Minoan Crete and Santorini.
Stunning landscapes and superb archaeology create an unforgettable experience. Discover the Minoans, named after legendary King Minos, and marvel at the views from Santorini, one of the world’s most amazing places. Our itinerary is perfectly designed to explore Minoan archaeology’s fascinating array of Bronze Age sites, artistic wealth and deep-rooted mythology.
- The stunning island of Santorini and its buried Bronze Age city of Akrotiri.
- A clear focus on the archaeology and artistry of the Minoans, Europe’s first civilisation.
- Famous sites including Knossos and Phaistos.
- Special access visits to hidden-away gems.
- Spectacular Mediterranean scenery.
This is where European civilisation first emerged, around 4000 years ago, producing the vibrant culture, luxurious palaces and superb artistry of the Minoans. Their profound legacy is remembered in a deep-rooted mythology which includes the birth of Zeus, the Minotaur and Atlantis, and is tangible today in a fascinating array of archaeological sites and exquisite artefacts. Based for eight nights in a charming hotel by the sea, we explore famous sites like Knossos and Phaistos, and enjoy special access to hidden away gems as we get off the beaten track into Crete’s beautiful, wilder landscapes. The scenic highlight is the island of Santorini, regarded as the original site of the lost city of Atlantis.
See the ‘Itinerary’ tab above for full itinerary details.
Dates & Prices:
- 19–27 September 2019. Please enquire for late availability.
- 14–22 May 2020. Only £1495.
- 10–18 September 2020. Only £1525.
Single supplement only £220. Reserve your place early for the lowest prices.
- Eight nights’ hotel accommodation (see ‘Hotel’ tab above).
- All breakfasts, all evening meals and two lunches.
- Daily excursions with all transport, entrances and guiding.
- Specialist tour director accompanied by a local Cretan archaeologist/guide.
- Flexible flight arrangements and airport transfers (see ‘Flights’ tab above)..
- 100% TTA financial guarantee.
Your Tour Director
Sally Watson studied archaeology at both Athens and Bristol universities. She specialises in the ancient Greek world and has taken part in many excavations, including the Minoan port on Santorini and underwater excavations off Crete. She is also an experienced tour director and has led numerous tours exploring the ancient civilisations of the Mediterranean. This tour is frequently also accompanied by Dr Kostas Georgakopoulos, a Cretan archaeologist and licensed guide with a PhD in Minoan archaeology.
This tour requires a reasonable level of mobility and independence. Most of the archaeological sites are easily accessible by coach but a few are reached by walks of up to 1 km and have patches of uneven ground. As always, the pace is gentle and stops are frequent. Feel free to ask us for more details.
Flights and Extended Stays
Flights are added on a personal basis rather than included in the tour price. This gives you complete freedom to choose your preferred departure airport, flight times, length of stay, airline etc. We will be pleased to quote and book flights for you, and any extended stays, or you can book your own if you prefer. Flights booked with us are fully ATOL protected and can be available from as little as £100 return.
How To Book
Reservations & Enquiries: To reserve your place or enquire further simply fill in the booking form on this page, or call us on (UK) 0121 444 1854. There is no commitment and no payment at this stage; reservations are purely provisional until we have confirmed availability and proceeded with booking and payment.
Booking & Payment: Once you have checked availability and reserved your place, we will require your full details and a deposit of £250 per person to secure your booking. This can be done with a credit/debit card over the telephone (0121-444-1854) or by sending us a completed booking form and cheque. To print a booking form click here.
See our booking conditions for further details.
All Hidden History’s tours include a host of fully guided excursions and interesting talks to create an enriching travel experience. They also include some luxury and leisure by choosing great hotels and keeping the itineraries fairly relaxed and varied. More about What to Expect…
- Departure TimeDeparts 19 September 2019, 14 May 2020 and 10 September 2020.
Day 1: UK/Crete.
You are met on arrival at Heraklion airport and transferred to your hotel for eight night’s half-board accommodation. Your tour director will be on hand to answer any questions.
Day 2: Heraklion and National Archaeology Museum.
An introductory lecture from your tour director will help you get acquainted with Cycladic archaeology before we visit Heraklion, the present captial of Crete. Our guided tour of the city focuses especially on the National Archaeology Museum, home to the world’s finest collection of Minoan art and artefacts.
Day 3: Gournia and Spinalonga.
Gournia is an unassuming, under-visited site but is, in fact, a whole Minoan townscape that gives a rare insight into the basic fabric of Minoan society. After exploring here, relax over lunch in the small port of Elounda, and then enjoy a boat ride and tour of Spinalonga island. This evocative place was a Venetian fortress and then the leper colony described in Victoria Hislop’s novel ‘The Island’.
