The mythical island of Crete is known for its rich history, vibrant culture, quaint villages, and mouthwatering Mediterranean cuisine. It’s the birthplace of both the king of the Olympian gods and modern European civilization. The largest island of all the Greek isles, Crete is a Mediterranean jewel but what is perhaps most interesting is its ancient Minoan culture. The Minoans pre-dated the Greeks, and they worshiped female goddesses, and their high priests were all women! Not surprisingly they lived in peace while the gals were in charge for 2000 years. You’ll discover this incredible ancient culture as we take you on a stunning journey to the authentic heart of Crete, from the Venetian city of Chania to the gorgeous eastern town of Agios Nikolaos.
Here is a day-by-day itinerary of the trip.
Arrive in Athens and take a taxi to your hotel, the delightfully artistic 5-star New Hotel steps from the Plaka. Relax and recover from your travels.
We’ll toast to our ensuing adventure at around 6:30 pm on the rooftop of our hotel. And we’ll stay there for dinner, watching the sunset and admiring the view of the Acropolis.
Athens and Chania
Today after a lovely Greek breakfast at our hotel, we’ll be met by our private guide to take a tour of the nearly 2,500-year-old Acropolis and its museum. If you’ve already explored it on a previous trip, we’ll provide some optional activities like a jet lag curing hammam experience, curated shopping or other notable sites and marketplaces.
After our in-depth tour of the Acropolis, we’ll enjoy a local meal at a quaint taverna in the Plaka. (This is the oldest region of Athens, close to the Acropolis).
Then we’ll hop on an afternoon flight to Chania, the capital city of Crete. Upon arrival we’ll check in to our 5-star hotel, The Domus Renier a 5-star boutique hotel facing the ancient Venetian port of Chania. We’ll be here for the next three nights.
After unpacking, we’ll head out for a “sites and bites” guided walking and tasting tour of Chania, the largest city on Crete. Your tour begins in the old town near the hotel, exploring its Venetian and Ottoman monuments, such as the Firkas Fortress, the Fransiscan Monastery of San Salvador, the Venetian church of Agios Rockos, the Venetian Grand Arsenal, the Venetian “Neoria”, Gialli Tzamissi and the Ottoman district of Splanzia.
On our way and between the sites, we’ll be trying local delicacies, pastries, and sweets, such as the famous “loukoumades” donuts with honey, “bougatsa” a sweet cheese pie, “kalitsounia” pastries and filo sweets.
The day ends at the cruciform open-air market, unique in Crete. We’ll sample various Cretan products, such as pure olive oil, a variety of cheeses, “raki” (a fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy from Crete that is almost 50% alcohol) as well as local wines. Then we’ll sit down for a few more bites and a wine tasting.
Sites and Bites
Today we’ll have the opportunity to learn about traditional Greek cooking. After breakfast, we’ll head out with our private English-speaking escort to a traditional village in the Chania region, where we’ll attend an authentic cooking class in an 18th century olive mill. A local chef will share her olive oil secrets, we’ll learn how to use the legendary Cretan Mountain herbs and discover the best way to select fresh and pure ingredients while cooking these specialties.
After working alongside the chef in the kitchen, we’ll enjoy the dishes we’ve made seated around an old monastery-style table with fresh, homemade bread and local wine. Before you kiss our host goodbye, she’ll be sure to give us the recipes, so we can take our new skills back home with us.
This afternoon you’ll be free to roam around Chania for shopping and exploring. There is superb shopping in this town and excellent prices. Make sure you leave room in your suitcase.
Dinner tonight will be on our own, something light perhaps, after a big day of cooking and eating.
After a hearty breakfast, we’ll begin the day by visiting the newly excavated ancient Greek City of Eleutherna and its unique museum. Built in an area between three hills, the findings here have been impressive dating from the 9th century BC up to the 5th century AD.
Passing through beautiful small villages on our way, we’ll reach the traditional village of Margarites, renowned for its long tradition of pottery making and local cuisine. A local café with a stunning view will be our setting for lunch. After we’ll visit a pottery shop, where the local potter will demonstrate the techniques of the area. We’ll have an opportunity to buy some of the affordable and beautiful wares here, hint – they ship!
We’ll head back to our hotel for rest and relaxation. Then we’ll enjoy a special family style meal at a local restaurant.
We’ll say goodbye to historic Chania today and head towards Agios Nikolaos, a picturesque port town with a unique story. Along the way we’ll visit one of the most important archaeological sites in Crete – the Minoan Palace of Knossos – the mythical Labyrinth of Homer. Get ready to explore a prehistoric city of 22.000 square meters; here is where the oldest European civilization started and flourished more than 5,000 years ago. A quick bite at the cafe on site will be welcome after our tour.
Then we’ll get to experience a unique dance session at a nearby nature park which our instructor calls the Minoan Nature Dance. We will explore our feminine Goddess energy as we connect with nature, our bodies and each other. Based on Minoan Art depictions and ancient literature, we’ll find the meaning of the Cretan Labyrinth Dance through its movement and steps.
