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8 Day Panorama Rides Stationary Horse Riding Holiday in Crete

Country Hotel Velani, Velani 46, Avdou, Hersonissos, Heraklion, Crete, Greece

Scenic Horse Riding Holiday to Greece

Stay the week on the unique hillside location in Crete, Greece, with 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

Meet the instructors

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  • 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


6 days with instruction
Group size: Maximum of 10 participants
Airport transfer available:
Heraklion International Airport (US$60 per person)
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Check-in Time:
Check-out Time:


  • Horse riding
  • Swimming pool (outdoor)
  • Café
  • Concierge desk
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Fireplace
  • Garden
  • Lounge
  • Restaurant
  • Special menu request
  • Terrace
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Tour assistance
  • Patio

You will be accommodated at Odysseia Stables' equestrian hotel, Country Hotel Velani. Every day, there is a service of room cleaning and towel change at the Country Hotel Velani. Every once a week, the sheets are changed as well. You can also have free use of sunbeds. Reception, café, and restaurant have opening hours. The moment you arrive on the hillside, you will experience the serene quietness and the tremendous panoramic view. Under the hotel, stretches the Langada Valley with the Apposelemis River crossing through.

Above Country Hotel Velani rises the red-colored peaks of the Dikti Mountains. Birds of prey, like the Griffon Vulture, glide along these peaks. The estate is surrounded by protected Kerm Oak forest and olive groves stretching down to the valley. On the estate, many protected trees and flowers can be found like different types of beautiful orchids. The hotel suits its surrounding as it is built with real natural stones collected from the land it stands on, giving it a robust and natural look. The hotel has a neo-classic style creating a romantic atmosphere for long summer nights.

The main building houses the reception and a café with a large balcony on which you can drink your Greek coffee or rakí. In the main building, you can also find Restaurant Veláni with its large terrace overlooking the riding place and the valley. Next to the main building, lays the naturally formed large swimming pool that is 100 square meters in size (130 to 160 meters deep) with a separate and lower situated children’s pool of 11 square meters (40 centimeters deep).

The 12 hotel rooms are grouped into two bungalows, each housing six rooms. The bungalows lay quietly separate from the main activities. The rooms are large and comfortable and all have a tremendous view over the valley. Each room has a large bathroom with a bathtub. The rooms have central heating and air conditioning (both included in the price), a fridge, a flat-screen TV with international channels, a hairdryer, a large glass door of two meters, and a private balcony or terrace. Most rooms are equipped with a wood stove (the wood is not included in the price). All rooms feature a tea and coffee maker. There are three types of rooms including Grand Comfort room, Panorama VIP room, and Family Luxury room.

Grand Comfort

The Grand Comfort room is a two-person room that sleeps one to two persons. The total room surface is 23 square meters. The room has a terrace with a private garden and a bathroom with a toilet and bathtub.

Panorama VIP

The Panorama VIP room is a three-person room that sleeps two to three persons. The total room surface is 29 square meters with a balcony. The bathroom has a bathtub and a separate shower cabin. The toilet is housed in a separate room.

Family Luxury

The Family Luxury room is a four-person room that sleeps two to four persons. This room actually comprises two Grant Comfort rooms that are connected with a connecting door.

The estate also gives a home to 14 horses and 2 ponies, housed in the Odysseia Stables. Also, the stables are built with natural stones but above all, they are designed to be horse-friendly! Other activities in the hotel are paragliding (only for experienced flyers), hiking, caving, and mountain climbing for all levels. It is possible to rent mountain bikes.

The hotel has fast and free Wi-Fi on the entire property. Also, free use of a computer in the main building with a printer. The owners of Odysseia, Sabine Ruijters Fragakis from origin Dutch and Manolis Fragakis, like to welcome you in a family atmosphere with personal contact and letting you feel the Greek hospitality.

In the last period, rooms were updated in style, comfort, and features. Almost all room exterior walls were broken out and rooms were built larger. Interior and exteriors were changed, creating a whole new experience for guests. Odysseia Stables have created three new room types that can be booked at an extra charge:

Wellness rooms

The wellness rooms feature a two-person Infrared Sauna cabin in the room, complete with a radio system, aromatherapy, and color therapy; for a personalized wellness experience in the intimacy of your own room and relaxing in your own private garden.

The best room is the superior wellness suite. At the highest point of the hotel rooms, it has a fantastic view of the surrounding. Not only does it have a balcony to sit on but also a private closed garden with a furnished veranda and a sun deck with sunbeds. The room features all the wellness facilities, a sitting area with a fireplace, a king-size double bed, and a split-level extra bedroom for an extra person.

