30 Days Cretan Vegetarian Cooking Holiday in Greece

  • Rethymnon - Chania - Lassithi - Heraklion

Overview

Culinary Vacations in Greece

  • 20 cooking classes, baking classes
  • Food tasting, wine tasting, honey tasting
  • Vegetarian, vegan, mediterranean cuisine
  • Enjoy living with locals and touring different parts of Greece
  • Experience cultural and nature activities, lessons
  • Magnificent views and life-time experiences
  • 29 nights accommodation

George, Porto Club founder, will be your host and personal guide all the way. We visit restaurants, taverns, local farm homes where you sample delicious dishes. We feed you like royalty, treat you to fine wine, tasty home made bread, green pies and teach you to make your way around the fresh food markets. Our cooking lessons can last 2 to 5 hours and afterwards you enjoy the meal that was prepared. There will be plenty of time to explore the rich natural and cultural attractions of the island, share activities, excursions, and contact local people.

  • 28 days with instruction
  • English
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Kouriton House, Historic Manor, Rethymnon, Crete

At village Tzanakiana / Margarites around 25 km southern east the city of Rethymnon. A fine stone-built country manor of 1750, the Kouriton house classified as historical. It has been preserved for its traditional architectural structure, typical of the Cretan design stemming from prehistoric Minoan mansions. Run by the owner retired University professor of Music a very nice and warm lady and her sons. Breakfasts and dinners at the manor prepared by the house lady with fresh ingredients from the area but most important with love and care.

During the restoration procedure, the historical listed monuments Kouriton House preserved all the architectural characteristics of the 18th century house that has its roots at the pre-historic Minoan mansion: the backyard with the rock-built ponds and the terraces, the oven-house, the ceramic chimneys, the bedrooms, the rest for pitchers, the old jars, the crenellation and the rock-hewn surface water reservoir.

The house has 7 bedrooms that can accommodate from 2 to 4 persons. On the ground floor there are 2 two-bedroom flats with a fireplace, an oven-house as well as a dining room with very old jars and a monastery-style table, where the guests can enjoy thematic breakfasts based on local products and traditional recipes. On the first floor of the house there is the living room, where the guest can have a drink or use the internet. Every piece of furniture is a copy of the original Cretan furniture of the house, while the beds are authentic antiques.

Every room has a fridge, a TV, a hair dryer and ecological air conditioning. The guest house also provides drinking water from the fountain located in the area as well as a softener. It is built right at the entrance of the forest and the historic paths with a view over the evergreen gorges and the traditional settlements. The guest house has a rich library with vast folklore, historic material, leaflets regarding the Cretan gastronomy, a photocopy machine and audiovisual material infrastructure.

Thalori Resort, Kapetaniana, , Kapetaniana 700 16, Greece

Youll stay in the Thalori Resort which is made up of a cluster of 14 traditional houses and boasts a central restaurant, kitchen and recreational area. Each house has been built with an emphasis on traditional, locally sourced resources. Local rocks and stones make up the walls of the properties, local marble and wood for the interior and traditional fireplaces and embroidered carpets make for a warm and welcoming stay.

All houses are equipped with central heating, fireplace, fully equipped kitchen, mini stereo system, Satellite TV with 20 LCD screen, Chess table, board games, orthopaedic mattresses, and complimentary bathroom products. Houses vary in size and accommodate from 1-5 people. There are 4 double bedroom houses, 5 triple room houses, 1 four bedroom property and 4 five bedroom houses. Bathrooms are shared within each house.

If you are travelling solo, stay in a double room house for sole occupancy for a small supplement or you may be able to share a house with other guests but this is subject to availability (to check availability please contact us. Houses are allocated according to availability, where possible your group will be offered their own house.

The thick stone wall and central heating make the houses a comfortable temperature year round. There is a swimming pool with beautiful views over the area at the accommodation. The restaurant is built in a similar style to the houses and set over two floors. There is also a professional kitchen and separate meeting room with terrace within the restaurant building.

Your cookery lessons will take place either in the complex's kitchen, side meeting room with terrace, or in the restaurant itself. The imposing windows of the restaurant offer panoramic views to the Libyan Sea. The beach is about 7 kilometers away so within walking distance. Enjoy the wilderness of the mountains and the spectacular views and inlets to the secret beaches of southern Crete.