After a big day, we’ll check into our new hotel, The Minos Palace, a 5-star spa/wellness hotel sitting right on the beach. The view will make you swoon. First round of drinks is on us!
Tonight, we’ll savor a wonderful meal at the hotel’s restaurant and then sleep soundly to the sounds of the Agean sea.
Our morning starts with a trip to a stunning scenic village built amphitheatrically into the hills named Kritsa. In addition to its charming appeal, this village is known for its strong women including a famous Greek heroine named Kritsotopoula who fought off Turkish invaders. In this lovely village we’ll visit a local female boutique owner who will share her passion for local Greek designers. We’ll also stop to learn about local textiles and after we will be able to shop and browse the village on our own.
Lunch will be quite special where we’ll feast on specialties made at the women’s cooperative.
The afternoon is for relaxation by the pool or floating in the sea.
Dinner tonight will be on your own. Why not order room service or dine while gazing at the sea.
After a free morning to relax poolside or at the beach, and enjoy a spa* treatment, we will embark from the traditional village of Plaka on a small traditional boat to the fascinating island of Spinalonga, one of the more important historic sites of Crete. The island was turned into a fortress in the middle of the 16th century and constitutes one of the best examples of the Venetian defensive architecture.
On Spinalonga, we’ll enjoy a guided tour followed by a small tour of the area by boat heading to quiet bays where we can take a dip in the sea of Crete as we enjoy some adult beverages on board.
We will end our day back in Plaka for a picture-perfect sunset dinner.
Αντίο, Adio, Farewell. After breakfast we’ll catch our flights from Heraklion back to Athens for departure back home but your new friendships and seaside Grecian memories will last a lifetime.
Immerse yourself into a holistic experience at The Minos Palace, 5-star adults only luxury hotel located right on the beach.
NEW Hotel is an architectural jewel, adorning Athen's city center with its intriguing design, its fabulous atmosphere and fine gastronomic proposals.
Casey is an avid traveler and in the same spirit, Casey launched Loire Legends Travel, a bespoke service for made-to-measure trips. Whether you are traveling solo, as a couple, family, group of friends, or organization – Casey will create an immersive itinerary that sparks emotional connections with the destinations you discover!
Author of two Rizzoli International Publications travel and lifestyle books, Casey also works as a freelance writer, editor, translator, and college essay coach.
"There is a kind of flame in Crete- Let us call it soul"
Crete is the largest island in Greece, and the fifth largest one in the Mediterranean Sea. Here, you can admire the remnants of brilliant civilizations, explore glorious beaches, impressive mountain scapes, fertile valleys and steep gorges, and become part of the island's rich gastronomic culture.
Everything stated in itinerary above including most meals (unless otherwise noted) plus wine or beer with your evening meal
Lodging at unique hotels
All guides, experts and entry fees
All wine tastings and cooking experiences
All in-country transport including flights to and from Crete
Roundtrip airfare to Athens.
Any spa treatments desired
Additional wine, beer, or spirits beyond what is offered at meals.
All personal souvenir purchases
Travel and Medical Insurance (required)
This was my first trip with Girls Guide, and I can't wait to do another. Crete is a beautiful and welcoming country, with a long history: so interesting were the Minoan ruins at Knossos and the Venetian fortress on the island of Spinalonga. I loved the time we spent cooking with Koula and can now better appreciate the simplicity of traditional Cretan cooking - and the health benefits! The best part of the trip was meeting new friends and really getting to know one another. While we were of different ages and diverse backgrounds, we bonded immediately and enjoyed our time together. Accommodations and food were top-notch ... I can absolutely recommend this specific trip and Girls Guide to the World! - Ginger, Hershey, PA
I took the Mythical Crete tour, and would sign up for another Grils' Guide trip in a heartbeat. Doni arranged such varied activities: seeing historic and prehistoric sites (including some that most tourists don't visit), taking a cooking and a dancing class, spending an evening on our own boat .... I liked the balance between structured activities and flexible time so we could follow our interests. The food was consistently fresh and local; the hotels were fine too, especially the Minos Palace. All in all, unforgettable! - Sue, Cambridge MA
You are going to want to fly into the Athens International Airport
The trip officially starts on the evening of May 3rd, but if you are traveling across an ocean to get to Athens, you may want to consider arriving a day early so you have time to relax and get acclimated to the local time zone. If you do decide to arrive early, please let us know and we will take care of booking your room for you and make sure that you are kept in the same room as you will be in when the trip starts.
We will have a zoom call about 6 weeks before the trip starts to discuss all that information and give you a packing list. Here is a great website that we love that will help you with packing and travel trips.
The temperatures in Crete in May are comfortable with low of 64°F and and high up to 71°F.
You can expect a few rainy days in Crete during May, but usually the weather is comfortable in May.
Casey O'Brien-Blondes will be your trip leader. Casey is an avid traveler and in the same spirit, Casey launched Loire Legends Travel, a bespoke service for made-to-measure trips. Whether you are traveling solo, as a couple, family, group of friends, or organization – Casey will create an immersive itinerary that sparks emotional connections with the destinations you discover!