´╗┐Alternative Crete: Walking and Painting - 15th to 22nd May 2018

Beach at Kissamos Bay

Our guided walks take you on a pleasant exploration of the local countryside at the west end of Crete, where you can discover Ancient and Byzantine monuments, secluded valleys and groves, traditional cafes and tavernas and quaint hill-top villages. Walkers can expect a route rich in archaeological, historical and botanical features, with spectacular views over the bay of Kissamos, the Gramvousa Peninsula, the Rodopos Peninsula and the surrounding countryside.

The routes we take are typically unknown to all but locals, and as there is no need for transport - we leave only a green footprint behind

  • Your own comfortable apartment with swimming pool and breakfast served in your apartment
  • Quiet coastal location
  • Relaxed guided walks along the coast, local villages and rolling hillside
  • Off shore cruise and explore Garmvousa Island
  • Learn about local fauna and flora
  • Introduction to Cretan culture, history and archaeology
  • Swimming pool and local uncrowded beach
  • Optional painting workshop
  • Local English speaking guide and tour leader
  • Optional visit to the Venetian harbour and old town of Chania
  • Dinners in local tavernas
  • Free time in the afternoons to relax by the pool or further explore the area

Painting Workshop

The Workshop will be run by Camille, an English artist who speaks Greek, English, French and a bit of German. She has had several solo shows and taken part in many group exhibitions. Her work is in private and public collections and she has carried out many private commissions. She paints in oil on canvas or in watercolour or mixed media on paper. Her style is semi- abstract and full of colour, although her classical drawing skills are more apparent in her watercolours.

The morning walks should help create a relaxed and supportive mood between members of the group so that when we meet to paint or draw in the afternoon, the atmosphere will be perfect. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced painter the workshop should be a wonderful opportunity to gain fresh inspiration and to paint new subjects in the company of like-minded people. There will be an emphasis on support and exchange of ideas during the week. Basic drawing and painting materials will be provided (charcoal sticks, pastels and soft pencils, watercolours/acrylic paints and suitable paper).

Tuesday 15th May – Fly to Chania (D)

Arrive at the airport under your own arrangements for the flight to Chania.


Creten harbour

Day 2: Wednesday 16 May - Platanaki - Korfalonas - Kissamos(BD)

Breakfast is delivered to your apartment.

Meet at 9:00 for the Platanaki – Korfalonas Kissamos walk.  From our hotel we walk to the sea and then along the beach to the Platanaki  and Korfalonas areas, crossing the little river of Korfalonas and continue further until we cross another small stream and reach Kissamos where we visit the local archaeological museum, old fishing port and local traditional shops selling honey, wine, tsikoudia, herbs etc. It is a chance to stock up with any shopping needed for your apartment. Optional light lunch in Kissamos before returning by the regular bus service.

Walking about 2.5 hours. Grade Easy. Free time in the afternoon.

The first painting workshop (optional) is from 17:30 to 19:00 and held at the studio to discuss the painting programme, try pencils and pastels and do some warm up exercises in drawing/sketching eg: still lives/views of the sea/painting from sketches or photographs taken on the first walk. Beginners will be introduced to drawing materials and encouraged to start sketching. Dinner in local taverna.


Day 3: Thursday 17th May   Kolymbari – Astratigos – Afrata (BD)

Breakfast is delivered to your apartment

Setting out from the hotel we walk to the public bus stop of Nopigia and take the bus to Kolymbari where we commence our walk. Uphill to the west on the Rodopos peninsula to find the trail to the picturesque village of Astratigos, a small village at an altitude of 900 metres without any shops but with beautiful views to Chania Bay. We walk further to the north of the peninsula and arrive in Afrata, another small village with a tavern and a traditional café. Time for a coffee break.

From here to the Gonia Monastery the views to the Chania bay are spectacular. The city of Chania and the island of Ag. Theodoroi are visible. Our next stop is at the famous Gonia Monastery built between 1618 and 1634 in its present location. The monastery was heavily damaged by Ottoman bombardments on many occasions throughout its history, including the Great Cretan Revolution (1866–1869) against the Ottoman Empire, evidence of which can be seen today by the remaining cannonball lodged in the monastery wall.

The monastery contains numerous Byzantine artifacts from the 15th and 17th century including Cretan icons by painters of the famous Cretan school of icon painting (which influenced El Greco). It also has numerous relics and other rare religious treasures from the Byzantine period and ancient inscriptions on the walls.

