CROSS CRETE
Minoans, the first civilization on European soil

DRIVE & BIKE EAST TO WEST
HERAKLEION TO HANIA
The East-West route starts in Herakleion in the east and ends in Hania in the west.  Choose this route if after the bike tour you want to take one-day hikes in the Samaria Gorge or Imbros Gorge or a multi-day hiking tour along the car-free Libyan Sea coast. Hania is the most convenient departure point for these hikes with a local guide or self-guided.   

DRIVE & BIKE WEST TO EAST
HANIA TO HERAKLEION

The West-East route starts in Hania in the west and ends in Herakleion in the east. Choose this route if you want to go to Santorini after the bike tour because only Herakleion has boats to Santorini. In high season there is also air service. Although the West-East rides cover the same terrain as the East-West rides, the ascents are a bit harder when biking eastward.

Crete.  Greece’s largest island.  Greece’s most southern island.  Greece’s most strategically located island in the middle of the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Let us count a few ways visitors to Crete are rewarded when they devote a week or so traveling across the long island.

  • Healthy Cretan cuisine derived from local produce, like fresh goat’s cheese and barley based “paximadi
  • The palace cities of the Minoan Empire:: Knossos, Malia, Zakros, Phaestos
  • A dynamic wine industry with vineyards in the same sites as millennia ago
  • Monumental olive trees, so big they take several people to embrace one
  • Cretans have enormous hearts that fuel their famed hospitality
  • Spectacular scenery: green, green mountains set to a blue, blue sea
  • Uniquely Cretan songs, musical instruments and dances

When you see Crete by bike you absorb it all in slow motion. And when you combine the trip with a vehicle, then you can reach even more precious places and even criss-cross Crete.

Before or after your Crete self-guided tour, while still in Athens, check out the daily bike rides available at Athens Day Tours

If you select the East-West itinerary that ends in Hania, you can take a post-tour Libyan Sea Coast Hiking tour with local guide.  The hike hugs a trail along the Libyan Sea Coast path to several villages that are only accessible by foot or sea.

Details

2017 Dates choose your dates 
Duration 9 nights, 10 days for standard route.  Possible to add or subtract days; minimum 5 nights
Add-ons
yes, Libyan Sea Coast Hiking tour, Athens Day Tours – see Add-On tab
Arrival City Athens or Herakleion or Hania
Arrival transfer Vehicle is waiting at your Crete arrival point.  For Athens, see Extras tab
Tour Start Point Athens or Herakleion or Hania
Tour End Point Athens or Herakleion or Hania
Minimum Age
18
Total Mileage 383 km, 238 miles for 10 day standard route.  Mileage depends on optional routes sought and itinerary destinations.
Highest Elevation
890 meters, 2920 feet (Tzermiado)
Rating Advanced.  See Rating System

Itinerary East to West

Below is our standard East-West itinerary, but it can be adjusted to add or subtract days or substitute overnight destinations, as these examples indicate:  Opt for an 8 day tour by starting in Arhanes instead of Tzermiado.  Split in half the long 94 km, 58 mile route from Rethymno to Hania on Day 10 by staying in the lovely traditional town of Vamos.   Consider overnight in Axos with engaging agro-tourism activities at Enagron.  Lots of possibilities!

If you travel to Crete by sea via an overnight ferry from Piraeus (Athens’ port), you will travel with the bikes and bike rack and receive the vehicle in Crete.  If you travel to Crete by air or by sea from a port other than Piraeus, the bikes and vehicle we will be waiting for you in Crete.  On your arrival, you will be met by a CycleGreece agent.

