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Combine your holiday with awakening your body, mind, and soul in beautiful Crete, Greece. Cretan land holds a powerful energy combined with the spirit of yoga, providing an excellent choice of reconnecting to yourself to rebalance and rejuvenate the system. With the views of the White Mountains and the sea of Souda Bay, and yoga practices at the garden and outdoors in the nature, you will feel the sense of tranquility, balance, and self-reflection as parts of your journey at ZenZem.
During your retreat, you will be accommodated at one of the local family-run apartments or guesthouses that are within the neighbourhood area of ZenZem yoga center. These are located either over the road or a couple of minutes' walk from ZenZem, giving you a feel of how it is to really live here and be incorporated in the environment, as well as focusing on your yoga.
All accommodation options are very quiet, friendly, and in a space that allows relaxation and reflection. There are no big hotels/nightclubs in the area. Whether as an individual, a couple, or a group of 2-4 friends, you may choose your ideal stay at Aptera Lodge, Sculptor’s House and Sculptor’s Cottage, and Aptera Apartments.
Aptera Lodge offers three types of accommodation: studios, one and two-bedroom self-catering apartments; all furnished in traditional Greek style yet equipped with all facilities. All apartments are non-smoking and have private bathrooms with showers, a fully equipped cooking corner (with hobs / some with oven, kettle, cooking utensils, mini-fridge), and air-conditioning. Free WiFi is also available. Linings and towels are changed every three nights of stay.
Studios in Aptera lodge are approximately 25 square meters. Every studio has a double bed, a wardrobe, a table, and chairs, to accommodate two guests or a single person. As mentioned above a fully equipped cooking corner is also included. Each studio has its own balcony or terrace, some with a sea view, others with a mountain view.
The one-bedroom apartment in Aptera lodge has a double bed in the bedroom and a sofa in the living room that can easily become an extra double bed or two single beds, designed to accommodate between 2-4 guests. Also, included in the apartment are a fully equipped kitchen, a full-size bathroom with a shower, and two balconies- one facing the south and one facing the north.
The two-bedroom apartment in Aptera lodge is really specious, approximately 45 square meters, with a double bed in the master bedroom and two single beds in the second bedroom. In the open plan living room, there is a fully equipped kitchen. The two-bedroom apartment has a full-size bathroom with a shower and a balcony with a mountain view. Accommodation capacity is up to 4 people who are friends or a family. Aptera lodge has a garden downstairs for common use and a cafeteria that may offer hot or cold drinks, small snacks, or extras for your breakfast.
Sculptor’s house and Sculptor’s cottage are restored traditional stone houses sharing a beautiful shady garden with trees and a swimming pool. They both have stunning views of the sea towards the sunrise and sunset, over Souda bay, and in the opposite direction, towards the White Mountains. They are provided with air-conditioning and WiFi. Bed linen and towels are changed every three nights of stay.
They may be rented together for larger groups or individually, in both cases offering privacy in and around both houses’ premises. You will either stay at Sculptor's house or the Sculptor's cottage, ZenZem Crete will notify you of the availability before your booking and you may let them know your preference. The sculptor’s house has a spacious living/dining room with kitchen facilities and a single bed.
The living room leads through a stone archway to a double bedroom which may be closed off completely by a curtain. The bathroom with shower is off the bedroom and has a second entrance outside. Capacity if between 2-3 persons. The sculptor’s cottage includes a dining area with kitchen facilities and a bathroom with a shower. The cottage is divided by a stone archway leading to a seating area with a double bed.
There is also a single bed on the upper level (low ceiling mini mezzanine). Capacity is between 2-3 people. Participants are reminded that they should take all proper precautions in the pool area at all times (pool dimensions are 16 m x 4.5 m, depth 1.00 - 1.5 m, with child section 0.4 m).
