Crete and Santorini Tour

24 MARCH – 5 APRIL 2019
Led by Ms Patricia Camilleri
and Ms Ann Gingell Littlejohn

Our specialist guide throughout the tour will be
Dr Maria Girtzi PhD (Birmingham)

Bull-leaping fresco. Palace of Knossos, c. 1400 BC. Herakleion Archaeological Museum, Crete.

  • Walk through the Minoan Palaces of Knossos, Phaestos and Malia, and visit the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion to see the splendid finds from these sites
  • Absorb the serenity and timeless beauty of several impressive monasteries
  • Visit the largest Venetian castle in Crete and explore the ancient streets of Venetian and Ottoman Chania and Rethymnon. Stand before the Venetian walls of Heraklion, formerly Candia, site of the 17th century Ottoman-Venetian War
  • Listen to the birds in the Topolia Gorge, relax to the sound of the springs and waterfalls in the mountain village of Argyroupoli, visit the alleged birthplace of Zeus in the Dikteon cave 1025m above sea level on the Lassithi plateau
  • Delight in the unforgettable beauty of Santorini with its dazzling white walls and blue domed buildings and its unique archaeological sites, notably the Minoan Bronze Age city at Akrotiri.
  • Watch the famed Aegean sunset over the caldera from Oia


Sunday 24 MARCH 2019
Leave Malta for Athens at 17:10 on Aegean Airlines flight A3-731, arriving Athens at 20:10.
Leave Athens on flight A3-7344 at 21:30 and arrive Chania at 22:30.
Check in to hotel. Light packed snack on arrival.
Hotel Kydon Chania for four nights

Monday 25 MARCH
In the morning we visit the Akrotiri peninsula and one of its monasteries, the 17th century Agia Triada of Tzangaroloi, the largest monastery in Crete, founded in the 17th century by two Venetian Orthodox brothers who were monks. Return to Chania and go round the historic city centre, getting acquainted with the Venetian and Ottoman remains.
Overnight in Chania

Tuesday 26 MARCH

Visit to the Minoan cemetery of Armenoi (unique rock-cut tombs 14th-13th centuries BC). We then visit the Hellenistic-Roman ruins of the ancient citystate of Aptera (flourished from 8th century BC to the 7th century AD) along with the much-restored 11th century monastery of St John the Theologian that lies in the middle of the archaeological site. Back to Chania to visit the Archaeological Museum, in the former 16th century Venetian monastery of St Francis, that houses a collection of finds from Western Crete from the Minoan to the Roman periods.
Overnight in Chania

Wednesday 27 MARCH

We travel to the Topolia Gorge resplendent in spring with its rich vegetation and abundant bird life. Weather and terrain permitting we shall take a walk in the area. We then visit the 17th century Venetian period Monastery of Panagia Chrisoskalatissa, spectacularly built at the top of a cliff overlooking the beautiful Elafonisi beach. After the monastery visit we spend time at and around the Elafonisi beach and return to Chania.
Overnight in Chania

Thursday 28 MARCH

We leave Chania and our first stop is a visit to Eleftherna (site and newly opened museum), one of the most important Dorian city-states with continuous occupation from the 9th century BC to the Byzantine period. We drive by beautiful Lake Kournas at the foot of the White Mountains and then head for Rethymnon, founded by the Venetians in 1204, and take time to stroll around the Venetian harbour and the narrow streets of the historic centre, exploring Venetian-Ottoman Rethymnon.
Check into Pepi Boutique Hotel Rethymnon for two nights

Friday 29 MARCH
We visit the star-shaped Venetian Castle (Fortezza), built in 1573 and the largest Venetian castle in Crete. We then drive out of Rethymnon and visit the small traditional mountain village of Argyroupoli, 260 m. above sea level, renowned for its springs, waterfalls and lush greenery. It stands on the site of ancient Lappa, and has seen settlement by the Romans, early Christians, Byzantines, Venetians and Ottomans. Overnight in Rethymnon

