Santorini & Crete, Active & Culture Tour is one of the most popular tours in Greece for authenticity seekers and adventure active travelers.
The Greek islands are the ideal scenery for an unforgettable vacation! They have also been the film location of great movies, like the “Big Blue”.
But, with so many gorgeous islands scattered throughout the Aegean Sea, the question arises: which ones to choose?
Two of the most beautiful! Spectacular Crete and the precious gem of the Aegean, Santorini.
This trip starts in unique and world renowned Santorini. Dramatic and absolutely one of a kind, formed from the remains of a volcanic crater, Santorini captures the attention of even the most jaded traveler. During this tour, you will have the opportunity to explore the island from one end to the other. You will get to visit the historic Akrotiri archaeological site. Do some Sea kayaking and hiking along the caldera trail. Leaving Santorini for new adventures, you will hop on the ferry to Crete. Placed midway between Africa and Europe, Crete is a world unto itself. Its collage of landscapes, history and culture make it one of the most evocative and multi-faceted Greek island! An extremely diverse island with a rich tapestry of canyons, mountains and, of course, blissful beaches. In Crete we will visit Knossos and the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. We will hike in the Gorge of Imbros, famous for its narrow walls. We will experience a unique farm to table experience and finish our tour with a day in the majestic blue lagoon of Balos beach.
Period of operation: April to November
Price / Person:
4 star accommodations:
- 1.750€ for 4-6 participants
- 2.350€ for 2-3 participant
- 2.500€ for 4-6 participants
- 3.100€ for 2-3 participant
This trip level is moderate.
- All accommodations as listed (or similar) based on double occupancy in 4 star hotels with breakfast
- All transportation during the trip
- Admissions fees to itinerary sites and museum
- Tourist guide for the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, Knossos archaeological site and Akrotiri archaeological site
- Sea Kayaking with lunch on day 2
- Hike the Caldera Trail with snack on day 3
- Hike Imbros Gorge with lunch on day 5
- Farm to table culinary experience with lunch on day 6
- Balos Day Cruise
- Ferry tickets from Santorini to Crete
- Domestic and/or international airfare
- Medical expenses, travel or emergency evacuation insurance
- Gratuities for leader/guide or driver
- Alcoholic beverages and meals other than outlined in itinerary
- Other items of a personal nature.
- Local stay over hotel tax 4€/room/day
Our trip starts in Santorini, the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions of all time. Here everything is brighter: whitewashed houses with blue windows, the lapis lazuli sea and the stunning sunsets that light up the caldera.
We settle in our hotel, located in the modern capital of the island, Fira.
Dorians, Venetians, and Turks occupied Santorini, but its most influential early inhabitants were Minoans. They came from Crete sometime between 2.000 BC and 1.600 BC and the settlement of Akrotiri, dubbed as the Greek Pompeii, dates from the peak years of their civilization. Alongside our guide you will have the opportunity to walk along the streets and squares of the city, which was buried in volcanic ash after the eruption of the volcano and frozen in time.
After our wonderful walk, it is time for some sea kayaking. We will explore the south side of the island as few people do. Seeing Santorini from the sea is a real treat, recreation and exercise combined! We will paddle by the Red and White beach making stops on the way for swimming and snorkeling.
We will hike towards picturesque Oia, the most beautiful village of the island if not of the whole Aegean sea. The cobblestone trail follows the rim of the Caldera, taking you away from the crowds, permitting you to admire the power of the natural forces that shaped this amazing environment. In the evening we will be transferred to the port for our ferry ride to Heraclion.
Located in the center of the island, the sprawling city of Heraklion is home to a magnificent archaeological museum and lies just a few kilometers from Knossos, the greatest of the Minoan palaces, in the heart of Crete. When you have tasted Cretan food, we are sure you will fall in love with this island.
We will start our day visiting the Archaeological museum of Heraklion, with the finest collection of Minoan artifacts in the world. It’s a great introduction to Crete’s biggest attraction, the 3.500-year-old Minoan palace of Knossos, a sprawling maze of royal chambers, grand staircases, storerooms, and workshops.
After lunch we will head towards the city of Chania. We love Chania and we believe you will too. Its perfect setting with the White Mountains as a background, lively harbor, historical remains, busy market, and nearby beaches make it the ideal spot to start a magnificent journey.