Optional lunch either in one of the many tavernas at the seaside of Kolymbari or in Nopigia. Return to the hotel by public bus. Walking about 3.5 hours. Grade Moderate.  Free time in the afternoon.

The second painting workshop is from 17:30 tp 19:00. Meet at the studio to collect paints and materials and then walk east along the bay to find a shady spot from which to sketch the rocks, trees and sea. For beginners this second workshop is the chance to try painting in colour, using shading to add depth. The receding rocky coastline is an excellent subject for the study of perspective and tone to create distance and for all artists it is a chance to paint ‘en plein air’.

Dinner in Taverna Porfyra.


painting in Crete

Day 4: Friday 18th May   Cruise from Kissamos to Gamvousa Island and Balos Bay(BLD)

Breakfast is delivered to your apartment.

Meet at 9:00 and travel by taxi to the harbor at Kissamos for the cruise to Gamvousa Island. This takes about one hour. Look out for steep cliffs, rocky outcrops and incredible secluded beaches. We pass a large cave, which is thought to be an ancient shipyard. Next the boat sails between the islet of Agria Gramvousa and Cape Vouxa (Trypiti). The landscape is breathtaking, against the backdrop of Balos lagoon, and Imeri Gramvousa island.

We go ashore at Gramvousa where we stay for about 2 hours to walk to the highest point of the island, atop a steep rock, at an altitude of 137 meters, dominated by the famous ruined castle of Gramvousa,  built by the Venetians in 1579. The castle played a significant role in the history of the wider area. We walk around the castle battlements and return to the port by the same path.

Next we sail for the lagoon of Balos, about 20 minutes away to visit a beach regarded by some as one of the best beaches in the world. This exotic beach-lagoon is situated between the Gramvousa peninsula and Cape Tigani and we can swim in the clear, turquoise green waters or relax on the pink sandy beach and admire the natural beauty, the rocks and the cliffs rising above us. Walking about 2.0 hours. Grade Moderate

During this trip there will be ample time for sketching, either on the boat or at the beach.  By now beginners will have found the confidence to tackle more varied subjects. Help is at hand from the resident artist, Camille Marquand.

Dinner in local taverna.


Day 5: Saturday 19th May - Free Time - Optional Visits(BD)

Breakfast is delivered to your apartment.

For those interested in exploring the area further, a good choice would be a visit to Chania to see its picturesque Venetian harbour, old town, indoor market, artisan workshops and to enjoy ambling around the narrow streets.  Camille and lakovos will provide you with maps of Chania and point out various points of interest. There is a regular bus service from near hotel to the centre of Chania (4.50 Euros). Also of interested could be a visit to the British war cemetery in Souda, 5 km from Chanis. Best to go by taxi from Chania at 7-8 Eoros a taxi.

Cretan beach and cliffscape

Another possibility is Rethymnon to see its delightful harbour and labyrinth of quaint narrow streets and shops. The old town quarter is regarded as one of the best-preserved Venetian and Ottoman old towns.

If you don’t mind the longish drive, you may be tempted to spend the day at the famous archaeological site of Knossos near Heraklion. Dinner in local taverna.


Day 6: Sunday 20th May Polyrrhenia - Kissamos(BD)

Breakfast is delivered to your apartment.

Meet at the hotel at 9:00 for a taxi ride to modern Polyrhenia for the start of today’s walk.

Ancient Polyrrhenia was one of the most important cities of Crete during the Hellenistic and Roman period. On the hill top there are remains of the ancient Acropolis and a Byzantine fort where parts of the fortification walls with towers have been preserved. The city is characterized by rock-cut houses with built facades. Only the rock cut parts have survived and are still visible throughout the area. The supply of water was assured by a system of rock-cut cisterns still to be found in the archaeological site. However, the main source of water was the rock-cut aqueduct – an important public construction and a technological achievement – at the entrance of the city.

The aqueduct consists of rock-cut tunnels which collected and distributed water into the city using gravity. The ancient water supply system is still functioning and parts of its tunnels are still visible.The ancient necropolis (cemetery) is situated on the north of the modern settlement and lay outside the city walls in accordance with Hellenistic practice of the time.

 Return to Kissamos walking downhill through typical Cretan Landscape of olive groves and take the public bus back to our hotel.

If people want to sketch here, there are many views and charming houses. It is possible for painters to stay longer here and return later with Camille, to be decided at the time. Free time in the afternoon.   

