A culinary tour across Greece

When we think of Greece, our minds conjure up mystical idylls of myths, legends and iconic history – it was the birth place of democracy after all. But something equally worthy of our attention is the country’s mouthwatering cuisine. With stunning wine trails, endless olive groves, family-run farms with food-centred activities – the list goes on – this is a country that tantalises all tastebuds with its fresh flavours and local specialities. From the island of Tinos to mainland Thessaloniki and the Peloponnese, savour our menu of delectable destinations to dine in across Greece – kali orexi!

Crete

There’s something special about the Cretan way of cooking. The beauty of the cuisine is that it’s simple, yet so flavoursome, and that’s thanks to the island yielding some of the most incredible produce – think fresh fish, hundreds of wild herbs and its famous olive oil, nicknamed ‘liquid gold’ for good reason.

Cretan wine is a true revelation, so a visit to the island wouldn’t be complete without a winery tour: cue Manousakis Winery near Chania, where you can sip as you soak up vineyard views. For rustic fine dining in a Cretan villa setting, Avli in Rethymno is a true treasure, while Taverna Gorgona is perfect for fresh fish with views towards stunning Spinalonga.

The charming streets of Rethymno, Crete. Image: iStock/Freeartist

Thessaloniki

Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, is a cultural and culinary destination on the rise. It’s a place well known for its pastries, from koulouri to bougatsa, which takes centre stage across the city – there’s nowhere better than Bantis for your sweet cream-filled filo fix. The street food scene is also something to behold, whether you’re tackling a large gyro at Psisou Sta Karvouna or hitting Nterlikatesen for the best souvlaki.

Sweet treats and street food aside, the city is brimming with both authentic meze and creative restaurants. Hidden in the residential backstreets is Nea Folia, a rustic old-time classic with a mouthwatering menu. Wash down all of these authentic Greek flavours at Chilai Wine Restaurant Bar, where vintages like Melmar are a menu staple.

Traditional koulouri. Image: Getty Images/Adél Békefi

Tinos

Whitewashed Tinos is a charming sleepy island that’s often overlooked for its livelier Mykonos neighbour, but with spectacular rugged landscapes and a thriving food scene, it deserves praise in abundance. No two culinary experiences are the same here: you could be dining on fennel pie and rabbit stifado at Tereza’s grocery shop-cum-teeny restaurant one day, and savouring fresh fish as the waves hit the deck at Antonia’s waterside Thalassaki the next.

Visit in May and you’ll get to experience the much-loved Tinos Food Paths festival, which brings together cooks, critics and locals alike to celebrate the island’s fabulous foodie heritage – think barbecues on the beach, wine classes outside monasteries and village-square feasts.

The island of Tinos. Image: Getty Images/Tuul & Bruno Morandi

The Peloponnese

Olive oil, pork, honey, aubergines, fine wine, oranges – these are just a few of the local delights to relish in Greece’s magnificent Peloponnese region, the birthplace of the Olympics, no less. Family-run tavernas are at every turn, whether you’re right by the sea or in the beautifully rustic mountains. The region also makes its own wine – try a rich red Agiorgitiko, or perhaps an aromatic white Mantineia.

Embark on a foodie journey through the region, starting in the luscious Arcadia hills. Stop at Piteros Klimataria for homemade Greek classics in a charming semi-alfresco setting, before making your way to the coast. Your next port of call is Lela’s Taverna, which cooks up fresh traditional dishes with a side of sea views. Ktima Biohof-Karababas is an organic farm a little further up the coast, where you can bag the likes of organic olive oil and unique marmalades, like prickly pear.

Olives, olive oil and wild herbs in the Peloponnese. Image: Getty Images/ImagesEtc

Athens

City thrills and foodie delights combine in this famous metropolis. Live life by the bite in the culinary backstreets of Athens, whether it’s the low-key souvlaki and loukmades joints of downtown or Kerameikos’ up-and-coming creative food scene. Must-visits include the unique dairy bar, Stani, Varvakeios Central Market for local produce, the homemade delights of Diomataris Restaurant and Theo Tragi, the self-proclaimed ‘punk bistro’.

Travel just 20 kilometres out of the centre and you’ll be met with To Perivoli sti Vari – a gastronomic experience that favours field-to-table gastronomy for a true taste of the region, with stunning views to match.

An aerial view of Athens. Image: iStock/sborisov

This article is being sponsored by Visit Greece.