Crete Archaeology

Crete Archaeology

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8 Days From



Crete Archaeology

8 Days Starting and ending in London, UK

Visiting: Heraklion, Knossos Palace, Schisma Eloundas, Spinalonga, Agios Nikolaos, Gortyn, Faistos, Zaros, Rethimno, Chania, Arkadi Monastery, Eleutherna Archaeological Museum, Amari Valley

Tour operator:

Brightwater Holidays

Tour code:


Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

6 - 25

Physical rating:

Medium, Moderate

Age range:


Special diets catered:

Vegetarians, Vegans, Meat, Please contact Brightwater with any specific dietary requirements

Tour operated in:

From: $2410 $2334 Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$76

NB: Prices correct on 24-Jun-2024 but subject to change.

This tour is no longer available, please see similar tours below or send an enquiry

Tour Overview

The Greek island of Crete presents a rich tapestry of archaeological treasures, sleepy villages and lively towns, all set in a Homeric landscape of mountains, gorges and flower-strewn pastures. Crete was home to one of the earliest European civilizations, the Minoans, who roamed these hills some 4000 years ago. Their legacy can be seen all over the island, in particular at the legendary Palace of Knossos.

From this distant starting point we journey through time, from the Hellenic-Roman era to the periods of Turkish and Venetian domination, as illustrated by archaeological remains and buildings which remain in use to this day. We also explore the countryside, which in the spring is carpeted with flowers, driving high into the mountains to visit labyrinthine caves and along the coast where we will see sparkling seascapes and picturesque fishing villages.


Optional excursion to Margaritas, Elefterna Museum and Arkadi Monastery with lunch included                           £95.00


  • The friendly old town of Rethymnon, rich with Venetian and Turkish architecture

  • The Palace of Knossos – simply one of the most outstanding archaeological sites in Europe

  • Phaistos, one of the most important centres of Minoan civilization

  • Byzantine monuments in the Amari Valley

  • Sleepy fishing villages and the atmospheric island of Spinalonga

Places You'll See

Crete Archaeology

Crete Archaeology

Crete Archaeology

Crete Archaeology


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Day 1

Location: Heraklion

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Atrion Hotel, Heraklion

Meals Included: Dinner

We depart from London on our direct flight to Heraklion in Crete (departures and connections from regional airports are available on request). On arrival we will proceed by coach to our comfortable hotel, the 3-star Hotel Atrion, conveniently located in the centre of Heraklion, a few yards from the promenade. All rooms have private bathrooms, air-conditioning and a balcony. Dinner is served in the hotel this evening.

Day 2

Location: Heraklion, Knossos Palace

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Atrion Hotel, Heraklion

Meals Included: Breakfast

Following breakfast this morning we visit the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion, which brings together archaeological finds from all over Crete, covering over 5500 years of the island’s history.

We then travel five kilometres out of town and 4000 years back in time, as we visit a famous relic of the oldest known civilization in Europe. The Palace of Knossos, centre of the Minoan Civilization, will leave us breathless as we wonder over the technology and facilities of that period.

We will enjoy some sightseeing and, time permitting, a relaxed walk in Heraklion, the capital city of Crete, before we return to the hotel. The evening is at leisure.

Day 3

Location: Schisma Eloundas, Spinalonga, Agios Nikolaos

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Atrion Hotel, Heraklion

Meals Included: Breakfast

Today we travel via the national road and through the spectacular ravine of Saint George, to the beautiful village of Elounda, a quiet fishing village sheltered within the Gulf of Mirabello. Here we will board our small boat that will take us to Spinalonga, the island that became famous as the setting of Victoria Hislop’s novel, “The Island”. The island was a former leper colony years ago. It houses a Venetian fortress and many of the buildings are awe-inspiring. In a walking tour of approximately one hour through the narrow main street we will have the opportunity to admire ruins and renovated houses.

