Exclusive Culture & Wine Tour Days in the Cretan & Cycladic Wine Streets

As Martin Luther once said: “Beer is made by men. Wine by God.”
Follow us to a “delicious” tour in some of the most important places in Greece.Wineries with great history and worldwide famous wine products are waiting for you in a tour full of taste and nectar. Learn the Greek wine history and tradition from the best ones and taste some of the finest wines in Crete, Cyclades and the mainland.

Day 1 On the footsteps of Kazantzakis

Arrival at the Heraklion International Airport “Nikos Kazantzakis” (HER). After your flight, you will definitely need a break, so you will take some free time for yourselves; you can either go to the beach and relax in the clear blue waters under the hot sun or take a walk through the city and visit the Venetian fortress Koules, the Eleftherias Square (freedom square), the Morosini fountain with the lions and the Dedalou street, the city’s main street which is full of shops. Heraklion is one of the most important cities in Crete and worldwide famous as the motherland of Nikos Kazantzakis, the author of “Zorbas the Greek” (original English title: “Life and Times of Alexis Zorbas”), a novel about philosophy and life made known through the film with Anthony Quinn. Transfer to your booked hotel in the region of Heraklion. Overnight stay.

Day 2 Phaistos and the Myth of Europa

First stop beyond the city of Heraklion: through the Messara Plain with the olive trees you reach Phaistos, the second greatest Minoan palace in history. The most important finding at the excavation site of Phaistos was the famous Phaistos Disc, a disc of fired clay now displayed at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. The Disc has attracted the attention of archaeologists and historians, as it depicts 45 unique signs (241 tokens in total in clockwise sequence) which do not belong to any known written language in the whole world. Some compare the mysterious language to the Linear A or the Anatolian and Egyptian hieroglyphs.
After exploring the mysteries of ancient languages, drive to the bay of Matala on the southern side of the island, the famous site with the man-made caves (they are thought to have been made during the Roman or early Christian times) inhabited by the hippies mainly in the 60s. Nowadays, the place is widely known for the lively beach parties and festivals taking place there every summer. However, Matala is also known – according to the Greek mythology – for the myth of Europa, daughter of the king of Phoenicia. When Zeus looked at her, he fell in love with her and was transformed into a white bull in order to approach her. As she climbed on the bull, Zeus took her away and brought her to Crete. After their love affair, Europa gave birth to his three sons Minos, Sarpedon, and Rhadamanthys, and of course gave her name to the Old Continent.
Further drive not far away from Matala to the archaeological site of Gortyn, where it is said that the wedding of Zeus and Europa took place. In Gortyn you will find the old Roman capital city of Crete. Some of its most important monuments are the Basilica of Agios Titos, the Roman Odeon and the big inscription with Gortyn’s laws that is considered to be the biggest archeological discovery of the previous century.
After such a long tour, how about a glass of high-quality Cretan wine?
Visit and enjoy wine tasting at Domaine Zacharioudakis, created on the top of the hill “Orthi Petra”, in Plouti, Heraklion. The winery with the unique architecture was built within a 2,000 m2 organically cultivated vineyard and follows the international high quality standards. The varieties cultivated there are: the red Kotsifali, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, besides the white varieties are Vilana, Vidiano, Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia di Candia Aromatica and Sauvignon Blanc. http://zacharioudakis.com/en/
Overnight stay at your booked hotel in Heraklion.

