Select a morning or afternoon departure, and on the day, meet your private guide outside Heraklion cruise port terminal. Then, settle inside your private, air-conditioned minivan and travel through Crete’s bustling capital to the Knossos archaeological site, home to the remnants of the Minoan Palace of Knossos, dating from around 1900 to 1600 BC.
Considered Europe's oldest city, this ancient place has roots stretching back to Neolithic times in around 7,000 BC, and is believed to have served as an administrative and religious center. At the peak of the Minoan civilization, it was home to an estimated 5,000 to 8,000 people, making it a city-state rather than a palace alone.
On arrival, head inside (own expense) the complex and enjoy a guided tour through the partially restored chambers, courtyards, halls and shrines. As you look around, learn the history of the site and delve into the Greek myth that King Minos kept his half-human, half-bull son, known as the Minotaur, in an underground labyrinth here.
View highlights including the partly reconstructed Throne Room, Grand Staircase, and storerooms, and marvel at some of the extensive frescoes — many restored in the early 20th century — including the famous bull-leaping mural on the palace’s east wall.
Having explored Knossos, rejoin your minivan and return to Heraklion for a sightseeing tour along its Venetian-era walls. On route, see landmarks such as the Venetian harbor, Church of St. Titus, and Lions Square, centered on the ornate Morosini fountain.
Then, choose to head inside Heraklion Museum (own expense) to tour its stunning collections of Minoan art and artifacts, or enjoy free time to stroll around the colorful shops.
When it’s time, your tour finishes with a drop-off at the cruise port.