Knossos Palace, Crete
Knossos Palace, Crete

Archaeological Tours

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Crete: Wine & Archaeology

15 days From $7,895 $7,645

October 4 2020



Its strategic location on the map has turned the island of Crete into a crossroads of cultures and peoples. Coveted and occupied by consecutive invaders, as well as being the birthplace of the Minoan civilization, Crete’s archaeological artifacts reflect its varied cultural heritage. Encounter colorful frescoes and figurines depicting bull-jumping, snake goddesses, and flower-collecting; and catch glimpses of a people who pre-dated not only the Classical Greeks but also the Trojan Wars. Explore the old towns of Chania and Rethymno, where we find a fascinating combination of Venetian and Ottoman architecture.

Another facet of Crete’s cultural heritage lies within its gastronomy, where ancient customs and traditions are kept alive. Home to one of the world’s oldest wine presses, Crete really delivers on the culinary front and its dishes are known the world over for their fresh, seasonal flavours. On this gorgeous Mediterranean island, you’ll be welcomed at a variety of amazing wineries and vineyards, where enticing tastings await!

What's included?

  •  Expert Scholar & Tour Manager
  •  Accommodation
  •  Local Transport & private transfer to/from airport and group hotel
  •  Entries & Tips
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
  •  Regional Flights
  •  Four enlightening evening lectures from your expert scholar
  •  A name badge, luggage strap and bag tag
  •  A study guide, reading list, and other useful tour documentation compiled by your expert scholar and your Archaeological Tours team

Led by...

Dr Tom Brogan

Dr Tom Brogan

Dr Thomas Brogan is the Director of the INSTAP Study Center for East Crete, and has been an active member of several excavations on the island for the past thirty years.

Book Now From $7,645 $7,895

Choose from these limited time special offer(s):

  • Full balance payment just $7,645

Deposit: $1,250 Single supplement: $1,500

Tour highlights:

  • A unique tour experience that combines the very best of Cretan archaeology with amazing locally produced wines
  • Explore this Mediterranean island’s archaeological remains, from East to West, and from vivid ruins of Minoan palaces to lesser known sites
  • Discover Gortyn and its famous 5th century stone blocks, which are carefully inscribed with the laws of Classical Greece
  • Taste the freshest olive oil, produced by the monks who still reside at the Toplou Monastery
  • Uncover the fruits of Crete’s wine-making renaissance during a series of sumptuous local wine tastings

Tour details

Dates October 4 2020 - October 18 2020
Duration 15 days
Cost Choose from these limited time special offer(s):
  • Full balance payment just $7,645 $7,895
Deposit: $1,250 Single supplement: $1,500 Balance due by July 12 2020
Activity Level Moderate
Tour code A20CRE

Book Now or call 866-740-5130 if you have any questions

October 4 2020: Itinerary

We arrive in Heraklion, the largest city and the administrative capital of Crete. The present-day city was founded in AD 824 by Arab raiders, who had been expelled from Iberia by Emir Al-Hakam and seized the island from the Eastern Roman Empire. Settle into your hotel and perhaps explore the vibrant and bustling metropolis before enjoying an introductory lecture and welcome dinner.

Meals include: Dinner

We begin the morning with a tour of the well-preserved villas at Tílissos – a noteworthy Minoan town excavated in the early 20th century. Next, we visit Heraklion Archaeological Museum, which houses the world’s greatest exhibition of Minoan artifacts; a stellar collection that has been gathered from the island’s palaces, towns, and villas since the 1830s. Don’t miss the bull’s head rhyton – or drinking vessel – that was brought back here from Knossos, or the enigmatic Phaistos Disc, a clay disc from around 2000 BC, which has yet to be deciphered. After lunch, you will have the opportunity to return to the museum or simply spend the afternoon at leisure.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Our third day begins at the great Minoan palace of Phaistos, a site dating back as far as 4000 BC, which features in the literature of Homer. We continue on to the villa complex at Agia Triada, a settlement overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. More Linear A tablets have been discovered here than at any other Minoan site. After lunch, explore the Museum of Cretan Ethnology in Voroi, enjoying exhibits on the history of the island’s food, traditions, and handicrafts. Later, we are treated to our first Cretan wine-tasting.

