4 Days Market Tours and Cooking Holidays in Crete, Greece

Culinary Vacations Greece

Join this cooking holiday in Crete and be witness of a way of life largely unchanged for centuries in a magnificent coastal scenery and a mountainous interior. A fabulous, healthy, and nutritional diet based only on fresh local produce, as well as cookery workshops, a relaxed pace, and plenty of time to enjoy the results, will be part of this unique experience.

Highlights

  • Greek food cooking workshops
  • Learn how to make a series of local delicacies
  • Visit to the Central Food Market in Chania
  • All recipes and ingredients are included
  • Enjoy daily breakfast and snacks
  • 3 nights accommodation

Styles


3 days with instruction in English
Spoken languages: English

Airport transfer included: Chania International Airport

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Accommodation

Accommodation options are carefully selected and usually come in the form of a small local hotel, villa, or house with traditional architecture. All are of exceptional quality as Hand Picked Greece pays close attention to every detail in order to ensure the highest standards.

All accommodations are certified by the local tourist authorities and you can expect the hosts to be friendly and welcoming. Lodgings will be located within a short distance of the holiday base and will usually have wonderful gardens and swimming pools.

Your accommodation can range from small traditional cottages to larger luxury villas. All accommodation is located in and around the village of Litsarda, close to the Olive Farm. When you get in touch with Hand Picked Greece to plan your holiday, you will also discuss your specific accommodation requirements. They will provide a range of options for your particular tour, including photos, before you book the holiday.

Hand Picked Greece Cooking Vacations Program

This unique course on Cretan gastronomy has been specially designed to show you the specifics of the Cretan and Greek diets. During your holiday, you will learn how to make a series of signature dishes, pies, and other local delicacies, as well as participate in cooking workshops at the Olive Farm, visit the Central Food Market in Chania, and discover top quality local produce from artisan producers.

Cooking workshop

Each workshop lasts for about 3-4 hours. The workshops take place at the Olive Farm in an external kitchen or inside the traditional cottage at the farm depending on the weather. Most cooking will take place in a wood and a gas fire. All vegetables are organic and are produced at the Olive Farm, other fresh produce is from local producers.

This workshop includes a cooking lesson and full 4-course meal, all ingredients, recipes, wine (2 different types of wine from local varieties), raki (local spirit) and a cheese platter (local artisan cheese). The menu is to be designed after customer’s input. During summer time, the workshop is held at 18:00 and during winter at 14:00.

Greek pie workshop

Learn to make some of the famous Greek pies from scratch, using all the traditional equipment and enjoy a wonderful lunch at the Olive Farm. Try your hands at signature pies from Northern Greece, Evia, the Peloponesse and Crete.

Included on this workshop are lesson, lunch with a selection of pies and seasonal salads, all ingredients, recipes, wine (2 different types of wine from local varieties), a cheese platter with pickles from The Olive Farm (local artisan produce). This is held on Thursdays at 11:00.

Included excursions

During this retreat, you will visit local artisan producers, as well as the Central Food Market in Chania. All visits and workshops are arranged within walking distance of your accommodation, through olive groves and herb-filled slopes.

Instructors

Zeta
Zeta has traveled extensively and has lived for many years in Nepal. She is Greek, originally from Athens but living in Crete for the past 15 years. She has always been cooking and is an excellent cook - obviously! She speaks English and fluent German.

Location

This holiday will take place in Crete, Greece. Crete is the fifth biggest island in the Mediterranean Sea and lies on the southern frontier of Europe, combining wonderful seaside sceneries alongside a mountainous terrain.

With a strategic geographical position, Crete has always been a cultural crossroads with many Venetian, Arabic, and Turkish influences. It is a culinary haven for anyone looking to discover authentic cooking and eating. It is also a magnificent island with dramatic scenery and thousands of years of history.

Food

The traditional Cretan diet is very much alive, especially in the villages and rural areas. It includes large amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables, cereals like wheat and barley, legumes, nuts, olives and olive oil, and numerous endemic wild herbs and aromatic plants. Refusing an offer for a meal is really not an option and visitors share in meals that might last two to three hours.

Greek cuisine is a combination between the Italian and the Arabic cuisines. The people still eat what their ancestors ate hundreds of years back. They eat wild edible greens collected during long walks, snails, and different bean varieties. They use barley rusks instead of bread with their meals and make kalitsounia, which are little pies made with dough rather than filo pastry and fry them. They prefer the local cheeses and herbs, avoid veal, and celebrate with lamb or goat.

