Greek Islands: Crete Adventure12 Days • 3 Cities
Today’s special: a sampler platter of old and new, land and sea, wine and…more wine. First, jump into the hustle and bustle of Athens, one of the oldest and most vibrant cities in Europe. Then, update your watch to island time on your cruise through the Aegean Sea toward Crete. Sure, it’s a beautiful island in the Mediterranean with plenty of breathtaking beaches. But look a little closer and you’ll find yourself fascinated and inspired by the history and culture of Europe’s first mysterious civilization. All this to say, don’t be surprised when you go from learning the story behind 4,000-year-old ruins one day to trying not to get tzatziki on your bathing suit at the beach on the next day. Variety is the spice of life, isn’t it?
What are the top highlights?
- Hike to the top of Athens’ ancient and famous Acropolis
- Cruise the azure seas of the Aegean
- Catch some rays at world-famous beaches on the island of Crete
- Flood your Instagram with unreal vistas and island sunsets
- Play archeologist as you explore Knossos, the legendary Minoan city
- Explore the town of Chania and gawk at the variety of architecture—the Ottoman Turks and Venetians both occupied Chania
Your trip includes
- Round-trip flights & airport transfers
- Multilingual Tour Director & local guides
- Private motorcoach
- Ferry transfer between Athens and Crete
- 9 nights in hand-picked accommodations
- Welcome Mixer with appetizers & drinks
- Daily breakfast & three-course Farewell Dinner
- Metro pass in Athens
- Entrance to select attractions
You’ll stay at accommodations hand-picked by our team of local experts, in rooms only for EF Ultimate Break travelers. Each property is located in a safe, convenient area. You’ll receive your exact accommodations 30 days before your trip departs.
Click here for examples of where you'll stay.
Admit it, booking flights is the worst. Here's why you should let us do it for you:
- Flight costs are included in your monthly payment plan, so you can pay over time
- Airport transfers are included, so we’ll be waiting, sign in hand
- Flights are booked with major airlines
- 24/7 support no matter what time zone you’re in
- One checked bag included on most flights
- Option to make changes to your trip up to 99 days before departure
Booking with a friend? Let us know and we’ll do our best to make sure you’re on the same flight. Still want to book your own flights? That’s cool, simply select ‘No flights included’ instead of your departure city in the ‘Flights from’ dropdown.
Day 1: Overnight Flight
Board your overnight flight to Athens, the cradle of Western Civilization and one of the oldest cities in the world. Pro tip: if you’re looking to earn some bonus points with the locals upon arrival, make sure you refer to Greece by its real name: Hellas.
Day 2: Arrive in Athens
Welcome to Athens! 2,500 years ago, it was the most happening place, and still totally is today—but with fewer people walking around in togas. It’s a vibrant metropolis, and a perfect jumping-off point for your journey through Greece.
- Land at the airport and meet a waiting EF representative.
- Transfer to your hotel, check out your room, and start to meet your fellow travelers as they arrive.
- Get familiar with the area around your hotel with an introductory walk around the Plaka District, Hadrian’s Arch, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus with your Tour Director.
In the evening, it’s time for your Welcome Dinner. Enjoy an authentic meal and drinks with your group. Then it’s on to wherever your new friends and the party takes you.
Day 3: Sightseeing Tour of Athens & Overnight Ferry to Crete
Athens is at least 5,000 years old, but hardly looks a day over 25 (when you look past the historic structures and ancient statues). What we’re trying to say is, Athens is a beautiful city filled with art, literature, history, and about a million Instagram-worthy spots. And today you’ll get to see all of its finest landmarks.
- Enjoy the incredible ancient ruins of the Acropolis with a local guide.
- Pay your respects to the patron goddess of the city (and her namesake sneakers) at the Temple of Athena Nike.
- Visit the Erechtheion, one of the most unique temples in the ancient world.
- Find yourself speechless in the presence of the Parthenon—at nearly 2,500 years old, it is undoubtedly one of the most iconic and storied structures in the world.
- Head to the port and board your overnight ferry bound for Chania, Crete.
Day 4: Explore Chania
Crete is so very old and has a complicated history of being controlled by so very many different empires. Nowhere is this more visible on the island than in Chania, where Byzantine, Arab, Ottoman, and Venetian architecture and culture have all left their mark.
- Take in the seaside views as you arrive in Chania.
- Get your bearings with an introductory walk around town.
- Beach it up with your group.
Day 5: Free Day in Chania
Good morning, Chania! In true island-life fashion, you have no obligations today. You are as free as a mermaid (or merman) to do as you please. Grab a bottle of wine and head down to the beach, explore the Old Town, or if your Tour Director has something special planned: join them for a surprise excursion. Either way, do yourself a favor and don’t skimp on the sunscreen.
Free Time Suggestions
Chania Beaches: You didn’t come to Greece to stay inside. In fact, our feelings would be hurt if you didn’t hit the beach one last time. Check out Elafonisi Beach and its pink sand.
Daliani Street: Go out like a local, to one of the many authentic tavernas on Daliani Street. Grab a cocktail, a bite to eat, or both, before you head back to the mainland tomorrow.
Day 6: Free Day in Chania + Optional Samaria Gorge Hike & Swim
The day is yours to explore any parts of Chania you missed yesterday. But if you do want to revisit some of the really good parts, we won’t tell. Feel like you’ve seen it all? Well then there are beaches to relax on, local food to snack on, and—if you’re up for it—personal-growth to reflect on!