All meals included

Setting out this morning, we travel to the Prinias Sanctuary, a temple constructed in the 7th century BC, that bears a surprising resemblance to the temples of ancient Egypt. Our next stop is Gortyn, which, during Greco-Roman times was the most powerful city on the island. Gortyn is best-known for its collection of 5th-century stone blocks, inscribed with the law codes of Classical Greece. Enjoy lunch at a winery, before returning to Heraklion.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Today we delve into Knossos, the best-known archaeological site in Crete. It is a Minoan palace said to have been built by the legendary architect Dædalus, to house the mythical bull-headed Minotaur. We spend a full morning among the labyrinthine palace buildings, which were reconstructed and preserved by Sir Arthur John Evans and his team in the early 1900s. After lunch in nearby Skalani, we make our way over to Archanes. Here we take a walking tour of the local archaeological sites, which include a Minoan graveyard. We round off the afternoon at our third winery, before returning to Heraklion.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Our journey takes us east today, to the grand and glorious Minoan Palace of Malia. Excavations here revealed evidence of Neolithic habitation, including an early palace erected circa 1900 BC. After lunch, we take a boat to the fortress on Spinalonga Island. Spinalonga is best known as being the home of a 20th-century leper colony, although its origins date back to the 16th century when Venetian settlers separated it from the mainland. We drive to Agios Nikolaos, where we come together for dinner at our next hotel.

All meals included

After a leisurely start, we travel the short distance to the ancient city of Lato, a post-Minoan site complete with Greek agora – a public open space. We have lunch in Kritsa, a gorgeous hillside village among the olive groves and one of the most picturesque spots in Greece. In the afternoon, we tour the local area, paying a visit to the church at Panayia Kira, a building that houses magnificent Byzantine frescos. We return to Agios Nikolaos for dinner, stopping at a Cretan olive oil farm en route if time permits.

All meals included

This morning, we travel as the ancient Greeks did – by boat, to the tiny island of Mochlos, home to one of the earliest Minoan settlements in the country. Here we visit the stunningly situated ruins of Chamaizi, made famous by the Middle Minoan building located on the summit of its hill. We spend tonight in the charming seaside town of Sitia, an area that has been occupied in various incarnations since Neolithic times.

All meals included

We begin today at Sitia Archaeological Museum, an institution housing an extensive collection of Minoan artifacts, including one of the world’s oldest wine presses. Our next destination is the Minoan palace and harbor town at Kato Zakro. It is believed that Kato Zakro once acted as a gateway to the east – a theory supported by the discovery of several Middle Eastern objects on-site. We continue to the ancient settlement of Palaikastro, a former Minoan trading center. Our afternoon ends at the Toplou Monastery, a 15th century complex, where we view original folk engravings and unique icons. Those who wish can also sample wine and olive oil made by the monks who still live and work here.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Today, we make our way west to Rethymno. En route, we stop at the large and complex site of Gournia, where we find the wonderfully well-preserved remains of a Minoan town. Its small houses, crowded along narrow cobblestone lanes, are laid out much the same as today’s Cretan mountain villages. After checking in to our next hotel, we tour Rethymno’s Venetian fortress and then enjoy dinner at one of the town’s excellent local restaurants.

All meals included

After touring the Rethymno Archaeology Museum, with its illuminating chronological collections, we take a scenic drive to the Graeco-Roman site of Aptera, a powerful walled city built above the bay, with an aspect looking south to Akrotiri. First founded in the Minoan era, the city was largely destroyed by a 7th century earthquake. We continue to the romantic town of Chania, visiting a winery and olive oil farm en route.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Having reached the western tip of Crete, we visit the site of Falasarna, once an extensive fortified Greek harbor. Today, its ruins are made especially enchanting by the lapping turquoise sea around them, as well as several thriving species of rare flowers. If time allows, we also tour the site of Polyrinia, where Medieval and Roman remains lay atop an originally Minoan settlement. We spend this afternoon at our final winery of the trip, before returning to Chania.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

This morning we head to Souyia and catch a boat to Lissos, an ancient city renown in antiquity for its temple dedicated to Asklepios, god of healing. We have the opportunity to enjoy the view as we journey across the ‘wine dark’ sea. This afternoon, we return to Chania and enjoy a farewell dinner together this evening. 

All meals included

Our final day begins at the Archaeological Museum, its displays gloriously set within a restored 16th-century Venetian church; a treasure trove of statues, ceramics, glassware, and so much more. This afternoon, we fly to Athens and check in to our airport hotel.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

We transfer to the airport for our return flights home or for onward travel, depending on your plans.

Meals include: Breakfast

October 4 2020: Additional Info

October 4 2020: Accommodation

October 4 2020: Enquiries

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