- Crete Extension3 days from $2,400
- Athens Extension2 days from $1,500
Explore the palace of a fabled king and the birthplace of a god on this adventure to the sun-drenched island of Crete. Learn about the intriguing civilization of the Minoans and their mighty fortresses with our knowledgeable guides, and get a taste of local traditions at a renowned winery and an artisans’ collective. Stroll along the shores of the azure Aegean, descend into a sacred cave where Zeus was said to have been born, and witness ancient ruins come to life.
Disembark in the ancient port of Piraeus, then transfer to the airport in Athens for the flight to Heraklion, capital city of the Greek island of Crete. Check in to our hotel, situated near the turquoise harbor and the city center. Enjoy delicious Greek food for lunch, and then delve into the history of the island and its mythical kings during an informative talk. Crete’s early Minoan civilization take its name from the legendary King Minos, said to have had an elaborate labyrinth built which contained the monstrous Minotaur.
Today, investigate Crete’s mythological mysteries while exploring the ruins and imaginatively reconstructed Palace of Knossos, the ceremonial and political center of the Minoan civilization. Marvel at towering colonnades and colorful murals modeled after archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans’ interpretations of ancient decorative accents. Next, visit a state-of-the-art winery located in the Archanes region, where Crete’s oldest wine press—which dates to around 1550 B.C.—was found. Tour this privately-owned organic winery, and sample a variety of Greek and international varietals for a taste of an ancient tradition.
Journey east to the high Lassithi Plateau, a vast patchwork of fertile fields bounded by the soaring Dikte mountains. In the village of Psychro, visit the famed Dikteon Cave, believed by some to be the birthplace of Zeus, ruler of the Olympian gods and father of Minos. Alters, clay figurines, shells, and other artifacts discovered within the cave suggest it has been a site of cult worship since at least Neolithic times. Later, at the Lassinthos Eco Park, meet local artisans and observe traditional workshops dedicated to pottery, woodworking, weaving, and more. Savor the flavors of fresh Cretan cuisine for lunch before heading back to Heraklion to explore on your own this evening.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport in Heraklion and fly to Athens, then connect with your flight home.