Day 1: The trip officially begins in the morning at the Heraklion airport where NWP staff will meet you. Exact meeting time will be determined once flight schedules from Athens to Heraklion have been finalized. From the airport, we will head to Knossos, the famous Minoan palace just outside Heraklion. We will have a tour of Knossos, then shuttle down to Matala on the south coast. There are many options for lunch tavernas in Matala. We’ll have some free time in the afternoon to explore Matala. We’ll get together to enjoy the incredible sunset, have a drink and begin to get to know one another. We will review the itinerary for the week and answer whatever questions you may have.
Day 2: We’ll spend the day in the Matala area, hiking over to Red Beach in the morning, then to Kommos Beach in the afternoon. We will also have some time for cliff jumping, snorkeling and exploring the famous caves (legendary homes to Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan and others in the 60’s) which surround the bay. We’ll have an optional sunset hike before dinner.
Day 3: We’ll get an early start today in order to stop and visit the ruins of the Minoan Palace of Festos on our way to the trail head for the Samarian Gorge. We will put on our hiking shoes and grab our walking sticks (critical item of equipment!). The Samarian Gorge is a “must see” for every visitor to Crete and this incredible national park draws 1,000-2,000 visitors per day. We have designed our itinerary to be able to experience the Gorge after the vast majority of hikers have already headed down. Most visitors to the Gorge have to catch the ferry at the end of the Gorge. We, however, spend the night in Agia Roumeli, the town where the Gorge ends. We’ll celebrate our accomplishments with a wonderful dinner right at our hotel.
Day 4: Our second day in Roumeli gives us options to hike along the coastline toward Sougia or head up into the hills to discover the ancient Turkish fortresses. The Samarian Gorge is the most strenuous hike of our itinerary and having an easier day to follow gives our legs a chance to rejuvenate.
Day 5: We’ll depart Roumeli and head 8 miles along the coast to the small (and beautiful) town of Loutro. Along the way we’ll pass Agios Pavlos, an ancient seaside chapel commemorating the visit of St. Paul to that very spot. Lunch today will be at the quaint beach of Marmara, a spectacular spot for cliff jumping. Then it’s on to the charming village of Loutro for two nights.
Day 6: Our second day in Loutro finds us hiking over 6 miles up to the monastery perched high on the hillside. From there, we hike to the small village of Anopolis for a bit of refreshment. Then on to the Aradena Gorge where we will likely be the only hikers. Back in Loutro, we will have another optional sunset hike to the Venetian fortress ruins that overlook the village.
Day 7: We’ll start the day with a spectacular hike along the coastal route to Sfakia. A quick dip at Sweetwater Beach along the way is always an option. From Sfakia, we will shuttle to Moni Preveli, an ancient monastery high on the cliffs above the sea which is still home to active monks. From Moni Preveli, we’ll hike a short distance to Palm Beach for a cappuccino stop and possible swim in the fresh water estuary. A celebratory dinner will provide a wonderful opportunity to share memories and recount the week’s events.
Day 8: After breakfast, we will shuttle back up to Heraklion. We will have a chance to visit the renowned Heraklion Archaeological Museum before heading to the airport to catch departing flights.