mile) and roundtrip cycling to and from Souda Bay is 40.60 km, 25 miles. From Souda Bay, bike a back road to the old city of Chania. 13.80 km, 8 miles 54.40 km, 33 miles
Day 3: Chania
Morning bike loop up the gorgeous Therisos Gorge, climbing to 2336 feet (712 meters). Choice of lunch at a family run winery or a family run botanical park with organic meals. 55.50 km, 34.40 miles
Day 4: Rethymno
Today is the longest and hardest cycling day of the tour going from Chania to Rethymno with a pit stop at Georgiopoli Beach and an optional detour to Koules Fort and Ancient Aptera whose residents engaged in “bloodless wars.” Rethymno is Crete’s best kept secret with its Venetian-era buildings, including the Fortezza fort dominating the city. 78.00 km, 48.50 miles
Day 5: Rethymno
A bike ride into the low portions of the Psiloritis Mountains takes us to the Melidoni Cave and learn its poignant history. Lunch on the seacoast at Panormos, swimming optional. Take a cooking class with local chef learning traditional Greek recipes. 34.90 km, 21.70 miles
Day 6: Axos
Cycle from Rethymno to Axos via Arkadi Monastery with its tragic history. Bonus stop at a Mycenae-like ancient tomb. Final destination is Enagron in Axos, a precious agrotourism center. 64 km, 39 miles
Day 7: Axos
Optional early morning quick short loop past Sfendoni village 16.30 km, 13 miles Afternoon hike in the Psilioritis Mountains with local shepherd.
Day 8: Herakleion
Bike from Axos to Herakleion coming down to the 803 meters, 2634 feet to sea level 49 km, 30 miles In Herakleion a professional guide leads you through the Herakleion Archaeology Museum holding the famous Phaestos Disc. Then a transfer to Knossos, the greatest of the Minoan palace cities. Our farewell dinner is in the lovely traditional town of Arhanes for wine tasting and farewell dinner.
For those doing the Libyan Sea Coast Hiking add-on, you will not stay in Herakleion tonight. Instead, after the farewell dinner there is a transfer to Omalos, the village start point of the hike.
Day 9: Departure
Transfers to Herakleion airport for flights to Athens. Or to Herakleion port for those taking the boat to Santorini.
4 nights Libyan Sea Coast Hiking Add-On
2019 dates: May 12-16 and September 17-21 Additional hiking days can easily be added to the tour.
Day 1: On last evening of bike tour (Day 8) transfer from Herakleion to Omalos hotel, the start point for next day’s hike.
Day 2: Samaria Gorge, Soughia
A steep wooden staircase takes us to the beginning of the astounding Samaria Gorge, said to be Europe’s longest gorge. A descent through this national park may well be the highlight of your trip. Wildlife unseen elsewhere, cold fresh water mountain springs, narrow cliff walls 3 meters (10 feet) wide in places and the abandoned Samaria village are a few of the marvels that make this ravine Crete’s most beloved hiking trail. At the end of the trail we take the ferry to Soughia. 18 km, 11 miles. 4-5 hours walking
Day 3: Agia Roumeli
There were over 200 Asclepion healing centers spread throughout Ancient Greece, and one is located at Lissos, the destination of today’s hike. The area also has a fresh spring and seemingly dozens of Roman tombs from 60 AD. Return back to Soughia for a boat to Agia Roumeli. We are deep in Sfakia territory, Crete’s most rebellious region against the Turks, the center of resistance during foreign domination, and the most culturally engrossing. 10 km, 6.2 miles. 5 hours
Day 4: Loutro
We hike from Agia Roumeli to Loutro, two towns accessible only by foot or boat. At Agia Pavlos we stop to swim, get a bite to eat, jump off the big boulder into the sea, and inspect St. Pauls’ pastel pink Byzantine church. As a car-free village on the sea, Loutro is very quiet and serene. 10 km, 6.2 miles, 5 hours.
Day 5: Departure
Morning ferry to Hora Sfakia, then vehicle transfer to Hania, the tour’s departure point. If you are not staying overnight in Hania, plan for an evening ferry or flight. If your departure from Crete is from Herakleion, additional transfer fees apply.
1300 euros per person for 1-2 persons. 1200 euros for 3-4 persons. 250 euros single supplement
- 4 nights in local hotels, simple furnishings — a worthy exchange to be amidst an undeveloped coast and minimal tourism — ample hospitality
- All meals — breakfast, lunch, dinner with local wine
- Transfer from Herakleion to Omalos on last evening of bike tour
- Day 5 airport transfer to Hania (additional fees apply for transfer to Herakleion)
- Local bilingual hiking guide
- Daily luggage transfers
- All sea transfers
- Samaria Gorge entry fee
- Air or sea transfer from Crete to Athens
- Alcoholic beverages (other than house wine)
- Travel insurance — See Extras tab
Cost in euros based on double occupancy
7 nights accommodations: 3-4 star hotels, primarily family owned and operated, ranging from boutique hotels to seaside upscale hotels. Tasteful, clean, air-conditioned, private bath, abundant hospitality, comfort. All accommodations are standard doubles with option for upgrade. All accommodations serve breakfast, usually buffet style. Tour prices are based on double occupancy. Check single supplement price for a single room.