Free Time Suggestions
Chania waterfront: Walking along the old Venetian harbor is the perfect activity for all you leisure-enthusiasts out there. Simply enjoy the views or stop in at any of the restaurants, cafes, or shops.
Paddleboarding: Hop on a stand-up paddleboard and put those sea legs to work. Don’t forget to engage your core muscles as you paddle around the harbor and take in the town from a different perspective.
Samaria Gorge Hike & Swim(extra cost)
If relaxation isn’t quite your cup of tea, perhaps we could interest you in a 10-mile hike through a gorge? Join the other adventure-seekers in the group as you descend 5,000 feet through Samaria Gorge and keep an eye out for the kri-kri, a species of goat that lives only on the island of Crete. Once you reach the ocean below, reward yourself with a swim break. And then, it’s time to hike back! Just kidding, a bus will take care of you from here.
Note: sturdy shoes and high level of physical fitness recommended
Day 7: Free Day in Chania
Yeah, that’s right—another totally free day in paradise. May we suggest heading back to the beach? Or maybe listening to that rumbling tummy and checking out some of the many waterfront restaurants? You decide.
- Kick back and enjoy another day in Chania.
- Join your Tour Director for an excursion to somewhere new on the island.
Free Time Suggestions
Falassarna: This mile-long golden sand beach outside of Chania is well worth the visit. Rent an umbrella, sit back, and relax in style.
Tabakaria: Head to this district where you’ll find tanneries offering well-priced, handmade leather goods.
Day 8: Travel to Heraklion & Explore Knossos
If you think Europe is old, wait until you see its oldest known settlement: Knossos. Today you’ll explore the over 9,000-year-old Minoan city that makes Athens look like a newborn baby in comparison. Keep your eye out for fossils and get ready to play archaeologist for the day.
- Stop at a winery and treat your taste buds to samples of local wine, olive oil, and cheese.
- Tour the partially reconstructed and fully incredible palace of Knossos with a local guide.
- Furrow your brow and look deep in thought as you explore the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.
- Enjoy a little recess time at the beach after a full day of history class.
Day 9: Free Day in Heraklion + Optional Spinalonga Island Excursion
When in Heraklion, do as its namesake, Hercules, would do. But instead of defeating Hades, your heroic feats ought to include catching some sun, eating way too many kebabs, and may even involve a bottle of wine. Enjoy a free day of island life to do as you please.
Free Time Suggestions
Gyros: Go on the prowl for the beloved national sandwich of Greece, consisting of thin sliced meat, tomatoes, lettuce, tzatziki, onions and fries stuffed in a warm pita. Are you salivating yet?
Heraklion Old Town: Get yourself lost in the Old Town of Heraklion, where reminders of Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman rule remain well-preserved and are just begging to be photographed.
Spinalonga Island Excursion(extra cost)
Like all great islands, Crete has a number of uninhabited, even smaller islands off its coast, perfect for exploring. Make a day out of it with a boat ride out to Spinalonga Island, and prepare to say “woah” a whole lot. Check out the medieval Venetian fortress and defense walls, enjoy a BBQ lunch over drinks, and learn how one of Europe’s last leper colonies was housed here until the 1950s. After, try a new beach on for size at the secluded Kolokytha Beach. Opa!
Day 10: Fly to Athens
Athens felt neglected, so it’s a good thing you’re heading back to pay it another visit. End the trip with a bang in a city known for stunning views and world-class nightlife.
- Board your short flight bound for Athens.
- Enjoy a little more free time in paradise.
Free Time Suggestions
Loukoumades: Sample a food that sounds better with each word: a deep fried donut covered in honey and sprinkled with cinnamon.
Psiri: Think of Psiri as the Brooklyn of Athens: impossibly hip and filled with opportunities to dance, drink, or just hang out.
Day 11: Free Day in Athens + Farewell Dinner
Your big, fat Greek adventure is coming to an end. But not before one more legendary day out on the town and a farewell feast with this amazing group of travelers you now call family.
Free Time Suggestions
Monastiraki Flea Market: Ah, the last day of vacation. The perfect time to remember you promised everyone back home souvenirs. Not to fear, Monastiraki Flea Market has you covered.
Mount Lycabettus: Flood-lit like a beacon towering over the city, Mount Lycabettus offers a spectacular view of the city. If you’ve been holding out on posting a scenic Instagram post, this is your moment.
Share some last laughs and revisit the best moments of the trip at this included farewell dinner with the group.
Day 12: Fly Home
Translation: Goodbye, friends. Before you head to the airport, make sure to take one more group photo and grab that final drink. But this isn’t goodbye because you can always get the gang back together for another trip soon. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, we have a couple ways to keep your vacation going.
EXTEND YOUR TRIP 2 WAYS
1. Double the fun
Many of our trips line up back to back. Give us a call and we’ll help you add another destination—and save big while you’re at it.
2. Go ahead or stay behind
Extending your trip is easy. During checkout, you’ll have the option to fly to (or from) the gateway of your choice for a $30 fee. We’ll adjust your flights accordingly, but you’ll be responsible to take care of your transportation, hotels, and other logistics outside the tour.
Note: Depending on your desired gateways, additional fees may apply.
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