Day 1:  Tzermiado   

The Lassithi Plateau, one of the highest farming areas in Greece, once had 20,000 windmills which only a generation or so ago were still in use, which gives you an idea of how traditional this region is.   Today’s warm-up ride is a plateau loop introducing you to a few of the sixteen villages there.  Be sure to stop at Lassinthos Eco Village and at Diktion Cave to marvel at the gigantic stalactites and stalagmites.   25 km, 15 miles   Drive Herakleion to Tzermiado 54 km, 33 miles

Day 2:  Tzermiado

Bike to the Minoan palace city of Malia lying on the coast which is said to have been ruled by King Minos’ brother Sarpedon.  The ride is a thrilling 3,000 foot descent, then a siga siga ascent  (that’s Greek for slow slow).   Stop for lunch in Krasi, known for fresh drinking water springs. 54 km, 32 miles

Day 3: Arhanes 

Arhanes, population 4000, is said to be inhabited since Minoan times. It lies in the heart of one of Crete’s finest winery regions. Admire the traditional architecture of the “arhontiko,” the preserved old villas  Bike the Arhanes Loop, there’s a short version 24.50 km, 15 miles and a long version that includes a 4 km detour to the Nikos Katzantzakis Museum, home of the author of Zorba the Greek.  46 km, 29 miles   See the Extras tab for a cooking class and wine tasting.  Drive Tzermiado to Arhanes  60 km, 37 miles

Day 4: Arhanes 

Bike a back road to reach Knossos, the capital of the peaceful Minoan Empire. Admire King Minos’ throne; a replica was made for the chief judge at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.  25 km 15 miles (roundtrip)  To avoid Herakleion’s urban traffic, we recommend taking at taxi or bus from Knossos to Herakleion Archaeology Museum with its famed Minoan frescos and the enigmatic Phaestos disc.

Day 5: Zaros

Today’s ride starts at Gortyna, the Roman capital of Crete.  The loop bike ride includes the Minoan palace city of Phaestos and the caves at Matala on the sea. If there is enough time, you can take an afternoon hike in the Rouvas gorge after driving to Zaros.  Zaros is located in the Psiloritis Mountains at 1394 feet 425 meters and is known for its bottled mineral water, fresh trout and the E4 (European) hiking path.   52 km, 30 miles   Drive Arhanes to Gortyna, 40 km, 25 miles.  Drive Gortyna to Zaros 20 km, 34. 12 miles

Day 6: Rethymno 

From Zaros, drive to the mountain village of Spili, famous for its Venetian-era fountain with water spewing from the mouths of nineteen lions.  Spili also sells lots of products like herbal lotions, weavings, soaps, local honey and raki, the national spirit that tastes like grappa.   The Spili bike loop is 39.80 km, 24.70 miles with the highest elevation 2600 feet, 792 meters.   An alternative easier route is the Armeni Loop that starts in Rethymno and visits the mysterious Armeni Minoan cemetery.   28 km, 17 miles   Driving Zaros to Spili 60 km, 37 miles and Spili to Rethymno 27 km, 16 miles or Zaros to Rethymno 87 km, 54 miles

Day 7: Rethymno  

A bike ride into the low portions of the Psiloritis Mountains. Visit Melidoni Cave and learn its poignant history.  Tour a family run olive oil farm with olive oil tastings.   Lunch on the seacoast at Panormos.  Rethymno is a romantic Venetian era city with an Ottoman overlay.  Stroll Rethymno’s car-free alley-like streets or along its fourteen kilometer sandy beach.  67.70 km, 42 miles

Day 8: Hania  

From Hania, ascend from sea level to 1860 feet through the enchanting Therissos Gorge road.  On the way back stop at a family winery for lunch, or visit a delightful botanical park created by two brothers when their cherished olive fields burned down. Stroll Hania’s beautiful harbor with Venetian architecture.  Take time for shopping in Hania – handmade knives or gold jewelry.  51 km,  31.60  miles  Drive Rethymno to Hania 63 km, 39 miles

Alternative Itinerary.   On Day 8, consider an overnight in the lovely traditional village of Vamos where you stay in a traditional restored villa and have the opportunity for a Cretan cooking class.  Bike routes on this option include visits to Ancient Aptera and Koules Fortress and riding through a constellation of adorable little villages even smaller than Vamos.   Drive Rethymno to Vamos 33 km, 20 miles and Vamos to Hania 31 km, 19 miles

