Start/End Points: The 8-day or 10-day tour both start in Athens where you test your bike. You can either fly or take an overnight boat to Herakleion, Crete. In either event, from Herakleion early morning the next day you/bikes/luggage will be transferred to Tzermiado for Day 1 of the 10 Day tour or transferred to Knossos - Arhanes for Day 1 of the 8-day tour. Note: 8-day tour itinerary starts at Day 3 on Itinerary below. The tour ends in Hania with daily flights and boats back to Athens. You leave the bike in Hania.
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. Make a giant loop of the plateau, stopping at Diktion Cave to marvel at the gigantic stalactites and stalagmites.
Day 2: Tzermiado
Descend almost 3,000 feet to the coast to the Minoan palace city of Malia. Most alluring are the giant earthenware pithos jars, as tall as you and the scent of orange blossoms as you enter the archaeology site. Stop for lunch in Krasi, known for its humongous plane tree and fresh water springs.
Day 3: Arhanes
10 Day Tour: Heading west, over mountain ridges, cycling on back roads with goats and donkeys. Listen for the sound of their bells. Your destination is Arhanes, a one-time Minoan village whose contemporary residents continue many of the same traditions, from growing grapes for wine to idling around shady trees.
8 Day Tour: Transfer from Herakleion to Arhanes. Cycle a rural route which includes a stop at the Museum of Nikos Katzantakis, Crete's beloved novelist and author of Zorba the Greek. Enjoy a dinner at a converted olive oil factory.
Day 4: Arhanes
Visit the famed Minoan palace city of Knossos and the Herakelion Archaeological Museum with priceless frescos. Ancient Minoa was the first civilization on European soil. By all accounts it was a peaceful empire.
Day 5: Zaros
En route stop at Vathypetro, a Minoan villa dating back to 1600 BC. The ride from Arhanes 1245 feet (380 meters) ascends to the cheerful mountain village of Zaros 1394 feet high (425 meters). Zaros is known for its bottled mineral water, fresh trout and the E4 (European) hiking route. Optional afternoon hike in the Rouvas Gorge.
Day 6: Rethymno
Back country roads, lots of climbing, breathtaking scenery characterize today’s ride. Advanced cyclists can detour to Spili, 1358 feet high (414 meters), a delightful mountain village of cobblestone streets, an amazing Venetian fountain and local crafts and produce. The day's final destination is Crete's best kept secret, Rethymno.
Day 7: Rethymno
A bike ride into the low portions of the Psiloritis Mountains. Visit Melidoni Cave and learn its poignant history. Rethymno's old city has an imposing Venetian fortress, car-free alley-like streets, great restaurants with traditional Cretan cuisine and a fourteen kilometer sandy beach.
Day 8: Hania
The ride to Hania runs parallel to the sea on a mountain ridge before descending down to the flat coastal road via the incomparable Therissos Gorge. Hania’s beautiful harbor with Venetian architecture is dominated by a mosque surviving from the 400 years of Ottoman occupation of Crete. Take time for a bit of shopping in Hania – handmade knives or gold jewelry.
Day 9: Hania
The ride climbs from sea level to 3600 feet but it only takes about 3 hours to ascend these 23 miles, and half that time to return. Gradually the scenery dramatically changes to alpine-like forests. Omalos is where hikers overnight to get an early morning start on descending the Samaria Gorge which you may opt to do at the end of your cycling tour.
Day 10: Departure.
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Europe Greece Outdoor: Land Rambler Bicycle Touring Archeology/History
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