On Crete Island, take advantage of the many opportunities you must enjoy an active holiday. Horseback riding is highly in demand during the warmer seasons, after the rains of the Cretan winter subside.
No matter where on the island you choose to vacation, you will find stables offering horseback riding tours, either in the countryside and the mountains or by the beach, where you can even ride a horse in the sea.
Here are some of the most enticing rides in the Heraklion regional unit:
Odysseia Stables in Avdou offers day rides in the remote Cretan countryside. You will explore endless olive groves and verdant valleys, past sleepy mountain villages, along Lake Aposelemis, to reach the fertile Mochos plateau with its orchards of figs and vineyards.
They cater to both beginner and experienced riders. Children aged 12 and older may join the easy morning rides, while younger children can attend a riding lesson at the Odysseia Stables outdoor horse-riding arena.
Finikia Horseriding offers exciting horseback riding tours:
- Ride along an empty beach at sunrise: the tour lasts 90 minutes and starts at 6:30 a.m. It is an unchallenging ride, suitable for children (aged four and older) and adults alike. Limited availability, so book in advance.
- Romantic moonlight horse riding tour: enjoy two hours of horseback riding in the mountains of Finikia. The splendid landscapes and soothing evening atmosphere will leave a strong impression. The tour starts at 5:30 p.m. and includes non-alcoholic drinks, fruit, wine, and raki. Do not worry if you need to learn how to ride; a riding lesson at Finikia Horseriding stables is included with this tour.
- Day tour: starting at 8:30 a.m., the experience begins with coffee or tea, followed by a riding lesson before a ride in the Finikia countryside. The tour includes a traditional Greek lunch with Cretan mezzedes (tzatziki, fava, grilled vegetables), main dishes (like meatballs with potato fries), and dessert, all accompanied by wine, raki, and soft drinks.
Amarillis Stables in Stalis (Stalida) offers horseback riding tours in the countryside and on the beach of Stalis. Short rides lasting 90 minutes take place in the morning and are suitable for beginners and experienced riders alike. Longer rides that last six hours are only suitable for experienced riders. All riding tours offered by Amarillis Stables will allow you to take in breathtaking Cretan landscapes.
What You Should Know Before Going Horseback Riding Through Crete?
Unless you plan to book a swimming with horses tour, you should always wear long pants and closed-toed shoes when you go horseback riding. Sunscreen is also highly recommended in the summer. All stables offer helmets and saddles for your rides.
Horseback riding has many health benefits. The American Heart Association identifies several:
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Core strength through maintaining a good posture and balance in the saddle
- Burning calories during high-intensity horseback riding
- Lowering blood pressure
- Relaxing: horse riding stimulates positive psychological feelings.
The University of Brighton in the United Kingdom also notes, “Horse riders are strongly motivated to take part in riding by the sense of well-being they gain from interacting with horses.”
Being outdoors and in contact with nature is another motivator for riders and has essential health benefits for both physical and mental wellness. For example, “being outside in nature is relaxing, reducing our stress, cortisol levels, muscle tension and heart rates – all of which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”
Horseback riding promotes the return to nature and a positive experience, bringing forth a unique view of the world and a special bond between the rider and the horse.
On Crete Island, you also have the advantage that prices for horseback riding tours are affordable, and the hospitality of the riding instructors and guides will add a plus of positivity to your experience.