- Tour Halepa and Tabakaria, Chania's historic waterfront districts
- Take a guided village-to-village trek on Vamos
- Make (and eat) an authentic Cretan feast with a cooking class
- Learn and lunch at Crete's Botanical Park and Gardens
|Day 1||Arrive in Chania||Chania|
|Day 2||Old Town of Chania Tour||Chania|
|Day 3||Cooking Class at Vamos Village||Vamos|
|Day 4||Vamos Village Hike||Vamos|
|Day 5||Botanical Park Tour & Tasting||Chania|
|Day 6||Halepa and Tabakaria Walking Tour||Chania|
|Day 7||Depart Chania|
Day 1: Arrive in Chania
Welcome to Greece! Your journey will take you to Crete, the largest and most populous of the 230 inhabited Greek islands. Upon arrival to Chania, a city (and region) on the northwest coast, you'll be transferred to your hotel as you get ready to explore this stunning island, equipped with tips from your local specialist.
Chania itself will be the main base of your operations during your trip. It's the second largest city in Crete and one of the most scenic spots on an island with stiff competition for that title. Life in this former Venetian city revolves around its charming 14th-century harbor, narrow streets with winding alleys, and colorful architecture influenced by past Ottoman and Egyptian eras.
Depending on what time you arrive, wander around town or head for one of the western region's spectacular beaches such as Falassarna and Elafonissi. There are also plenty of deserted coves and quiet bays to enjoy total privacy.
For dinner, wander around Chania's harbor and check out a slew of waterfront restaurants with a sunset view.
Day 2: Old Town of Chania Tour
Today, you'll experience the streets, buildings, high spots, neighborhoods, and monuments that only locals know with a guided tour. Walk the stone paths where the Venetians, the Ottomans, and older generations of Cretans used to live and work, admiring the flower-decorated neighborhoods. You'll learn about Cretan history, the Cretan mythology and traditions, meet the locals, and eat like the locals.
Visit the neighborhoods of Topanas, Splantzia, Kolombo and Kasteli, along with high spots to admire the panoramic view of the harbor, as well as traditional Cretan taverns and magnificent buildings. You'll also see the ruins of the great Minoan city of Kydonia and high walls of former Venetian moats now integrated into the city.
When hunger strikes, visit the Municipal Market of Chania and neighboring Municipal Garden to enjoy a coffee amid the shade of the trees or garden clocktower. Then, top it off with a sunset drink on the rooftop at trendy Pallas.
Day 3: Cooking Class at Vamos Village
Today, you'll head to traditional Vamos village, where the lush greenery and natural scenery will set the stage for your discovery of local food production. A resident cook will teach you all about Cretan culinary tradition and some of the island's secret recipes. You'll then put her advice into action, creating a full Cretan feast for you to enjoy at the end of your class.
After class is over and you've had your fill, relax into the rhythm of traditional village life. You can also take an afternoon drive over to beautiful Kournas Lake. This shallow freshwater lake is the ideal place to experience the natural life on the island, fed by two natural springs. Cap off your day with a stay in a traditional guesthouse in the village.
Day 4: Vamos Village Hike
After breakfast, you'll keep up the leisurely pace with a stroll around the village of Vamos. You'll then spend roughly four hours exploring and sampling Cretan hospitality—with emphasis on the sampling, as you'll enjoy tastes of local food and drink along the way. This is also an opportunity to trek between the charming stone architecture of nearby villages while your guide teaches you about their history and everyday life through the ages. Cap it off with a glass of tsikoudia, a grape-based brandy.
Head back to your village lodging to relax for the afternoon before a traditional dinner. Don't miss the dakos salad, a traditional dish consisting of fresh tomatoes and creamy sheep or goat cheese served atop crunchy barley rusks and topped with olive oil and spices.
Day 5: Botanical Park Tour & Tasting
Today, you'll surround yourself with the bright tropical gardens and the shade of avocado trees at the Botanical Park and Gardens of Crete. Your trail will lead you under citrus trees and other Mediterranean flora. Learn about the different climates around the island and the produce that grows there before you enjoy a lunch in a restaurant overlooking the sweeping garden view.
Spend the evening enjoying your return to Chania town. Head to Kikbar, located in the former 16th century Monastery of Karolos. This converted building is now home to an art gallery, theater space, and swoon-worthy open air bar.
Day 6: Halepa and Tabakaria Walking Tour
Today, you'll check out Chania's waterfront districts of Halepa and Tabakaria. Wander among converted tanneries and factories in these off-the-beaten-track parts of town, just past the end of the main ocean promenade. You'll see the historic Venizelos House, palace, and Agia Magdalini Church with your guide, along with seaside Tabakaria which is now one of the most aristocratic neighborhoods in town. Dine at Thalassino Ageri, one of the top seafood tavernas in town, and enjoy both a meal and a view straight from the sea.
You're reaching the end of your time in Crete, so spend the afternoon picking up your newly discovered favorite foods and souvenirs in Chania. Don't miss the special graviera cheese, the older the better, or local herbs and olive oil. Cretan wine varietals such as vidiano and liatiko also make excellent gifts, particularly the vineyards of Manousakis and Douloufakis.
For a more permanent reminder of your visit, seek out an engraved Cretan knife to take some history home with you, or scope out Kyrvan Shoes for handmade espadrilles decorated with traditional patterns.
Day 7: Depart Chania
It's time to say farewell to Crete with one final breakfast in Chania. Take a sunrise stroll along the harbor or perhaps indulge in one more scoop of graviera cheese before you're transferred to the airport for your departure.
For an extended version of this tour, take a look at this 8-day itinerary. It offers all of the aforementioned highlights, plus a day at Aptera, an incredible archeological site.