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14 Days Zakynthos Culinary Vacations & Olive Picking in Greece

14 Days Zakynthos Culinary Vacations & Olive Picking in Greece

  • Villa Spiros Laganas, Zakynthos, 29092, Greece

Culinary Holiday and Olive Harvest in Greece

Come and experience, the great Greek tradition of olive picking during the autumn, working with the locals in an olive grove. You can harvest the olives straight from the trees in the traditional hand-picked way, with just an olive wood stick, and follow them to the olive press. Imagine the delight, when you get to dip some local village bread into the warm fresh oil. The olive harvest days take place in the villages of Mouzaki and Romiri and includes a wonderful, freshly prepared, country lunch picnic, under the shade of the olive trees. This is a simple and wonderful experience you should consider attending.

Highlights

  • Olive harvest and picking sessions
  • Mushroom hunting and cooking activity
  • Visit a cheese factory and taste award winning cheeses
  • Learn how to cook family recipes with a local
  • Taste a variety of wines and visit a winery
  • 13 nights accommodation
  • 13 days with instruction
  • English
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Located on the beautiful island of Zakynthos and situated in Zakyntho’s liveliest and most exciting resort, Villa Spiros features a mixture of 3 self-catering ground floor rooms and 4 first floor maisonettes, furnished to a high standard in a clean modern style, incorporating everything the discerning holidaymaker or independent traveler will need for a relaxing and comfortable stay. Villa Spiros enjoys ideal, peaceful and relaxing surroundings. You will find lovely vines and well-kept flower beds.

All the rooms are equipped with central heating, carpets, flannel sheets, electric blankets, feather duck quilts, tea and coffee making facilities, a fully equipped kitchen, and an on-suite shower room. Distinguished by the lure of its exceptional family run hospitality and extensive range of services, Villa Spiros excels with its warmth, hospitable ambiance, relaxing surroundings and friendly hosts who will point you to the very best this wonderful island has to offer.

Day 1 - Arrival to Athens airport (ATH), Acropolis by starlight

On arrival, you will be collected from Athens airport (ATH), transported to your accommodation, and given time to settle and rest. Later, you will enjoy a leisurely walk through Monastiraki, Thiseio, and Plaka the ancient streets of Athens, taking in all the sites, aromas, and atmosphere. You will see lots of little street stalls, selling handmade crafts, and the pavements are lined with speciality coffee, sweet shops, and tavernas. You will experience a wonderful evening meal with the stunning ancient centre of Athens Acropolis, floodlit towering above you, illuminating the starlit sky.

Day 2 - Visit to Acropolis, coach and boat crossing to Zakynthos

After breakfast, you will begin your morning excursion. You will visit the majestic mount to admire the serenity and the true beauty of this once centre of Athens, and the most impressive ancient site in all of Greece. From this vantage point, marvel at the stunning views, as the whole of Athens spreads before you like a white shimmering carpet.

Next, you will depart for your onward journey to Zakynthos. Sit back and relax, as you leave Athens behind and enjoy the wonderful coastal scenery. The journey takes 4 hours, and there will be a one hour lunch stop to Loutraki, a beautiful little seaside resort. Enjoy a lovely lunch, take a stroll, and let the refreshing sea breeze reinvigorate you for the rest of your journey. You will then board the ferry at the port of Killini, for the short crossing to Zakynthos and the 10-minute drive to your accommodation.

Day 3 - Explore Laganas

Wake up at your own pace and have the chance explore and enjoy a relaxing autumn morning in the lovely Laganas resort. The famous sweeping bay, deserted at this time of year, will feel like your own private paradise. The unending sandy beach, wonderful shallow crystal clear water, and refreshing scenery, will feed your senses. Walk, swim, snorkel, or just read a book and listen to the sound of the waves melting your stress away. This is your time to relax and lose track of time, while enjoying your carefree moments under the Greek sun.

In the early afternoon, you will be invited to take part in a shopping trip to the nearby large supermarket to shop for your holiday necessities. In the evening, you will have an informal welcome meeting buffet in a cozy reception and garden. You will meet your hosts, the Vythoulkas family, and your fellow guests. Your hosts will be delighted to tell you about the traditions, during the olive harvest, and familiarize you with the weeks proposed itinerary; they will also answer any questions you may have.

Day 4 - Olive harvest and visit to Zakynthos town

You will start with a hearty breakfast to fuel those engines, as you will need lots of energy for today’s exciting 3-hour olive harvest adventure.

