Europe’s most southern terrain
guided, vehicle support
A highlight of the Captivating Crete tour is Knossos where you 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. Discover the mysterious Armeni cemetery where the graves look like Mycenae tombs.
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. Average daily mileage is 50 km / day.
The most endearing part of the tour is your immersion into the local culture. Experience olive oil tasting at a unique family owned olive grove. Hike to an historical monastery in a cave. Swim at famed beaches. Taste raki, Crete’s national spirit akin to Italy’s grappa, is unavoidable. Indeed, it is rude to turn down the first and second offerings. Most of all, indulge in Crete’s local food and you will see why Crete is a leader in the healthy Mediterranean diet movement.
Be sure to consider the Libyan Sea Coast Hiking add-on for a pre-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
|2024 Dates||April 21 – May 1 and October 3 – 13|
|Duration||10 nights, 11days|
|Add-ons||4 Night Libyan Sea Coast Hiking.
1 day Samaria Gorge Hike. See Add-on tab
|Arrival City||Athens or Herakleion|
|Arrival transfer||in Athens, no transfer. In Herakelion transfer from port to bike start point|
|Tour Start Point||Herakleion|
|Tour End Point||Hania|
|Total Mileage||330 km, 205 miles|
|Highest Elevation||2345 feet, 715 meters|
|Rating||Active to Advanced – see Rating System|
Itinerary — 10 nights, 11 days
Day 1: Athens
Welcome to Athens where everyone spends one night to help get over jet lag before continuing on to Crete. Highlight is the Welcome Dinner .
Day 2: Overnight Ferry to Crete
In the morning we test ride the bikes to your specifications. In the evening transfer to Piraeus port for overnight ferry to Herakleion. Dinner served in the ferry dining room. .
Day 3: Arhanes
The little traditional town of Arhanes is a gastronomical haven for foodies and wine lovers. We’ll have a wine tasting session in the evening. The bike ride is mostly rural and stops at the home of Nikos Katzantakis, author of Zorba the Greek. 46 km, 28.50 miles
Day 4: Arhanes
One of Greece’s most famous ancient sites is Knossos, the seat of the peaceful Minoan Empire. A professional archaeology guide will enlighten us of its history. We’ll bike to the site and have a 27 km, 17 miles
Day 5: Zaros
We ascend up to the mountains, climbing as high as 2140 feet. En route we’ll stop at the amazing Monumental Olive Tree of Panassos, one of 13 in Crete. If there is time in Zaros we’ll take an hour hike in Rouvas Gorge. 52.50 km, 32 miles.
Day 6: Zaros
Historic points of interest mark today’s ride with stops at the Roman ruins of Gortys, said to be Europe’s first Parliament. The route descends from 2140 feet to sea level at the Matala caves, made famous by Joni Mitchell’s song Cary. And another Minoan palace city at Phaistos. 80 km, 49 miles
Day 7: Rethymno
Rethymno is Crete’s best kept secret. Swim at the city’s extensive sea front or explore the Fortezza, the grand Venetian fort that dominates the Old Town. Although the rural route descends from 2148 feet to sea level, it still has a few ascents. 75 km, 46 miles
Day 8: Rethymno
Cycle a mountain loop up 1500 feet with stops at the scenic dam, precious Arkadi Monastery, the Homer in Crete museum, coffee stop at a ceramics village and lunch at the sea. Highest ascent of the day is at 1647 feet, 502 meters 60 km, 37 miles
Day 9: Hania
En route to Hani, we’ll stop to explore a mysterious Minoan cemetery. Lunch is next to a refreshing river in Vryses, then a really worthwhile detour to ancient Aptera and the Koules Fortress. 87 km, 54 miles
Day 10: Hania
Morning bike loop up the gorgeous Therisos Gorge, climbing to 2336 feet (712 meters), the highest ascent on the tour. Lunch at a famous botanical park with organic fare. 55.50 km, 34.40 miles
Day 11: Departure
There are a number of flights from Hania to Athens and your connecting flight home. This is Day 1 for those taking the Libyan Seacoast Hiking add-on.
4 nights Libyan Sea Coast Hiking Add-On
2024 dates: May 1 – 5 and October 13 – 17
Additional hiking days can easily be added to the tour.
This tour starts from Hania.
Day 1: Omalos
Transfer from Hania to Omalos hotel for early morning entry into the Gorge.
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.
1500 euros per person for 1-2 persons based on double occupancy
1350 euros per person for 3-4 persons.based on double occupancy
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
- Day 1 transfer from Hania to Omalos
- Day 5 transfer from Hora Sfakia to Hania
- Local bilingual hiking guide
- Daily luggage transfers
- All sea transfers
- Samaria Gorge entry fee
- Transfer from Herakleion to Hania, start point of the tour
- Overnight Hania hotel on April 30 and October 21
- Alcoholic beverages (other than house wine)
- Travel insurance — See Extras tab
Cost in euros based on double occupancy
10 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.
1 Ferry transfer: overnight ferry with private cabin and bath, from Piraeus to Hania
Support vehicle: “Sag wagon” with bilingual driver who is also a bike mechanic. 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. Additional vehicle/driver for groups of 10 or more riders.
Tour Leader / Bike Guide: Tour Leader handles all the tour logistics and rides with the group. Additional bike guide for groups of 10 or more riders.
Bikes: Specialized Allez road bike with drop handlebars or Trek FX2 with flat handlebars. Upgrade to a carbon road bike 650 euros for this tour. Upgrade to an electric bike Yucatan 12 with Yamaha motor for 450 euros this tour. Regular pedals or toe clips. 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
Bike Routes: Options (1) RideWithGPS tour routes to upload to your iphone or Android with voice narration – bike mount provided for your cellphone, (2) GPX tracks to download to your Gramin device – bring your own bike mount
Cue sheets and cue sheet holders on request
- Breakfasts are included at each hotel.
- 9 lunches — you choose from the menu.
- 10 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.
Archaeology tour: Private tour with professional licensed guide at Knossos and Herakleion Archaeology Museum
Entrance fees: Knossos and Herakleion Archaeology Museum
Wine Tasting Session takes place in the “foodie” town of Arhanes
Olive Oil Tasting Session: visit a magical olive grove
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 & 24% 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 or beer)
- Drinks and coffee at café pit stops
- Travel insurance – required.
- Upgrade to an electric bike. Cost is 450 euros for Crete tour. See Our Bikes and Our Gear for more info
Carbon Road Bike
- Upgrade to a carbon fiber bike. Cost is 600 euros for Crete tour. . See Our Bikes and Our Gear for more info
- Travel insurance is required to participate in a CycleGreece tour. For comparative rates see Insure My Trip. 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.
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