7 Days Mountain Walks & Vegan Cooking Trips in Greece

  • Thalori Resort, Kapetaniana, Καπετανιανά, Kapetaniana 700 16, Greece

Cooking & Walking Holidays in Greece

This culinary and walking holiday explores the most remote south-central part of Crete. You'll find ancient mountain tracks used only by local shepherds and bee-keepers; lush vineyards, olive-studded hills and hidden coves for swimming. You explore home to the oldest Minoan sanctuary in the world. Our cooking trip takes place in a wonderfully tranquil location in the mountain of Asteroussia. You will learn the passion of the local kitchen and, importantly, have a lot of fun and enjoyment doing it!

Highlights

  • 2 cooking classes
  • Food and wine tasting
  • 4 walking and trekking trips
  • Vegetarian, vegan, mediterranean cuisine
  • Spectacular sceneries on mountain walks and boat ride
  • Excursions to Gortys, Heraklion
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • 6 nights accommodation
  • 5 days with instruction
  • English
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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 complexs 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 7km 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 (Sunday)

  • Arrival and traditional Cretan welcome dinner
  • After arriving at Heraklion airport, you will be met by your driver and English speaking Cretan host George
  • If youre arriving in the morning youll head somewhere for lunch before being driven to the Thalori Resort via transfer.
  • For guests arriving after lunch, George will meet you at the airport and offer you a coffee, snack and water for the 70 minute transfer to the Thalori Traditional Resort.
  • Check into your house, relax and explore your surroundings before joining the welcome dinner made up of a variety of local Cretan vegetarian / vegan Mediterranean foods your first taster of the flavours of Crete.

Day 2: Trekking, excursion, food tasting, cooking class (Monday)

  • The Kophinas peak sun rise and visits the archaeological sites of Gortys, and Phaestos
  • The day starts at 6.00 AM for the first touch of Asteroussia mountains and do a climbing at Kophinas mountain top to join the sun rising. Back to the resort at 8.00 AM.
  • From 8.30 to 9.00 enjoy a leisurely breakfast before heading out to explore the south-central part of the island with your host George.
  • Today you'll visit Gortys, the ruined capital city of the Roman province which included the island of Crete. You'll see the impressive amphitheatre and the Basilica of St Titus before driving west to the archaeological site of Phaestos, the second most significant site of the Minoan civilisation
  • Phaestos is an ancient palace and you'll also see the site of the ancient city is was located in offering a detailed insight into ancient life.
  • Stop off in the fishing village of Kokkinos Pyrgos for lunch and enjoy local specialties and freshly caught seafood for the Pesco vegetarian or variety of local vegan foods and salads.
  • After lunch you'll head back to the Thalori complex. Our first cooking class and dinner is Local legumes and Casseroles.

Day 3: Walking tour (Tuesday)

  • The Agiofarago experience. "Agiofarago" means "Gorge of Saints". The gorge used to be the shelter of the monks of the near-by Monasteries. Hike through gorge of Agiofarago and join the crystal clear waters of Mediterranean Sea in the unique beach of Agiofarago.
  • Breakfast 8.30 to 9.00 AM.
  • The day walk will take from 9 AM to 4 PM. We will walk through the gorge that leads to one of the most beautiful and quiet beaches of Crete at Libyan sea (Liviko Pelagos). There we have the chance to see the cave house of a monk, a local hero during the revolution of 1866 before emerging at the crystal clear waters of Mediterranean Sea in the unique beach of Agiofarago. Picnic lunch on the beach and back to Thalori.
  • Dinner at complexes restaurant with variety of local vegan foods and salads.

