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Scenic Horse Riding Holiday to Greece

This listing has one of the 10 most popular offers available in Greece

Stay the week on the unique hillside location in Crete, Greece, with a panoramic view to Lake Aposelemis, swimming pool, and restaurant with local products! Here in Avdou, there is unlimited space for horse riding. You will ride through the quietness of nature and Cretan countryside through the olive groves and hills as well as along Lake Aposelemis, visit the ancient site of Lyttos, and climb up the mountains to visit Kera. Set out on a new track every day with Odysseia Stables' four-legged friends!

Key information

  • Tack Type: English tack
  • Horse Breed: Arabian horse, Thoroughbred horse, and Warmblood horse

Highlights

  • 6 days' panorama horse rides
  • Approximate daily riding time: 2.5 to 5 hours
  • The city of Lyttos and Saint Fotinie church visits
  • Assistance of an experienced and professional guide
  • Hotel, restaurant, pool, and stables all in one location
  • Riding on sure-footed and friendly horses
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • 7 nights' accommodation

Skill level

  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Styles


6 days with instruction
Group size: Maximum of 10 participants
Airport transfer available:
Heraklion International Airport (Nikos Kazantzakis Airport) (US$58 per person)
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Accommodation

Check-in Time:
14:00
Check-out Time:
10:30

Facilities

  • Hot tub / Jacuzzi
  • Swimming pool (outdoor)
  • Air-conditioned rooms
  • Café
  • Concierge desk
  • Dining area
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Fireplace
  • Garden
  • Lounge
  • Luggage room / storage
  • Meditation garden
  • Multilingual staff
  • Restaurant
  • Special menu request
  • Terrace
  • Yoga deck
  • Free parking
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Laundry
  • Tour assistance
  • Outdoor shower

The estate

The Country Hotel Velani is perched high on a hillside overlooking the Lake Aposelemis in the foothills of the Dikti Mountains. It is a secret haven hidden in a rocky wilderness of ancient stone and protected Kermes oak forest. It is these oak trees with their evergreen leaves and "Velani" fruits that gave the hotel its name.

A charming hotel in a serene quietness with spacious and comfortable rooms. All rooms have a breathtaking view and give you a feeling of relaxing with nature on your doorstep. The owners of this family-run hotel, Sabine and Manolis Fragkakis, welcome you with personal warmth and Greek hospitality.

The Country Hotel, with its four-hectare estate, has next-to-the-field for the horses to roam, also various gardens for fruit, vegetables, herbs, and flowers as well as an olive grove for the production of their own olive oil. The Velani restaurant uses its own fruit and vegetables to prepare the famous healthy Cretan diet; the kitchen utilizes our home-grown produce as well as that of the local farms and surrounding villages.

Try typically Greek dishes with extra virgin olive oil, Cretan wine made from ancient grape species, meat and cheese from the free-ranging sheep and goats of the neighbors, honey from the local beekeeper, and eggs from their own free-ranging chickens.

Facilities

  • Restaurant Velani
  • Wood-fired traditional oven and grill
  • Sunroom dining area
  • Panoramic terrace
  • Velani square for private events
  • Reception
  • Parking
  • Infinity pool (100 meters squared)
  • Large sundeck with stunning vista
  • Children’s pool at a separate level
  • Jacuzzi (For five persons with a private lounge | Extra charge of 50 EUR per hour)
  • Yoga deck and meditation area
  • Professional Manduka yoga mats (Available with blocks at an extra charge of 5 EUR per day)

Equestrian center: The Odysseia Stables

  • Hiking trails starting from the hotel
  • Mountain bike rental by the week (Delivery to the hotel)
  • Car rental (Minimum time of four days for free delivery to the hotel)
  • Paragliding for experienced flyers (The hotel is located between the take-off and landing site)
  • Paragliding tandem flights
  • 18-hole golf course at 7 kilometers
  • Oak forest
  • Olive groves
  • Ecologically grown own produce
  • Fruit, herb, and vegetable garden
  • Flower gardens
  • Chicken house
  • Free fast Wi-Fi