Cretans eat cheese with honey and put olive oil everywhere, even in desserts. Of course, they also continue to cook at home in the same simple way their great grandmothers did. The result is a naturally sustainable way of life.

In Crete, the diet consists of mainly pulses, vegetables, and fruits. Dairy comes next; fish, chicken, and eggs follow; and red meat is eaten only occasionally. Traditionally, Greeks used to eat meat only a few times each month, most likely on a Sunday and usually in the form of a stew or casserole with plenty of vegetables, accompanied by handmade pasta or rice.

Grilled or roast meat was served during celebrations and elaborate desserts were only prepared during festive periods as well. Food is not only a mean of survival here; it is the foundation of the entire Greek culture. People are truly dedicated to eating and drinking and will spend long hours preparing and even longer sitting with family and friends to enjoy a meal.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Snacks
  • Drinks

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
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)

  • Attend local village events
  • Converse with the locals
  • Explore the nature and wildlife
  • Pick fresh fruits and vegetables from the farm
  • Practice windsurfing
  • Visit the coast and relax on the beach
  • Cheese workshop and tasting

You will make artisan cheese using fresh pasteurized local goats milk, a type of cheese present in every Cretan household. You will also have the chance to sample a variety of local cheese. The workshop is taking place either at the Olive Farm or at the shepherds shed depending on the weather.

This workshop includes cheese making, lunch with cheese platter and seasonal salads, all ingredients, instructions and information, wine (2 different types of wine from local varieties). All produce is artisan, local and seasonal. This 3-hour workshop is held on Wednesdays at 11:00.

  • A beegarden visit

Visit the local apiary to learn how honey is made. The honey producer will talk to you about the apiculture of Greece and will inform you on the basics of honey making. Talk to the honey producer, observe the bees and find our how the hive is organized and functions. Sample honey and enjoy some mezze at the beekeepers house!

The experience takes place at the beegarden. Included are beegarden visit, beehive demonstration and a local lunch and wine, honey sampling and aperitifs with honey and raki. All produce is artisan, local and seasonal. This takes about 3 hours and is held on Fridays at 11:00.

  • Olive oil soap workshop and artisan cosmetics

A hands-on workshop on artisanal skin care products using natural local ingredients, herbs, organic extra virgin olive oil from The Olive Farm, dried flowers, oil infusions and essential oils and beeswax. You will make olive oil soap, beeswax salve and infused oils. Hand Picked Greece has revived age-old methods that can be easily replicated at home. You will go home with the products you made and instructions to make those anytime and anywhere!

Included are hands-on lesson/practice, all ingredients and consumables, goodie bag with products, coffee, tea and nibbles. This takes about 3 hours and is held every Tuesday at 11:00.

  • Wine seminars

Take a detailed wine seminar with Nico Manessis. Depending on the theme of the evening, you will sample the relevant wine, learn the main characteristics, and receive valuable information. You will also pair the wine with a series of dishes and platters that you may indulge in as you learn to partner wine with the right flavors. %Nico is a wine consultant, an author and lecturer on the wines of his native Greece. He is a contributor to Decanter Magazine and the Regional chair for Greece & Cyprus at the Decanter World Wine Awards since their inception in 2004.

Thematic evenings are as follows: Cretan Wines, Island Hoping, Selected Vineyards of Greece, and Greek Fine Wines. The seminar can be delivered in English, French or Greek. It includes wine and food pairings, seminar, and wine lists. The seminar takes 2-3 hours and is available upon request.

  • The olive groves of Crete

Visit the olive groves in areas of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), areas famous for the production of the best quality olive oil. Take part on the harvest and do a couple of hours of olive picking. You will enjoy a picnic under the trees and visit the olive mill to learn the process and sample the oil you helped produce. You will leave the place with some fresh olive oil to take home.

The experience may include a cooking workshop with an olive theme at The Olive Farm. This activity is only taking place during the harvest season (November to February). Please send your inquiry to Hand Picked Greece for pricing.

  • Daily hiking excursions (private)

Explore the gorges, trails and footpaths of Crete, in small groups or with a private guide. Pair your excursion with lunch or a picnic with selected signature products of the Cretan gastronomy and take in the scenery as you hike these ancient routes. Depending on the season and the routes you will follow you may have the chance to swim at the crystal clear waters of the Libyan Sea, meet up with artisan producers and discover the wild side of Crete.

Depending on your arrangements you will travel along with a guide or meet the guide on the spot. This is available upon request.

