Cyprus and Crete… Islands of sun and history
May 13 to 27, 2018
Cyprus is an island with a unique archaeological legacy, from Neolithic times through Bronze and Iron Age, its inhabitants left extensive remains. Afterwards, in classical times and Roman period the island has bountiful sanctuaries and monuments. Followed by Christian, Crusader, Venetian and Byzantine eras, Cyprus is dotted with marvels scattered along craggy mountains, verdant plains, sweeping beaches, rolling hills and vineyards. It is also blessed with people who are renowned for their hospitality. Enjoy a tour around Aphrodite’s Cyprus. The Mediterranean island at the crossroads of three continents, where East meets West and a new experience waits for you under the sun of Cyprus. From ancient times visit the Curium Amphitheatre, Kykko Monastery (in the Troodos Mountains), the lace village of Lefkara popular for its handmade lace and paint artists, Tombs of the Kings (in Paphos), and Nicosia (the only divided capital city) are all worth a visit. You will also visit Aphrodite’s Rock, the birthplace of the Goddess of Love. Small indeed, but very wealthy with its history.. Come and join us!
Crete is an island with an exquisite 700 mile-long coastline dotted with numerous coves, bays and peninsulas, which afford a multitude of soft, sandy beaches along the beautifully blue Mediterranean Sea. After all, it’s among the finest in the world. And, of course, the island’s historic importance in today’s world as the home of the Minoan civilization with important archeological finds at Knossos, Phaistos and Gortys, is evidenced by the tens of thousands of visitors to these sites each year. There are many jewels just waiting to be discovered by the more adventurous explorers if you haven’t visited Crete yet, maybe it is the time to come and discover this fascinating Greek island. Your heart will be captured with its smiling Cretan sun, the sounds of the Cretan lyre, the scents of orange blossom and jasmine, a slice of cool red watermelon and a glass of iced raki. Afterwards, if you decide to spend a few days in Athens, whether it is your first time or not, let us know so we can help you.
Tour Escort: Led by local guides
Tour cost per person in double occupancy (Air & Land from JFK):$5,995.00
Single Supplement: $595.00
Credit for not using the included air $650.00;
Other Eastern US gateways cities available
Price based on a minimum of 6 participants and maximum of 14 participants
Your tour Includes:
- International airfare JFK/Larnaca – Athens/JFK.
- One way Larnaca/Heraklion & Heraklion/Athens.
- Meet & assistance during arrival & departure transfers.
- Transfers using A/C car/minibus.
- Accommodation at First class (4*) hotels or best available.
- All meals as per the itinerary (B: Breakfast, L: Lunch and D: Dinner).
- 1 soft drink offered during lunches and bottle of water every day during tour.
- Entrance fees to mentioned sites.
- English speaking professional guides.
- Tipping budget to all guides, drivers, porters and restaurant staff.
- Donation to CAARI for local lecture at their offices.
- Seminar by Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CAARI) during visit of Cyprus.
Your tour Does Not Include:
- Airport taxes, security charges and fuel surcharges (estimated at $575.00 – subject to change).
- Any fluctuations in exchange rate to the Euro.
- Cyprus and Greek Visa (Currently Gratis for US citizens)
- Airfare from cities other than New York City (price differs depending on gateway city).
- Trip surcharge to operate below required minimum participants.
- Items of a personal nature (camera fees at sites, laundry, phone calls, emails, excess luggage, etc.).
- Transfers if not arriving/departing on scheduled flights/tour dates.
- Dayroom or overnights necessitated by changes in airline schedules.
- Travel protection insurance.
- Any additional days in Cyprus or Athens.
Optional Pre-Tour to Malta (May 08-14)
I Easy – Reasonably paced sightseeing, easy walking, and leisurely days. No particular physical challenges.
Lodging Level: **** Luxury: Regular style- usually large- hotels, typical western standard with ample venues, and full amenities. (4 or 5 stars)
View Tour Itinerary
Sunday, May 13
Depart USA to Cyprus
Depart the US to Larnaca arriving the next day.