Make your way to one of the family’s prized, organic olive groves, where Andonis and a local helper will be there to greet you. Amongst these beautiful and ancient trees, marvel at the shapes and natural beauty of each unique tree. The wood of the olive trees is highly prized amongst artists and crafters throughout the world.

Next, begin your hands on experience, where Andonis will explain the time-honoured process of the olive picking, using sticks cut from the olive tree. He will demonstrate the simple process, by which the olives are beaten from the branches, and into the waiting nets below. Then, it is your turn to become an olive farmer for the day, and harvest this simple and versatile fruit, whose uses are endless.

Around midday, you will have a break, take your places on the picnic blankets, spread out under the shade of the olive trees, relax, sip a delicious glass of home-made Greek wine, and enjoy your freshly prepared home-made olive grove picnic. After that, you can head back to Villa Spiros, where you can shower and relax.

In the early evening, you will set off for a visit to the historical Zakynthos Town. You will discover hidden gems, as well as the amazing history and culture of the old town and its fascinating shopping street, where you can shop for top quality local products. Explore the world of traditional sweet making and taste the wonderful Venetian candies. You will have time on your own to relax in one of the many speciality coffee shops and maybe try the legendary world famous souvlaki (meat on a stick), before heading back to Villa Spiros.

Day 5 - Mushroom hunt and cheese factory visit

You will start your day with breakfast and then proceed on to a scenic drive towards Agios Leon village. You will visit a local bee keeper, who will demonstrate his bee keeping skills, and share his knowledge about the importance of the bee to agriculture. He will also inform you about the many different uses of the honey and bee's wax. You will see how the honey is produced and you will be invited to taste this fresh organic home-produced amber nectar.

Set in beautiful pine forest, you will visit the mountain home of the Bastas family. This lovely little estate also houses one of the island’s finest, fresh cheese productions. Panagiotis, the owner, will proudly demonstrate and explain the production process and conduct a small tour of the factory, which produces several varieties of award winning cheeses, culminating in a delightful cheese tasting.

Your journey continues and you will meet a local mushroom expert, who will take you on a gentle walk through the shady forest, to point out the many kinds of edible fungi. You will then pick a variety of mushrooms, which you will use tomorrow during your winery visit, where you will cook the delicious mushrooms over an open fire, and enjoy fine wine. After an interesting and informative day, it is now time to relax, and enjoy the drive home to spend your evening at leisure. You are welcome to join the family for wine and conversation.

Day 6 - Wine tasting and mushroom cooking activity

This day, you will have a choice to either join Villa Spiros on another day olive picking or enjoy your day as you wish. A few suggestions would be a leisurely walk down to Laganas beach, towards the tiny picturesque port of Agios Sostis with Cameo island, sitting just off-shore. Not very far away, you will find the small resort of Agios Sostis, with a popular small café and ceramics studio, which remains open during the winter months.

In the evening, you will visit the lovely Solomos winery. The oldest and most established winery on the island and respected by Zakynthians and international clients alike. During the summer months, the yachting fraternity visit here regularly, to restock their boats with delicious wines, to accompany their Greek Island Odyssey. The Solomos family will escort you on a tour of their traditional stone cellars, where the temperature is constant, giving their wines the unique flavours. Then, you will gather in the winery’s great hall, where you will enjoy your culinary mushroom activity, around the large open fireplace, accompanied by a tasting of some the winery’s fine wines.

Day 7 - Barbecue at Villa Spiros

This day is all about rest, relaxation, good company, and great food! After a morning spent at your own pace, join the Vythoulkas family to prepare and cook a delicious Barbecue lunch. Help with the preparation of traditional accompaniments to the lunch, including freshly made tzatziki, Greek salad, and oven potatoes, watch as the meat is lovingly prepared, cooked, and basted with fresh olive oil using a basting brush made from freshly picked wild rosemary, smell the delightful aromas as the food is cooking, overloading your culinary senses, and wetting your appetite for the feast.

Day 8 - Shipwreck swimming and culinary experience

After a hearty breakfast, you will set off for an exciting drive to the north of the island once again, with several gastronomic stops along the way. One stop will be the Koiliomenos Women Cooperative, where you can sample their home-produced products. Arriving at the picturesque port of Porto Vromi, you will take a delightful boat ride to the world famous Shipwreck Bay, for a once in a lifetime swimming experience. Backed by towering white cliffs, a favorite for base jumpers, with the most turquoise crystal clear waters anywhere on the island, This is a natural delight. If the weather is too windy for the boat, you will still be able to admire the shipwreck from the viewing platform set into the cliff top.

