Crete & Santorini

Reconstructed fa├žade of the Bronze Age Palace at Knossos, based on the startling bright colours of the original fragments
Reconstructed façade of the Bronze Age Palace at Knossos, based on the startling bright colours of the original fragments
View across the harbour at Heraklion
View across the harbour at Heraklion
View from Oia over the caldera at Santorini
View from Oia over the caldera at Santorini
Filigree gold jewellery with two wasps - one of the treasures of the Heraklion Museum
Filigree gold jewellery with two wasps - one of the treasures of the Heraklion Museum
Famous bull-headed rhyton (libation vessel)
Famous bull-headed rhyton (libation vessel)

The Minoans are best known for their huge labyrinthine ‘palaces’ - the greatest of which, at Knossos, was supposedly where Theseus slew the Minotaur. Knossos and all of the Minoan sites we visit have their own unique and characteristic charm and elegance, demonstrated in a lively and free artistic expression, and an obvious delight in realistic decoration.
Begin on the beautiful, tiny island of Santorini, ‘Pompeii of the Aegean’, buried suddenly during the cataclysmic eruption of Thera - which signalled the ‘beginning of the end’ of Minoan civilization. In Crete we continue to trace the story of the Minoans, whose writing, organization and ambition had a profound influence on the development of ancient Greece, and thus the western world.

  • Enjoy special access to the Minoan palace complex of Malia,with its great courtyards, crypts and circular granaries
  • Wander the recently re-opened city of Akrotiri, the ‘Pompeii of the Aegean’ — buried and preserved by the eruption of 1500 BC.
  • Elegant sites, wild-flowers, expert guides and the warm waters of the Mediterranean... Who could ask for more?

Themes

  • Romans
  • Prehistory
  • Ancient Greek

Practicalities

  • Special Access
  • Low Single Supplement
  • All Inclusive

Itinerary 2017

Day 1

We arrive in Santorini.

Day 2

We begin our first full day on the lovely island of Santorini at the Prehistoric Museum in Fira, which houses the wall-paintings from the Minoan mansion at Akrotiri. We continue to Akrotiri. Destroyed by a catastrophic volcanic eruption in 1500BC, the city is reminiscent of Pompeii, with houses preserved up to three storeys high.

Day 3

We visit the ancient city of Thera, built 360m above sea level. The site has been under excavation since 1904, and findings from the city have contributed immensely to our understanding of Minoan culture and history. In the afternoon we visit Panagia Episkopi. We travel by catamaran to Heraklion, where we arrive in time for dinner.

Day 4

We visit the Bronze Age palace site of Knossos, a pivotal site of Bronze Age Greece. Excavations have been overseen by the British School at Athens and the Greek authorities for many years.

The Curator of the British School of Athens will offer a privileged introduction to the school’s latest findings, discuss the work of the school and give a tour of the study centre at Knossos.

We continue to the Minoan house at Vathypetro with its elaborate shrine and well-preserved wine press. We return to Heraklion and the Heraklion Museum, with its exquisite jewellery and brightly-coloured wall paintings.

Day 5

We enjoy a morning at the important Graeco-Roman site of Gortyn. The site is best-known for its collection of 5th
century stone blocks, inscribed with the law codes of classical Greece. We return to the Minoan era at the elegant ‘palace’ at Phaistos, which dominates the fertile plain of the Mesara. Famous finds include thousands of documents, some inscribed with the earliest known occurrence of the (still undeciphered)writing of the Minoans - Linear A script. We continue to Ayia Triadha, a grand but ruinous Bronze Age villa. Lavish finds include a cache of copper ingots, bronze figurines and three elaborately-carved stone vessels.

Day 6

Our day begins with a special visit to the palace of Malia, a huge Minoan complex.

We visit the well-preserved Minoan town of Gournia on the northern coast.The remains are clustered around the sides of a hill which is crowned by a ‘palace’. The majority of the houses are on the east slope, built up against each other along paved and stepped streets. This afternoon, you have the option of a boat trip to the haunting and evocative island of Spinalonga, site of a former leper colony.

Day 7

We travel by fishing boat to the tiny island of Mochlos, once a peninsula, on which stood an important Minoan town. We walk up to the beautifully situated ruins of Chamaizi, most famous for a Middle Minoan building located on the summit of the hill. We enjoy lunch in a seaside taverna before returning to our hotel.

