Crete is the jewel in the Aegean's crown. A remarkable island of mountains, gorges, rolling hills and dramatic coastline, it is also home to some of the most fiercely passionate musicians and storytellers in Greece.
When to go
Apr - Oct
From the moment you touch down in Crete, everything is included so that while you are with us you can forget about your wallet, relax and enjoy your time on the island.
- Feel the mythical presence of mighty Mount Ida (Psiloritis) as you cycle the undiscovered Amari valley.
- Eat, drink and dance with the islanders who open their homes to us with typically Cretan generosity.
- Visit ancient mythical sites and marvel at the Minoan antiquities of Phaistos.
- Dance the night away to Cretan folk music overlooking the Libyan Sea.
- Stand with the goats and sheep after cycling to the top of the breathtaking Asterousia Mountains.
- Meet local artisans, truffle hunters, beekeepers and musicians still practising a slow, traditional way of life.
ON THE MOVE
We start our journey in fertile rolling hills of the north, amid charming villages brimming with local artisans and monasteries sacred to Cretans. As we follow the island's contours we always have Psiloritis, or Mount Ida, birthplace of Zeus, to provide context. The Roman site at Eleftherna and the revered Arkardi Monastery are early historical highlights.
Heading south, the remote and largely deserted Amari Valley is particularly special, as is the spring town of Zaros. As we climb into the wild Asterousia Mountains we enter another world. Here vultures ride the thermals above stark mountains, the southernmost in Europe, which plunge into the Libyan sea at the end of our journey.
The cycling is a mix of tracks and quiet backroads, taking in the undulating countryside but with a steeper climb on the last day. There are two walks, each between 2-3 hours. These are not too technical, although they do require sturdy walking boots.
JOURNEY DESIGNER Matthew says:
The highlight of any time I spend in the Cretan interior is always the people. Their sense of identity, their spirit, traditions and generosity, their lovingly prepared mountain food, their music and their raki.
Transfer 1 hour 15 minutes
After your flight to Crete you will be transferred to the quiet village of Thronos, our base for two nights. Here we find Eleftheria, Lambros and family who give us our first taste of warm Cretan hospitality. Their homely property, Aravanes, enjoys spectacular views at the head of the valley. If you arrive in the afternoon, options include relaxing by the pool with a mountain view or walking in the vicinity with Lambros to learn about the local flora. The hotel has an authentic local taverna where we will have dinner.
Afternoon walk 2-3 hours
In an open 4×4 we adventure into the heart of the Rouvas forest, on the slopes of Psiloritis above Zaros. We join Nikos, bursting with character and a passionate truffle hunter. Depending on the season, we will join him on a hunt with his Italian hunting dogs, after which he and his daughter will prepare a truffle lunch. If truffle hunting is not possible, Nikos will turn his infectious enthusiasm to his other passion: bees. After this feast, we will trek down the beautiful Rouvas gorge, full of streams, small cascades and lush vegetation, ending at Votomos lake. Before dinner back at the farm, we can help prepare the bread and raki before a fun evening of food and music with our family hosts.
Morning cycle 40 kms – afternoon cycle 25 kms
This morning we leave behind the mythical mountains to drop into the Mesara plain, the largest and most fertile in Crete, hence its attraction to the ancient civilisations. With a guide, we visit the Minoan antiquities of Phaistos (dating back to around 2000 BC), which enjoy an impressive setting with panoramic views. Then we cycle along the undulations at the edge of the Mesara plain, through its agricultural villages which live off the endless olive groves, before an epic lunch at Maria’s taverna. Maria’s simple and delicious seasonal food is much needed to fuel us for our late afternoon winding climb into the Asterousia mountains. What a change and what a surprise! Breathtaking scenery, a very special guest house and a larger than life host await. Oh, and an infinity pool.
Morning walk 2 hours – afternoon cycle 40 kms
An epic day and a fitting conclusion to our Cretan journey. By jeep we are driven down a steep dirt-road to the coast. From here we hike along a rocky path from the village of Ai Giannis, through a small forest, to the monastery of Koudoumas, one of the most important on the island. We pass beaches and caves where priests took refuge in medieval times. At the monastery, directly on the shoreline, we indulge in a picnic lunch and swim in the clear blue sea. In these parts, what goes steeply down must go steeply up. Mounting our electric bikes, we challenge ourselves for the climb up the sacred Kofinas mountain, vultures circling around its distinctive peak. As a reward (for succeeding or trying), Zeus-like Markos hosts us for dinner on his terrace, with music and dancing to celebrate the end of our journey.
Upcoming Scheduled Journeys
HOW TO BOOK
There are two ways to travel with us. You can either travel on a set-date Scheduled Journey or put together your own private party.
MAKE NEW FRIENDS
A wonderful opportunity to explore a fascinating part of the world, to meet like-minded travellers and make new friends in a group of Slow Cyclists assembled by us.