  • The White Mountains

Spend a couple of days up at the White Mountains of Crete, an experience that you will never forget. Enjoy this remote part of Crete as you take in the breathtaking views of the South coast. You will stay in a village of 15 inhabitants hidden in the forest, explore the area as much as the weather permits and taste wonderful local dishes. You might even get to hike parts of the famous international trail E4.

  • Cultural tours in archaeological sites (private)

Find out about the extensive Greek history and culture through tailor made guided visits to the city of Chania, Rethimno and the sites of Knossos and Phaistos. Join bespoke guided visits with Joanna Kalipso Glipti. Joanna is a very experienced professional guide with a vast archaeological, artistic and historical knowledge about Greece and the surrounding countries. She has studied and attended numerous seminars in history, archaeology, studies of comparative religion, history of art and social anthropology.

Spending a day with Joanna, learning the local history and discovering the sites will leave you revived and full of newly gained knowledge. She exhibits personal care in all her tours, pays attention to detail and loves so much what she does amplifying the experience for everyone.

  • Chania tour - Archaeological museum, Venetian harbor, Muslim and Christian quarters, covered market. This tour can be combined with either a visit at the Commonwealth Cemetery of WW2 in Suda Bay and Agia Triada Monastery, or a visit at the ancient site of Aptera.Duration: 10 hours.
  • Rethymno tour - A complete Venetian city with the old port and Fortezza; maze-like streets, workshops of local artists and an archaeological museum at the center of the city. This tour may be combined with a visit on Ancient Eleftherna, a Homeric Cemetery of Ancient Greek heroes of the Era of the Iliad and the Museum of Eleftherna. Duration: 10 hours.
  • Knossos tour - Visit at the ancient site, the Archeological Museum and the city of Heraklion. Duration: 10 hours.
  • Phaistos tour - A full day down South Eastern Crete. The second in size and popularity Bronze Age Minoan site of Crete. This may also include a visit at the Roman capital of Crete Gortis, the oldest law code of Europe, the Roman Odeon where St.Paul first spoke of Christianity within European Soil Crete.The oldest Basilica of Crete. Duration: 10 hours.
  • Preveli Monastery - South Western Crete on the Libyan coast driving through the Kourtaliotiko Ravine. You also visit the Bronze Age Burial site of Armeni. Duration: 8 hours.
  • Yoga at the Olive Farm

There is no need to skip your yoga routine while on your holidays, especially when you have the opportunity to enjoy your practice breathing Mediterranean air, surrounded by nature in the peaceful garden of the Olive Farm. In these 2-hour sessions you work on expanding, stretching, opening up and releasing blockages in the body, letting the energy flow as freely as possible. Through the practice of asanas, pranayama and meditation Hand Picked Greece aims to bring body and mind into balance, feeling more energized, peaceful and creative.

The class can be delivered in English or Greek. Everyone can participate regardless of previous experience, age or physical condition. Let Hand Picked Greece know in advance about your level of experience and they will adjust class. For a minimum of 6 participants Hand Picked Greece can organize a private yoga and healthy eating retreat for you.

This includes yoga class, local herbal tea and healthy delicious breakfast right after your practice. Duration: 2 hours for yoga class and 1 hour for breakfast. This is available upon request from April to October.

Activities for kids

  • Lego education sessions – educational Lego play that introduces children into STEM sciences while playing
  • Micro-science experiments - a series of fun and playful science experiments following the educational rules of UNESCO.
  • Gardening, planting and foraging sessions

The activities take place at The Olive Farm and are provided by specially-trained science teachers. Included are Lego, science equipment and printed material, consumables, pots and seeds, beverages and snack or lunch. Duration: 3 hours.

What's included

  • 3 breakfasts
  • A food market tour in the town of Chania along with your cook
  • 2 cooking workshops at The Olive Farm
  • 1 Greek pies workshop at The Olive Farm
  • 3 full meals including wine and appetizers
  • 3 nights accommodation
  • All ingredients used during the classes
  • Airport transfers
  • Recipes
  • Snacks

What's not included

  • Additional activities
  • Additional meals
  • Airfare
  • Personal expenses
  • Transportation to and from the Olive Farm

How to get there

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Chania International Airport (CHQ). Transfer to and from the airport are included in the price.

Airport: Chania International Airport Airport transfer included: Chania International Airport No additional charges. You can request this in the next step.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 25% of the total price.
  • The deposit is fully refundable if the booking is cancelled before the arrival date.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.
4 days / 3 nights
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Prices may change depending on accommodation availability. Kindly send your inquiry to Hand Picked Greece for final pricing before booking. This holiday can be customized upon request. 

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