Benefits

  • All located on one property: stables, accommodation, pool, and restaurant
  • Unique location with panoramic view and serene nature
  • Charming small hotel for a comfortable and relaxing stay
  • Mediterranean climate
  • Horse-friendly stables with respect for the lovely horses
  • 20 years experience in equestrian holidays
  • Family-run with Greek warmth and hospitality

The hotel has 12 rooms, grouped into two bungalows. The bungalows lay quietly separate from the main activities and are surrounded by nature. The rooms are large and comfortable and all have a tremendous view over the Langada Valley with lake Aposelemis.

Classic double room (1 to 2 persons)

  • Ground floor room
  • Two twin size beds or a king-size double bed
  • Spacious bathroom with bathtub
  • Private furnished verandas with garden

Deluxe double suite (1 to 2 persons)

  • Ground floor corner room
  • Two twin size beds or a king-size double bed
  • Open plan sitting corner with fireplace
  • Spacious bathroom with a two-person Jacuzzi bathtub
  • Furnished verandas with garden
  • Private sun patio with sunbeds
  • Outdoor massage shower

One-bedroom family suite (1 to 4 persons)

  • First-floor room with balcony
  • A large double bed and one single bed
  • Split level bedroom with one single bed
  • Open-plan sitting corner with fireplace
  • Coffee corner
  • Walk-in closet
  • Spacious bathroom with bathtub

Superior family suite (2 to 4 persons)

  • Ground floor room with garden
  • 2 connecting bedrooms
  • A large double bed and two twin size beds
  • Master bedroom with an open plan sitting corner with fireplace
  • Twin bedroom with open plan sitting area and extra TV
  • Two spacious bathrooms with bathtub
  • Furnished patio

Panorama wellness suite (1 to 3 persons)

Personalized wellness experience in the intimacy of your own room.

  • First-floor room with balcony
  • A king-size double bed or two twin size beds
  • Split level bedroom with one single bed
  • Infrared sauna cabin for two persons
  • Color therapy
  • Open plan sitting corner with fireplace
  • Coffee corner
  • Spacious bathroom with a two-person Jacuzzi bathtub
  • Furnished balcony with lounge seats
  • Private sun patio with sunbeds
  • Outdoor massage shower

Superior wellness suite (1 to 3 persons and a child)

Personalized wellness experience in the intimacy of your own room and relaxing in your private garden.

  • First floor top room with large private garden.
  • A king-size double bed and a split-level bedroom with one single bed and a children's bed
  • Infrared sauna cabin for two persons
  • Color therapy
  • Open plan sitting corner with fireplace
  • Coffee corner
  • Spacious bathroom with a two-person Jacuzzi bathtub
  • Private garden with a furnished veranda and sun patio with sunbeds
  • Outdoor massage shower
  • Furnished balcony with lounge seats

Room features on all room types

  • High thread counts, pure cotton satin sheets
  • Anti-allergic duvet and summer cotton sheet
  • Both a thick pillow and a soft pillow
  • Air conditioning, individually controlled
  • Central heating, individually controlled
  • Non-smoking rooms.
  • Free fast Wi-Fi
  • Flat-screen 32-inch TV
  • International TV channels
  • Refrigerator
  • Nespresso coffee maker
  • Water boiler
  • Coffee and tea amenities on arrival
  • Bottle of mineral water on arrival
  • Bathroom amenities on arrival
  • Rain-shower in the bath
  • Hairdryer
  • Magnifying lighted makeup mirror
  • Daily cleaning of the room
  • Daily towel and bedding change
  • Ecological on-request towel and linen cleaning program
  • Baby cots are available for free
  • Laundry service (at extra charge)
  • Ironing boards (centrally available)

Program

Panorama rides

Every day a beautiful trail with the comfort of the hotel. In the area around Avdou, there is still unlimited space for horse riding, in the quietness of nature. Every day, you'll set out on a new track with an experienced guide, through beautiful landscapes. The Star Trips are for experienced and medium-experienced riders.

