Chania Cruises, Crete
- Most visitors head up to the mountain village of Archanes under the pretext that they’re going to see the Minoan ruins. But really, they’re there to try the local wine that’s renowned across Greece.
- Just over an hour’s drive from Chania, a 16-kilometre cleft dissects the Cretan countryside. The Samaria Gorge is best explored on-foot via one of the trails that criss-cross their way through the reserve.
SHORE EXCURSIONS View all excursions
The Omalos Plateau is Crete’s wild west, both in geography and in appearance. It’s in the middle of the White Mountains, where the highest peak spikes 2,452 metres into the sky. The plateau itself is 25 kilometres wide and circled by rocky peaks that wouldn’t look out of place in a John Wayne film. Its history resembles a western storyline, too. Rebels used to hide out here during the Turkish occupation of Crete. The views from this wide open space take in the Samaria Gorge. Measuring 16 kilometres in length, it’s the longest gorge in Europe, and it’s protected by World Biosphere status. During this trip, you’ll stop for a break in the rural village of Omalos. There are a couple of traditional tavernas here, and you’ll pop into one for a cup of tea or coffee. Keep an eye out for the cheese that’s on sale in the tiny village shops. It’s made from goats’ milk using ancient traditional methods.
The Agia Triada, or Holy Trinity, Monastery is one of the most spectacular in Crete, and this trip lets you explore it up-close. Built in the 17th century, the three-domed church sits in the middle of a fortified complex. One of the church’s charms is the fact its architecture is a mix of ancient Greek and western-influenced styles. Antique, temple-like Doric columns are teamed with decorative facades used in the more modern Renaissance style. These days, the courtyards are blazoned with bursts of bougainvillea. There’s a wine cellar and an olive oil mill, as well. Once you’ve explored Agia Triada, you’ll head back down to sea-level for a second guided tour, this time of Chania. Your guide will explain to you how the old town was shaped by the Venetians and how civilisations like the Byzantines and the Ottomans all left their marks on the place. Before you return to the ship, you’ll have some free time in Chania. Pop into the covered market to pick up some thyme honey or a bottle of raki, or find seat in a harbour-side restaurant and enjoy a good Greek coffee.
There’s more to Monastery Arkadi than bricks and mortar. This building played a lead role in the Cretan revolt against Ottoman rule in the mid-19th century, and it’s now known as a national sanctuary as a result. In 1866, almost 1,000 Greeks sought refuge in the monastery. After 3 days of battle, the people blew themselves up rather than surrender to the Ottomans. On a tour here your guide will teach you about the history of the place and show you around the refectory, store houses and cook house. Moving on, you’ll head to the harbour town of Rethymnon, where you’ll have a guided tour. The highlight will be the aristocratic-looking old town, where the arched doorways and stone staircases date back to the 16th century.