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Messara Plain

Messara Plain: Our most recommended tours and activities

From Heraklion: Matala Beach and Hippie caves

1. From Heraklion: Matala Beach and Hippie caves

After a short drive through the Messara plain you reach Matala. Known for the colony of hippies in the Sixties, where they lived in large holes formed on the mountain. The rocks are holes with a Roman burial. In Matala you will have time for a refreshing dip in the water, eat something or just enjoy a drink on the beach. This is the place where Zeus, having taken the form a bull, swam ashore with Europa on his back before dragging her off to Gortys. Both, the Minoans and the Romans used the place as their harbor. Nevertheless, for most people, Matala means only one thing: hippies. Back in the late 1960s - 1970s, this little town was a colony of the “flower children”, who lived in the caves that used to be former Roman tombs

Crete: Trypiti Beach Off-Road South Tour w/ Lunch & Wine

2. Crete: Trypiti Beach Off-Road South Tour w/ Lunch & Wine

A special excursion to the South of the island, starting our exploration with a visit to the emblematic lake of incomparable beauty in Zaros in a highly impressive landscape in central Crete! Then driving among the biggest valley of Crete, Messara, where we drive through pre-Minoan, Minoan, ancient Greek, and Roman ruins. We continue to the gorge of Trypiti through the biggest valley of Crete, this of Messara where our descent inside the gorge and through huge vertical rocks ends at the well hidden and exotic beach of Trypiti. Landscape of incomparable natural beauty rich in flora and fauna. Arrival at the beach and time for swim in its crystal clear waters. Quiet beach for moments of relaxation just before our lunch with authentic Cretan food in the center of the wild olive tree forest in the canyon of St. Savvas. Satisfying experiences and good traditional food, we return to your hotel with the best memories !

Archaeological and Natural Beauties of South Central Crete

3. Archaeological and Natural Beauties of South Central Crete

Meet with your guide at the terminal of Cretan Spiti Travel at Eleftherias Square in front of Astoria Capsis Hotel at 08.30, we drive to Gortyna, the Roman capital of Crete and Cyrenaica and was first inhabited around 3200 BC. After the visit of Gortyna, we drive through valley of Mesara to visit the archaeological site of Phaistos and its palace, the most important center of the Minoan civilization, and the most wealthy and powerful city in southern Crete. After our visit to Phaistos, we drive to Matala where you will enjoy some free time to swim in the crystal clear waters and optional lunch. Finally we arrive to Zaros, attractive, refreshingly unspoiled village famous for its spring water, which is now bottled and sold all over Greece, and an ideal base for walkers to explore the beautiful nature. Zaros also has some fine Byzantine monasteries, and delicious farm-raised trout served up in tavernas around town and on emerald-green Lake Votomos which will be visited. Late in the afternoon at 17:00, we return to Heraklion at the terminal in front of Astoria Capsis Hotel.

Crete: Jeep Safari, Mountains, Goat-Keeping & Cheese Making

4. Crete: Jeep Safari, Mountains, Goat-Keeping & Cheese Making

Join us on an unforgettable adventure through the stunning valleys of Malevizi and Messara, home to millions of olive trees. Experience the thrill of an off-road jeep ride through the Asterousia mountain range, exploring rarely seen areas, and stopping at an observation deck at the peak of the mountains to admire eagles and the breathtaking canyon and Libyan Sea in the background. During our trip to southern Crete, you'll learn about the local tradition of goat-keeping from a shepherd. He'll show you how to feed, milk, and catch goats. Then, you'll cook Cretan goat cheese with him inside a cave, which is a unique experience. Finally, you'll get to taste the delicious cheese you made together. We'll have lunch at a charming seaside tavern, take a refreshing swim at the tranquil Tripitis beach, make a wish at a picturesque church, and experience a true Cretan farewell with the hospitable old man who owns the tavern and takes care of the church. This adventure is perfect for anyone looking for an exciting and unique experience in Crete. Book your trip with us now and let us take you on an unforgettable journey.

From Heraklion: South Crete Festos and Matala with Lunch

5. From Heraklion: South Crete Festos and Matala with Lunch

Explore the highlights of southern Crete on a guided full-day trip from Heraklion. Enjoy a small-group tour of some of the region's most popular sights.  Meet your guide at your hotel and hop on the bus that will take you to your first stop, Phaistos. Along the way, take in scenic views of the Messara winegrowing region's mountains and vineyards. At Phaistos, explore the ruins of a medieval city and the second-largest palace in Crete. Learn more about the history of the complex from your guide and enjoy panoramic views of the Ida Mountains and the Lassithi Massif. Afterward, swim in the crystal-clear waters of the Libyan Sea in the former fishing village of Matala and take a walk to the world-famous cliffside caves. Then, tuck into a delicious lunch with views over the bay. On the way back to Heraklion, stop at the monastery of Odigitria. Here, witness 2 tholos tombs and let yourself be enchanted by the monastery's charm before heading back to your hotel.

Minoan Luxuries: Ancient Palaces, Messara Wineries & Matala

6. Minoan Luxuries: Ancient Palaces, Messara Wineries & Matala

Hop down to the heart of Central Crete, the beloved land of our ancestors, and let the wonders of the Minoan world collide on this luxurious passage of time. From the comfort of a premium chauffeured vehicle & escorted by our top local insider revel in the endless luxuries of the ancient Messara plain where wine-red fertile soils treasure lavish vineyards & the oldest olive groves stretch perennially toward the horizon. Visit a family award-winning winery set on the peak of allure panoramas & let our passionate winemakers immerse you into their intoxicating world. Luxuriate in ages unearthing the Bronze Age palaces of Phaistos & Gortyna along with storied villages & monasteries. In the afternoon, tuck in the bohemian vibe of Matala that captivated Bob Dylan & Janis Joplin. Bask in the turquoise waters of the Libyan Sea & unwind in the charming village irresistible for its freshly caught grilled fish & finest ouzo. To us, travel means putting fire in your soul with the best stories.