The star trips include six riding days with a total of 23 riding hours. As there is no standard arrival day, the riding days of this program are offered in random order.

Day 1: Arrival

Odysseia Stables will welcome you at Country Hotel Velani. The holiday will start with an evening dinner.

Day 2: Ancient Lyttos ride - 4 hours in the saddle

Ride up to visit the archaeological site of the ancient city of Lyttos, giving an excellent view over the valley of Kastelli. The city of Lyttos (meaning high, tall), was a strong town and a rival of Knossos. The army of the city joined the Trojan War and the city was already mentioned by Homer as Lyktos.

During the Roman period, Lyttos was an autonomous city with great fame. It had an aqua duct, theater, and acropolis, nowadays, little can be seen of this as excavations of the site have not been done yet. The site has two churches. After the visit, ride along with the remains of this Roman aqua duct.

Day 3: Olive ride - 4 hours in the saddle, 4.5 kilometers

Make an active trip in the north direction, ride up the hills of Sfendili. Cross the Byzantine church of Avdou, ride quickly over the plateau of Mochos, and have an excellent view of the Psiloritis Mountains, the highest peaks of the island.

Day 4: Lake Aposelemis ride - 4 hours in the saddle

In the winter of 2015, the Langada Valley, closed by a man-made dam, filled with water creating a three-kilometer-long lake. The water attracts all kinds of birds and animals, creating a special biotope. Follow the lake's edges and ride along with the abandoned village of Sfendily, which is now half sunken into the surface of the water.

Day 5: Red Rock ride - 2.5 hours with a visit to the cave

A steep climb up the mountain giving you an excellent view over the stables and the Langada valley. Ride through Kerm Oak forest to visit the mysterious Church of the Saint Fotini which is hidden deep into a Cave.

Day 6: Vulture Gorge ride - 5 hours in the saddle

Ride through the gorge of Gonies to start your spectacular climb to the Greek village of Kera at 800 meters. Here, make a lunch break in Restaurant Niki, before you start your descent along the springs of Kera.

Day 7: Cypress ride - 3 hours in the saddle

On the last day, ride out through a very quiet beautiful valley full of olive groves, ride along a small cypress forest and make some steep descends with the horses which you now fully trust.

Day 8: Departure day

You will have breakfast and departure.

Odysseia Stables

The Odysseia Stables is a professional equestrian center located on site of the Country Hotel Velani in Crete. The Stable organizes different horse-riding treks for riders with different riding levels, horse riding lessons for all riding levels, and complete horse-riding holiday weeks.

The Odysseia Stables gives home to 20 beautiful horses. Warmbloods, Thoroughbreds, and Arabic horses who are well trained through a logical system of classical dressage giving responsive and willing horses. The horses are kept in horse-friendly stables with lots of space and open-air, social contact with each other, and plenty of raw food for fulfilling the grazing need. This makes our horses healthy and happy travel companions. Odysseia Stables understands that a happy horse makes a happy rider.

In the rural Cretan countryside is plenty of space for horse riding. The dirt roads used when harvesting the abundant olive trees are perfect riding paths and spreading out in all directions. You trot through fertile valleys, canter up the hills, and ride through Greek villages. You will meet the friendly locals, visit the ancient site of Lyttos or ride along the Aposelemis Lake.

Due to the small character of Odysseia, with a maximum of 12 horse riders a week, they can maintain close and personal contact with the guests. The stables have high standards for the horses, facilities, and equipment. They use English saddles.

Facilities

  • 14 stables with an open connection to paddocks
  • 6 smaller stables
  • Large pastures
  • Outdoor all-weather arena, 42 x 20 meters
  • Outdoor arena, 15 x 12 meters
  • Tack room
  • 4 horse showers
  • Shower with changing room for guests
  • Toilets

The horses

Space, outside air, and contact with other horses are what give the horses joy, health, and peace!

