Basic Tour Information West to East
As Greece’s largest island with an extended network of rural roads, Crete offers cyclists exquisite routes through mountain villages that eventually descend to the sea. A must-see are the ancient Minoan palace cities of Knossos and Malia, or unheralded ruins, such as the mysterious Armeni cemetery near Rethymno. Crete has its own delicious cuisine, its own dialect, its own traditional music. It’s practically its own country!
The Logistics in Planning a Self-Guide Bike Tour to Crete
Crete’s vast terrain means a diversity of self-guided routes are possible. Both Herakleion and Hania have overnight ferries coming from Piraeus (Athens), as well as multiple daily flights with Athens. Crete’s transportation infrastructure means cyclists can choose to bike east to west (Herakleion to Hania) or west to east (Hania to Herakleion).
Elevation-wise, Herakleion to Hania is the easier of the two routes. However, if you plan to go to Santorini and other Cyclades islands, it makes sense to bike west to east in order to end the tour in Herakleion because no boats go to Santorini from Hania.
The number of days of your tour is also a consideration. Our standard tour is 7 nights with departure on the eighth day because this makes for a convenient one week trip. Our standard 7 night east-west route is Arhanes-Arhanes-Zaros-Rethymno-Rethymno-Hania-Hania. (Arhanes is a charming town 9 miles south of Herakleion). See the Itinerary in the Chart for each destination’s description.
Hania, with its Venetian and Ottoman façade, is Crete’s most beloved city. We include it for two nights for a reason! However, to spend two nights in Hania, you must bike the long, but do-able leg between Hania and Rethymno, 78.00 km, 48.50 miles with a 1500 foot climb. Most riders who choose Crete don’t welcome this leg, yet other riders prefer a more smell-the-roses pace. Thus, an alternative itinerary is to break up that long leg by adding an extra night to the tour (8 nights) in the lovely little town of Vamos which lies between Hania and Rethymno.
Additionally, we offer a Lassithi Plateau add-on. It is a 9 night, 10 day version of the standard tour with two extra days in the popular Lassithi Plateau, west of Herakelion-Arhanes.
For those riders who wish to lessen their Crete mountain experience, Zaros, the tour’s highest destination, can be substituted with an overnight in Axos located at a lower altitude. However, in order to avoid dangerous highway traffic, this substitution requires a vehicle transfer for you and the bike to a safe point to start riding. The transfer adds to the cost of the tour.
Although biking in Crete is mostly for the seasoned cyclist, we have created a means for moderate cyclists to enjoy the island, too. We give you a car with a rear bike rack (or a mini-van for four or more persons) and, instead of biking to each overnight destination with luggage transfers, you drive to each overnight destination and bike easier loops in that region. See the Chart titled “Drive-Bike Crete”
|Optional Dates:||25/4 | 22/5
|Arrival City||Herakleion or Hania|
|Arrival transfer||yes, from airport or port|
|Departure City||Hania or Herakleion|
|Departure transfer||Yes , to airport or port|
|Tour Start Point||Arhanes or Hania|
|Tour End Point||Hania or Arhanes|
|Number of hotels||1|
|Luggage Transfers 1|
|Maximum Pax||no max|
|Total Mileage||30 km/19 miles|
|Average Daily Mileage||15 km, 9 miles|
|Elevation Gain||1500 m 3000 feet|
|Elevation Loss||100 m, 500 feet|
Day 1: Arhanes On arrival, a CycleGreece agent meets you at the port or airport and transfers you to lovely Arhanes, a one-time Minoan village whose contemporary residents continue many of the same traditions, from growing grapes for wine to cultivating acclaimed olive oil. If morning arrival, afternoon cycle to Museum of Nikos Katzantakis, author of Zorba the Greek. 41.60 km, 25.80 miles or 24.55 km, 15 miles
Day 2: Arhanes Bike to the famed Minoan palace city of Knossos, the Ancient Minoa was the first civilization on European soil. By all accounts it was a peaceful empire. Recommend a taxi to Herakelion Archaeological Museum to avoid intense urban traffic. 25km, 15 miles roundtrip
Day 3: Zaros The ride from Arhanes 1245 feet (380 meters) ascends to the cheerful mountain village of Zaros 1394 feet high (425 meters). Zaros is known for its bottled mineral water, fresh trout and the E4 (European) hiking route. Optional afternoon hike in the Rouvas Gorge. 55.52 km, 34.50 miles
Day 4: Rethymno Back country roads, lots of climbing, breathtaking scenery characterizes today’s ride. The day’s final destination is Crete’s best kept secret, Rethymno. Make sure to visit the Fortezza, the grand Venetian-era fort overlooking the city. 77.20km, 48.00 miles
Day 5: Rethymno A bike ride into the low portions of the Psiloritis Mountains. Visit Melidoni Cave and learn its poignant history. Lunch on the seacoast at Panormos. Stroll Rethymno’s car-free alley-like streets or along its fourteen kilometer sandy beach. 67.70 km, 42 miles
Day 6: Hania The ride to Hania first passes the Minoan cemetery at Armeni with its fascinating tombs of unknown origin. Halfway en route is the gorgeous sea at Giorgiopoli. Last stretch is the climb over Malaxa village at 1500 feet high. 78.00 km, 48.50 miles
Day 7: Hania Ascend the enchanting Therissos Gorge up to 1860 feet. On the way back stop at a winery for lunch, or visit a botanical park created by two brothers in their burned out olive field. Enjoy Hania’s beautiful harbor with Venetian architecture. Take time for shopping in Hania – handmade knives or gold jewelry. 51.00 km, 31.60 miles
Day 7: Departure If departing Crete, vehicle transfer to airport or port. Leave your bikes and gear at the hotel.
- Participants are required to sign our Waiver.
- Participants are required to agree to the Booking Agreement
- All costs are in euros. Click here for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com
- Costs are based on Double occupancy
Cost per person
|Cost for 1 Rider||1300 euros / per person|
|Cost for 2 Riders||1400 euros / per person|
|Cost for 3 Riders||1200 euros / per person|
|Cost for 4+ Riders||800 euros / per person|
Self-guided clients carry their own gear, like pump, tubes, patch kit, etc.
|Road Service||Spare tube||1 per person|
|Accommodations||5||Rear rack||on request|
|Breakfast||daily||Patch kit||1 per group|
|Luggage transfers||4||Tire Irons||1 per group|
|Bike-rider transfers||2||Multi-tool||1 per group|
|Bike||road or hybrid||Hand pump||1 per group|
|Pedals||regular or cages||GPS device||1 per group|
|Water bottles||2 per person||Cue sheets||per person|
|Handlebar pouch||1 per person||Maps||1 per couple|
|Odometer||1 per person||Trip Folder||1 per couple|
|Helmet||1 per person||Mobile phone||1 per group|
|Lock||1 per person||CycleGreece jersey||1 per person|
Please Contact us if you want one of these serveces added on your tour. Optional services may alter the basic root of a tour or expand the total lenght! These
- Pre-tour logistics (hotels, destinations, transport, etc)
- Post-tour logistics
- Licensed guide at Knossos or Malia
- Traditional Crete Cooking Class
- Olive Oil Tasting Session
- Wine Tasting Session
- Samaria Gorge Hike
- Imbros Gorge Hike
As Greece’s largest island with an extended network of rural roads, Crete offers cyclists exquisite routes through mountain villages that eventually descend to the sea. A must-see are the ancient Minoan palace cities of Knossos and Malia, or unheralded ruins, such as the mysterious Armeni cemetery near Rethymno.
Crete has its own delicious cuisine, its own dialect, its own traditional music. It’s practically its own country!