Rethymno - Arkadi - Eleftherna - Margarites
Begin your excursion from the monastery of Arkadi, a historical symbol of the national pride of the Cretan people. This is where another fight for freedom took place, against Turkish oppression in 1866. It is located in an amazing site, viewing the northern Cretan sea. Then, move towards Eleftherna, a village with a great natural beauty. Opposite the village, you can see the remnants of the Ancient Eleftherna, one of the most important archeological sites in Crete.
Next, is Margarites, a village that is famous for the production of copies of Minoan ceramic pots. Walking around Margarites, you can see beautifully decorated doors and walls from the time of the Venetian Rule. In combination with the narrow paths, it gives us a picture of the life of a Cretan village in previous centuries.
Rethimno – Amari – Agia Galini – Spili – Kourtaliotis Gorge
Visit the traditional villages of Amari area, where people occupy themselves mainly with agriculture and stock breeding. There are two rivers crossing from the North to the South and the production of many fruits is high.
Then reach Agia Galini, a beautiful fishermen's village and a famous destination for tourists in the South of Crete. The traditional houses are built on a steep side of the mountain with a panoramic view of the Lybian Sea. On the way back, make a stop at the traditional village of Spili, a village "full of water" paved streets, old houses and the famous lion head fountains in the central Square of the village.
After Spili, don’t forget to step at the Gorge of Kourtaliotis, which is a beautiful natural site, characterized by steep slopes, vast amounts of rocks and a river running in between.
Rethymno - Argiroupoli - Kournas - Georgioupoli
Begin this excursion moving through various traditional Cretan villages before you reach Argiroupoli. This is a village that combines rare natural beauty and history. The small waterfalls, wooden watermills and the thick plantation give to the village a unique style.
Then, move towards Kournas Lake, one of the two lakes in Crete. It is surrounded by the famous "White Mountains" and its southeast side is covered with olive trees. The last destination is Georgioupoli, a village located next to the sea. It has evolved to a modern touristic village and is built in a beautiful area surrounded by trees and thick plantation, with river "Almyros" crossing it before reaching the sea.
Rethymno – Kourtaliotis Gorge – Prevelis – Plakias – Myrthios
This is the paradise. Move along Kourtaliotis gorge and reach the monastery of Preveli. It is a historical monastery that has played a vital role in the revolutions of Cretan people. Build on a "magical" side which an amazing views to the Lybian Sea.
Next village is Plakias. A famous touristic destination which a beautiful natural view where a visitor can rest but enjoy life too visiting the various cafe bars. On the way back to Rethymno, Stop at the village of Myrthios with the amazing view of Plakias and then, move through the Kotsyfos gorge where you will be amazed by the wild natural beauty.
Rethymno - Vrisses – Sfakia – Fragokastelo
Begin from the village of Vrisses, full of trees and beautiful plantation. After that, approach the famous "White Mountains" visiting many traditional villages on your way, and also the gorge of Imbros. Then reach Sfakia, a village located near the sea, surrounded by great natural beauty.
A few kilometers away, you will see the Venetian Castle of "Fragokastelo" next to a beach of "golden" sand which is considered one of the most romantic places of the island. On the way back, ride through the gorge of Kourtaliotis.
Rethymno – Melidoni – Zoniana – Anogia
Begin from the cavern of Melidoni, one of the most interesting historical and archeological caverns in Crete, connected with the years of the Turkish occupation in Crete and the revolutions of Cretan people. Then, cross various traditional villages until you reach the mountainous village of Zoniana built on the foothill of mountain Psiloritis. A museum was built to accommodate wax creations referring to the history of Crete.
While you enter the village, you will see one of the most beautiful caves in Crete, the cave Sfentoni, full of stalagmites and stalactites. Then move towards Anogia, one of the most famous Cretan places where you can watch how people preserve their traditional ways of life. It is one of the biggest centers of cultural creation. On the way back don’t forget to visit the mythical birth place of Zeus, the “Ideon “cave on the plateau of Nida.
Lappa was a significant, powerful Cretan city. In Mycenaean legends, it was believed to have been founded by Greek hero Agamemnon. Lappa is situated 27km southwest from Rethymno city. Argyroupolis is the present-day village built on the site of the ancient city. It is a place with rich vegetation and many natural water springs. Parts of many houses in Argyroupolis come from ancient or Venetian buildings. Beautiful Venetian mansions still stand in many parts of the village and are still inhabited. Excavations in the area have uncovered interesting finds, the oldest of which date from the Late Geometric period.
If you like walking and getting into the feeling of the past without all the other tourists around you, you should visit ancient Eleftherna. Here you will find remains from the Dorian and later Roman times scattered all over the area.
In the village of Archea (ancient) Eleftherna and directly opposite a fountain, there is a road, which leads to a parking place by a taverna perched on the edge of the archaeological site. From here a track leads to the spectacularly sited acropolis of Ancient Eleftherna. There are excavations currently going on to both sides of the peak and down in the valleys.
The city that stood here in ancient times was one of the most important of the eighth and seventh century BC Dorian Crete. In the surrounding valleys you also find remains from Eleftherna and later Roman Times.
The current catholicon (church) dates back to the 16th century and is marked by the influence of the Renaissance. This influence is visible in the architecture, which mixes both Roman and baroque elements. As early as the 16th century, the monastery was a place for science and art and had a school and a rich library. Situated on a plateau, and surrounded by a thick and high wall, the monastery is also built like a fortress.
The monastery played an active role in the Cretan resistance of Ottoman rule during the Cretan revolt in 1866. 943 Greeks, mostly women and children, sought refuge in the monastery. After three days of battle and under orders from the hegumen (abbot) of the monastery, the Cretans blew up barrels of gunpowder, choosing to sacrifice themselves rather than surrender.
The monastery became a national sanctuary in honor of the Cretan resistance. November 8 is a day of commemorative parties in Arkadi and Rethymno. The explosion did not end the Cretan insurrection, but it attracted the attention of the rest of the world.