You will ride on Arabics, Thoroughbreds, and warmblood horses. These breeds have a long breath and a never-tiring will for long-distance riding. They are beautiful and well-trained holiday horses. Always eager to go and very relaxed in the mind. Sure-footed in the mountains and human orientated.

Especially for the novice rider, the stables will use reliable and easy horses, to give them the trust and safety that they need. For the children, the stables have a Welsh B pony, a real children’s pony, very sweat, safe, and with speed. All of them are friendly, well cared for, good fed, regularly trained and they all have an excellent condition for long-distance riding.

Included excursions

  • Visit to the archaeological site of the ancient city of Lyttos
  • Visit to the mysterious Church of the Saint Fotini
  • Ride by the Byzantine church of Avdou, the plateau of Mochos
  • Ride along Lake Aposelemis
  • Climb up Red Rock
  • Vulture Gorge ride with a descent along the springs of Kera

Location

Crete, a Greek island in the sun surrounded by a clear blue sea and with mountains rising to 2.5 kilometers, makes a rough and wild landscape. Here is still unlimited space to ride horses in the peace and quietness of nature. Ride among a land dotted with olive groves and ancient sites holding timeless myths, take amazing paths way up into the rough mountains enjoying breathtaking views, swim in the clear blue waters, and dry at an abandoned beach.

Visitors should be prepared for numerous nice surprises and for a strong sense of daily life, for the honest and warm hospitality. These characteristics need to be discovered not in the urban centers, but mainly in the remote seaside and mountain villages.

Join in a modern Odyssey of experience and adventure and only then shall your heartbeat be in rhythms long forgotten!

Distances

  • Avdou Village, 2 kilometers
  • Supermarket, 6 kilometers
  • Sandy beach and water sports, 15 kilometers
  • Shops, banks, and medical facilities, 15 kilometers
  • Airport, 40 kilometers

Features

Activities

  • Cooking classes
  • Hiking
  • Horse riding
  • Massage
  • Mountain biking
  • Swimming
  • Swimming pool (outdoor)

General

  • Air-conditioned rooms
  • Balcony
  • Café
  • Concierge desk
  • Fireplace
  • Garden
  • Lounge
  • Restaurant
  • Special menu request
  • Terrace
  • Patio

Services

  • Bicycle rental
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Hair dryer
  • Room cleaning
  • Tour assistance

Food

The meals will be on a basis of a full board which includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Restaurant Velani. You will start with dinner on the first day until breakfast on the last day. Breakfast and lunch will be served in between standard hours. Dinner will include free choices from the menu and include a starter, main dish, and salad. Reception, café, and restaurant have opening hours. Drinks and desserts are not included. Also, during the Panorama rides program, you will eat one day in Niki Restaurant.

Restaurant Velani

Restaurant Velani welcomes everybody who wants to experience the local healthy Cretan diet or Greek cuisine. The Cretan diet is famous for being healthy and the use of olive oil. The olive oil is Restaurant Velani's own produce by the olive grove of the estate. The restaurant serves all fresh home cooking with organically grown vegetables and fruit from their own gardens and makes use of local products from nearby farmers. You can enjoy a refreshing drink or Greek dinner after the ride at the terrace with a view of the riding arena.

Every Sunday afternoon, chef Manolis heats up the outdoor oven by burning wood from the restaurant's olive trees. When the oven reaches the right temperature, the wood is removed and the food trays are placed inside, then the door is closed with a paste of ash and water. The food is slowly cooked for hours, making them soft and juicy. For vegetarians, the Cretan kitchen offers a wide range of possibilities.

The Restaurant Velani opens all year from spring to autumn and on a daily basis when they have guests staying at the hotel. In winter, the restaurant opens on Saturdays and Sundays. If you follow a special diet, please inform Odysseia Stables of your reservation so Restaurant Velani can cater for you. Moreover, for groups, it is possible to make arrangements outside normal opening hours.