Bikes: Specialized road bike. Triple chain ring, 27 gears, carbon fiber fork. Carbon Tarmac bikes are available as an upgrade for 400 euros. Electric bikes are available as an upgrade for 350 euros. Regular pedals or toe clips on request. You are welcome to bring your own clip-in pedals and shoes. See Our Bikes and Our Gear
Bike gear: helmet, water bottles, handlebar pouch, odometer
Support vehicle: “Sag wagon” with bilingual driver. Vehicle carries spare parts, floor pump, ice cooler, water, nutritious snacks, bike tools, first aid kit, day packs, luggage and gives you a lift if you get tired. The driver is also a bike mechanic.
Tour Leader / Bike Guide: the Tour Leader handles all the tour logistics and rides with the group.
- Breakfasts are included at each hotel.
- Seven lunches — you choose from the menu.
- Eight dinners consisting of 2-3 appetizers and salad chosen by us and shared by the group. You are offered an entrée choice, usually a meat, fish or vegetarian dish. Dessert, house wine or beer, water or beverage.
GPX tracks for those bringing their own Garmin device
Archaeology tour: Private tour with professional licensed guide at Knossos and Herakleion Archaeology Museum
Entrance fees: Knossos and Herakleion Archaeology Museum
Cretan Cooking Class: led by local chef
Wine Tasting Session: wine tasting in Arhanes, a region famous for its vineyards
CycleGreece jersey: short sleeved, rear pockets, locally made
CycleGreece lite backpack: 17” x 13”, 43cm x 33cm
Trip packet: useful and interesting information about the region
Gratuities & VAT taxes
- Airfare to/from Greece
- Departures from Crete
- Transfers to/from Athens airport to Athens, see Extras tab
- Alcoholic beverages (other than house wine)
- Drinks and coffee at café pit stops
- Travel insurance – required. We are official Travel Guard agents and can book a policy or provide a quote for U.S. citizens. See Extras tab
Carbon Road Bike
- Upgrade to a Specialized Tarmac Sport, carbon fiber frame and fork. Cost is 400 euros for a 9 day tour. See Our Bikes and Our Gear for more info
- For travel insurance for U.S citizens, we are official agents of Travel Guard. Contact us to receive a policy quote. Cost of coverage depends on various factors including your state or residence, your age, dates of travel. Travel insurance is not provided for flights booked using frequent flyer mileage. Some policies require booking within 15 days of paying your trip deposit, such as, cancel for any reason or coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.
Airport Transfer On Arrival
- Private transfer from Athens Airport to Athens hotel. You are met at the arrivals exit by one of our team holding a sign with your name on it. We wait for you regardless of how late your plane may arrive. No waiting in taxi or bus lines. 170 euros per transfer for up to 8 persons.
- If you stay in Athens pre or post tour, we can recommend a hotel and book your room. We patronize a range of Athenian hotels in different neighborhoods and different budgets.
Post-Tour Samaria Gorge Guided Day Hike
- Descend Greece’s most famous gorge that is a national park with a local guide who shows you its secrets and charms. Cost is 380 euros per couple. Inclusions: skilled guide, transfer from Hania hotel to park entry, Samaria entry fee, picnic lunch, sea transfer to Hora Sfakia, land transfer to Hania hotel, port or airport. Also ask about guided day hike to Imbros Gorge. (Does not include transfer if coming from Heraleion)
An indicative hotel for Captivating Crete tour is Veneto Hotel in Rethymno, a 14th century manor house from the Venetian era.
We select the accommodations for guided tours based on quality, comfort, cleanliness, hospitality, location and charm. Most of the hotels on this tour are family owned and operated.
Hotels are included in the tour cost based on double occupancy. A single room entails an additional cost. Standard double rooms are provided but upgrade options are available.
All hotels are dependent on availability. In the event of no occupancy, we patronize comparable accommodations in the same location.
Guided tours require a deposit of 400 euros per person with the balance due 90 days prior to departure.
To make payment, click on the Book Now link which takes you to the secure Aegea Booking page to input your credit card information via PayPal. You may pay with a major credit card or Visa or Mastercard debit card or a PayPal account if you have one. You have the option to pay in euros other currencies. We pay all bank service fees although your credit card company may charge you a foreign transaction fee.
Alternatively, if you are reluctant to pay online, we can take your credit card information by phone. Please contact us to arrange a mutually convenient date and time for us to call you. We can also give you our bank account details if you opt to pay by bank wire transfer which usually has lower fees than those charged by a credit card company .
Pre & Post Tour Add-Ons
TOUR RATING SYSTEM
FAQ’s FOR GUIDED TOURS