A beautiful garden with lush greenery, palm trees, and a large swimming pool with straw umbrellas offer a cool shade for guests to enjoy the view over Souda bay and the Ancient Aptera archaeological site. Aptera Apartments is only a 3-minute walk from ZenZem yoga centre and consists of three types of accommodations: studios for 1-2 people, 1 bedroom apartment for 2 people, and 2 bedroom apartments for 4 people. An extra sofa bed can accommodate one more person in each apartment. All rooms have large verandas with a breathtaking view of the sea, a fully equipped kitchen (with kettle and toaster, fridge and a small oven and general cooking utensils), spacious living room with sofas and a dining table. There is WiFi, air-conditioning, and regular cleaning with change of bed linen offered to all rooms.
Please note: this yoga retreat also accepts solo travellers for retreat when no other participants have registered your available dates. Also, if you are a larger group (more than 3-4 people) interested to come you may send ZenZem Crete a message to give you the best available pack price for yoga and accommodation.
This yoga retreat is specially designed to offer a feeling of wellness and balance for every unique individual. Classes run weekly from Monday morning to Saturday morning, however, you may arrive on any day of the week. Saturday evening and Sunday are free to arrange your own activities, tour, or simply reflect and rest. On your arrival day, you will receive an introductory yoga class in the evening and the retreat schedule.
Every day, you will be offered one morning and one evening class lasting for one hour and 15 minutes, including yoga postures (asana), breathing (pranayama), and simple relaxation and meditation methods from Hatha yoga. Specific sessions are dedicated to meditation, chanting mantras, or pranayama, as well as Yoga Nidra, instead of just asana.
All classes will be at ZenZem garden or out in nature, depending on season and weather. A day free of classes and activities are usually in the middle of your retreat week, for you to rest, reflect, and do your own travels and sightseeing on the island. You will be guided and supported according to your needs, whether you are a total beginner or a continuing practitioner, through yoga practice as well as discussion of any queries with the group or on an individual level with the teacher.
Part of the schedule is a walking meditation in nature, contacting the ground barefoot (if agreed), to heal the body and mind on a stone path of Ancient Aptera, and sitting silent meditation at the Ancient Theatre or another part of the ancient monuments. On the last day of each retreat week, there is a closing morning yoga class and resolution of queries before departure. Here is a provisional schedule (the exact one is sent to you about a week before your arrival):
This yoga retreat also accepts solo travelers for retreat when no other participants have registered your available dates. In this case, the participant has the opportunity to join group classes with regular local students of ZenZem and one-to-one private sessions.
Part of the schedule is a walking meditation in nature, contacting the ground barefoot (if preferred), to heal the body and mind on a stone path of Ancient Aptera, and sitting silent meditation at the Ancient Theatre or another part of the ancient monuments. Free access around the ancient site is available. In case of entering the archaeological site with museum and theatre, participants are required to fund their own entrance ticket (approximately 4 EUR each).
Stella is the ZenZem founder and yoga instructor. She has studied and practiced Hatha yoga since 2007 at the Yoga Sanctuary, Southampton, UK, where she also obtained her yoga teacher training certification. She has also attended yoga seminars and meditation in various locations of India and Nepal. She is a qualified dietitian-nutritionist, got her Ph.D. in nutritional immunology and MSc in public health nutrition. She has been teaching yoga since 2011 in Prague, England, and Crete.
The retreat will take place in Aptera, located in the north part of the island of Crete. It is a quiet Cretan village in the prefecture of Chania, located on a hilltop overlooking Apokoronas (an area between the towns of Chania and Rethymnon), with a view both to the sea and the White Mountains. The village probably took its name from the ancient city, dedicated to the ancient Greek goddess Artemis 'the Aptera', meaning the one without wings, the grounded, and earthly one.
Aptera (or alternative name Megala Chorafia) offers tranquility and peace, and at the same time is a rich energy hub for the visitors. The village has no loud tourist crowds or nightlife. Two traditional Cretan tavernas and a kafenion are found at the main center of the village, offering various foods and drinks, including vegetarian or vegan options. At the same center, you may find a local mini-market for food shopping. All these are found in about a 10-minute walk from ZenZem and available accommodation options.
