Below is our standard East-West itinerary, but it can be adjusted to add or subtract days or substitute overnight destinations, as these examples indicate: Opt for an 8 day tour by starting in Arhanes instead of Tzermiado. Split in half the long 94 km, 58 mile route from Rethymno to Hania on Day 10 by staying in the lovely traditional town of Vamos. The same can be done for the Zaros-Rethymno route by an overnight in Spili, a town beloved for its Venetian-era fountain with 19 lion heads. Overnight in Zaros two nights in order to bike the second day in the south and visit the Matala caves, Minoan Phaestos and Roman Gortyna ruins. Consider overnight in Axos with engaging agro-tourism activities at Enagron. Lots of possibilities!
If you travel to Crete by sea via an overnight ferry from Piraeus (Athens’ port), you will travel with the bikes. If you travel to Crete by air or by sea from a port other than Piraeus, the bikes we will be waiting for you in Crete. On your arrival, you will be met by a CycleGreece agent. Depending on your itinerary, you will either start biking to your first destination from the port or airport, or you will be transferred to your hotel.
Leave your luggage in the hotel and it will be transferred to your next destination.
Day 1: Tzermiado
The Lassithi Plateau, one of the highest farming areas in Greece, once had 20,000 windmills which only a generation or so ago were still in use, which gives you an idea of how traditional this region is. Today’s ride calls for an ascent of 2283 feet 695 meters to the plateau. 30 km, 18.60 miles. Consider a 14 km, 8.60 miles detour on the flat coastal road to the Minoan palace city of Malia.
Day 2: Tzermiado
Make a grand loop of the plateau, stopping at Lassinthos Eco Village and at Diktion Cave to marvel at the gigantic stalactites and stalagmites. Cretans believe Zeus was born in this cave. 25 km, 15 miles If you did not visit Malia yesterday, consider doing so today if you are up for an almost 3,000 foot descent/ascent to the coast. Stop for lunch in Krasi, known for fresh drinking water springs. 54 km, 32 miles
Day 3: Arhanes
Head west, over mountain ridges, cycling on back roads with goats and donkeys. Listen for the cheery sound of their bells. En route make an optional 4 km detour to the Nikos Katzantzakis Museum, home of the author of Zorba the Greek. In Arhanes, you will admire the traditional architecture of the “arhontiko,” the preserved old villas. Located only 15 km south of Herakleion, Arhanes is famous for its local cuisine and wines. See the Extras tab for a cooking class and wine tasting. 44 km, 27 miles
Day 4: Arhanes
Bike a back road to reach Knossos, the capital of the peaceful Minoan Empire. Admire King Minos’ throne; a replica was made for the chief judge at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. 25 km 15 miles To avoid Herakleion’s urban traffic, we recommend taking at taxi or bus from Knossos to Herakleion Archaeology Museum with its famed Minoan frescos and the enigmatic Phaestos disc. There’s likely time for an afternoon Arhanes loop 24.50 km, 15 miles
Day 5: Zaros
Today you will plunge into the interior of central Crete to Zaros located in the Psiloritis Mountains at 1394 feet 425 meters. Zaros is known for its bottled mineral water, fresh trout and the E4 (European) hiking path. En route don’t miss the Monumental Olive Tree at Panasos. Optional afternoon hike in the Rouvas Gorge. 55.52 km, 34.50 miles
If you opt to spend a second night in Zaros, the next day an inviting bike ride awaits you to the Matala caves, Minoan Phaestos and the Roman ruins of Gortyna. 78.50 km, 48 miles
Day 6: Rethymno
Back country roads, lots of climbing, breathtaking scenery characterizes today’s ride. The day’s final destination is Crete’s best kept secret, Rethymno, a Venetian era city with an Ottoman overlay. You must visit the Fortezza, the grand Venetian-era fort overlooking the city. 77.20km, 48 miles
Instead of biking Zaros to Rethymno on Day 6, if you want to linger in the mountainous countryside instead of the city, you can opt to bike Zaros to Spili to enjoy its fountain of water spewing from the mouths of 19 lions heads. Continue the next day Spili to Rethymno.
Day 7: Rethymno
A bike ride into the low portions of the Psiloritis Mountains. Visit Melidoni Cave and learn its poignant history. Lunch on the seacoast at Panormos. Stroll Rethymno’s car-free alley-like streets or along its fourteen kilometer sandy beach. 67.70 km, 42 miles
Day 8: Hania
The ride to Hania passes the Minoan cemetery at Armeni with its fascinating tombs of unknown origin. Halfway en route is the gorgeous sea at Giorgiopoli (Georgetown). The final leg entails a climb over Malaxa village at 1500 feet high. 78 km, 48.50 miles
Instead of biking Rethymno to Hania on Day 8, if you want a shorter “smell the roses” tour and an overnight in a traditional village, you can opt to bike Rethymno to Vamos and continue the next day to Hania. This option allows a detour to Ancient Aptera and Koules Fortress.
Day 9: Hania
Ascend from sea level to 1860 feet through the enchanting Therissos Gorge road. On the way back stop at a family winery for lunch, or visit a delightful botanical park created by two brothers when their cherished olive fields burned down. Stroll Hania’s beautiful harbor with Venetian architecture. Take time for shopping in Hania – handmade knives or gold jewelry. 51 km, 31.60 miles
Day 10: Departure
There are daily flights from Hania to Athens Airport, including ones that leave early enough to enable you to make a connecting flight home. Overnight ferries to Piraeus depart at 9:00 pm. Leave your bikes and gear at the hotel.
Single supplement 500 euros
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