Deluxe double suites

All the deluxe two-person room types have the extra private garden with sunbeds, and an open-plan sitting area with a fireplace.

Family rooms

For families, you now have the choice to reserve the one-bedroom family suite which has a double and a single bed as well as a split level bedroom for another single bed, or the available superior family suite which consists of two connecting bedrooms.

The standard inclusion in the horse riding holiday is the classic double room for two persons, the family panorama suite for three persons, and the superior family suite for four persons.

The swimming pool area has a new closed area with a six-person heated jacuzzi with hydro massage and a lounge area for relaxing. The jacuzzi can be rented by the hour and includes Cretan sparkling wine and a fruit plater. The jacuzzi has LED lights and a sound system for romantic evenings.

If guests stay in the wellness room for seven nights, they have an hour of Jacuzzi use for free. The restaurant is next to the indoor dining area with two completely new sunrooms for all-weather outdoor dining with a tremendous view of the surrounding lake. Under warm conditions, the sunroom glass walls can be opened electronically from all three sides and the roof can be opened/closed.

The outdoor terrace has been enlarged and also, the terrace has been covered with an electronic roof closure. A part of the outdoor terrace will be enlarged in the next building stage.


Panorama rides

In this panorama horse riding holiday, every day, you will enjoy rides in a beautiful trail with the comfort of the hotel for your stay. In the area around Avdou, there is still unlimited space for horse riding in the quietness of nature. Every day, you will set out on a new track with an experienced guide through beautiful landscapes. The trip will include six riding days of 23 riding hours. As Odysseia Stables does not have a standard arrival day, the riding days of this program will be offered in random order. Furthermore, this trip is for experienced and medium experienced riders.


Day 1: Arrival day

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

Day 2: Ancient Lyttos ride

You will 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 aqueduct, theater, and Acropolis. Nowadays, little can be seen of this as excavations of the site has not been done yet. The site has two churches. After the visit, you will ride along the remains of this Roman aqueduct.

  • Time in the saddle: 4 hours with a visit to Lyttos

Day 3: Olive Ride

You will make an active trip in the north direction and ride up the hills of Sfendili. You will cross the Byzantine church of Avdou, then ride quick over the plateau of Mochos and have an excellent view of the Psiloritis Mountains which is the highest peaks of the island (two and a half kilometers).

  • Time in the saddle: 4 hours

Day 4: Lake Aposelemis

In the winter of 2015, the Langada Valley was closed by a man-made dam filled with water, creating a three kilometers long lake. The water attracts all kind of birds and animals creating a very special biotope. You will follow the lake's edges and ride along the abandoned village of Sfendili which is now half sunken into the surface of the water.

  • Time in the saddle: 4 hours

Day 5: Red Rock ride

You will have a steep climb up on the mountain, giving you an excellent view over the stables and the Langada Valley. You will ride through kerm oak forest to visit the mysterious church of the Saint Fotini which is hidden deep in a cave.

  • Time in the saddle: 2.5 hours with a visit to the Saint Fotini church

Day 6: Vulture Gorge ride

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

  • Time in the saddle: 5 hours

Day 7: Cypress ride

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

  • Time in the saddle: 3 hours

Day 8: Departure day

You will have breakfast and departure.

Note: On the arrival day, you will be welcomed the whole day but the rooms are ready at 14:00. On the departure day, the room must be left before 10:30 a.m. but you are welcome if you want to spend your last day in the hotel.

The stables

Odysseia Stables is a small friendly stable giving home to 18 horses. Due to the small character of Odysseia Stables with a maximum of 10 horse riders a week, they are able to maintain close and personal contact with the guests. The stables are designed in a way to be as close as possible to the physical needs of horses. The facilities of the stable include:

  • 14 stables connected behind turnout paddocks giving the horses themselves the chose to go inside or outside
  • Outdoor arena (42 x 20 meters) with an all-weather proof floor and a small tribune
  • Outdoor arena (15 x 12 meters) for lunging
  • Tack room
  • A horse shower
  • Bathroom / changing-room and toilets for the guests

Odysseia Stables has high standards for their horses, facilities, and equipment. They use English saddles. Space, outside air, and contact with other horses are what give Odysseia Stables' horses’ joy, health, and peace. That is why not only the horses enjoy a large stable with an open turnout paddock, but also they have the possibility for social contact. Most of Odysseia Stables' horses are stabled in pairs in one large stable of 6.2 x 3.2 meters and the separations in between the stables are half-open. The roof all around is openly giving the horses a constant flow of fresh air. Also, the top of the roof has an open construction leaving hot air to travel out.