Day 9: Hania   

Drive west of Hania to start the bike ride from Kissamos, and make a loop to that brings you to the sea and the Roman ruins of Falasarna.  32.50 km, 19 miles.   From Kissamos drive east to Kamasiana to bike the Vouves Loop which takes you to the oldest olive tree in the world.  There is also an olive tree museum in Vouves.  12 km, 7.5 miles  Drive Hania to Kissamos 41 km, 25 miles, Kissamos to Kamasiana 23 km, 14 miles, Kamasiana to Hania 23 km, 14 miles

Day 10: Departure  

There are daily flights from Hania to Athens Airport, including ones that leave early enough to enable you to make a connecting flight home.  Overnight ferries to Piraeus depart at 9:00 pm.   Leave the bike, bike gear and rack at the hotel.  Drive the vehicle to the airport or port, whichever is your means of departure for drop-off.

 

Itinerary East to West

Below is our standard West-East itinerary, but it can be adjusted to add or subtract days or substitute overnight destinations, as these examples indicate:  Opt for an 8 day tour by ending in Arhanes instead of Tzermiado.  Split in half the long 94 km, 58 mile route from Hania to Rethymno on Day 3 by staying in the lovely traditional town of Vamos.   Consider overnight in Axos with engaging agro-tourism activities at Enagron.  Lots of possibilities!

If you travel to Crete by sea via an overnight ferry from Piraeus (Athens’ port), you will travel with the bikes and bike rack and receive the vehicle in Crete.  If you travel to Crete by air or by sea from a port other than Piraeus, the bikes and vehicle we will be waiting for you in Crete.  On your arrival, you will be met by a CycleGreece agent.

Day 1: Hania

Drive west of Hania to start the bike ride from Kissamos, and make a loop to that brings you to the sea and the Roman ruins of Falasarna. 32.50 km, 19 miles. From Kissamos drive east to Kamasiana to bike the Vouves Loop which takes you to the oldest olive tree in the world. There is also an olive tree museum in Vouves. 12 km, 7.5 miles Drive Hania to Kissamos 41 km, 25 miles, Kissamos to Kamasiana 23 km, 14 miles, Kamasiana to Hania 23 km, 14 miles

Day 2: Hania

From Hania, ascend from sea level to 1860 feet through the enchanting Therissos Gorge road. On the way back stop at a family winery for lunch, or visit a delightful botanical park created by two brothers when their cherished olive fields burned down. Stroll Hania’s beautiful harbor with Venetian architecture. Take time for shopping in Hania – handmade knives or gold jewelry. 51 km, 31.60 miles

Day 3: Rethymno

A bike ride into the low portions of the Psiloritis Mountains. Visit Melidoni Cave and learn its poignant history. Tour a family run olive oil farm with olive oil tastings. Lunch on the seacoast at Panormos. Rethymno is a romantic Venetian era city with an Ottoman overlay. Stroll Rethymno’s car-free alley-like streets or along its fourteen kilometer sandy beach. 67.70 km, 42 miles  Drive Hania to Rethymno 63 km, 39 miles

Alternative Itinerary. On Day 3, consider an overnight in the lovely traditional village of Vamos where you stay in a traditional restored villa and have the opportunity for a Cretan cooking class. Bike routes on this option include visits to Ancient Aptera and Koules Fortress and riding through a constellation of adorable little villages even smaller than Vamos. Drive Hania to Vamos 31 km, 19 miles and Vamos to Rethymno 33 km, 20 miles

