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Ancient Aptera
Ancient Aptera

Ancient Aptera

Free admission

The vast archaeological site of Aptera lies on the northwest coast of Crete, 20 minutes from the charming seaside town of Chania. Believed to date back to the 14th century BC, Aptera was a powerful ancient city with its roots in Minoan times.

From its all-powerful position high on a plateau overlooking Souda Bay, Ancient Aptera had its own currency and thrived for millennia as a trading post with two natural harbors. Its eventual downfall came in the 7th century AD, when the city-state was repressed by Arabs and then destroyed by earthquake. It fell into long decline and lay undiscovered until Nazi troops occupying Crete during World War II started to excavate the site in 1942. Work still continues, and slowly the remains — dating from Minoan, Greek and Roman times — of an aqueduct, cisterns, public baths, temples, graves, houses, palaces and a small hillside theater have resurfaced, all cradled inside a protective walls that stretches for 2.5 miles (4 km).

Surrounded by olive groves and sleepy villages such as Maheri and Arhanes, where traditional rural life creeps on as it has for centuries, Ancient Aptera is one of the most important archaeological sites on Crete but — wrongly — flies under the tourist radar. As the hordes head for Knossos, Aptera is often relatively deserted.

Close by is the austere Itzedin Fortress, overlooking Souda Bay and built by the Turks in 1866-69 to crush the Cretan Revolution. The Aptera ruins can be visited on day trips from Heraklion or Rethymnon, and explored as part of a half-day walking tour of Arhanes and its environs; the views of the snow-capped White Mountains are spectacular in spring.

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Apr–Sept Tue–Sun 8:30am–7:30pm; Nov–Mar Tue–Sun 8:30am–3pm
Aptera, Chania, Crete, 730 03

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Cretan Villages - from Chania area

Cretan Villages - from Chania area

Our local knowledgeable, professional guides and warmth and friendliness of our drivers will take us on a tour uncovering the Original riches of Crete that is hidden behind the tourist façade. Our journey takes us through picturesque landscapes and villages to the heart of an area called the Apokoronas. Our 1st stop is the archaeological site of Aptera. After a short drive through magnificent countryside we arrive to a nature lover’s paradise, Almyrida, for swimming & lunch. Our next stop is the village Gavalochori with its Historical Folklore Museum that constitutes characteristic manifestation of the local architecture, and introduces us to the manufacturing traditions of Crete such as silk, pottery, stone sculpturing & woodcarving. A drive through the narrow streets of village Vamos will give you a taste of a once great past and you have the impression that time stands still. The last stop will be in the village of Vrisses in Olive oil factory producing Cretan Olive Oil...
  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
Taking safety measures


Ancient Aptera hours of operation: Apr–Sept Tue–Sun 8:30am–7:30pm; Nov–Mar Tue–Sun 8:30am–3pm . Buy tickets in advance on Viator. If you book with Viator, you can cancel at least 24 hours before the start date of your tour for a full refund.