The fourth painting workshop takes place either at the studio or on location, to be decided by the group. 17:30 to 19:00.

 Dinner in local tavern.


Chania Harbour

Day 7: Monday 21st May - Nopigia - Panagia Myrtidiotisa - Agios Vasilos (BD)

Breakfast is delivered to your apartment.

Starting from the hotel at 9:00 this circular walk takes us to the open air theater and little chapel of Panagia Myrtidiotisa in Nopigia and then along a rough path over stones and rocks towards the quaint medieval chapel of Agios Vasilios on the Spatha peninsula. The blue sea is always beside us and we should encounter herds of sheep and goats along the way. Great views of the Gramvousa peninsula  across  Kissamos bay, with the Spatha mountain on our right. Walk along Nopigia beach back to our hotel.

Walking around 3 - 4 hours. Grade Moderate with some scrambling.

Free time in the afternoon. This evening there will be a painting exhibition of your workto review, discuss and appreciate the week’s work and developments in a relaxed way. Farewell dinner in local taverna.


Tuesday 22nd May – Return Flight to the UK (B)

Check out of the hotel for transfer by private coach to Chania for our return flight to the UK

B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner

coromanos accomodation

Less than 40 metres from the beach, the Cormoranos Apartments are a neat little oasis of simple but comfortable apartments set amongst lush gardens and an inviting swimming pool surrounded by cool green lawns, exotic palms and colourful splashes of bougainvillaea. All apartments are kept spotlessly clean. Bed linen and towels are changed twice weekly and there is a communal washing machine. There are shops, tavernas and a mini market in Nopigia. Chania is 40 km away and Kissamos 5 km.

Walking through Crete
Inclusive price per person sharing a twin/double room departing from Manchester or Gatwick £1,575
Single person supplement, occupying your own appartment £150

What The Price Includes

  • Return flights from UK to Chania
  • Private airport transfers
  • Welcome reception
  • Accommodation in your own apartment and use of facilities
  • Breakfast in your apartment and dinners in local tavernas
  • Guided walking programme
  • Taxis and local transport in connection with the walking programme and cruise
  • Private modern deluxe air-conditioned tour coach
  • Off shore cruise to Gamvousa Island
  • Optional painting workshop
  • Accompanying tour leader

What Is Not Included

  • Drinks
  • Travel insurance
  • Air conditioning in apartments. Supplement 5 Euros a day
  • Gratuities to guides and drivers, which are optional

Please Note: For reasons of safety, weather conditions and unforeseen circumstances, it may be necessary to make changes to the programme without advance notice. Every effort will be made to avoid this if at all possible.



Arrive at the airport under your own arrangements for the flight to Chania. Please check-in at least two hours before departure time, using your passport and boarding pass. Flight times are the latest known and subject to confirmation by the airline.

Gatwick passengers:

EZY8781          Depart Gatwick (North Terminal) 08:10               Arrive Chania    14:00                            Flight time: 3:50


Manchester passengers:

Ryanair 2821    Depart Manchester (T3)            13:45               Arrive Chania    20:00                            Flight time: 4:15


On arrival at the airport look out for the taxi driver who will be displaying a board showing your names. Then transfer to the village of Nopigia where you will be met by our agents, Camille and lakovos of Active Crete. Settle into your apartment.

We have arranged for a complimentary welcome pack of provisions to be placed in your apartment, including bottled water, bowl of local fruit, local home-made biscuits, a bottle of wine and a bunch of sweet-smelling herbs.

Please note that there is an extra charge of five Euros a day in the unlikely event of needing the air-conditioning.

Dinner has been arranged at Taverna Porfyra at 8:00pm for the group arriving from Gatwick, to be joined later by the group from Manchester. The restaurant is a five minute walk from the hotel.




Manchester passengers:

Ryanair 2822    Depart Chania               20:25                Arrive Manchester (T3)  22:50                Flight time: 4:25


Gatwick passengers:

EZY8782          Depart Chania               14:40                Arrive Gatwick (NT)       16:35                Flight time: 3:55




Crete straddles two climatic zones, the Mediterranean and the North African, mainly falling within the former. As such, the climate in Crete is primarily Mediterranean. The atmosphere can be quite humid, depending on the proximity to the sea, while winter is fairly mild. Snowfall is common on the mountains between November and May, but rare in the low-lying areas.

Find more about Weather in Crete, GR
Click for weather forecast


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