Day 4: Excursion, boat ride, cooking class (Wednesday)

  • Trip from the village to the beach of Saint Yiannis, the cave of Saint Antonios and to the abbey of Koudoumas and return to the village
  • Starting from Thalori after breakfast at 9.30 AM by car, does a down hill drive with the 4X4 jeep Land Rover Defender to the village of Agios Ioannis.
  • The trip begins by leaving the resort by car to the village, until Ai Yiannis (duration: 30 minutes). Then a tour to the Monastery follows and after we get in to the boat which is parked at the beach of Elygia.
  • We continue with a tour of 45 minutes by boat to the abbey of Koudoumas with a stop at the beach of Saint Antonios for swimming and a light picnic meal that we kept with us from the hostel.
  • The return will be done by boat until Elygia and from there back to the hostel by car. Return at 4 PM.
  • Our second cooking class and dinner is Stuffed Vegetables, Vine Leaves and Olive Oils.

Day 5: Walking tour, boat ride (Thursday)

  • Eligias gorge (via ferratas) and boat trip
  • We start the day after breakfast at 9.30 AM the via ferratas / Eligias gorge walk and ending the gorge we come to the small port of Elygia where we board on the small boat and do the boat ride.
  • Break at a beautiful unspoiled small private bay / beach for an hour being just your self, the sea and lord. An hour later Markos will pick you up to take you back to the beach and drive you back to the resort.
  • Dinner at the resort with local specialties.

Day 6: Excursion, market visit, food tasting (Friday)

  • Knossos, walking tour of Heraklion and farewell dinner
  • After breakfast, today's excursion takes you to Knossos, an ancient palace and must-see archaeological site of Crete.
  • After visiting the 3500 year old site of Knossos, you'll head to Heraklion and take a walk through the city taking a gastronomic tour of all the best local food places and vendors.
  • You'll visit the best pastry shop in the city and sample filo pastries in syrups, with cheeses before heading to a coffee shop and tasting coffee roasted the traditional way in hot sand.
  • Next you'll explore the central market and stop for an ouzo with meze at one of the traditional mezedopolion (restaurants).
  • You'll also have the opportunity to see the cathedral of Saint Minas, the Morozini fountain, Venetian church turned art gallery before heading towards the seaside.
  • A light lunch will be served accompanied by chilled white wine before ending your gastronomic walking tour to taste the famous loukoumades Cretan style doughnuts sprinkled with honey and sesame.
  • After the walking tour, you'll head back to the Thalori resort to relax before a farewell dinner over wine and raki.

Day 7: Departure (Saturday)

  • After a leisurely breakfast guests are asked to check-out of their rooms and be ready to be taken back to the airport taking home with them an insight into Cretan life, new friendships and unique culinary and cultural memories that will stay with them long after the holiday is over.

Porto Club Walking Holidays in Greece Program

Walk the range of Asteroussia Mountains so close the sea with its own large system of old paths and trails. The ideal way to explore the heart of Crete is by walking on coastal paths, ascending the highest peaks and crossing spectacular gorges and Marko stakes you off the beaten paths, into Crete's rich flora and fauna, and certainly to mountainous villages to meet the "authentic" Cretans and their traditions.

There are only few places worldwide where you can find the combination of high mountains close to the sea, mild climate with long dry seasons and a large network of ancient paths and shepherds trails. Add to this the friendliness of the locals and you have a perfect recipe for a wonderful walking holiday.

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 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.

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 Holidays

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 Cooking 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.

The Asteroussia area is a favourite destination for anyone seeking the tranquillity of the mountains or breathtakingly beautiful walks along the secret beaches of southern Crete. With spectacular views over the Libyan sea, Kapetaniana is a cosy village and the perfect location for your Greek vegetarian cookery holiday experience.

This characterful location, in the heart of Asteroussia, has at its centre an ancient building that has long been associated with myth and legend. It is now the unique and atmospheric location of your cookery school.

You will cook and dine on traditional dishes chosen specifically from fresh, local ingredients that are in abundance around you, giving you that feeling of living from the land and letting you indulge in the beauty that nature provides.

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 United States

    "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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7 days / 6 nights

Availability

This vacation is available from April to October, 2015 with arrival on Sunday and departure on Saturday.

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