Day 1

  • Arrival. Reception at the airport. Transportation to the Kouriton house manor.
  • Dinner at the manor.
  • Accommodation at Kouriton house.

Day 2

  • Region of Rethymnon, western Crete
  • Arkadi monastery.
  • Pottery workshop and class.
  • Lunch at Margarites village and hands on cooking class.
  • Accommodation at Kouriton house.

Day 3

  • Region of Rethymnon, western Crete
  • Mountain tour, Anogia, Iakinthos mountain stoned church.
  • Lunch at Drossia village, Halepa monastery and hands on cooking class.
  • Accommodation at Kouriton house.

Day 4

  • Region of Rethymnon, western Crete
  • Gastronomic tour of Rethymnon city
  • Lunch at the springs of Georgioupolis and hands on cooking class.
  • Accommodation at Kouriton house.

Day 5

  • Region of Chania: Georgioupolis
  • Gastronomic tour of Chania
  • Lunch at the old port of Chania and hands on cooking class.
  • Accommodation at Kouriton house.

Day 6

  • Region of Chania: Samaria Gorge (full day escorted walking tour)
  • Light lunch (sandwiches during the walk)
  • Dinner at Kouriton house.
  • Accommodation at Kouriton house.

Day 7

  • Region of Rethymnon, western Crete
  • After a long walk spend the day at the beach.
  • Lunch on spot and hands on cooking class.
  • Accommodation at Kouriton house.

Day 8

  • Region of Rethymnon, western Crete
  • Cycling tour the country side.
  • Lunch on our way and hands on cooking class.
  • Accommodation at Kouriton house.

Day 9

  • Region of Rethymnon, western Crete
  • Icon painting or wood curving day.
  • Experience the icon painting!
  • Lunch at the near area and hands on cooking class.
  • Accommodation at Kouriton house.

Day 10

  • Region of Rethymnon, western Crete
  • Soft walking experience the Kouriton path at Margarites, ancient Eleftherna
  • Lunch at Margarites and hands on cooking class.
  • Accommodation at Kouriton house.

Day 11

  • Region of Heraklion, southern central Crete
  • Today we pack and leave Kouriton house and drive east and south direction the mountain village of Kapetaniana and the Thalori Mountain resort.
  • On our way we visit the women cooperatives work shop at Marathos village and having break at Doxa to taste honey combs and pancakes with pure honey accompanied by Greek coffee or mountain herbal tea and drive south direction Kapetaniana village and accommodation at Thalori resort.
  • Dinner at Thalori restaurant with variety of local vegetarian delicacies.

Day 12

  • Region of Heraklion, southern central Crete
  • Visits to the Roman capital city of Gortys the Minoan city of Phaestos.
  • Lunch at the sea front restaurant at Kokkinos Pyrgos.
  • Hands on cooking class.
  • Accommodation at Thalori mountain resort.

Day 13

  • Region of Heraklion, southern central Crete
  • Breakfast and drive south to the caves and beach of Matala.
  • Visit the caves, join the clear waters at Matala beach and lunch at local restaurant.
  • Back to Thalori later in the afternoon and hands on cooking class.
  • Accommodation at Thalori mountain resort.

Day 14

  • Region of Heraklion, southern central Crete
  • Breakfast and drive south for a soft walk to the small unspoiled beach of Agiofarago.
  • Join the clear waters of the Libyan sea.
  • Picnic lunch on spot.
  • Back to Thalori later in the afternoon and hands on cooking class.
  • Accommodation at Thalori mountain resort.

Day 15

  • Region of Heraklion, southern central Crete
  • We spend the day at the resort.
  • Well known Cretan artist music player and dancer will come with his group to drive us to the secrets of Cretan music and dancing.
  • Lunch and dinner at Thalori

Day 16

  • Region of Heraklion, southern central Crete
  • Wine tasting, farmer visit, vineyard picnic
  • Breakfast and drive north.
  • Visits of 2 small family wineries the one producing Organic wines, wine tasting, visit a friends vineyard where we spend the rest of the day picking fresh veggies and fruits from the garden and having them for lunch accompanied by home made wine.
  • Back to the resort later in the afternoon.
  • Hands on cooking class.
  • Accommodation at Thalori mountain resort.