Later, you move on to a lovely lunch destination, at a wonderful family owned and run traditional mountain taverna. Here in Orthonies village, you will experience an authentic, traditional culinary experience. The grandmother of the family will show you, step by step, how to cook a family recipe handed down from generation to generation. Free range stuffed chicken in tomato sauce with pasta, as well as a variety of starters, including seasonal vegetables straight from the kitchen garden.

While the lunch is cooking in the traditional wood fire, the hosts of this delightful establishment will guide you on a short walk to their vegetable and herb gardens. Next, you will see a variety of small animals hand reared with care, which provides the family’s everyday nutrition needs. Later, back at the taverna, under the shade of a lovely old tree, you will enjoy an absolutely sensational lunch, which you will help cook, accompanied by local wine. Home-made dessert will add that final sweet flourish to yet another wonderful culinary experience and satisfying lunch.

Day 9 - Olive press visit and romantic Bohali dinner

After breakfast, you will go to the olive grove again to spend a short time cleaning and gathering the olives into their special Hessian sacks. Get ready for the short journey to the olive press and watch in amazement as the humble olive becomes liquid gold; the precious liquid that gives Zakynthian people their lust for life. You will have the opportunity to taste the warm freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil with village bread.

In the evening, you will visit the romantic region of Bohali, situated at the highest point above beautiful Zakynthos town. You will enjoy a wonderful traditional dinner with magnificent views, over the twinkling lights of the town and harbour below. Marvel at this panoramic vista and let your stresses melt away. The locally produced wines and traditional Greek ouzo will certainly help you along. Relax while the traditional live local singers (kantades) set the mood.

Day 10 - Home-made infused olive oil and olives

After breakfast, you will have an olive oil activity. You will make together a variety of herb and garlic infused olive oils, and also, you will prepare and jar olives from Villa Spiros' own trees in vinegars and oils. These are their gifts to you to take home and enjoy with your salads. This is a lusting reminder of your wonderful liquid gold holiday.

The rest of the afternoon and evening are yours to enjoy, as you please.

Day 11 - Step back in time

This day, you will have a totally different experience. You will have the opportunity to visit three lovely picturesque villages, set to the west side of the island, with hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. The road takes you through vineyards, olive, and orange groves; a rich agricultural tapestry spread out before you. Its aromas wafting on the autumn breeze will stimulate and delight your senses.

During your first stop, you will visit Callinikos winery, where you will taste some different varieties of local Zakynthian wines. A short stroll across from the winery, stands an unremarkable set of stone gates, and venture further along, a long forgotten tree lined driveway, reaching another set of gates, revealing a magical place frozen in time. The impressive Abeloravdi mansion rises before you and beckons you to journey further and step back into the 17th century, revealing a world of the wealthy, stately family, who built this romantic, gothic style mansion in Zakynthos; close your eyes and listen to the story of the family, who once lived there, and let your imagination bring to life moments of their privileged, yet tragic life. You will then leave the melancholy behind as you enter the realm of the spiritual.

You will be visiting Spiloula (small cave) church, entirely hand-carved from the rock by just one devoted and solitary monk, who also lived there for 60 years, during the 17th century. The cave church was destroyed and buried by an earthquake, and lay forgotten until rediscovered and lovingly restored. Today, the cave plays host to a wonderful picture of the Virgin Mary, an ancient icon found buried beneath the rubble on the floor of the cave. The views from outside are enchanting, little wonder, the monk chose this place to build his retreat.

You will continue your trip to Kipseli village to visit Agios Ioannis chapel, with its wonderful view to the Ionian Sea and the Venetian Vardiola, a watch tower left over from the Venetian occupation of Zakynthos. Enjoy this exclusive peak into the island’s bygone times. Relax and enjoy the drive back to Villa Spiros.

Day 12 - Leisure day and shopping trip to Zakynthos town

This day, you will prepare for your departure the next day, in a leisurely fashion, as you have the whole day and evening to yourselves. Sometime during the evening, there will be an optional opportunity to visit Zakynthos town centre for a last stroll, coffee and shopping trip.