Returning to the main island, this afternoon we will enjoy some free time in the picturesque harbour town of Agios Nikolaos (St Nicholas), with its small lake known as “Voulismeni” located in the centre of the town, at the foot of the cliffs.  Walk around and take delight in the panoramic view on the lake and the harbour and take a stroll in the narrow streets with a lot of shops and stores offering a large assortment from typical goods to fine jewellery.  

Later we return to the hotel where the evening is once again at leisure.

Day 4

Location: Gortyn, Faistos, Zaros, Rethimno

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Bio Suites Hotel, Rethymnon

Meals Included: Breakfast

After breakfast we check out of the hotel. Passing through some of the most beautiful areas of Crete, full of vineyards and olive trees, we will travel via the Aghia Varvara Pass to Southern Crete.

The first stop is at Gortyn, an old Greek-Roman town with its famous law stones, Roman amphitheatre and the ruins of the Saint Titus Church - the first Christian Church on the island.

Then we visit Phaistos, one of the most important centres of Minoan civilization, and the most wealthy and powerful city in southern Crete. It was inhabited from the Neolithic period until the foundation and development of the Minoan palaces in the 15th century B.C. The exact location of the Palace of Phaistos was first determined in the middle of the 19th century by the British admiral Spratt, while the archaeological investigation of the palace started in 1884 by the Italians Halbherr and Taramelli.

We continue to Zaros, located on the south slope of Ida Mountain, and here we will have a stop at the small lake, home to trout and turtles.  There used to be an aqueduct, which in ancient times supplied Gortys with water; nowadays the whole area of Messara is supplied with water from here. 

We then continue to Rethymnon and the 4-star Bio Suites Hotel.

Day 5

Location: Rethimno, Chania

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Bio Suites Hotel, Rethymnon

Meals Included: Breakfast

After breakfast we depart on a guided walk through the old town of Rethymnon. The town still maintains its old aristocratic appearance, with buildings dating from the 16th century and Byzantine and Hellenic-Roman remains. Rethymnon is a mixture of Venetian and Turkish influences, dominated by a Venetian Fortress.  Significant buildings have been renovated and today house the archaeological museum, municipality services offices and restaurants.  A walk through the charming old quarter shows Venetian and Turkish architecture in the harbour, arched doorways and stone staircases.  In the narrow streets shopkeepers sell a large variety of Cretan goods such as leather, honey, herbs, cheese, yoghurt, olives, oil etc.

After an opportunity for lunch (not included), we travel west to Chania. This city of exceptional beauty, full of colourful aromatic flowers and rich cultural heritage has a remarkable natural beauty.  It is built on the ruins of ancient Kydonia and it has seen and survived many invaders, but has also tasted civilisations that left their mark on building faces, castles, walls, antiquities, monasteries and churches. We will have a short walking tour of the old centre with its picturesque neighbourhoods and day to day life, followed by free time to enjoy the atmosphere of the Venetian Harbour.

We return to our hotel where the evening is free.

Day 6

Location: Arkadi Monastery, Eleutherna Archaeological Museum

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Bio Suites Hotel, Rethymnon

Meals Included: Breakfast

Following breakfast, the day is free to relax in the hotel or explore Rethymnon and the surrounding area on your own. Alternatively, join our optional excursion to the pottery village of Margaritas, surrounded by green rolling hills, and the Arkadi Monastery at an altitude of 500 metres above sea level. We also visit the Eleutherna Museum. Lunch in a local taverna is included in the excursion.

Day 7

Location: Amari Valley, Rethimno

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Bio Suites Hotel, Rethymnon

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Enjoy your breakfast. We have a relaxed day today, visiting the Minoan cemetery of Armeni and two of the many scenic Byzantine monuments found in the picturesque Amari Valley. The valley is surrounded by mountains, the great Psiloritis on one side and the Kedros range on the other.

We return to Rethymnon and this evening gather for a farewell dinner in a local taverna (wine included), an opportunity to reflect on the wonderful sights we have seen in this archaeological and historical treasure trove of an island.

