Be prepared to fall in love with Crete! You will hike, swim, eat, and cruise your way around the island during this action-packed day. Soak up the awe-inspiring scenery, eat traditional Cretan food, and explore old fortresses on the tiny island of Spinalonga. This the best of the Cretan countryside all in one day!
Your immersion into the heart of Cretan life begins with a drive away from the coast, through lush olive groves and ancient woodlands. Our first top will be the traditional village of Kritsa, the gateway to the stunning Kritsa Gorge.
Kritsa Gorge isn’t as well-known as other gorges on the island but it is just as beautiful, if not more so because the peace and tranquillity of the place is rarely disturbed by large groups of tourists being herded through it.
The entrance to the gorge is spectacular, almost as if the mountain has been torn in two. Following the old donkey path, we will reach the middle of the gorge, a valley full of olive groves. The trail is approximately four kilometres long and is relatively easy apart from one or two boulders to climb over.
The gorge ends at an ancient Minoan path, which we will follow past shepherd huts and fields. From here we will take a drive out to a traditional Cretan olive oil farm. Our hosts will show you around the farm, sharing their knowledge of the green gold, including how to cultivate it and what to look for when tasting different varieties. We will finish with a tasting accompanied by some delicious local wine.
Next you will learn the secrets of making one of the most famous and beloved dishes in all of Greece, dolmades (vine leaves stuffed with rice). Enjoy your culinary creations alongside a traditional and delicious Greek lunch of salads, tzatziki, dako (rusks with dressing), and other small seasonal plates, with a glass of wine or shot of local raki, of course.
With our bellies full, we will leave for the village of Plaka where speedboats will be waiting to whisk you off to the fortress island of Spinalonga, located in the Gulf of Elounda.
Here you will have time to wander around by yourself and discover the turbulent history of this tiny islet; conquered by the Venetians in the 16th century, the ancient fortifications were built to act as first line of defence in the ferocious wars with the Ottoman Turks.
After an hour, our speedboat will pick you up and take you for a refreshing spin around Spinalonga. If you feel the need to cool off, jump in for a swim at Spinalonga or at the beach in Plaka village, where we board the boat. (There are cabins there for you to change into your swimwear.)
After all that fun in the sun, your speedboat will escort you back to your start point. But before you say goodbye, talk to your in-the-know local guide if you want the inside track on where to eat, drink, and visit during the rest of your stay on magical Crete.