To go to Crete without entering a gorge would be a missed opportunity for an incredible experience, and at the southern slopes of White Mountains there is one of the most fascinating. The pine tree-lined Imbros gorge, is not as famous as the Samaria gorge but is in physical terms as impressive and much less crowded. Enjoy this wonderfully quiet walk, narrow and stiflingly confined in places, speckled with caves in others and at one point passing under a monumental natural stone archway. At the end of the gorge we will hop in our car for a short ride to Frangokastello, a striking 14th century Venetian fortress on a fine stretch of a beach. Here we can wash off the gorge’s dust and enjoy our lunch overlooking the Libyan sea.
Today we head for a unique culinary experience. In a small village in the mountains of Crete where the inhabitants engage in agriculture and livestock, is located a family restaurant, which has been operating for over a hundred years from generation to generation. Our tour starts with a visit to the family’s ancient vineyard on a hill with a stunning view! While exploring, our hostess explains the process of vineyard care, the stages of wine and raki productions and any other questions we have. We continue the walk through olive groves and chestnut trees, to arrive at the restaurant. There we will have the chance to taste all the ingredients that make up the Cretan diet from the ancient years to the present. Local delicacies as various cheeses, olives, honeycombs,fresh vegetables,fruits and certainly raki and wine!
Late in the afternoon, we drive back to Chania, one of the most beautiful towns of Crete, littered with a remnant from its Turkish and Venetian past and bustling with harbor-side life.
Today an amazing experience lies ahead of us! After our mighty breakfast we will be transferred to the port of Kissamos where we will embark our boat. Heading towards Gramvousa we will have the chance to observe geological phenomena, sea caves and beautiful waters. Upon arrival at Gramvousa island we will have time to walk up to the venetian castle and to swim as well. Our next stop is Balos, one of the most beautiful places on earth! Here we will have the privilege of swimming and snorkelling in the shallow and warm lagoon waters. Later in the afternoon we begin our journey back to Kissamos. Return back to Chania.
After breakfast and a “Greek” coffee, transfer to the airport and connect to your return flight home.
Please consider taking along the following items on your trip. This is not a fixed list, but more of a guideline, so feel free to add and remove items as you see fit.
Greece has a temperate climate. Base your clothing on the “layering system”, if it is hot you can “peel off” layers quickly, if it is cooler and windy you can quickly “dress up”.
- Duffel bag or rolling luggage
- Day pack to carry a camera, water bottle, and snacks, etc.
- Luggage locks and tags
- Mid-weight polar fleece sweater
- Rain jacket and rain pants, or poncho
- Hiking shorts
- Casual clothing made of light-weight fabrics
- Long-sleeve shirt
- Hiking pants, loose and easy to move in
- Sun hat or baseball cap
- Lightweight and supportive hiking boots, broken-in with good ankle support
- Beach sandals
- Casual, comfortable shoes for evening
- Sunscreen and lip protection
- Sunglasses and retainer strap
- Beach towel
- Security pouch or money belt
- Trekking poles or walking staff
- Camera, memory, and batteries
- Reading and writing materials
- Watch with alarm or travel alarm
- Travel pillow
- Motion sickness remedies
- Personal first-aid kit
- Insect repellent (low risk)
- Electrical adapter plug/converter
- Your own personal water bottle. As part of our environmental policy and actions, we are committed to eliminating the use of plastic water bottles.
The lighter you travel, the easier you travel. Use your best judgment and pack as lightly as possible. You will appreciate light luggage towards the end of your trip.
From April to November
This trip Level is moderate and is suitable for most people that are in good physical condition. Although the daily distances are not that far, it has been rated moderate as there are quite significant elevation gains and losses. Some days are a full day of hiking; others involve exploring ruins, villages, and towns on foot. It includes walking tours in cities and villages, and four days with moderate hikes of 3-4 hours, including one sea-kayaking day with no previous experience needed.
Although the paths are quite well-kept the terrain in Greece tends to be very stony and rocky, especially during the gorge-walking. You will mostly be walking on unsurfaced tracks, footpaths, mountain trails and on some tarmac roads and be prepared for some steep ascents and descents.