Day 17

  • Region of Heraklion, southern central Crete
  • Gastronomic tour of Heraklion, free time for shopping.
  • Dinner at Thalori restaurant with variety of local vegetarian delicacies.

Day 18

  • Region of Heraklion, southern central Crete
  • Home made cheese and bread making and day to spend at the swimming pool.
  • Back to Thalori later in the afternoon and hands on cooking class.
  • Accommodation at Thalori mountain resort.

Day 19

  • Region of Heraklion, southern central Crete
  • Breakfast and drive north to visit the lake of Zaros.
  • Short break for a cup of coffee and drive north to visit a house and spend the day with the house lady. We go with her on the fields and harvest wild greens that we will have them for lunch later on accompanied by few more home made delicacies.
  • Back to Thalori later in the afternoon and hands on cooking class.
  • Accommodation at Thalori mountain resort.

Day 20

  • Region of Heraklion, southern central Crete
  • Today we spend the day on Organic farming.
  • Harvest the organic vegetables and turn them to our meals for the day.
  • Lunch and dinner at Thalori.

Day 21

  • Region of Heraklion, southern central Crete
  • After breakfast we pack and leave Thalori. Drive north direction Heraklion.
  • First break at Peza cooperatives wine and olive oil tasting.
  • Ending the visit we drive to the palace of Knossos. The tour takes one and a half hour.
  • Ending the visit we drive to Arhanes village where we spend the rest of the days.
  • Lunch at Archanes with local specialties.

Day 22

  • Region of Lassithi, eastern Crete
  • Lassithi plateau. Psichro cave, the cave where Zeus as per Mythology born.
  • Lunch at Lassithi.
  • Back to the lodge Archontiko Arhanes and hands on cooking class.
  • Accommodation at Archanes.

Day 23

  • Region of Lassithi, eastern Crete
  • The 4000 years old ancient olive tree, the sea front village of Mochlos, the Monastery of Toplou and the city of Sitia.
  • Lunch at Sitia and dinner at the small village of Latsida.
  • Accommodation Arhanes.

Day 24

  • Region of Heraklion, southern central Crete
  • Spend the day at the beach.
  • Lunch at a sea front restaurant with vegetarian delicacies.
  • Back to the lodge Archontiko Arhanes and hands on cooking class.
  • Accommodation at Archanes.

Day 25

  • Region of Heraklion, southern central Crete
  • Agios Nikolaos, Elounda and the sea front village of Plaka.
  • Lunch at Plaka.
  • Later in the afternoon back to the lodge Archontiko Arhanes and hands on cooking class. Accommodation at Archanes.

Day 26

  • Region of Heraklion, southern central Crete
  • Archaeological Museum of Heraklion and walking tour of the city.
  • Lunch at local mezedopolion.
  • Later in the afternoon back to the lodge Archontiko Arhanes and hands on cooking class. Accommodation at Archanes.

Day 27

  • Region of Heraklion, southern central Crete
  • Visit an open farmers market, visit the historical museum of Heraklion, the St Catherines old icons gallery.
  • Lunch with street food and later in the afternoon back to the lodge Archontiko Arhanes and hands on cooking class.
  • Accommodation at Archanes.

Day 28

  • Santorini day tour. Escorted day tour to the island of Santorini.
  • Dinner at Archanes village.
  • Accommodation Archanes.

Day 29

  • Region of Heraklion, southern central Crete
  • Drive you to Heraklion for shopping on your own.
  • Meet you at lunch time for lunch and back to the lodge for packing and get ready for the tomorrows departure.
  • Accommodation Archanes.

Day 30

  • Breakfast and transportation to the airport for the flight back home

Porto Club

Porto Club Travel Services

Porto Club is a family founded company that set out to share the wonders and mysteries of Cretan regional cuisine with the world. Founded on the principles of passion, sharing and learning we pride ourselves in enjoying with others the uniqueness, wonders and pleasure of Cretan Vegetarian regional cuisine while ensuring to intertwine these with an understanding of the production, pride and culture specific to each region.