Day 4: Phaistos, Matala & Gortyn.
A day exploring southern Crete, filling out our picture of the Minoan landscape and visiting the beautifully sited Phaistos, second largest of the Minoan palaces. After time for lunch in the attractive seaside town of Matala, we visit the ruins at Gortyn, Crete’s Roman and early Christan capital.
Day 5: Knossos & Mount Juktas.
Knossos is the most famous, puzzling and controversial of the Minoan palaces. It was here that Englishman Sir Arthur Evans discovered the civilisation that he called Minoan, associating it with King Minos and the myth of the Minotaur. In addition to the main site we also explore the peak sanctuary of Mount Juktas, with special-access to the temple of Anemospilia, where human sacrifice is evidenced, and to the cemetery of Phourni, with its impressive Minoan tombs. These lesser known sites are not normally open to the public but are, in fact, crucial to our understanding of Knossos. Lunch is included in the traditional village of Archanes.
Day 6: Malia.
A half-day excursion to Malia allows a midday return to the hotel and an afternoon free to relax. Malia is very close to our hotel and was the third largest of the Minoan palaces. Particularly interesting are the recent excavations of early Minoan buildings adjacent to the main palace. A lecture from your tour director this evening will set the scene for tomorrow’s visit to Santorini.
Day 7: Santorini & Akrotiri.
A 2-hour sailing brings us to the volcanic island of Santorini, one of the most beautiful and spectacular islands of the Mediterranean with one of the best preserved archaeological sites – the recently re-opened Akrotiri. The massive eruption of Santorini around 1600 BC was one of the largest eruptions known and must have had catastrophic effects on the Minoan world. It is a plausible candidate for the myth of Atlantis and it certainly buried in ash the island’s main town of Akrotiri, resulting in a Bronze Age ‘Pompeii’ of the Aegean. It preserved buildings to several stories, millions of artefacts and, most famously, room after room of astonishing wall paintings – some of which we see in the Thira Prehistoric Museum. There will be free time in Thira to enjoy lunch and the fabulous views of the caldera.
Day 8: The Ideon Cave.
Our final highlight is a visit to the Ideon Cave, high on the slopes of Mount Ida and the most revered of all Crete’s ancient sites. Considered the birthplace of Zeus, it is set in majestic mountain scenery and contained a wealth of offerings. We also include lunch today in a traditional mountain village before an early afternoon return to the hotel.
Day 9: Departure.
You will be transferred from your hotel to Heraklion airport for your flight home, or why not stay longer and make the most of your time in Crete – feel free to ask us for information and ideas.
Please note that the itinerary may be subject to change or re-ordering according to the weather or other circumstances beyond our control.
Stunning landscapes and superb archaeology create an unforgettable experience. This is where European civilisation first emerged around 2000 BC producing a fascinating array of Bronze Age sites and a deep-rooted mythology which includes the birth of Zeus, the Minotaur and Atlantis.
Map & Virtual Tour
Click on the map below for a virtual tour with photos and text following the Crete and Santorini itinerary.
Please note that we sometimes have to change hotels for reasons beyond our control. We always choose hotels of a similar standard, designed to give you a little luxury and leisure alongside your cultural enrichment.
The 4-star Hersonissos Maris Hotel is set in quiet surroundings on the edge of Hersonissos town with an excellent sea view, sandy bays, two swimming pools and a beautiful spacious garden.
PO Box 38, GR-70014, Limi Hersonissos 712 01, Crete.
Flexibility: Rather than reserving group seats for a particular flight, we keep your flight options open to give you greater choice of departure airport, airline, flight times, cabin class etc.
Airports & Airlines: There are two airports in Crete: Heraklion and Chania. The former is 30 minutes from the tour hotel while the latter is over 2 hours and therefore not recommended. Direct flights to Heraklion are available from a wide choice of UK airports.
Book with us or book your own: Once we have confirmed availability of the tour, you can choose either to book your flights with us, or to make your own travel arrangements. Before booking any flights of your own please ensure we have confirmed the availability of the tour as our tours are subject to minimum and maximum numbers of participants.
Airfares: Ask us for a quote. Use the reservation/enquiries form or call 0121 444 1854.
ATOL Protection: If you book your flights with us you will be ATOL protected, which means that you will not lose your money or be stranded abroad if things go wrong. If you book your own flights they may not be ATOL protected, even if you book direct with the airline or with an online search facility.