  • Breakfast is served from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  • Lunch is served from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Dinner (a la carte with a starter, main dish, and salad) is served from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Full board starts with dinner on the arrival day and ends with breakfast on departure day.
  • If a guest arrives after 9 p.m. on the arrival day, food is served ready in the room.
  • Velani can cater to all kinds of different diets.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
  • Other dietary requirements on request
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

  • Aqua Fun Park visit
  • Birdwatching on the Lake Aposelemis
  • Caving
  • Greek cooking learning
  • Hiking
  • Mountain climbing and biking
  • Knossos and the archaeological museum in Heraklion visits
  • Lassithi Plateau visit
  • Minoan Palace of Malia ancient site visit
  • Organized group speleology (caving) and mountain climbing
  • Paragliding for the experienced flyers
  • Sea aquarium visit
  • Sightseeing tours
  • Spinalonga Island visit
  • Sun and riding in July or August
  • Swedish massage by a professional physiotherapist
  • Traditional village of Amariano visit
  • Village of Krasi visit
  • Village of Mochos visit
  • Walking or biking in the surrounding area to see Crete

What's included

  • 6 days' panorama horse rides
  • Ride to Lyttos, Avdou, Sfendili, Mochos, Lake Aposelemis, Gonies Gorge, and Kera
  • Horse riding on good horses with a professional guide
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • 7 nights' accommodation

What's not included

  • Airfare
  • Any transfer to and from the hotel (Heraklion airport: 50 EUR one way, Heraklion city: 55 EUR one way, Hersonissos: 25 EUR one way, Heraklion airport with minivan 65 EUR - Maximum 4 persons per transfer, if it is possible to share the transfer and costs, you will be informed)
  • All drinks, sweets, and ice creams
  • Personal expenses
  • Laundry service (15 EUR for one washing program with a maximum of 10 kilograms)

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Driving directions from Agios Nikolaos

  • Take the national highway in the direction of Heraklion at Agios Nikolaos.
  • Take the exit Kastelli or Lassithi Plateau (Oropedio).
  • Turn left to Lassithi Plateau or Golf Course at the end of the exit.
  • Drive past the golf course. Please do not take the exit ‘Mochos’ from the highway as this route to the hotel will take much longer time due to the mountains.
  • Follow Lassithi Plateau when the road is split in directions to Lassithi Plateau (Oropedio) and Kastelli.
  • Follow this road until you drive into Avdou.
  • Drive past a large supermarket and the Lake Aposelemis.
  • Follow the signs Country Hotel Velani and Odysseia Stables in Avdou.
  • Turn to the right into a small street after ‘Avdou Restaurant’. The road becomes an unpaved rural road.
  • Drive uphill until you meet the hotel entrance.

Driving directions from Heraklion

  • Follow the signs at the airport or port of Heraklion to the national highway in the direction of Agios Nikolaos.
  • Stay on the highway for about 25 kilometers.
  • Take the exit Kastelli or Lassithi Plateau (Oropedio).
  • Turn right direction the Lassithi Plateau or Golf Course at the end of the exit. The road will split when you drive past the golf course in directions to Lassithi Plateau (Oropedio) and Kastelli.
  • Follow Lassithi Plateau until you drive into Avdou.
  • Drive past a large supermarket and the Lake Aposelemis.
  • Follow the signs of Country Hotel Velani and Odysseia Stables in Avdou.
  • Turn to the right into a small street after ‘Avdou Restaurant’. The road becomes an unpaved rural road.
  • Drive uphill until you meet the hotel entrance.

Guests are welcome to check-in/out 24 hours a day, it's necessary to inform the hotel of your arrival/departure time. A rental car is advisable due to the remote location. The room is available from 2 p.m. and check-out is until 12 p.m. Guests are welcome to use the facilities on arrival and departure day all day.

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Heraklion International Airport (HER). Transfer from and to this airport is available upon request.