Monday, May 14
Arrive Larnaca to Nicosia
Arrive in Larnaca (from USA or from Malta if you do the pre-tour in Malta first); meet and transfer to your hotel in Nicosia located in the City Centre, check in and rest of the day at leisure, dinner and overnight at the hotel. (D)
Tuesday, May 15
Kyrenia &t; St Hilarion
Explore the North visiting the picturesque castle of Saint Hilarion, first fortified by the Byzantines but greatly strengthened by the Lusignan kings during the Middle Ages. Continue your drive to Kyrenia via Bellapais Abbey, a beautiful set of ruins overlooking the Mediterranean. Here Lawrence Durrell inspired the “Bitter Lemons” and finally arriving at the picturesque harbor of Kyrenia. Time allocated to explore the town and the Shipwreck Museum. Have lunch at a local restaurant then return to hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Wednesday, May 16
After Breakfast, drive to Nicosia for Medieval tour of Nicosia, the Cyprus Museum where most of the treasures of Cyprus archaeological past are housed. Visit Agios Ioannis Church’s and its colorful frescoes, the Byzantine Art Museum with its stunning collection of Byzantine icons and in the afternoon lecture by CAARI Cyprus director (Archaeological institute – 1hour). Have dinner and Overnight at Hotel in Nicosia. (B,L,D)
Thursday, May 17
Nicosia to Kakopetria
This morning we will visit the UNESCO world heritage protected churches listed for their architecture and murals. Visit St. John Lampadist byzantine church then we will continue our drive via the Troodos mountain villages ending in Platres for dinner and Overnight. (B,L,D)
Friday, May 18
Driving down the Valley we will head for Paphos. Visit Palaepaphos, once the capital of the city state of Paphos. Some time to explore the Sanctuary of Aphrodite and the museum then head to visit the tombs of the kings, of the Hellenistic period. Transfer to Paphos hotel for check in, dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Saturday, May 19
Visit the ancient site of Paphos, tour the remarkable sanctuaries and explore the Roman Palaces of Nea (Modern) Paphos, the houses of Dionysos, Aion, Theseus mosaics. Return to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Sunday, May 20
Paphos to Limassol
Depart to Limassol, visiting en route the Petra tou Romiou, (the legendary of Aphrodite – goddess of love) said to be the Aphrodite’s birthplace. Nice spot for photo. Final visit to Kourion city kingdom during the Iron Age, explore the amphitheater, the roman houses with mosaics and the basilica then head to visit the Kolossi castle famous in the medieval times for commandaria (famous sweet wine). Transfer to your hotel in Limassol for check in, dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Monday, May 21
Short drive to visit Amathus where we will explore the ruins of the ancient city, then continue east to Kalavasos Tenta and Khirokitia which are the remains of Neolithic villages’ settlements dating back from about 8000-5500 BC. Return to your hotel for dinner and Overnight. (B,L,D)
Tuesday, May 22
Limassol to Larnaca to Heraklion
After breakfast transfer to Larnaca airport (drive for 45 minutes) for your flight to Heraklion (possibly via Athens), upon arrival transfer to your hotel for check in, dinner and overnight. (B,D)
Wednesday, May 23
Knossos to Assites
From the port of Heraklion, we will drive southwards to “Knossos”, the ancient capital of the great king Minos. Your guided tour will take you through the fantastic ruins of the ancient palace complex, which served as the administrative and religious centers for the whole region. The restoration undertaken by Sir Arthur Evans, though criticized by some for its modernity, helps the tourist to both visualize the palace as it was and understand its labyrinthine complexity. In sharp contrast from hectic Heraklion we continue to a rustic village not too far from the city but centuries behind in feel and lifestyle. It is well known that Greek cuisine is one of the healthiest in the world. This is particularly true in Crete. This part of the excursion offers the visitor the chance to participate first hand in many aspects involved in the realization of this fact. There will be the chance to visit wheat threshing performed by donkeys using wooden sleds, and honey farming and Raki distillery. A short visit is made to the local sheep bell craftsman. Lunch will be served in the village taverna situated in a naturally serene setting. An explanation of the methods and recipes will be offered by your host. Before returning to port, a short stop for the ultimate Cretan experience “Raki” served with tomatoes and rusks, in the wooden beamed home of a local villager before boarding the coaches for the return journey. (B,D)
Thursday, May 24
Rethymnon to Chania to Arkadi to Fodele
We drive westwards to the beautiful town of Rethymnon, one of the most historical and picturesque towns on Crete. Although the town is touristically developed, still preserves the traditional local color and especially the old Venetian town with the little narrow streets and the endless shops, as well as the Venetian fortress, bring back memories of older times. We will continue to drive westwards to the picturesque town of Chania, with its Venetian harbor, narrow lanes and old buildings from the Venetian and Turkish periods. The town has many beautiful Neo-classical buildings and a unique covered market in the shape of a cross. We will have the chance to visit the Archaeological Museum of Chania. Afterwards, we drive to the very historical Monastery of Arkadi. The Monastery is set in a spectacular scenic at the edge of a gorge and represents a symbol of freedom for the Cretans, as a big battle between the Turks and the Greeks took place there in 1866 which practically led to the liberation of Crete. Then we depart for the beautiful village of Fodele, the birthplace of the famous painter EL GRECO. The village is built in a very green environment and is known as a center of traditional textiles and handicrafts. There will be free time for coffee or shopping. (B,D)
Friday, May 25
Festos to Gortys to Matala
Gortys is an ancient Greek/Roman town where archaeologists found judicial laws pertaining marriage, inheritance, adoption, divorce, etc. dating to 500 B.C. written in the Cretan Doric language. Travel through the scenic rolling hills and the countryside across the island of Crete to the ancient Palace of Festos. This city was second in importance after Knossos, ruling over the southern religion of the island. The Palace is strategically situated high above the Valley of Messara on the top of a hill. It was occupied by King Radamanthys, the brother of King Minos. There, the famous Festos Disc was found, a disc with hieroglyphic sings of an unknown language stamped with seals on both sides. The central courtyard, the complex of living quarters, the theatre will help you to learn more About the Minoan Kingdom. Leaving Festos, we drive to the lively village of Matala famous for its caves, which surround the bay, where we stop for lunch, then overnight at the hotel. (B,D)
Saturday, May 26
This morning you have an option of either stay free to stroll and shop in Heraklion or to visit the enormous Archaeological Museum (converted from an old power station) It is a marvelous collection of many of the finds from Knossos, Archanes, Phaestos, Zakros and many other archeological sites in Crete. The museum spans a period starting several thousand years ago, through the Minoan, post-Minoan and later periods. Popular highlights include the Phaestos disc, classic Hellenic and Roman sculptures, frescoes, jewelry, wall-paintings and pottery. Later, transfer to the airport for your short flight to Athens. Upon arrival, meet and transfer to your hotel for check in and overnight. (B,D)
Sunday, May 27
Athens to the US
Transfer to the airport for your flight back home arriving the dame day. (B)
PS: Optional extended stays in Greece available on request.
“We (STS) reserve the right to change hotels, restaurants or the order of activities if/as needed.”