In Crete, a meal is not only a celebration but also a culmination of various events. Enjoy culinary explorations that blend all the secrets particular of the region of Crete and let you enjoy and learn about them first-hand alongside the locals. Going from one region of Crete to another changes not only what you eat, but how you eat it, how its prepared and what accompanies it. Each region is a mystery unto itself. Immerse yourself in the fantastic flavours and mouth-watering smells of regional Crete.

Porto Club Vegetarian & Vegan Holiday

We believe that the most authentic way to experience and understand the heritage of Cretan culture, nutrition, history, way of life and its people, is in the company of a local scholar, walking through streets which are alive with religion, art and history, immersing in the architecture, learning about the life, traditions, and customs of Cretan people, past and present.

You will sample some of the finest meals as well as fruit and vegetables in the world. You will drink selected spirits (ouzo, raki, liquors) and wines that will elevate your spirit and help you relax, and relish the excellent traditional cooking in some of the less obvious restaurants that we will point you out.

Follow Porto Club Vegetarian lead, come on a route of adventure, travel and wonder as you explore the mysteries, flavours and customs particular to various Cretan regions on our unique & authentic Cretan vegetarian food holiday. We can promise you we will not be part of any tourist trail or the sheep following mentality. Our aim has always been to offer quality not quantity, so Porto Club remains small but perfectly formed.

Porto Club Culinary Vacations

We offer a unique opportunity to experience at first hand authentic Cretan regional cooking techniques and recipes that have been developed and handed down over generations. All of the ingredients you will use are bought each morning from local open market and so you will be working with fresh fruit and vegetables in season.

Throughout our cooking you will learn about the ingredients and the traditions around the dishes. You will learn the passion of the Cretan kitchen and, importantly, have a lot of fun and enjoyment doing it.

Your week in Crete will be as much a hands on cooking experience as a cultural one. George will introduce you to the philosophy of local cooking and its traditions. You will learn about the history of Cretan cuisine and how it was influenced by its occupation for more than 2000 years.

You will learn the inspirations behind the Cretan dishes, the methods employed by local producers, how to make a variety of Cretan dishes from simple ingredients you can find back home, how very few ingredients can be the basis for 6 or 7 dishes.

You will learn how to prepare traditional Cretan dishes adapted to vegetarian requirements but never compromising on flavor as well as the cooking techniques and methods used to create the dishes.

Cretan cuisine

Vegetarian and vegan cuisine

Cretans eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables. The fat we use in our cooked food and salads is mainly olive oil. We eat pulses and vegetables in large amounts. They are the basis in our daily diet. No more than two or three days would go without pulses in a meal and not a day without vegetables, wild greens, olives, uncooked fresh vegetables and greens as salad, Cretan rusks and fruits. We eat more fruit than most, in fact, 4 times more than the other inhabitants of the Mediterranean.

A traveler in Greece when goes for lunch or dinner can find a huge variety of vegetarian / vegan meals in Estiatorion (restaurant). In these restaurants they present their specialties in show tables so guests can view the meals and choose one of them. Estiatorion is restaurant that operates mostly for local people. They always supply a big number of free-meat dishes we call them Ladera. You can find them at taverns or other kind of restaurants but Estiatorion is the ones I always suggest.

I have no compunction in saying that Crete and Greece is an ideal destination for a vegan / vegetarian, at least nutritionally. There is still a long way to go to connect with the philosophy and spirit of the vegan way, but any vegan visitor will be surprised at how harmoniously local Cretan people live with animals, almost all of whom free range in the fields or mountains. I hope and believe respect is a good first step between Cretans and vegans / vegetarians worldwide.

For many Greeks (especially in the countryside and islands), five days a week their meal is vegetarian or vegan. Yes, Greeks are meat and dairy eaters, but because such a large percentage of our diet consists of pulses, vegetables, greens and fruits, a vegan or vegetarian visitor will not have any difficulty in finding a huge variety of vegetarian food all over Greece. You dont have to apologize or explain why you dont eat meat.

