Crete is one of the most beautiful, interesting and diverse Greek islands to explore. Stroll along the harbour - guarded by a Venetian fortress - of its capital, Heraklion. Look out across the Lasithi Plateau, dotted with white-sailed windmills, then peek into the cave where Zeus is said to have been born. Sit back as the rugged, mountainous landscape of western Crete slides by, and enjoy a drink with new friends in one of charming Rethymnon’s harbourside bars.
7 nights in hotel (accommodation as specified or similar)
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home for your flight to Heraklion. On arrival, we transfer to Hersonissos and your choice of the Hersonissos Maris Hotel (4T) or Aldermar Royal Mare Hotel (5T), where we stay for seven nights on a half-board basis.
We head for the dynamic capital of Crete today, the fifth largest city in Greece. Its inner harbour is guarded by the well-preserved Venetian fortress of Rocca al Mare and the bustling city has a rich cultural history, some of which can be seen in the Archaeological Museum. With restaurants, cafés and many small shops, it is a delight to explore.
We join an included excursion today to the Lasithi Plateau, famous for its centuries-old white-sailed windmills, formerly used for irrigation. Greek mythological legend depicts Dikteon Cave, located on the plateau, as the birthplace of Zeus. The energetic may wish to walk into the cave and down steps - up to 200 - through five chambers to see the cave’s stalactites and stalagmites. Elsewhere on the fertile plateau, Karfi is considered the last outpost of Crete’s ancient Minoan civilisation that flourished between the 3rd-2nd centuries BC.
The island of Crete is well known for its ancient Minoan past and the power of this civilisation is illustrated on an optional visit to the Palace of Knossos. Visit the ancient Minoan Palace, believed to be more than 4,000 years old. The complex has a number of buildings on four levels and most of what remains belongs to those built after 1700 BC. In Greek mythology, it is said that the Palace was the home of King Minos, whose wife bore the Minotaur who was imprisoned within the labyrinth and slain by Theseus.
The island of Santorini feels often familiar; its scenery is so commonly featured in books and magazines. To walk on the island, amongst the white-roofed buildings against the contrasting beautiful blue skies, can feel as though you are walking within a picture postcard. Today an optional excursion is on offer to explore this island independently, formed as part of a large volcanic caldera, a feature that can be recognised as you arrive by boat.
The wild and rugged landscape of western Crete, including snow-capped mountains, delightful villages and beautiful coastlines, will be highlighted on today’s excursion. We will visit Chania, the former capital, known as the ‘Little Venice’ of Crete and home to a street devoted almost entirely to leather goods. There is also a beautiful Venetian harbour, which was the location for some of the scenes from the film Zorba the Greek. Continue to Rethymnon, Crete’s third-largest town, on the north coast. Known as the ‘City of Scholars’, the old part of the town has numerous Venetian palazzos, Turkish houses with wooden balconies and a number of small 18th century mosques. There will be free time to wander the old streets of the town, or perhaps spend time in a harbourside coffee bar.
There is more time today to relax in your surroundings, or perhaps join an optional excursion by boat to visit the island of Spinalonga. The island has had a varied past, from Venetian rule in the 16th century to the setting for a leper colony four centuries later - a subject covered in Victoria Hislop’s 2005 novel, The Island. It is now an uninhabited island, home to small pebble beaches and shallow waters.
Day 8 Hersonissos - Heraklion - UK
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK. Upon arrival, your Titan vehicle will be waiting for the journey home.
Prices are based on Hersonissos Maris Hotel; why not upgrade to Aldermar Royal Mare from £170pp
• In Crete, a room tax of between €3-4 per person per night (subject to change), is payable directly to the hotel on check-out.
• The order of excursions is subject to change.
This 5-star resort in Hersonissos, Crete, is located within beautiful surroundings on the coast. The hotel is set out in a spacious village style, where paths lead down to the private sandy beach. With its world-class spa and indoor/outdoor pools, you can choose to spend time on the beach or within the resort. Or venture out of the hotel for more exploration in the town of Hersonissos, approximately 4km from the hotel. Meals are provided in the main buffet restaurant, or you can eat at one of the other four restaurants for an additional charge. Rooms are air conditioned with safety deposit box, telephone, hairdryer, television, fridge (mini-bar on request for extra charge) and balcony/terrace.