5 Days Vegetarian, Vegan Culinary Tours in Greece

  • Hotel Olympic, Kornarou Square, Heraklion, Crete 71201, Greece

Food and Wine Holidays in Greece

Enjoy vegetarian food, wine and culture holiday in Greece. Taste unique, mouth watering dishes and all those given with a smile coming deep from our heart. We offer you the opportunity to enjoy the regional vegetarian / vegan cuisine of Crete. Your guide will show you the culture of Crete, the vegetarian principles and nutrition during the drives, tours, and all visits on the island. Join local farm house ladies on an intimate culinary holiday into the heartland of Cretan regional Vegetarian cuisine for a gastronomic tour for the ages.

Highlights

  • Rethymnon food and cultural tour
  • Heraklion culinary and cultural tour
  • Food tasting, wine tasting, market visit
  • Vegetarian, vegan, mediterranean cuisine
  • Excursions to palace of Knossos, Arkadi monastery
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • 4 nights accommodation
  • 3 days with instruction
  • English
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Hotel Olympic

Comfort and luxurious hospitality in the heart of the city. Hotel Olympic has 73 spacious and comfortable rooms, with double glazing for optimal sound isolation, central heating and separate air-condition, as well as an integrated system of fire-protection and fire-extinction that covers the hotel throughout.

Furnished with hand-made oak furniture and decorated with particular tastefulness rooms, Hotel Olympic offers all modern conveniences and services. The experienced and friendly staff will satisfy the needs and wishes of the guests who are in town either on business or to enjoy their holidays.

The hotel offers single, double and triple rooms (with a sofa bed), as well as rooms for guests with disabilities. Furthermore, joined rooms are available, specially designed for families. There are rooms with a balcony or a veranda.

Amenities

  • Baby cot (without any extra charge and upon previous arrangement)
  • Bathroom with bathtub or shower
  • Central heating
  • Colour TV with satellite programs and 24-hours news programs
  • Direct telephone line with personal answering machine and DDI
  • Double glazing
  • Fridge / mini bar
  • Hair dryer
  • Hand-made oak furniture and fixed oak wardrobes
  • Internet access
  • Music (channel with video clips and satellite radio channels)
  • Pure cotton linen
  • Room service
  • Safe
  • Security lock with card and energy saving system
  • Separate air-conditioning
  • Smoke and fire detector
  • Wooden floor in all rooms
  • Working desk

Day 1: Friday - Arrival

  • Arrival the airport of Heraklion International Airport (HER). Reception at the airport. Transportation to the hotel. Accommodation at hotel Olympic in the center of Heraklion city.
  • Dinner at traditional restaurant with variety of Cretan vegetarian Mediterranean specialties

Day 2: Saturday - Excursion, food tasting, market visit

  • Today we visit the palace of Knossos. When visiting the island of Crete someone must see the ancient palace of Knossos, built 3.500 years ago. Combination of archaeological discoveries and food tasting. Te visit will start at 9:00 and it takes 1 hour.
  • After the palace we drive back to the city and visit the farmers' market. The visit will take an hour or so and ending the visit we walk the central market of the city taste special cheeses in a small cheese shop, and having break for lunch accompanied with ouzo (anise) with a variety of vegetarian dishes at one of the traditional Mezedopolion of the street.
  • We end our walk after lunch visiting and taste the famous loukoumades Cretan style doughnuts sprinkled with honey and sesame.

Day 3: Sunday - Excursions, free time, food tasting

  • After breakfast, take a drive through the vineyards and small villages of the Heraklion region.
  • Visit the 16th century monastery of Arkadi, and Margarites, a small village famous for producing ceramics.
  • Next you'll visit the city a Rethymnon a city seeped in history and an attractive place to wander through its narrow streets and marvel at Venetian and Turkish architecture that house its restaurants, caf├ęs and shops.
  • After browsing the shops and a coffee break where you can mingle with the locals, you'll drive to the natural springs of Argyroupolis, a site boasting attractive cascades and an idyllic setting for lunch where you'll enjoy Cretan vegetable and cheese specialities.
  • After lunch, you'll return to Heraklion.

Day 4: Monday - Wine tasting

  • Spend the day with locals and the city of Heraklion
  • We will drive to a village near Heraklion and visit small fine quality family wineries, depending on the season, we may have the chance join the way to make the Cretan snap, Raki or Tsikoudia.
  • Drink Raki and home made chemical free unique wines and spend the day with the locals join them on their daily life and having lunch at a home tasting unique home made tastes.
  • Back to the hotel for the afternoon.
  • Dinner at a local traditional restaurant in the centre of Heraklion with variety of vegetarian and vegan specialties.

Day 5: Tuesday - Departure

  • Breakfast and drive to the Heraklion International Airport (HER) for the flight back home.
  • A visit and walk the old city of Rethymnon
  • A visit to the monastery of Arkadi
  • Region of Heraklion culinary and cultural Tour
  • Region of Heraklion culinary tour, the palace of Knossos, walking and tasting Heraklion
  • Region of Rethymnon food and cultural tour

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.

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 and 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.

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.

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 and 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 or 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 or 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 don't have to apologize or explain why you don't 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.

  • 4 breakfasts, 3 lunches on selected spots during the cultural drives, 4 dinners
  • 4 nights accommodation at fine 3-star hotel city centre at city of Heraklion
  • 5 days chartered vehicle with English speaking driver who is well-versed of the culture of Crete, the vegetarian principles and nutrition
  • Airport-hotel-airport transfers
  • Arrival, greeting and traditional Cretan dinner
  • Tours as specified
  • Anything not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees at archaeological or historical sites
  • Tips
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.

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5 days / 4 nights

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This vacation is available all year round with arrival on Friday and departure on Tuesday.

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