Day 8

Location: Heraklion

Meals Included: Breakfast

Following breakfast today, we will check out of the hotel and transfer to Heraklion airport for our flight back to London, where the group will disperse or make onward connections.

What's Included

  • Accommodation

  • Services of an archaeological expert as tour manager

  • Comfortable coach travel throughout

  • Meals - as per the itinerary

  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)

  • Drinks with Meals

  • Entrance Fees

What's Not Included

Check out our Q&As

  • Are flights included in this tour?


  • Are children permitted to take part in the tour?


  • Are all entrance fees included in the price?


  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?


  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?


  • Will I receive more details of the holiday before I travel?

    You will receive detailed joining instructions around 10 days prior to you departure, but you are of course welcome to contact us at any time should you have any queries.

  • What facilities do your coaches have?

    Generally, our coaches have reclining seats, air-conditioning and toilets, however this cannot always be guaranteed as sometimes we have to use smaller vehicles. Toilets are recommended for emergency use only and regular comfort stops will be made throughout your holiday while travelling around.

  • Do I have to go on the included excursions?

    Absolutely not. You are more than welcome to spend the day at your hotel or exploring independently should you wish. All we ask is that you inform your Tour Manager, so they are not left waiting for you to join the group.

  • Is there time to relax?

    Although our itineraries may seem jam-packed, boasting access to some of the most exclusive sites across the UK and beyond, a Brightwater Holiday is just that: a holiday. Each trip will counter in more than enough free-time for you to explore places at your own leisure. And with most nights and the majority of meals being included in our tour prices, you can relax in hand-picked accommodation.

  • Do I need to be an expert?

    Absolutely not! Although some of our tours are specifically focused on one thing, all you need to enjoy a Brightwater holiday is interest and bags of enthusiasm! Even on our most specialist tours, we take travellers from all skill levels, from experts to beginners.

  • How fit or active do I need to be for one of your holidays?

    You need to be able to get on and off the coach unassisted, and most – but not all – coaches have a kneel facility that lowers the front step for ease of boarding

  • Do you have self-drive holidays?

    Yes, we do – tailored to your exact requirements!

  • What’s the luggage allowance on your coaches?

    There’s no fixed limit, but we generally say one large suitcase to go in the luggage compartment and a smaller bag that you can take onto the coach with you. For flight-inclusive holidays, we include a luggage allowance of at least 20kg.

  • Where are your departure points?

    UK garden holidays generally depart from London, with additional pick-ups depending on the route of the coach, while holidays to Scotland depart from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Perth, with Dundee, Inverness and Aberdeen sometimes included. All Eurostar holidays depart from London St. Pancras and flight-inclusive holidays depart from one or more of the main London airports, with regional flights .

  • What about the company that will be kept?

    For single travellers, those with a companion or even those travelling in a larger group, you'll find that the signature of any Brightwater Holiday is the company. You won't ever be travelling with a group of strangers, instead, you'll find yourself surrounded by like-minded people with a strong shared interest who will soon become your firm friends.

  • What is a Brightwater Holiday?

    Bursting with enthralling, educational and enlightening itineraries, a Brightwater Holiday, by its very nature, is packed with bucket-list-worthy destinations, behind the scenes passes and expert-led experiences. From creating bespoke quality garden and special interest tours for groups and individuals alike, we have made it our business to make our guests' travel dreams come true.

  • Why is there a single supplement?

    Unfortunately, single room supplements are charges that are often imposed on us as a company when we book rooms for group holidays. However, most hotels do charge less for single occupancy, and we always pass this saving on to our solo travellers in the form of a modest single supplement.

  • How much are your optional excursions?

    Prices start from as little as £20, but please contact our friendly team for questions about specific itineraries or excursions.

  • Can I pre-book my coach seats?

    Yes, you can. In the case of front seats, guests with limited mobility are given priority. Please get in touch with our friendly team to discuss any requirements you may have.

  • How to get there? Easy!