Taste the healthy Cretan and Greek Mediterranean meat-free delicacies and our fine wine. You shall feel strong humanity, away from the stress of our daily life. You shall feel the warmth of Greek and Cretan company. You shall be captured by the place, perhaps because you think that time has stood still or because they welcome you with a shot of Tsikoudia with Cretan rusks and fresh tomato or a tsipouro or an ouzo.

Cretan dishes

  • Casseroles
  • Dolmadakia vine leaf wraps stuffed with sorrel, pumpkin flowers
  • Ladera
  • Mageirefta
  • Moussakas
  • Saganaki (fried cheese)
  • Sfakiani (stuffed pitta)
  • Soups
  • Stuffed peppers, tomatoes, courgettes and Aubergines (Papoutsakia)

Cretan bakery and desserts

  • Cookies: On Crete, these cookies are traditionally made and served over the Christmas and New Year's holiday season. They are enjoyed at other times of year as well, but in December and January, they come together to create a fabulous collection of tastes and textures.
  • Kalitsounia: These sweet cheese pastries are an Easter favourite on the island of Crete.
  • Kouloura: These sweet breads are an Easter favourite as well on the island of Crete.
  • Kourabiethes: Kourabiethes (also kourambiedes) are traditional celebration cookies, served at Christmas, New Year's, weddings, and baptisms. Toasted almond shortbread-type cookies topped with a generous coating of confectioner's sugar, they melt in the mouth.
  • Melomakarouna: Melomakarona are a Christmas tradition in Greece (but enjoyed at other times of the year). All over Greece, kitchens will be filled with the wonderful smell of these spice cookies that will adorn tables, be given as hostess gifts, and eaten in huge quantities.
  • Pastries: these cookies are traditionally made and served over the Easter holiday season.
  • Pies: Crete is famous for its cuisine and mostly of its traditional Kalitsounia, which are small pies that can be filled with different fillings, such as cheese (tyropitakia) or greens and wild herbs (Hortopitakia). These unique delicacies are served across the entire island and are a very tasteful and healthy snack you can enjoy any time of the day, as an appetizer or light meal.
  • Spoon Sweets: Spoon sweets are healthy confections, visually pleasing, distinctive, and extremely versatile. Offering them to guests is a wonderful tradition and a sign of "sweet" hospitality. Nowadays they are used as healthy spreads, in baked goods, and to top ice cream, cakes, and yogurt. Spoon sweets reflect the spirit of the Cretan and Greek hospitality. Spoon sweets are a traditional offering in Greek homes. Spoon sweets are fruits, preserved in syrup. They are commonly known as "spoon sweets" which translates to sweet of the spoon. due to the traditional way of serving the sweets on a well-filled teaspoon accompanied by cold water.
  • 20 Vegetarian Cretan cookery lessons on days 2 - 5, 7 - 10, 12 - 14, 16, 18 - 20, 22 and 24 - 27
  • A gastronomic tour of Chania
  • A gastronomic tour of Ierapetra
  • A gastronomic tour of Rethymnon
  • A gastronomic walking tour of Heraklion
  • A soft mountain walk with Markos at Asteroussia mountains
  • A visit to a cheese factory
  • A visit to a farmers vineyard and having lunch with them
  • A visit to a local house and spend the day with locals
  • A visit to a producers work shop
  • A visit to an olive oil factory
  • A visit to archaeological sites of Gortys, Phaestos and Knossos (guiding/entrance fees are extra)
  • A visit to Argyroupolis natural springs and Matala caves and Zaros lake
  • A visit to local bee-keeping honey producers and tasting of produce
  • A visit to local wineries and tasting of wine and raki
  • A visit to the archeological museum of Heraklion
  • A visit to the historical museum of Heraklion
  • A visit to the Matala caves
  • A visit to the monasteries of Arkadi and Odigitrias
  • A visit to the womens co-operative of Marathos work shop
  • A welcome drink and snack on arrival at the airport
  • Accommodation at the Arhontiko Arhanes traditional villa in a twin/double room house for 10 nights
  • Accommodation at the Kouriton historical manor in a twin/double room house for 10 nights
  • Accommodation at the Thalori Traditional Complex in a twin/double room house for 10 nights
  • Agiofarago southern central Crete walk and swim experience
  • All cooking materials and ingredients
  • All transport to and from the excursions
  • Breakfast each morning
  • Cheese and home made bread hands on class
  • Cretan folklore live music and dancing class
  • Cycling day
  • Dinner accompanied by water, local wine and raki every night
  • Icon painting class
  • Lunch on days 2-29
  • Organic farming class
  • Return transfers to/from Heraklion airport day of arrival and day of departure
  • Samaria gorge day tour (escorted)
  • Spoon sweets class
For information about the booking conditions, please send Porto Club Travel Services an inquiry.