Day 4: Rethymno

Drive to the mountain village of Spili, famous for its Venetian-era fountain with water spewing from the mouths of nineteen lions. Spili also sells lots of products like herbal lotions, weavings, soaps, local honey and raki, the national spirit that tastes like grappa. The Spili bike loop is 39.80 km, 24.70 miles with the highest elevation 2600 feet, 792 meters. An alternative easier route is the Armeni Loop that starts in Rethymno and visits the mysterious Armeni Minoan cemetery. 28 km, 17 miles Drive Rethymno to Spili 54 km, 32 miles, roundtrip

Day 5: Zaros

Today’s ride starts at Gortyna, the Roman capital of Crete. The loop bike ride includes the Minoan palace city of Phaestos and the caves at Matala on the sea. If there is enough time, you can take an afternoon hike in the Rouvas gorge after driving to Zaros. Zaros is located in the Psiloritis Mountains at 1394 feet 425 meters and is known for its bottled mineral water, fresh trout and the E4 (European) hiking path. 52 km, 30 miles Drive Rethymno to Zaros 87 km, 54 miles.

Day 6: Arhanes

Arhanes, population 4000, is said to be inhabited since Minoan times. It lies in the heart of one of Crete’s finest winery regions. Admire the traditional architecture of the “arhontiko,” the preserved old villas Bike the Arhanes Loop, there’s a short version 24.50 km, 15 miles and a long version that includes a 4 km detour to the Nikos Katzantzakis Museum, home of the author of Zorba the Greek. 46 km, 29 miles See the Extras tab for a cooking class and wine tasting. Drive Zaros to Arhanes 51 km, 31 miles

Day 7: Arhanes

Bike a back road to reach Knossos, the capital of the peaceful Minoan Empire. Admire King Minos’ throne; a replica was made for the chief judge at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. 25 km 15 miles (roundtrip) To avoid Herakleion’s urban traffic, we recommend taking at taxi or bus from Knossos to Herakleion Archaeology Museum with its famed Minoan frescos and the enigmatic Phaestos disc.

Day 8: Tzermiado

The Lassithi Plateau, one of the highest farming areas in Greece, once had 20,000 windmills which only a generation or so ago were still in use, which gives you an idea of how traditional this region is. A plateau loop ride introduces you to a few of the sixteen villages there. Be sure to stop at Lassinthos Eco Village and at Diktion Cave to marvel at the gigantic stalactites and stalagmites. 25 km, 15 miles Drive Arhanes to Tzermiado 60 km, 37 miles

Day 9: Tzermiado

Bike to the Minoan palace city of Malia lying on the coast which is said to have been ruled by King Minos’ brother Sarpedon. The ride is a thrilling 3,000 foot descent, then a siga siga ascent (that’s Greek for slow slow). Stop for lunch in Krasi, known for fresh drinking water springs. 54 km, 32 miles

Day 10: Departure

There are daily flights from Herakleion to Athens Airport, including ones that leave early enough to enable you to make a connecting flight home. Overnight ferries to Piraeus depart at 9:00 pm. Meet the CycleGreece agent at either the airport or port to turn over the bike, bike gear and rack. Drive Tzermiado to Herakleion 54 km, 33 miles

4 nights Libyan Sea Coast Hiking Add-On

Day 1 of the Libyan Sea Coast hiking tour is Day 8 of Cross Crete Drive & Bike tour. 


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

8 Days – 2090 euros per person

1 or 2 riders
10 Days –   2900 euros per person
8 Days – 2300 euros per person
3 riders
10 Days –  2780 euros per person
8 Days –   2180 euros per person
4 riders
10 Days – 2600 euros per person
8 Days –  2090 euros per person
5 or more riders contact us for cost
Single Supplement 10 Days – 900 euros per person
8 Days – 750 euros per person

The above costs are based on the two standard Itineraries (East-West, West-East).  Cost may vary if Itinerary varies.

See daily exchange rates

TOUR INCLUSIONS for 10 day itinerary

Accommodations: 9 nights in 3-4 star hotels ranging from upscale to family run guesthouses. Tasteful, clean, air-conditioned, private bath, abundant hospitality, comfort. All accommodations come with breakfast. Tour price is based on double occupancy. Single supplement costs apply for individual rooms. Triples may or may not be available depending on the hotel.

