Walking in Central Crete

From villages and vineyards to mountains and Minoan sites.

CreteSpecial Interest Holidays & Escorted Tours

Crete has a wealth of walks in an astonishing variety of landscapes, and there is no better way of enjoying them than in the convivial company of a small group of like-minded people, led by a guide who really understands the terrain. Having lived in Crete for several years in his younger days, our MD Ghislain knows the island and its people extremely well. Over the past few years, he has guided our popular walking holidays in Turkey, based at our exclusive Mandarin & Mango Boutique Hotels. For 2017, he is looking forward to bringing the same passion, knowledge and enthusiasm to our new Cretan itineraries.

Our Central Crete Walking Weeks are based in Pendamodi, a small agricultural village in the heart of the Cretan countryside, approximately 15 km from the island capital Heraklion and the airport. This allows us to cover a varied range of terrain and some of the island's most interesting sights from a single base without the need to keep repacking and moving accommodation. Crete is often referred to as the "cradle of western civilisation", and our central base puts us within easy striking distance not only of the most famous Minoan site, Knossos, but also of lesser known excavations such as Phourni which few ordinary tourists make the effort to visit. In addition, our walks will take us to beautiful countryside both cultivated and wild, and to wonderfully unspoilt stretches of coastline.

The exact itinerary is of course dependent on local conditions at the time but there will be five full-day walks, taking in a variety of terrain, and one free day. The main aim of the walks is to enjoy and appreciate the countryside rather than to test your endurance, but naturally a reasonable level of fitness and stamina are required, as are suitable footwear and clothing. Daily distances covered range from 9 km to 15 km and whilst there are no steep climbs, some of the walks involve steady ascents and/or descents as well as some rough paths.

We will be staying at Villas Eleftheria, Kalithea and Irini in Pendamodi, a cluster of villas each with two or three bedrooms. Each room has its own bath or shower room, although in some cases these may be adjacent rather than en-suite. Breakfast is included throughout; other meals are payable locally. For dinner we will visit authentic local tavernas; where there are no suitable taverna stops for lunch, you will have the opportunity to purchase a picnic. Private minibus transfers to and from the starting and finishing points of our walks are included, except for Day 2 when we walk directly from our villas.

Itinerary

Tuesday: Arrival at Heraklion Airport and transfer to accommodation. Remainder of the afternoon at leisure.

Wednesday: A relatively easy day walking in an around the village of Pendamodi, enjoying the bucolic landscape characterised by olive groves and vineyards. We spend about 3 hours walking, plus some time visiting a local winery and a raki destillery, including the opportunity to sample their wares.

Thursday: A 40-minute minibus transfer south takes us Selia Mitato and the Forest of Rouva. Our 11-km walk through woodland and shrubery takes us to a pictureque rural chapel and we will enjoy a picnic lunch at a local beauty spot.

Friday: A 15-km walk taking in archaeological sites and spectacular views, as a short transfer takes us north-east to the village of Archanes. From here, we walk via the lesser-known Minoan sites of Phourni and Anemospilia to Mount Ghioutas, to marvel at the panoramic views down to the coast from the sanctuary at its peak, before returning to Archanes.

Saturday: A well-earned day of rest to enjoy the gardens and swimming pools at our villas in Pendamodi or to further explore the surrounding area at your leisure.

Sunday: Our minibus takes us to Crete's most important archaological site, Knossos, considered to be Europe's oldest city and the centre of the Minoan civilisation. After an opportunity to visit the site, we walk through surrounding farmland, woodland and small villages to the Roman aqueduct of Fountana (approx. 12 km in total).

Monday: We head to the south coast by minibus for a 10-km walk, starting at the seaside monastery of Iera Moni near Koudouma. From here, we walk to the the chapel of Spilia Agios Antoniou, built inside a natural cave overlooking the sea, before continuing to the sleepy seaside village of Agios Yiannis, where we have time for a leisurely taverna lunch and a swim.

Tuesday: Transfer back to Heraklion Airport for your flight home.

Price includes:

Not included:

This holiday can be combined with our Walking in Western Crete itinerary to form a two-week walking holiday, whilst guests wishing to spend more time relaxing at the beginning or end of their holiday can extend this itinerary with a longer stay at Pendamodi Villas or at one of our other locations. Please enquire for details or a quote.