The horses

You will ride on Arabic, Thoroughbreds, and warmblood horses. These breeds have long breaths and never tired in long-distance riding. They are beautiful and well-trained holiday horses that always eager to go and have a very relaxed mind. The horses are also sure-footed in the mountains and human orientated. Special for a novice rider, you will use reliable and easy horses to give them the trust and safety that you need. For the children, Odysseia Stables has a Welsh B pony - a real children’s pony. It is very sweet, safe, and with speed. All of the horses are friendly, well cared, well fed, regularly trained, and they all have an excellent condition for the long-distance riding. The horses are ridden in English riding style but are easily handled with long rains.

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


Milou Hinssen


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 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 heart beat in rhythms long forgotten!

You will ride to various places in Creete, Greece, including Lyttos, Avdou, Sfendili, Mochos, Lake Aposelemis, Gonies Gorge, and Kera.


  • Avdou, 1 kilometer
  • 18-hole golf course, 7 kilometers
  • Different water sports, 15 kilometers
  • White sandy beach of Anissaras, 15 kilometers
  • Heraklion International Airport (HER), 40 kilometers


Please note that the hotel, restaurant, pool, and stables are located in one location.



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


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


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


The stay is on the basis of full board in Restaurant Velani, starting with dinner on the first day until breakfast on the last day. Breakfast and lunch are served in between standard hours. Dinner includes a free choice from the menu and includes a starter, main dish, and salad. On the sixth day of the panorama ride, you will eat at Niki Restaurant. Please note that drinks and desserts are not included.

Restaurant Velani

The restaurant serves the Cretan diet which 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. Restaurant Velani welcomes everybody who wants to experience the local healthy Cretan diet or Greek cuisine with home cooking from fresh ingredients and local products. 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 in the hotel. In winter, the restaurant opens on Saturdays and Sundays. If you follow a special diet, please inform Odysseia Stables with your reservation so Restaurant Velani can cater for you. Moreover, for groups, it is possible to make arrangements outside normal opening hours.

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

  • Airport transfers
  • Holiday insurance
  • Drinks and desserts

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 Lassithi Plateau or Golf Course in 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.

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 transfer from Hersonissos is 25 EUR one way. The prices are for one car with 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 is scarce. For several years, Odysseia Stables has happily worked together with a small family business who 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 bus only goes twice a week. 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. However, please make sure that the driver does not charge you 10 EUR extra for the last two kilometers of dirt road from Avdou to the hotel.

Airport: Heraklion International Airport Airport transfer available: Heraklion International Airport (US$60 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
Quality of activity
8 days / 7 nights
from --

This horse riding holiday is available from January 1 to July 1, 2019, and from September 1 to December 31, 2019. As for 2020, this riding holiday will run from January 1 - July 1, 2020 and September 1 - December 31, 2020. Please select an arrival date below. Please note the hotel and stables are closed from January 13 to February 14, 2020. 


Low season
  • January 1 - March 17, 2019
  • September 1 - December 14, 2019
  • January 9 - March 21, 2020
  • November 2 - December 13, 2020


High season
  • March 17 - July 1, 2019
  • December 15 - December 31, 2019
  • March 22 - November 1, 2020
  • December 14 - December 31, 2020
Pricing information (valid only in 2019)
  • Non-rider: 525 EUR (low season) / 595 EUR (high season) per person
  • Non-rider of 0 to 3 years old: Free of charge
  • Non-rider of 4 to 7 years old: 205 EUR (low season) / 275 EUR (high season) per person
  • Non-rider of 8 to 11 years old: 245 EUR (low season) / 315 EUR (high season) per person
  • Single room supplement: 175 EUR per person
  • Upgrade to a luxury room: 175 EUR per person
Pricing information (valid only in 2020)
  • Non-rider: 560 EUR (low season) / 630 EUR (high season) per person
  • Non-rider of 0 to 3 years old: Free of charge
  • Non-rider of 4 to 7 years old: 245 EUR (low season) / 315 EUR (high season) per person
  • Non-rider of 8 to 11 years old: 280 EUR (low season) / 350 EUR (high season) per person
  • Single room supplement: 210 EUR per person
  • Upgrade to a luxury room: 210 EUR per person

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