Day 13 - Journey to Athens

During the mid morning, you will begin your journey back to Athens. You will be arriving at your overnight hotel mid-afternoon, relax or wander the nearby streets, and spend the evening dining and discussing your wonderful liquid gold experience.

Day 14 - Departure day

When time, your driver will take you safely to the airport for your departure. By now, you will truly be feeling like a Zakynthian and, definitely, like a member of Villa Spiros' family. They really hope that they have kept their promise and you have experienced the most amazing holiday.

  • Boat ride to Shipwreck Bay
  • Boat ride to Zakynthos
  • Explore Laganas
  • Visit Acropolis
  • Visit a local bee keeper and taste amber nectar
  • Visit Bohali
  • Visit local wineries and taste wines
  • Visit organic olive groves and taste olive oils
  • Visit Spiloula and Agios Ioannis chapel
  • Visit the home of the Bastas family and taste cheese
  • Visit the Koiliomenos Women Cooperative and sample home-produced products
  • Visit Zakynthos Town

This holiday will take place in the breathtaking Ionian island of Zakynthos, where you will find wonderful picturesque villages, green slopes all around, and the endless, blue, crystal clear, Ionian Sea. Traditional houses, old cafés, and family tavernas, compliment this beautiful setting. The agricultural activity is also very visible with hectares of cultivated land, vineyards, olive groves, and tiny family owned factories. Although most small businesses are closed in the winter months, kiosks, supermarkets, tavernas, and medical centers are still open daily and just a short drive or bus ride takes you to the main Zakynthos town where everything is open and available to you.

Activities
  • Art classes
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Diving nearby
  • Horse riding / rental
  • Sailing nearby
  • Scuba diving
  • Skiing nearby
  • Shopping nearby
  • Snorkeling
  • Wine tasting / tour
General
  • Air-conditioned rooms
  • Balcony
  • Bar nearby
  • Barbecue facilities
  • Beach nearby
  • Café nearby
  • Concierge desk
  • Dining area
  • Fireplace
  • Garden
  • In-room safe
  • Kitchen
  • Lake nearby
  • Lounge
  • Luggage room / storage
  • Special menu request
Services
  • Baby sitting
  • Bicycle rental
  • Board rental nearby
  • Car rental
  • Convenience / grocery store
  • Free parking
  • Ironing / ironing board
  • Laundry
  • Library
  • Local market
  • Medical assistance
  • Room cleaning
  • Scooter / motorcycle rental nearby
  • Tour assistance
  • Wireless internet

During this vacation, you will delight your palate with delicious meals, which will include lunches at local tavernas and a delicious barbecue lunch, where you will have traditional dishes, including freshly made tzatziki, Greek salad and oven potatoes. The highlight of this trip, is to have the opportunity to indulge and taste what the locals call their liquid gold, the famous olives.

You will also make several gastronomic stops along the way to taste some traditional products and, of course, wines. You will also receive many recommendations of places where you can enjoy the best gastronomic offers or mouthwatering cocktails.

  • Enjoy a series of water sports
  • Explore idyllic beach bars, restaurants, cafè bars, and traditional taverns
  • Go on a shopping trip
  • Relax and go swimming
  • Swim alongside loggerhead turtles
  • 1 barbecue lunch
  • 1 cheese tasting session
  • 1 fresh organic home-produced amber nectar session
  • 1 homemade infused olive oil and olives activity
  • 1 mushroom cooking and tasting
  • 1 olive oil tasting
  • 1 trip to Shipwreck Bay
  • 1 visit to a winery with wine tasting
  • 1 welcome buffet
  • 3 olive harvest sessions
  • 4 meals in local tavernas
  • 13 nights accommodation
  • Airport and coach transfers
  • Boat tickets
  • Daily breakfast
  • Guided excursions as mentioned in itinerary
  • Airfare
  • Additional excursions
  • Additional meals
  • Additional transfers
  • Camera equipment
  • Doctor assistance
  • Laundry service
  • Personal expenses
  • Optional activities

Arrival by airplane

Arrive at Athens International Airport (ATH). Villa Spiros will pick you up from the airport. The pick-up is included in the price.

Arrival by ferry

Ferry boat from Venice, Ancona, or Brindisi to Patras is an alternative if you travel either by car or train. It takes about 20 hours with the superfast ferries from Venice to Patras. Then, there is a further hour drive by car or bus from Patras to Killini, from where the ferry boat takes you to Zakynthos Town in one hour. Zakynthos can be easily reached by boat from Killini port or Kephalonia Island.