- Enjoy stunning landscape and whirlwind mountain roads as you descent to Messara Valley
- Explore Ancient Gortyn - Crete’s Roman capital and a legendary birthplace of Minoans
- Explore the picturesquely located and authentically preserved Minoan Palace in Phaistos, South Crete
- Enjoy a great lunch in one of the seaside taverns in Matala village
- Explore the sandstone caves and sandy beaches of Matala - right here Zeus disguised as a bull brought princess Europe to the shore of the Libyan sea
Yes, good 3 hours roundtrip is quite a drive from Heraklion! But be aware: in order to get any further than customary and touristy sites, you have to put up with lengthy, at times whirlwind drive. It is worth it!
We head down the fertile Messara valley and land right in the Ancient Gortyn – Crete’s Roman capital, also known for its oldest church and the code of law. It is also a legendary birthplace of Minoans - right here under the plane tree the great god Zeus revealed himself to princess Europa.
We advance further South, dive deeper into history and head to Minoan palace of Phaistos - even more impressive than its famous sister Knossos, thanks to its picturesque location and authentically preserved ruins. Having done with history, we head to beach – not just any but Matala beach – the same where Zeus disguised as a bull brought princess Europe to the shore of the Libyan sea (before taking her to Gortyn). Nowadays, it is a picturesque fisherman’s village with sandy beach (great for a swim), celebrated centre of the hippie community, with sandstone caves. Right here Joni Mitchell created her hit “Carrey” in 70. Fresh fish for late lunch in a tavern and optional walk to explore Matala’s red beach (accessible only on foot).
Visit the palaces of the Minoans, stroll through picturesque seaside villages, and see the evocative ruins of Phaistos. Learn the early mythology of King Minos and the Minoans, and feel the ruins of ancient cities come to life in the company of our guides - all of whom are expert.
Note: this is a private tour and can be modified according to your interests and preferences