CAPTIVATING CRETE
Europe’s most southern terrain
guided, vehicle support

view from AreopagosMinoans ruins are 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

Details

2017 Dates June 11 – 18 and October 16-23
Duration 7 nights, 8 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
Tour End Point Arhanes (south of Herakleion)
Minimum Age 18
Maximum Pax
14
Total Mileage 368 km, 229 miles
Highest Elevation 2345 feet, 715 meters
Rating Active to Advanced – see Rating System

Itinerary

The route for the 2017 guided tour is West to East, Chania to Herakleion.   The tour starts the day before with test ride and fitting of the bikes on the Acropolis Walkway in Athens.  That evening we rendezvous at Piraeus port to take the overnight ferry (private cabins) to Chania, arriving at 6:00 am.

Bike mileage listed for each day is that day’s standard bike route.  Depending however on the cycling level of the participants, routes may vary by adding mileage or minimizing mileage with vehicle transfers.

Day 1:  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

Day 2:  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 3:  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 Apera 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 4:  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.  Then return to Rethymno’s cycling along the city’s fourteen kilometer sandy coast.  34.90 km, 21.70 miles

Day 5:  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 6:  Axos  

Choice of Axos short loop with a stop at the wondrous Sfendoni Cave 16.30 km, 13 miles or Axos long loop 31.30 km, 19.40.   Afternoon hike in the Psilioritis Mountains followed by a traditional Cretan cooking class.

Day 7:  Arhanes   

Bike from Axos to Herakleion coming down to the 803 meters, 2634 feet to sea level 49 km, 30 miles  In Herakleion we are treated to a professional guided tour of Ancient Knossos and Herakleion Archaeology Museum before transferring to the traditional town of Arhanes.

Day 8:  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
view from Areopagos
Day 1:  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 2:  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 3: 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 4: Loutro
Today’s hike is through the beautiful Aradena Gorge that comes to the abandoned village of Aradena where it is worth admiring the traditional Cretan architecture of days past. The path consists of an old stone track known as kalderimia with wide steps conducive to mule traffic. The ascent is 1968 feet, 600 meters and descend the same route. 15 km, 9.3 miles. 6 hours.

Day 12: 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.

Cost

1300 euros per person for 1-2 persons. 1200 euros for 3-4 persons. 250 euros single supplement

Inclusions

  • 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
  • Day 12 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

Exclusions

  • 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

Captivating Crete Tour Cost
2580 euros per person
Single Supplement 500 euros
Libyan Sea Coast Hiking Cost
1300 euros per person
Single Supplement 300 euros

See daily exchange rates

TOUR INCLUSIONS
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 or hybrid bike. Triple chain ring, 27 gears. Road bike has carbon fiber fork. Hybrids have front suspension. E-bike available as an upgrade on request. Regular pedals or toe clips on request. You are welcome to bring your own clip-in pedals and shoes. See Our Bikes and 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.

Meals:  Breakfasts are included at each hotel.  Dinners are generally at trusted establishments within walking distance of the hotel.  Dinner consists of 2-3 appetizers and a salad shared by the group and chosen by us. You are offered an entrée choice, usually a meat, fish or vegetarian dish.  Dessert, house wine, water or a beverage for those who don’t drink wine.

Cue sheets

Trip packet:  useful and interesting information about the region

Archaeology tour:  Private tour with professional licensed guide at Knossos and Herakleion Archaeology Museum

Entrance fees: Knossos, Herakleion Archaeology Museum

Cretan Cooking Class:  takes place in Axos, led by local cook

Arhanes transfer:   transfer from Arhanes to Herakleion port or airport on Day 8

CycleGreece jersey: short sleeved, rear pockets, locally made

Gratuities, tips and VAT taxes

TOUR EXCLUSIONS

• Airfare to/from Greece

• Arrivals to and departures from Crete

• No transfer from Athens Airport to Athens hotel on arrival or from central Athens to Piraeus port for evening ferry to Chania — see Extras tab for transfer options

• All lunches

• Alcoholic beverages (other than house wine)

• Travel insurance – see Extras tab

TAKE NOTE
Travel Insurance is required as a condition for participation in a CycleGreece tour.

Electric Bike

Travel Insurance

  • 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.

Athens Hotels

  • 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)

hotelAccommodations

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.

Click map to open in Google Maps

Overnight destinations and points of interest

Crete

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 .

See details in the Booking Agreement which you must agree as a condition to participation in a CycleGreece tour. Participants are also required to sign a Waiver & Release of Liability.

Pre & Post Tour Add-Ons

2017 Tour Dates

Spring: June 11-18
Hiking add-on June 18-22

Autumn: October 16-23
Hiking add-on October 14-18

Groups of 8+ riders, choose your own date for a guided tour.

Tour Highlights

Pit stop at Monumental Olive Tree needing 4-5 people to encircle it

Explore Knossos, ancient Minoan palace city with its fine frescos

Drink Cretan wine and beloved raki, the national spirit you cannot refuse

Bike slowly up the Therissos Gorge, a marvelous ascent through nature

Experience first hand why Cretan hospitality is so famous

 

"Amazing" Crete

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