Vehicle:  4 door vehicle for 1-3 guests similar to a Nissan Note.  Mini-van for 4 – 8 guests similar to a Nissan Prima Star.  Includes standard vehicle insurance, GPS guidance, manual steering (automatic steering is an upgrade), road assistance.  Does not include gas or parking fees.

Drop-off Fee:   Pick up vehicle in one destination and drop it off in another destination.

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: rear bike rack for vehicle, 2 water bottles, helmet, handlebar pouch, odometer, lock, rear rack on request, helmet. For hygienic purposes we encourage you to bring your own helmet.

Bike tools and parts: hand pump, patch kit, tire irons, spare tube, multi-tool, helmet. One set per group.

Cue sheets: plus distance/elevation profiles

GPS device: Oregon 450 with programmed routes, arrow indicating route and turns. Bike mount for GPS. One device/mount per group.

Maps: road maps in English and Greek

Trip packet: useful information, such as, recommended tavernas, points of interest, phone numbers for region’s bike shops

Mobile phone: one per couple with 10 euros phone card. One phone per group.

CycleGreece jersey: short sleeved, rear pockets, locally made

Gratuities, tips, VAT tax

TOUR EXCLUSIONS

  • Airfare to/from Greece
  • Arrivals to or departures from Crete
  • Transfer from Athens Airport to Athens hotel on arrival, or from hotel on departure to port or airport
  • Private licensed guide at Knossos – see Extras tab
  • Additional GPS device, 50 euros per device
  • Meals except breakfast
  • Travel Insurance – see Extras tab

TAKE NOTE

  • Participants are required to sign our Waiver.
  • Participants are required to agree to the Booking Agreement

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

 

Electric Bike

  • E-bikes for a 10 day tour cost 300 euros.   See Our Bikes & Gear for more info

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 of residence, your age, your days 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 to Athens

  • 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 Hotel

  • 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.

Private Archaeology Guide

  • Visiting famous ancient ruins without a professional guide is like watching a movie with the sound turned off!   The guides we work with make the archaic stones and temples come alive.   Three hour tour with licensed guide to Knossos and Herakleion Archaeology Museum.  190 euros per group, excluding 16 euros entry fee per person.

Traditional Cretan Cooking Class

  • Learn to make such Cretan delicacies as lemon­mint tzatziki, vine leaves stuffed with bulgar, or chicken with olives, raisins & onions in orzo.  Participation in meal preparation and, of course, eating!  4 hours.  From 80 euros per person to 150 euros per person depending on location and number of participants.

Wine Tasting

  • Experience the passion and expertise of a family run winery serving organic wines.  Choice of wine tasting alone, wine with cheese platter, light lunch, full lunch.  All choices include tour of the winery.  Costs range from 7 euros per person to 35 euros per person.  Contact us for details.

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.

 

 

 

>Accommodations

An indicative hotel for Cross Crete is Casa Delfino located in the old city of Hania within steps of the harbor.

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 to open in Google Maps

Overnight destinations and points of interest

Drive & Bike tours require a deposit of 400 euros per person with the balance due 90 days prior to departure.

To make payment, we must first set up your online account. Once your itinerary and cost are finalized, go to 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.

Cross Crete Photo Gallery

  • Bike Rack
  • Bike Rack

Pre & Post Tour Add-Ons

Tour Highlights

Cycle directly to the Minoan palace city of Knossos to see King Minos’ chair

Find a Roman column in an archaic monumental olive tree

On the Melidoni Cave bike loop, learn the cave’s tragic history

Stop for wine tasting in the Arhanes wine region

Bike the shady road up Therissos Gorge, climbing 1900 feet (580 m)

Healthy Crete Cuisine

Other Drive & Bike Tours

TOUR RATING SYSTEM

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