Day Trip to Arkadi Monastery, Eleftherna & Margarites, Rethymno

Learn about Crete's history with a trip to Arkadi Monastery, Eleftherna archaeological site, and Margarites pottery village.


Explore Greek history and culture with this day trip to monasteries, archaeological sites, and pottery villages near Rethymno. Learn about the Dorian and Roman eras with guided visits to the archaeological site of Ancient Eleftherna and Arkadi Monastery, the location of an infamous Cretan revolt. You'll also explore traditional pottery studios in the mountain village of Margarites and dine on local cuisine at a family-run restaurant in Asteri.


  • Learn about a famous Cretan revolt at 16th-century Arkadi Monastery
  • Visit the ancient city of Eleftherna, one of the country's top archaeological sites
  • Explore pottery and ceramic heritage in the mountain village of Margarites
  • Enjoy lunch at a family-run Cretan restaurant in Asteri

Know before you go

9 hours
Recommended for
All ages
Food & Drink
Lunch Included

What you'll do

Your journey into Cretan history begins with a hotel pick-up in Rethymnon. Meet your local guide and take a 30-minute drive southeast to Arkadi Monastery, a 16th-century Eastern Orthodox monastery featuring Roman and Baroque architecture. Here, you'll learn about the monastery's role in the 1866 Cretan revolt against Ottoman rule, when citizens taking refuge chose to sacrifice themselves by blowing up barrels of gunpowder rather than surrendering.

Wander the site, which is now protected as a national sanctuary, marveling at architectural wonders like the bell tower, perusing the museum, and visiting historical sites such as the wine cellar where gunpowder was once stored. Afterward, drive 10 minutes north to Eleftherna, Rethymno's most important archaeological site, set in the foothills of Crete's highest mountain, Ida. Here, the remains of a high priestess and her three acolytes were famously discovered in a 2,700-year-old tomb.

Wander through the remains of this ancient city, which was powerful from the 7th century BCE until the Byzantine period. Peruse its archaeological sites, learning about the island's first inhabitants and how mythology shaped their lives. Your guide will point out the remains of sanctuaries, the acropolis, Roman cisterns, stone quarries, and the necropolis; there's also time to peruse artifacts in the Museum of Ancient Eleftherna.
Next, travel 15 minutes north to Margarites, the pottery center of Crete. This village in the mountains is home to ceramic studios where you can watch artisans at work, shop for hand-made pieces, and even participate in a pottery workshop. Margarites is also famed for its historic architecture; stroll through the Venetian-style alleyways lined with ancient monasteries and churches. 

Finally, start heading back toward Rethymnon, stopping for lunch in Asteri Village. Feast on traditional Cretan dishes at a family-run restaurant with its own folklore collection before driving the final 15 minutes to Rethymnon, where you'll be dropped off at your hotel.

Start times

  • Daily
    9:00 am

What's included

  • English-speaking, local driver/guide
  • Museum entrance fee
  • Hotel pick-up and drop-off
  • Transport by air-conditioned minivan
  • All taxes, fees, and handling charges

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