Day 3 Discover the city of Rethymnon

Next stop of our wine tour will be Lyrarakis Winery, a family winery which has been producing high quality wines since 1966. The family is credited with the revival of two ancient Cretan varieties, Dafni and Plyto, while a third “vineyard treasure”, the indigenous Melissaki, is recently added to the credits. https://www.lyrarakis.com
Further drive to a city with a characteristic air of history and tradition. Rethymnon is the third largest city in Crete. Visit the beautiful graphic harbor, the old part of the city with the fortress and the Venetian-Ottoman quarter, which is a maze of colorful narrow streets, graceful wood-balconied houses and ornate Venetian monuments.
Last stop of the day: the monastery of Arkadi, a symbol of the Cretan revolt for freedom against the Ottomans in 1866. During the battles between the Cretans and the Ottomans, 943 Greeks, mostly women and children, sought refuge in the monastery. After three days of battle and under the abbot’s orders, the Cretans blew up barrels of gunpowder, choosing to sacrifice themselves rather than surrender. The monastery is not only a symbol of Crete, but mostly a symbol of sacrifice and freedom for all Greeks. The 8th of November is a day of commemorative celebrations in Arkadi and Rethymnon. Overnight stay at your booked hotel in Heraklion.

Day 4 Santorini: the volcano island

And as the time has come for you to bid farewell to Crete, you will take the ferry to Santorini. The breathtaking view that the Greek volcano island offers is something unique: the white color of the Cycladic, cubic houses joins the black color of Santorini earth and together they dive into the clear, blue waters of the Aegean Sea. The first stop by bus from the harbor is at Oia, a small town covering the whole island of Therasia and the northwestern biggest part of Santorini. Oia is the most famous and one of the most picturesque villages of the island. A visitor of Oia should not miss for any reason its magnificent view at the sunset time and a walk through its narrow streets with the white, little houses. The village also has a Naval Maritime Museum and many art galleries of artists who came once in Santorini and fell in love with its beauty.
Afterwards, you will visit Santo Winery and also taste some of the finest Santorini semi dry, semi sweet and sweet wines, widely famous all over the world. The wines of the vineyard can also be combined with the traditional Santo products, such as the Santorini tomato, fava beans, capers and sweet koufeto. http://www.santowines.gr/. The rest of the evening is free for you to enjoy the sea, the traditional aura of Santorini and of course the wonderful sunset. Overnight stay at your booked hotel.

Day 5 Following the paths of history

If you are history fans, then this will be your favorite day. Except for its astonishing beauty, Santorini is also a “must” for anybody interested in archaeology. In the morning, you will visit Fira and its Prehistoric Museum, as well as the ancient Akrotiri. Like other Pompeii, it was totally buried in volcanic ashes due to the Theran eruption in about 1627 BC. The settlement was remarkably well-preserved because of the lava and it will surely impress you with its architecture and the advanced sewage system the inhabitants had about 3,000 years ago. After your meeting with ancient history, you will taste once more Santorini wines at Artemis Karamolegos winery, one of the most dynamic and rapidly evolving wineries of Santorini dating back to 1952. Only some of the wine varieties produced at this winery are: Assyrtiko, Athiri, Mandilaria and Voydomato. http://www.artemiskaramolegos-winery.com/

Day 6 Hopping to Paros Island

In the morning, you will have the chance to enjoy your last hours in Santorini on your own disposal. Afternoon transfer to the port and heading with the ferry to the island of Paros. After arrival, transfer to your booked hotel and overnight stay.

Day 7 Paros Tour

In the morning, you can take a small tour in Parikia, the capital of the island. You can visit the church of Panagia Ekatontapyliani, also known as the Church of 100 Doors. The church complex contains a main chapel surrounded by two more chapels and a baptistery dating back to the early Christian times. The tour continues with a walk in the old part of the city. During your walk, you will be able to visit the Frankish Castle as well, which is located at the highest point of Parikia and guarantees an amazing view from its surrounding areas.
Afterwards, drive to Moraitis winery, founded in 1910 and located in Naoussa, thought by some people as the most beautiful port in Cyclades. Some of the famous and multiply awarded wines you will taste are Malagousia and Meltemi. http://www.moraitiswines.gr
On the way back to Parikia, you will drive through the villages of Prodromos, Marmara and Marpissa to the traditional fishermen’s village of Pisso Livadi. There you will have free time for lunch and leisure. Further drive to Lefkes, the capital of Paros in the medieval times and one of the most beautiful island villages. In Lefkes, you will take a short walk in the byzantine pathways (walking tour of medium difficulty; duration ca. 1 h and 20’). Finally, you will drive to Marathi and visit the marble quarries, the source of the famous Parian marble in the old times. Ancient sculptors praised Parian marble (also known as “lichnitis” because of the lamps the workers used to find it) for its translucency and fine, soft texture, appropriate for sculptures and other constructions. Return to Parikia. Overnight stay at your booked hotel.