Transfer from or to the airport, port, or Heraklion is organized. Odysseia Stables will be waiting in the arrival hall with a sign mentioning your name. It is not included in the price but arrivals and departures are included in Odysseia Stables' 24-hour service. However, they need to be informed about your arrival time and flight number. Transfer from Heraklion International Airport (HER) to the hotel is 50 EUR one way. Guests can also share a transfer. Odysseia Stables will inform you and you can share the price per person. Moreover, the transfer from Heraklion center is 55 EUR one way and the transfer from Hersonissos is 25 EUR one way. The prices are for one car with a maximum of four persons.

From Heraklion International Airport (HER), you can also reach Odysseia Stables by renting a car. Odysseia Stables advises you to rent a car in case you like to see more of Crete since the location is remote and public transportations to Avdou are scarce. For several years, Odysseia Stables has happily worked together with a small family business that rents good cars. You can pick up and return the car at Heraklion International Airport (HER), Heraklion city, or the port. Please send an inquiry for more information and the prices.

Furthermore, there is another airport which is Chania International Airport (CHQ) with a three-hour drive away from Odysseia Stables. You may need a rental car to travel from there. If your arrival and departure times are during the day, you can travel by bus from Chania to Hersonissos.

Arrival by bus

If you want to arrive by public bus to Avdou, you need to be aware that the bus only goes twice a week. Usually, the scheduled departure is at 7 a.m. and the arrival is at 2 p.m. You can make a phone call from the village and Odysseia Stables will pick you up at the bus stop for free. Avdou is not easily reachable by bus. Buses drive in between Heraklion and the Lassithi Plateau on Monday and Friday only with Avdou as the bus stop. Departure from Heraklion is at 2:15 p.m. and departure from Lassithi Plateau is at 5:45 a.m.

There is also a regular bus service in between Heraklion and Hersonissos in the summertime for every half hour. Odysseia Stables can organize a transfer from Hersonissos at the bus station of Spar Supermarket for 25 EUR (one way). For regular bus service from Agios Nikolaos to Hersonissos, Odysseia Stables can also meet you at the bus station of Spar Supermarket.

Arrival by taxi

If you organize your own transfer, you have to be aware that most taxi drivers don’t want to drive the last two kilometers over the unpaved road to the hotel or they will count extra money for this. Please be aware that taxi drivers are not willing to drive the dirt road up to the hotel or charge extra money for this in the end. Taxi transfer to Chania is available, prices are on request, on average, the price is 250 EUR for a maximum of four persons for one way.

Airport: Heraklion International Airport (Nikos Kazantzakis Airport) Airport transfer available: Heraklion International Airport (Nikos Kazantzakis Airport) (US$58 per person) Additional charges may apply. You can request this in the next step.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 14% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 21 days before arrival.

Value for money
Accommodation & facilities
Food
Location
Quality of activity
8 days / 7 nights
from --
Availability information

All programs can start at any day of the week and last for days required by the guests, except for the guided trail. For more information, please send an inquiry. Please note that the stables and hotel are closed from January 11 to February 15.

2022 dates for Panorama Rides
  • January 1 to July 3
  • August 28 - January 9, 2023
Season information

The high season is from March 14 to November 7 and from December 15 to January 9, 2023.

Pricing information

The prices below are for 12-year-olds and above. Children's prices (less than 12 years old) are based on staying in the room with the adult(s). Children staying in a private bedroom pay an extra room charge. For staying in the Deluxe Suites or the Wellness Suites, guests pay the extra charge per room, it does not matter how many guests there are staying in the room.

Non-Rider Rates
  • 12 years old and above: 595 EUR (Low Season) | 665 EUR (High Season)
  • Child 0 – 3 years old: 0
  • Child 4 – 7 years old: 280 EUR (Low Season) | 350 EUR (High Season)
  • Child 8 – 11 years old: 315 EUR (Low Season) | 385 EUR (High Season)

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