Although renting a car is the best way to move around, the beautiful area of Aptera, Apokoronas and Chania town center can be explored by local buses too. The bus stop of Megala Chorafia is about a 20-minute walk from the yoga center. Buses pass every one hour to Chania town (30 minutes ride), and there are approximately 5-6 buses daily to beach towns such as Kalyves and Almyrida, as well as the traditionally built village of Vamos. Buses to Rethymno, Herakleion, and other destinations such as Sfakia also pass near Aptera. Alternatively to buses, a taxi can be arranged to all destinations for a fairly reasonable price (Approximately 25 EUR to Chania town and 15 EUR to Kalyves Beach).
As Aptera is situated on a hilltop, the nearest pebble beach of Kalami and Ag. Giannis may be reached on foot in approximately 30 minutes. For exploring further sandy beaches (about 6 kilometers), including Kalyves and Blue beach (Kyani Akti), renting a car is the best way, however a bus option is also available.
The bus stop of Megala Chorafia is about 20 minutes' walk from the yoga centre. Local car rental is available or you may arrange your own. If you are planning on making only a few short trips, hiring a taxi is also an option at a reasonable cost.
Click to see more vegetarian-friendly Yoga Retreats
Daily vegetarian or vegan breakfast is included in the retreat. The ingredients are provided fresh in your kitchen and fridge just before your arrival, for your convenient consumption. They are refilled once or twice during the week according to your needs. With prior notice, ZenZem Crete can also provide specific breakfast ingredients if you are allergic or intolerant to something, please write to us about your needs. Other meals are self-catered or consumed at one of the local family taverns at the village main place (10 minutes walk). There is also a mini-market only 10 minutes walk where you can do your shopping.
The area around the village is of great archaeological interest, an amalgam of the Minoan era, and Venetian and Turkish occupations. By visiting the ancient ruins, you can absorb the energy of ancient Aptera dating back to the 18th B.C., with its greatest peak around the fourth B.C. Within walking distance, you may visit the Ancient theater of Aptera, Roman baths, and Koules Castle from Turkish occupation.
You can visit Chania old town and the picturesque Venetian harbor with plenty of tourist amenities, souvenir shops, and boat trips. Alternatively, if you would like to stay away from the city, you may take a deeper dive into nature and walk the natural treasure of Diktamos Gorge, which begins at Stylos village or around Kournas Lake.
If you are planning on staying longer, you may visit Rethymno, Knossos, and the Minoan Palace. Not to miss are the natural reserve of Samaria Gorge and the south Lybean Sea or the northwest cape and turquoise lagoon of Balos.
Aptera lies on a low hill, 200 meters above sea level, overlooking the beautiful coast. A few idyllic quiet bays and secluded beaches lie just at the foot of Aptera Hill (at the exit of the village to the motorway, two kilometers from ZenZem house) and can be reached by footpaths with a small exploration. More local beaches for swimming and recreation can also be reached by car, such as the pebble beach of Kalami, the sandy beaches of Kyani Akti, Kalyves, and Almyrida.
Massage therapy, nutritional assessment, and nutritional meal plan can be arranged in advance at an additional cost.
Heraklion International Airport (Nikos Kazantzakis Airport)
Transfer not provided
Chania International Airport ("Ioannis Daskalogiannis")
Transfer not provided
Please book your flight to arrive at Chania International Airport (CHQ). Alternatively, you can also arrive at Herakleion International Airport (HER). Car hire or taxi can be arranged upon request.
From the airport, if getting the local bus from Chania, Rethymnon, or Herakleion town center, the bus stop for Aptera village is called Megala Chorafia, only one and a half kilometers from ZenZem, located on the highway connecting Chania-Rethymnon-Herakleion. If you come by bus, please inform ZenZem Crete of your expected arrival time at the bus stop to arrange the pickup.
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