With some major historical sites to get stuck in, and awe-inspiring landscapes to explore, it’s easy to find unforgettable experiences on a group villa holiday to Crete. Simply follow your whims and let your imagination run wild! Incredible sailing and diving await you on the shores, with miles of secluded coves and private beaches and lagoons, ideal for chartering a yacht with a group of your nearest and dearest. Foodies also flock to Crete for the award-winning olive oil and local produce making fantastic fodder for a fun group cooking class.
1. Step back in time with Elissos Tours
Expert tour guide Marilina’s knowledge of Minoan culture, ancient history and Greek mythology is unrivalled. Her bespoke tours of the island are designed to go one step further than straightforward sightseeing, by helping guests really get to grips with the history and culture of Greece. From archaeology and history to art and meditation, the focus of these alternative tours can be tailored to exactly match your interests, and detours or extra time in favourite places are easily accommodated, offering a personal experience simply not possible from most larger group tours.
Book: No need to book just show up!
Location: Leukadia Rodias, Gazi 71414, Heraklion Crete, Greece
It has been said that a Cretan diet is the key to a long and healthy life. There are two liquids at the heart of this island’s cuisine: wine and olive oil. On the Eco Crete tour, the sacred pair is explored (and tasted) at great length, with guests taking away some insider secrets about traditional Cretan cooking. The tour kicks off among the giant olive trees and the production line of a modern olive oil factory. It then moves on to a stroll through a local vineyard – hearing from expert guides and road-testing the products as you go. All that walking is rewarded with an interactive cooking demo on the grounds of an authentic Cretan home with a lunch of classic Greek dishes, including tzatziki, roasted pork with potatoes and fruit pie. The journey home includes a stop off at a Minoan mill oil factory and a sundowner of the local firewater, raki.
Location: 39 El. Venizelou Av. 74100 Rethymno
3. Take a workshop at EA Ceramic Studio
If you’re looking for a creative way to escape the sun for a few hours, classes with the EA Ceramic Studio might be just the ticket. This working studio produces fabulous handcrafted pottery and ceramics inspired by ancient techniques and designs. Everything created by the team is a unique and collectable work of art, while also being fit for everyday use at home.
From bowls and plates to wall hangings, these works of craftsmanship make excellent gifts and keepsakes from Crete. Why not make your own creation at one of the studio’s private workshops? Classes can be tailored for pottery pros or complete beginners and the best of your efforts will be fired at the end for you to keep.
Location: Margarites Village, Rethimno, 74052, Crete, Greece
If you want to feel like an A-lister, sign up for a private boat tour with SeaStar Chania. Sailing from the charming old harbour, these upmarket day trips take participants to secluded bays and private beaches on a luxury 13-metre yacht. With your own skipper and steward at your service, you can sail to the picture-perfect Balos Lagoon, wildlife-rich Theodorou National Park or hidden gems like the beautiful spot of Menies Bay.
Each route includes picturesque stop-offs to snorkel, relax on the yacht’s sunbeds or pose for underwater photos using the team’s high-tech cameras. Bespoke tours can be designed just for you, with the crew willing to sail to virtually any local harbour, beach, fishing village or landmark of your choosing. And if you really want a taste of the celeb lifestyle, they’ll arrange a private, customized dinner on a beach of your choice.
Location: Chania, Crete, Greece
5. Go off-road with Safari Club Crete
Crete may be famed for its idyllic beach scenes, but Safari Club is on a mission to showcase the raw natural beauty found away from the water’s edge. Sign up for a day in one of the Club’s Land Rover Defenders for an off-road adventure into the heart of ‘real Crete’.
You’ll head well and truly off the beaten track into the unspoiled countryside and up high into the mountains to spots usually only frequented by the goats. Knowledgeable guides are on hand to fill you in on everything from wild flora and fauna to Greek history, as you stop off to explore rural villages, feast on Cretan cuisine and experience the warmth of the local hospitality.
Location: Parlama street 22, Crete, Greece
6. Learn to cook at Vamos Village
Fussy eaters and foodies alike will be inspired by the cooking classes at Vamos Village, where expert local cook Mrs Koula gives the lowdown on traditional Cretan cuisine and even shares titbits from her family’s secret recipes. Get stuck in making dishes from the locally sourced ingredients that earned the Mediterranean diet the title of healthiest in the world.
Everyone tucks into the fruits of their labours at the end of the session, with a Cretan feast laid out on a long banquet-style table. If you really want to return home from your holiday an expert in Cretan cuisine, Vamos also offers a day trip spent with local producers, including visits to a traditional cheese maker, a modern olive oil factory and an old olive press, plus a home-cooked meal in the home of your tour guide.
Location: Vamos Traditional Village, Vamos, Apokoronou, 73008 Chania, Crete, Greece
Location: Lyttos Beach Hotel, Anisaras, Hersonisos, Crete 70014
These tour guides are home-grown Cretans and avid cyclists, who have explored every inch of the island and mapped more than 100 scenic cycle routes that take in the very best of the unspoiled landscape. Their guide to the level of fitness required for each tour is foolproof and all abilities can cherry-pick their perfect route through forests, gorges or wilderness, and past highlights such as historic churches, caves, windmills, ancient ruins and hidden beaches.
Still deciding where the best place in Greece for a group holiday is? Check out our run-down of the best things to eat in Greece, no matter what kind of holiday you’re after. Our concierge team are also always on hand if you’r rather get some personal recommendations on the perfect villa.