Day 8 Naxos one-day-tour

Join us for a day trip in Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades islands. You will leave from the harbor of Parikia or Naoussa in the morning, and after a short journey, you will arrive in Hora, the capital of the Naxos. The guided tour starts in Hora with its narrow alleyways and market place, as well as the archeological museum. On the seafront, you will also find and visit Promponas Wine and Liqueur Makers, where you will taste the traditional Naxos liqueur “Citron Promponas”, produced since 1915.
Having passed the lush, green bamboo reed area in Livadi, you will arrive in Galanado, where (in the northwestern side of the village) is the Venetian Bellonia Tower and the little “twin” church of St. John, a place of worship for both Orthodox and Catholic religions. Continuing on, you will come to Halki which is about 16 km away from Hora. Here you will stop for a stroll to admire the village with its beautiful old mansions, Byzantine churches and an old traditional citron distillery. Carrying on again, you will stop near the village of Moni to visit the church of Panagia Drossiani (6th century), one of the best-preserved monuments of the Christian era. The next village you will visit is Filoti, built amphitheatrically at the foot of Mount Zas. From here following a winding mountain road up to the height of 600 m, you will arrive in the village of Apiranthos. This is known as the “marble village” and boasts about its three museums: the archeological, the geological and the folk museum. You will stop here for an hour. You will continue to Koronos with its emery mines and the height of 700 m and to the village of Komiaki (Koronida). From here the road starts going downhill towards Apollona, an idyllic, seaside settlement on the northeastern side of the island where there is a gigantic statue (10.5 m) dating back to the 7th century B.C. You will make a stop here for leisure time. Your return to Hora will be made via the brand new coast road which passes the northwestern beaches of the island, and also the Agia and the Monastery of Faneromeni (17th century). On arriving in Hora again, there will be free time to walk around the town and finally you will take the ferry back to Paros.

Day 9 Free day in Paros / Optional: One-day-trip in Antiparos

Today you will have the chance to enjoy the crystal clear waters and amazing beauty of Paros at your own disposal. Otherwise, you can be transferred to Pounta and take the ferry to Antiparos, the “small sibling” of Paros. The main site Kastro stands under the protection of the medieval, decayed castle. Antiparos is worldwide known for its quaint landscape and in the last few years it has managed to be an inspiring place for artists, film directors, architects and actors. If you are lucky enough, you could maybe see Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks around, as they own private villas on the island!

Day 10 Athens – Cape Sounion

The time has come for you to leave the islands and visit the wonderful Greek mainland. First stop: Athens, a unique city worldwide, a jewel of the ancient world and multicultural center of nowadays. With the ferry from Paros, you will reach Athens and firstly visit the magnificent CapeSounion. Cape Sounion is only 45 miles (70 km) away from Athens and thus the perfect destination for a sunny, lazy afternoon. The Temple of Poseidon, whose half of the Doric columns are still standing, is perched on a rocky hilltop overlooking the sea and offers an absolutely breathtaking, panoramic view of the Aegean sea. Afterwards, you will drive to your booked hotel in Athens. You will definitely need some rest, as the day coming promises you a long journey through time.