    With a Brightwater Holiday, the journey is just as important as the destination and we make getting you to your tour start point easy. From organising group flights and individual travel plans, to offering accessible local departure and pick-up points, we go out of our way to ensure that your journey is as convenient and hassle-free as it can be.

  • Do I need to have travel insurance?

    Travel insurance is required for all overseas holidays and is also strongly recommended for UK holidays – primarily to protect yourself against cancellation charges should you be unable to travel.

Reviews of this operator

Trusted Customer  

Brightwater Holidays offers great value


I would highly recommend Brightwater Holidays. It offers excellent service and value for money. This was my first tour as I normally arrange holidays myself, but this tour - which was to the gardens of Kent and Sussex - was a very pleasant change of pace.

Feefo Trusted Reviews
Brightwater Holidays Customer  

My experience with Brightwater Holidays


The tour was well managed, the sites visited were all interesting and linked to the theme of the Picts and their place in history, the hotel was comfortable and the coach journeys were well paced. I have been with Brightwater before and will certainly travel with them again

Feefo Trusted Reviews
Alan Hawkes (Google Reviewer)  

We were on the Tour...


We were on the Tour of the Outer Hebrides. We had a great experience, in no small part due to the excellence of the tour manager and driver.

Brightwater Holidays Custome  

Wonderful experience with brilliant information


The most important factor was an amazing guide in Alastair Walker whose knowledge and care for clients was fantastic. The whole trips are superbly organised

Feefo Trusted Reviews
David MacLennan (Google Reviewer)  

Noted a comment on taking...


Noted a comment on taking coaches on A814 by a local person who didn't know the facts: When the A82 was blocked and the POLICE divert you onto that road you do as instructed not what a you know are tight roads but they only way to your destination as intructed by officials. We know this route is not suitable for large vehicles but the driver does as instructed by someone in authority.

Eric Webb (Google Reviewer)  

Recent (September 2023) Scottish holiday...


Recent (September 2023) Scottish holiday not so good. Various 'issues' to do with scheduling and organisation. I'm happy to report however that - after an interval - a letter expressing disappointment brought a full response - including a generous refund. So - with fingers slightly crossed - we'll be booking with Brightwater again in due course.

Kevin Barrett (Google Reviewer)  

The recent tour in Northumberland...


The recent tour in Northumberland turned out to be a shambles. Our South London driver took us to Newcastle, but no guide to meet us. Next day still no guide and the bus driver attempted to salvage the tour the best he could despite having no knowledge of the attractions. Fortunately one of the passengers Googled the tides for Holy Island. No holiday guide ever showed up. Coach and hotel were fine. Do these people only offer self guided tours? Take Shearings next time.

ALEXANDRA MCQUEEN (Google Reviewer)  

Been trying to get a...


Been trying to get a reply from them for over a week. Booked Xmas tour, confirmation said pick up subject to numbers, they never said anything when booking and theyve been paid in full. Would not recommend!

Dp Green (Google Reviewer)  

I had heard this company...


I had heard this company was a nightmare to deal with, but thought I'd give it a go. Signed up for a tour, then emailed them about how to pay off the balance. No response to 3 emails. I've never encountered a tour company that ignored questions on how to pay off a balance. Looked into other reviews and found many complaints about cancelled tours and refusals to refund deposits.

Kieran Thompson (Google Reviewer)  

Two of your tour busses...


Two of your tour busses used the A814 from Garelochhead to Arrochar on 24th July 2021. This route is not suitable for large vehicles and your drivers should not have taken the huge coaches that way. There are clear signs at both ends of the road indicating it is not suitable for HGV's. Our car had to go off into the soft verge to allow your coaches to pass. Please amend your routes to avoid this road in future.

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    Brightwater Holidays allows you to transfer existing payments to a future tour to avoid cancellation fees if you can't travel and inform brightwater holidays, 25 days before departure.

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  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of brightwater holidays charges.

    At 40 days before tour starts: Forfeit 50% of booking price.

    At 7 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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