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Self-guided 15-day Eastern Crete Cycling Tour Level 3
Crete is rightly considered to be one of the most beautiful destinations in Greece. And this tour combines history, culture, mountains, beaches, lakes, good food, lots of raki and Cretan music! You will begin in Heraklion, the capital, and you will follow the coast passing through Agios Nikolaos, Ierapetra, Tsoutsouros and finally Rethymno. On the way you will visit the most important archaeological sites of Crete, Knossos and Phaestos, the impressive remains of the Minoan civilization which flourished about 4000 years ago. In addition you will have the chance to relax by the beach, taste the local food in the numerous taverns and restaurants, but mostly just immerse yourself in Cretan hospitality.
This tour is of moderate difficulty. It is created for recreational cyclists; however, you must have a standard/good level of fitness to feel comfortable. The daily distance is around 50km (check daily program) and the daily total climb averages no more than 600m with the exception of one day (860m). Of course in case you will need help, we provide 24h telephone support so we will step in and help.
Please book your bikes when you book the tour: [email protected]
Slow Tours offers a number of other Cycling Tours in Europe
Arrival is at Heraklion airport or port and upon request we can transfer you to your hotel. You have the day free to explore the city at will, perhaps visiting the famous “Koule” (castle) dominating the port, or the archaeological museum. Heraklion is the biggest city on Crete and is the provincial capital. It has over 3000 years of history and you will leave wishing you had spent more time in her ancient lanes. Delivery of your bikes and equipment takes place during the evening and you spend the night in Heraklion.
Spend your day in the town visiting the attractions such as the archaeological or you could take a cycle ride. You can cycle up to Rogdia, a hill village with nice taverns and an amazing view of the sea and the city. You can also pass through the traditional village of Arolithos with its traditional kafeneio, tavern and even a café with swimming pool.
Heraklion-Knossos-Ano Hersonissos/Koutouloufari 37Km | +430m
Today we start our cycling trip and very soon arrive at Knossos. Not only the biggest and the most important of the Cretan archaeological sites, but also the greatest expression of Minoan architecture known to man, Knossos is an integral part of European history and as such it is known as Europe’s oldest city. Once there you can visit the Minoan palace and surrounding remains from 2000-1400 BC. We continue our ride and drop in at the Cretan aquarium where you can experience the Mediterranean Marine world with its hundreds of fascinating species. Finally, we arrive in either Ano Hersonissos or Koutouloufari, two traditional Cretan villages that, although having some tourism, have managed to retain their authentic character.
Ano Hersonissos or Koutouloufari 35km | +840
There is acycle ride up to one of several mountain villages, our route takes you through traditional regions and magical scenery. Or maybe a day at the beach and further exploration of the town.
Ano Hersonissos/ Koutouloufari – Agios Nikolaos 41Km | +591m
Get ready for a day in the saddle! Travelling through spectacular mountain scenery you´ll pass traditional villages like Vrahasi, where time has stood still, as the road will take you down to Agios Nikolaos, the picturesque capital of Lasithi. On the way, you can visit the Vassilakis Estate in Neapoli, where you can taste the traditionally produced olive oil, visit the olive museum and see an original olive mill from 1865! Upon arrival in Agios Nikolaos you can walk around the “lake”, around the old port and explore the loveliest town in Eastern Crete.
Elounda and the Island of Spinalonga 32km | +498m
In one of the most famous locations on Crete. Once you reach Plaka you can take the short boat ride to Spinalonga. The island was once used as a fort and ended its days as leper colony under Venetian rule.
Agios Nikolaos-Lerapetra 37Km | +462m
Today you will begin your cycle ride following the coast and then winding your way through the olive groves eventually come to your destination in Lerapetra, an important town on the south-east Cretan coast. Swim at one of the golden beaches that you will pass or continue onto the town centre with its cafes and the restaurants. Note: If you have rent an e-bike, it is preferable to take with you the bike charger in order to charge the battery if needed.
Follow the coast at your leisure, parking your bicycle at any beach you choose. Alternatively, take a boat trip to the island of Gaidouronissi just opposite Lerapetra. The island is a unique experience with its golden beach and the hazel waters.
Lerapetra-Tsoutsouros 57Km | +860m
This is going to be your longest and highest climb, however, there are so many amazing places along the way that you'll find yourself stopping regularly having a good excuse for a sneaky rest. You’ll have a great day! The route is mainly coastal and passes through beautiful villages like Myrtos, Tertsa and Keratokambos and eventually ends up in the tranquil town of Tsoutsouros. This day is a mixture of coastal landscapes, picturesque villages and quiet roads.
Cycle if you want, but we recommend a rest after yesterday’s cycling. Of course there is the beach and later the traditional tavernas and restaurants of the town will offer you a truly authentic Cretan experience and don’t forget to taste the local raki!
Tsoutsouros-Phaistos-Agia Galini 73Km | +740m
Get in the car for a transfer 500 meters altitude high on the mountain and then some kilometres (optionally) closer to our final destination, in Mesohori. Stronger cyclists can start earlier adding an extra 8km to the days ride. Otherwise jump in the car and will take you 500m up to have gentler start to the day. You’ll ride among the olive trees on the plateau and pass through small villages in the area reaching the highlight of the day: The Palace of Phaistos. This is a Bronze Age archaeological site of major importance. Continuing your journey you will arrive in Agia Galini, a small seaside town on the hilly Cretan coast.
Agia Galini - Matala - Agia Galini 55km | +770m
You can relax by the beach and enjoy the taverns and cafes, or you can cycle to Matala (55km | +770m both ways), a small village in the south to see one of the best beaches on Crete.
Agia Galini-Rethymno 47Km | +760m
And so, we come to our last day on our bikes. Unless you insist, we will transfer you to one of 2 mountain villages to avoid the steep (500m) climb which you will be confronted with. We will leave you on the summit or take you on to Spili village to shorten the route. Passing through the mountain villages of the Rethymno Province you will come to the artificial lake of “Limni ton Potamon” which means “of the rivers”. Crossing the dam give you a good opportunity for a stop either to enjoy the scenery or try the local taverns, or both. You then continue to Rethymno, the capital of the province with its historical past. The city was founded by the Venetians and wandering within the old town you will soak up the atmosphere of its noble past. Of course, no visit is complete without a walk around “Fortezza”, the Venetian Era citadel! The small shops, bars and taverns complete the atmosphere and don’t forget to taste the raki once again with Greek meze!
Today you can enjoy the long beach in front of the town or walk through the centre with its museums and cultural attractions. Alternatively, cycle to ancient Eleftherna (47Km and a climb of +685m) a major archaeological site. The city was founded in 9th century BC high in the mountains and has an amazing museum. 5Km further you can visit to the 1000 years old Arkadiou monastery (52Km/+770m) where the Greeks blew themselves up so as not to surrender to the Ottomans in 1866. Today it is a European Liberty Monument as designated by UNESCO.
We Greeks don’t like to say goodbye. Instead we prefer to say "Εις το επανιδείν" which means that we hope to see you again some time!
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