Orthodox Crete: In the Footsteps of the Apostle Paul

7. Orthodox Crete: In the Footsteps of the Apostle Paul

Discover the remnants of centuries-old Christian monuments in central Crete. Take a private day trip from Agios Nikolaos or Elounda to dive into the rich religious history of the island. Follow the path walked by Apostle Paul thousands of years ago and admire imposing monasteries. Get picked up from your Agios Nikolaos/Elounda hotel or villa and take a journey to central Crete from north to south. Explore the land where Apostle Paul found fertile soils with lavish vineyards and olive groves stretching toward the horizon. Allow your guide to take you on a journey through history. Explore the village of Agios Myron and its holy cave, as well as the Pailani and Odigitria Monasteries. Meander through the Minoan wonders of the vast Messara Plain to take in magnificent views of Phaistos Palace. Finally, visit the village of Matala to unwind at the typical fish tavernas on the waterfront.

Minoan Luxuries: Ancient Palaces, Messara Wineries & Matala

8. Minoan Luxuries: Ancient Palaces, Messara Wineries & Matala

Hop down to the heart of Central Crete, the beloved land of our ancestors, and let the wonders of the Minoan world collide on this luxurious passage of time. From the comfort of a premium chauffeured vehicle & escorted by our top local insider revel in the endless luxuries of the ancient Messara plain where wine-red fertile soils treasure lavish vineyards & the oldest olive groves stretch perennially toward the horizon. Visit a family award-winning winery set on the peak of allure panoramas & let our passionate winemakers immerse you into their intoxicating world. Luxuriate in ages unearthing the Bronze Age palaces of Phaistos & Gortyna along with storied villages & monasteries. In the afternoon, tuck in the bohemian vibe of Matala that captivated Bob Dylan & Janis Joplin. Bask in the turquoise waters of the Libyan Sea & unwind in the charming village irresistible for its freshly caught grilled fish & finest ouzo. To us, travel means putting fire in your soul with the best stories.

Crete: Land Rover Safari with Lunch in Agiofarago & Matala

9. Crete: Land Rover Safari with Lunch in Agiofarago & Matala

Journey into the wild and untamed side of Crete by Land Rover. Visit quiet, spiritual Agiofarago with its wild beauty, then experience the contrast of noisy Matala with its hippie style. After being picked up from your hotel, drive south through the plain of Messara, to Agiofarago: the gorge of the Saints. Enjoy a drink in the traditional village of Siva, then stop at the 14th century Odigitria Monastery. From there the rugged dirt tracks will lead you to Agiofarago. Stretch your legs along a 30 minute path crossing the gorge, scattered with oleander and olive trees. Discover a beautiful beach stretching to the Libyan Sea, where you can swim and snorkel. Continue to Matala, a small but crowded village, with a long sandy beach and crystal clear deep waters. Explore carved Roman tombs, have a swim at the beach, and eat lunch in a traditional local tavern.

Orthodox Crete: In the Footsteps of the Apostle Paul

10. Orthodox Crete: In the Footsteps of the Apostle Paul

Over the centuries, Cretans have imbued this ancient land with the vivid presence of Christianity by founding monasteries, churches, & chapels of great religious import. Journey to Central Crete from North to South in the paths of Apostle Paul to the land of generosity. An untouched paradise on earth, beloved by our forefathers, where fertile soils treasure lavish vineyards & the oldest olive groves seem to stretch toward the horizon. Succumb to the expert knowledge of our local guides as you visit religious monuments always built-in stunning landscapes. Some of them were fortified & others are situated on the sites of archaic temples illuminating the long devotion to Christianity in Crete. Let us take you on a true passage of time meandering through the Minoan wonders of Messara Plain to embrace the magnificent views of Phaistos Palace. In the afternoon, visit the village of Matala. Bask in the waters of the Libyan Sea & unwind at the delicious fish tavernas on the waterfront.

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What people are saying about Messara Plain

This was an excellent tour - highly recommended. Our group was small: Just 3 people including me and my wife. Our guide, Poppy, was extremely knowledgeable and an excellent communicator. She took us through all parts of Knossos, Phaistos, and Gortyna, providing detailed information. The sites themselves are amazing with the sense of history you get. I wish, though, that Knossos had not been subjected to the amount of “restoration” that it has. For this reason, I found Phaistos more evocative. You can really appreciate what it might have been like to live there. At Gortyna, you can see a ruined Byzantine basilica, a Roman theater, and - the highlight - the wall with the Law Code of Gortyna inscribed on it. This tour runs infrequently but if you are in Crete even for a few days and have any interest in history, don’t miss it.

Phenomenal :) our guide gave everything to bless us with an unforgettable, educational day. The stop at the dream beach Trypiti could have been a little longer for me, but that was made up for by the fine food in the mountain tavern. I would book a trip with you again at any time. Thank you very much - best day of my Creece Trip!

Pick up at the hotel on time and a super nice and cool tour guide Jorgos. Stunning gorge and views, topped off by goats and crystal clear water on a secluded beach. Authentic lunch and all in all a great day. I can only recommend.

Our guide Athina was very knowledgeable, humorous and caring. The tour of Knossos was amazing and Phaistos illuminating. A full day but very relevant to the ancient Minoan history of Crete. Well worth it.

Very interesting. We had a lot of information from our guide about the different sites.