Saturday 30 MARCH
We leave Rethymnon and head for Heraklion and the impressive Minoan palace of Knossos, “house” of the legendary King Minos and the Minotaur. This will be followed by a visit to the recently renovated Archaeological Museum of Heraklion that houses unique Minoan collections coming from the palaces of Knossos (hundreds of finds and unique frescoes), Phaestos (such as the disc of Phaestos), Malia, Zakros and others, along with finds that date from the Archaic to the Roman eras. We end the day’s tour with a walk around the historic city center of Heraklion, taking in its glorious Venetian remains, especially the Venetian walls which, during the famous Siege of Candia, as it was then called, withstood a 21-year siege between 1648-1689, during the course of the Ottoman-Venetian Wars.
Check into Hotel Atrion Heraklion for three nights

Sunday 31 MARCH

We visit the Minoan palace of Phaestos, the second most important Minoan palace in Crete after Knossos. It was built c.1700 BC on a hill with magnificent views, on the site of a number of earlier palaces. Then, travelling forward several centuries in time, we go to the Roman site of Gortyn, an important settlement for several millennia from prehistory up to its destruction by the Arabs in the 9th century AD. It was the Roman capital of the island, and is the site where the important Law Code of Gortyn, c. 450 BC, was found inscribed on columns. Gortyn is also associated with St Titus, a disciple of St Paul who visited Crete on his missionary journeys. We end the day with a visit to the less known Minoan town and royal villa of Agia Triada.
Overnight in Heraklion

Monday 1 APRIL 2019
In the morning, we go east to visit another example of Minoan archaeology, the palace of Malia. We then visit the medieval Monastery of Panaghia Kera, 630m. up in the Dikte mountains, with its magnificent Byzantine frescoes. From there we proceed to the beautiful Lasithi plateau for a visit to the Dikteon Cave 1025 m. above sea level. This is a cultic place, the alleged birthplace of Zeus, and rich in stalagmites and stalactites.
Overnight in Heraklion

Tuesday 2 APRIL
We make a morning start by hydrofoil for the volcanic island of Thera-Santorini. We visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thera for an introduction to the unique prehistory of the island (pottery, other finds and some of the unique frescoes from the 17th century BC prehistoric site at Akrotiri).
Check in to Hotel El Greco, Fira for three nights

Wednesday 3 APRIL

We visit the Minoan Bronze Age city at Akrotiri, one of the most important archaeological sites of the world, the “Pompeii” of the Aegean Sea, the streets and houses of which were buried under fine ash from the volcanic eruption of the17th century BC. We then drive to beautiful Oia, the idyllic site facing the caldera, with the most famous sunset of the Aegean Islands, and walk through its iconic streets, with their dazzling white walls and blue domed buildings.

Thursday 4 APRIL

We either visit the Dorian settlement of ancient Thera founded around the 9th-8th centuries BC at the top of Mt Profitis Elias, or we drive around the island of Santorini enjoying the unique landscape, or we try and do both.

Friday 5 APRIL

Departure Santorini for Athens on Aegean Airlines flight A3-7355 at 11:35 arriving at 12:20. Leave Athens at 13:50 on flight A3-730, arriving in Malta at 14:55.


Although every effort will be made to follow this itinerary closely the tour organisers reserve the right to make changes if they are necessary. Some of the visits may be affected by time constraints.


Package includes Aegean Airlines flights and transfers Malta-Athens-Chania/Santorini-Athens-Malta, hydrofoil between Crete and Santorini, 12 nights accommodation on B&B basis, apart from snack dinner on first night in Chania and HB one night in Santorini, all transfers, taxes, coach arrangements, services of specialist guide, gratuities.
In twin sharing: €1770
In single occupancy: + €536


  • Museum and site entrance fees. Concessions for over 65-year-olds on some sites and in some museums
  • Daily meals
  • Travel insurance

Dr Maria Girtzi is an archaeologist, historian and certified tour guide with several years’ experience. Her first degree, in History, Archaeology and Art, was obtained in her home town at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She did her postgraduate studies in Greek Archaeology (MA and PhD) at the University of Birmingham (UK). She has been teaching History, Archaeology and Art History at the Universities of Thrace, Birmingham (UK), Cornell (USA), the Hellenic Open University and the Open University of Cyprus and has worked as a field archaeologist in many excavations, including Crete. She has read papers at international & national conferences on culture, museology, education and ICT and has published articles on archaeological magazines. She is the author of Historical Topography of Ancient Macedonia (2001).

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