Day 11 Athens for Sightseeing Fans

Experience the glory of important monuments from the bus perspective: the Panathenaic Stadium, where the first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896; the Presidential Mansion which was the Royal Palace until 1974; the Parliament House, palace of the first king of Greece, Otto von Wittelsbach; the numerous neoclassical buildings from the 19th century surrounded by the main streets of Athens. In the center you can find the squares, where you can be part of the social life and nightlife of Athens. Take a deep breath of democratic history as you reach the Acropolis.
The first part of the tour ends underneath the Acropolis, the landmark of Athens. On the more than 2,500 years old Greek monument you can admire the remnants of a glorious era: the marble Parthenon, the magnificent Propylaea, the delicate Erechtheion with the Caryatid Porch…
The strong feelings in the fresh air of the altitude become stronger at the foot of Acropolis, as another absolute museum highlight is waiting for you after lunch: the NewAcropolisMuseum, which is included among the 10 most beautiful museums in the world and opened in 2009 under the oversight of the Swiss architect Bernard Tschume. In the museum you can find 300 statues and metopes, as well as 4,000 other smaller objects from the archaic period, the classical antiquity and the late antiquity, displayed till now in the Old Acropolis Museum on the hill of Acropolis or – because of lack of space – in magazine photos. The new museum is really a must for every museum fan!

Day 12 Ancient Corinth, Epidaurus & Wine Tasting

On the last day of your journey, you will visit Ancient Corinth and on your way there you will have the chance to cross the famous CorinthCanal: until 1893, seamen had to travel around the rugged shores of Peloponnese to land e.g. in Sicily. The spectacular cutting through of the Isthmus between the Saronic and the Corinthian Gulf clearly reduced the sea routes from Athens to the Mediterranean Sea. The builders blew up the rock at a length of 6.34 km, dug 60 m deep in the earth and created a shipping channel 24.5 m wide and 8 m deep. Ancient Corinth has been the richest port and the largest city in ancient Greece. Its strategical location on the connection between Peloponnese and the mainland of Greece made the city a powerful commercial center near two seaports. The city is also very famous in the world of Christianity as one of the main stops of Apostle Paul during the journeys he made to spread the word of Jesus. After leaving Ancient Corinth, you will visit Epidaurus: the ancient theatre of the old Peloponnese city dating back to the 4th century B.C. has an absolutely unique acoustic and still hosts theatrical plays. Epidaurus and Argos were allies of Athenians and later of Corinthians. The famous Asclepieia, athletic games and music competitions, were held here every 5 years. Thousands of musicians and athletes from all over Greece came to Epidaurus to participate in these games. The most important historic monuments in Epidaurus are: the Temple of Asclepius which dates back to the 4th century B.C. and was designed and built by the architects Theotokos and Thimotheos; the Healing Temple Asclepieion which was designed for 250 patients (70.92 m x 9.42 m); the Library, which was later built by the Roman emperor Antonios and his successors; the Gymnasium (69 m x 53 m); the Theatre, with an incomparable acoustic for 14,000 spectators.
Last stops of the day will be two of the most famous Greek vineyards. Firstly, you will visit Domaine Skouras. The story of Domaine Skouras started in 1986 with an emblematic wine, Megas Oenos, which became synonymous with George Skouras. Today, Megas Oenos is one of the wines with a consistent presence in the world of European wine, with a proven ageing ability, rivalled only by very few Greek wines. Some of the Greek varieties cultivated at Skouras winery are: Roditis, Alepou, Moscofilero (all pink-skinned grape varieties, but usually used in white wine production), as well as reds like Agiorgitikoand, more recently, Mavrostifo of Argos, an old and almost extinct variety of the region. In addition, cosmopolitan varieties are also cultivated, such as Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Merlot. http://www.skouras.gr/
Last but not least comes Palivou Estate, a winery located in Ancient Nemea and widely known as the “Bordeaux of Southeast Europe”. Here, in the biggest vineyard of the Balkans, with vineyards of more than 6 acres, varieties such as Roditis, Malagousia, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are cultivated, but the winery is mostly known for its Agiorgitiko variety. https://palivos.gr/
Drive back to Athens and overnight stay at your booked hotel.

Day 13 “Geia sas!” – Flight back home

 Transfer to Athens Eleftherios Venizelos” International Airport (ATH) and flight back home.

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