Testimonials

  • Review by Carolyn and Ian

    "It was a memorable tour and as Ian said a true "slow food" experience! Thanks for your generosity and hospitality, for sharing your passion for Crete and showing us all the wonderful things it has to offer. Our time in Crete was much enriched by joining your tour. Thanks again."

    Porto Club website, edited

  • Review by Suzanne

    "First of all thank you for the wonderful week with you in Crete and immersing me in the Cretan culture, food and beautiful scenery. Your vibrant personality made it so much more fun. Thank you also for sending me the recipes, I will put them to good use. Again thank you again for the wonderful time in Crete, and the cave dinner was truly a highlight during that week."

    Porto Club website, edited

  • Review by Diana

    "I just wanted to say, that you are a true professional and a very special person. You made the experience truly memorable. You treated all of us like family instead of just strangers.You took us to local eating establishments which really enriched the experience. The cooking classes were a lot of fun, they were very hands on, which I bloody loved. You went out of your way to make sure that we all had a fabulous time.The lodgings were very nice and the location was really spectacular! George I will always remember my time there as very special, and wish you and your family the very best. I will always have a grand smile as I remember my time in Crete."

    Porto Club website, edited

  • Review by David from USA

    "I cannot thank you enough for the truly remarkable experience in Crete. Since I arrived back in the USA, I have cooked several meals using the principles you shared with us and enjoyed every one of them.Unfortunately we cannot get the freshest ingredients, but even the techniques you showed (simple combinations of ingredients that show up in most dishes, grating tomatoes, different ways of chopping onions, cooking with potatoes, and so on) have been very useful. I cannot wait to entertain others with the Cretan cuisine!The best part of the trip was that you took us to places that tourists would probably never know about, where you knew the people and their families. That made the vacation especially authentic and memorable. Even the long drives were okay, because we got to experience the wonderful sights of the island."

    Porto Club website, edited

  • Review by Christina

    "David and I enjoyed the week we spent in Crete. The sites we visited and the food that was cooked and ate were definitely unique and delicious. Below are some feedbacks on the culinary tour.Thaloris location in the mountains and it is integrated into the village provide a local Cretan experience. Georges knowledge on Crete history and Thaloris hospitality makes the visit enjoyable.The various local restaurants that we ate at enabled David and I taste local Crete food and cooking. The ingredients were very fresh, very delicious. The cooking experience where we got hands-on experience in preparing and cooking Cretan food each night.The small group setting allows the group members and George to interact and build close relationship during the week. This helps adjust the flexible itinerary if the group likes to explore/visit some different sites. The bottom line: the food and alcoholic beverages were great."

    Porto Club website, edited

  • Review by Chantal

    "Our trip was great, but of course, the highlight was our week on Crete. We have already made tsaziki, lots of boiled and sauted greens, the cucumber appetizers, the eggplant dip, and greek salad. We bought some grape leaves and phyllo dough so will try making some more dishes soon.As far as critical thoughts about our stay in Crete, we enjoyed the trip and learned so much about Cretan food, culture, and history. Thank you again for a fantastic week full of learning and good memories."

    Porto Club website, edited

  • Review by Rene

    "I am writing to you because I am still awestruck by the experience of a lifetime! I could never have imagined how wonderful, gracious, enjoyable and entertaining a vacation it was to be. I absolutely fell in love with Crete and George. I couldn't have planned a better trip and I can't wait to go back. Thanks for all your help and please tell everyone this is the vacation not to be missed. There was plenty of everything. I didn't want for anything!"

    Porto Club website, edited

Heraklion, Greece

Travel provider for small group exclusive weekly packages on the island of Crete. Food and wine, cultural visits and hands on cooking classes in Greece.

Speaks English

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30 days / 29 nights

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