Day 8

We return home today.

Itinerary 2018

Day 1

We arrive in Santorini.

Day 2

We begin our day on the island of Santorini and the Prehistoric Museum in Fira, which houses the wall-paintings from the Minoan mansion at Akrotiri. We continue to Akrotiri, destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1500BC, the city is like Pompeii, with houses preserved three storeys high.

Day 3

We visit the ancient city of Thera. The site has been under excavation since 1904, and findings from the city have contributed immensely to our understanding of Minoan culture and history. In the afternoon, we visit Panagia Episkopi, before travelling by catamaran to Heraklion.

Day 4

We visit the Bronze Age site of Knossos. Excavations have been overseen by the British School at Athens for many years. We continue to the Minoan house at Vathypetro with its elaborate shrine. We return to Heraklion and the museum, with its brightly-coloured wall paintings.

Day 5

We travel to the important Graeco-Roman site of Gortyn. We return to the Minoan era at the elegant ‘palace’ at Phaistos. Famous finds include thousands of documents, some inscribed with the earliest known occurrence of the writing of the Minoans. We continue to Ayia Triadha, a grand but ruinous villa.

Day 6

Our day begins with a special visit to the palace of Malia, a huge Minoan complex. We visit the well-preserved Minoan town of Gournia on the northern coast. This afternoon, you are able to spend some free time exploring the city of Heraklion.

Day 7

Today we will see the beautifully situated ruins of Chamaizi. Afterwards, we have the option to visit the tiny island of Mochlos, before returning to the hotel for a free afternoon.

Day 8

Before we make our way to the airport, we drive to Sissi to visit the excavations on Kephali hill.

What's Included

  1. Tour Manager
  2. Local Travel - Private a/c coach, boat & catamaran
  3. Meals - All meals included - dinners with wine
  4. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
  5. Field Notes
  6. Flights - London to Santorini; Heraklion to London
  7. Hotels - 2 nights in a hotel on the beautiful Cycladic island of Santorini, 5 nights in a boutique hotel set above the old city harbour of Heraklion, with dramatic views of the former Venetian fortress

Hotel Info

2 nights in a hotel on the beautiful Cycladic island of Santorini

5 nights in a boutique hotel set above the old city harbour of Heraklion, with dramatic views of the former Venetian fortress

Useful Information

For full information about Passport validity and Visa requirements as well as Health and Vaccination information please click here.

Book now

2017 Tour Details

Tue 12th September - Tue 19th September

Available

£2,450

ex. flights: £2,150

sgl supp: £230

CRE17C

Led By: Sandy MacGillivray

Tue 26th September - Tue 3rd October

Call for availability

£2,450

ex. flights: £2,150

sgl supp: £230

CRE17D

Led By: Dr Christina Hatzimichael Whitley

Tue 10th October - Tue 17th October

Call for availability

£2,450

ex. flights: £2,150

sgl supp: £230

CRE17E

Led By: Dr Christina Hatzimichael Whitley

2018 Tour Details

Tue 17th April - Tue 24th April

Available
Accepting £300 deposits

£ TBC

CRE18A

Led By: Sandy MacGillivray

Book before 16th June 2017 for a fully refundable £300 fixed deposit.

Tue 8th May - Tue 15th May

Available
Accepting £300 deposits

£ TBC

CRE18B

Led By: Dr Christina Hatzimichael Whitley

Book before 16th June 2017 for a fully refundable £300 fixed deposit.

Tue 11th September - Tue 18th September

Available
Accepting £300 deposits

£ TBC

CRE18C

Led By: Sandy MacGillivray

Book before 16th June 2017 for a fully refundable £300 fixed deposit.

Tue 25th September - Tue 2nd October

Available
Accepting £300 deposits

£ TBC

CRE18D

Led By: Dr Christina Hatzimichael Whitley

Book before 16th June 2017 for a fully refundable £300 fixed deposit.

Tue 9th October - Tue 16th October

Available
Accepting £300 deposits

£ TBC

CRE18E

Led By:

Book before 16th June 2017 for a fully refundable £300 fixed deposit.

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