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Resort hotels and large agents organize guided tours in air-conditioned buses to the main Minoan sites; excursions to spectacular beaches such as Vai in the northeast and Elafonisi in the southwest; and trips to Santorini and to closer islands such as Spinalonga, a former leper colony off Ayios Nikolaos. Diktynna Travel offers small-group tours of the Samaria Gorge, cooking demonstrations, and excursions into the White Mountains, with knowledgeable guides and extras such as traditional meals in mountain tavernas. The Crete Travel Web site is an excellent source for tour information, with insights into many of the island's more worthwhile sights and tours including hiking excursions and visits to out-of-the-way monasteries.

A tour of Knossos and the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion costs about €40; a tour of Phaistos and Gortyna plus a swim at Matala costs about €20; a trip to the Samaria Gorge costs about €25. Travel agents can also arrange for personal guides.

Crete Travel (Kallipoleos 11, Heraklion, Crete, 71306. 2810/213445. www.cretetravel.com.)

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