Discover archaeological treasures, splendid scenery and superb flavours on this MasterChef Travel self-drive adventure. Explore ancient Knossos and the island capital, Heraklion; seek out artisan produce in the winding streets of Chania; and stroll through shady olive groves and charming villages. Try the wines of the mountain vineyards, learn the secrets of the Cretan kitchen with local chefs and dine on traditional dishes at family run tavernas.
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Fly from London Gatwick to Heraklion with British Airways or easyJet. Collect your hire car and welcome pack and drive to the Capsis Astoria Hotel in Heraklion for a 3-night stay. Dinner is included at a local taverna this evening. (D)
This morning drive to Lychnostatis Open Air Museum. This museum reveals a fascinating insight into typical island life in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The gardens are filled with fragrant herbs and fruit trees and there will also be time to take a stroll here. Drive onwards through the Selinari Gorge to the town of Neapolis where the speciality is soumada, a refreshing drink made from local almonds. Continue along a scenic route through small villages and enjoy the stunning views of the Mirabello Gulf as you make your way to the coastal villages of Plaka and Elounda. From here you can take the boat to Spinalonga (at your own expense). Formerly a leper colony, the legacies of Greek, Ottoman, Byzantine and Venetian occupation over the centuries have left their imprint on this fortified island. Enjoy lunch (at your own expense) at one of the tavernas where fresh fish and typical Cretan dishes will be on the menu. (B)
A visit to the ancient Minoan Palace of Knossos is recommended, the centre of Europe's first civilisation. Its history dates back more than 4,000 years. According to myth, the palace was home to King Minos and site of the legend of Theseus slaying the Minotaur in the labyrinth. Later this morning, drive to the Pediados region, the oldest and most famous wine producing area of Crete. In a traditional village, join the locals for a hands-on cooking workshop. Help to prepare typical Cretan dishes, which will then be served for lunch. This afternoon return to Heraklion, where the remainder of the day is at leisure. Perhaps take a stroll around the city to see the Venetian harbour, Lions Square and the ancient city walls. Odos 1866 is also a good street for seeking out typical Cretan produce such as thyme-flavoured honey, salty feta cheese, glistening purple olives, dried herbs and teas, olive oil and olive oil-based cosmetics, as well as pumice stones. (B, L)
Depart Heraklion for the drive to Rethymnon. Stop at Fodele, a charming village shaded by plane trees and and birthplace of El Greco. You may also wish to visit Mount Ida, home to the Sfedoni Caves with their colourful stalactites and stalagmites. Renowned for its unique flavour, the olive oil of Crete is influenced by the soil, altitude and microclimate. Learn about the different varieties of olives and the cultivation at an olive oil estate. A sampling of olive oil will conclude the tour. Olive oil is also used in the production of handmade soap and a visit to the workshop is also possible. Continue to the Hotel Vardis Olive Garden located at the foot of the White Mountains between Chania and Rethymnon, or the Palazzo Vecchia Exclusive Residence in Rethymnon for a 4-night stay. (B, dinner also included if staying at the Hotel Vardis Olive Garden)
Take a scenic drive through beautiful olive groves and typical villages. Along the way visit a dairy and a wine farmer. A lunch stop recommendation will also be provided in your welcome pack. Make your way to the coastal resort of Plakias and take this opportunity to visit Preveli monastery, perched on a rock formation high above the Libyan Sea. Return to the north coast via the impressive Kourtaliotiko Gorge. (B)
Drive through verdant landscapes into the foothills of Mount Psiloritis and on to the colourful village of Margarites, a centre for pottery stretching back many generations. Take your time to browse in the shops and enjoy the sea views from the square. Later visit the impressive fortress-like Arkadi monastery, perched on a rocky plateau, before making your way into the lush green Amari Valley with its splendid views to the peaks of Mount Ida. Lunch, prepared on a charcoal fire, is included at a traditional family taverna. (B, L)
This morning drive to Chania, formerly capital of the island. Take a walk through the winding alleyways of the charming city centre to the Venetian harbour and stop for a refreshing drink at one of the many cafes. Also take the time to visit the nunnery of Chriso Pigi where the nuns still make and sell traditional handicrafts. On your return journey stop at the village of Vrisses, where small traditional dairies still produce delicious, creamy yoghurt. This is also a wine producing region and a winery visit is recommended. (B)
Return flight to London Gatwick with British Airways from Heraklion or from Chania with easyJet. (B).
As per itinerary - B: Breakfast, L: Lunch, D: Dinner, N: No meals.
Located in the heart of Heraklion town with more than 40 years of tradition in hospitality, the Capsis Astoria Hotel offers a full range of facilities and a relaxing environment. The swimming pool (open from May-October) is located on the sixth floor of the hotel with panoramic views over the city. Breakfast is served in the Zefyros Bar & Restaurant and snacks, lunch and dinner are also served throughout the day. Guestroom facilities include air conditioning, satellite television, a safety deposit box, minibar, hairdryer and complimentary wireless internet...
Situated in the historical district of Rethymnon, just below the Venetian fortress, Palazzo Vecchia Exclusive Residence is a former mansion and showcases beautiful Venetian urban architecture. There are many restaurants, shops and cafes within walking distance of the property.
Features: 23 rooms, bar, lounge, restaurant, outdoor pool (seasonal), Wi-Fi.
Room amenities: Television, kitchenette, fridge, air conditioning,...
The Hotel Vardis Olive Garden is situated in a rural location at the foot of the White Mountains and is set amid an olive grove and colourful gardens. The hotel offers studios with views over the gardens and is conveniently located for visits to Rethymnon (18km) and Chania (45km). There are long sandy beaches within 1km of the property.
Features: 58 rooms, pool, bar, restaurant, mini market.
Room amenities: Television, fridge, air conditioning, private balcony, safe (at additional...
Regional air connections are available from within the UK. Please contact your travel consultant for current prices from your nearest city.
We can also arrange flights from overseas, simply give us a call to find out more.
If you choose to take the tour without flights arranged through Cox & Kings, please contact one of our travel consultants prior to booking the flights to ensure that you are aware of the tour timings and all the implications of not booking through us. We strongly advise you not to book flights independently of Cox & Kings if significant charges would apply in case of cancellation.
Flight details may be subject to change prior to departure.
This tour can be booked / reserved online by clicking on one of the coloured links below.
MZT2016: 7 Nights