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8 Day Greek Cookery and Horse Riding Holiday in Zakynthos, Ionian Islands

Villa Spiros, Laganas, Zakynthos, Greece

Horse Riding and Cooking Vacation in Greece

Suitable for all levels from complete beginners to experienced riders, this exclusive seven-night holiday promises to be not only a horse riding experience but also a culinary and cultural one. Spend your days on guided rides, with experienced horse riders and well-trained horses, exploring luscious meadows, picturesque villages, pine forests, olive groves, vineyards and sandy beaches on horseback, while you are experiencing hands-on cooking classes from local chefs. This is a great opportunity to combine your passion for horse riding with learning the skills to cook fabulous Greek dishes from the region and impress even the most experienced foodies back home.

Key information

  • Rider Weight Limit: 220 pounds / 100 kilograms
  • Horse Height Range: 15 to 17 hands
  • Tack Type: Most tack is English but they do have a few Western saddles
  • Horse Breed: Anglo Arab and a few mix breeds

Highlights

  • 9 hours of horse riding
  • 4 hands-on cooking sessions
  • Experience wine and olive oil tasting
  • Horseback ride to local villages, sand dunes, pine forest
  • Boat trip to Shipwreck Beach, Blue Caves, Turtle Island
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • Airport transfers

Skill level

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Styles


7 days with instruction
Group size: Maximum of 8 participants
Airport transfer included: Zakynthos International Airport
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Accommodation

Check-in Time:
13:00
Check-out Time:
12:00

Facilities

  • Kitchen
  • Smoke-free property
  • Terrace
  • Free Wi-Fi

Villa Spiros in Laganas Resort (self-catering studios and apartments)

Join your welcoming hosts for your holiday on this gorgeous Greek isle, away from the workload and rush of the rest of the world. Stay at Villa Spiros, located on the Ionian Island of Zakynthos, with access to lovely cafes, seaside tavernas, a great spa and beauty salon and just 300 meters from Laganas sandy beach.

Distinguished by the lure of its family-run and owned hospitality and extensive range of services, your villa excels with its warmth, hospitable ambiance, relaxing surroundings and friendly hosts who guarantee a pleasant, authentic Greek stay and will point you to the very best this wonderful island has to offer.

The villa offers studio rooms with ensuite bathrooms, fully functional kitchens, and spacious verandahs. You also have the option to upgrade into a self-catering apartment that accommodates 1-6 people.

The area pulses with the new and the old, and can be as lively or as calming as you would like it to be! In addition to the tuition, excursions and things you will see, there will be some free time to simply relax and enjoy your surroundings.

Aside from your chosen activity for the week, you will have a holiday full of amazing and memorable activities, from finding the sea turtles famed in the region to swimming in natural springs and at shipwreck bay, dancing and listening to music in traditional tavernas, and discovering the history and culture of Zakynthos.

Features

  • 4 km from Zakynthos Island airport and ferry
  • On the ocean and in walking distance to the lively town of Laganas
  • Surrounded by wine regions, as well as bays and beaches, shipwreck cove, and the picturesque, magical region of Bohali
  • Free transfers to and from Zakynthos Island airport and ferry terminal
  • Large verandahs off of your room to relax on
  • Free WiFi
  • Free parking
  • Greek and English speaking hosts with a wealth of knowledge about the area
  • Delicious local food and wine
  • Each room is spacious and has a private bathroom with a hairdryer
  • AC, safe deposit box, television, hairdryer, and fully functional kitchens in each studio
  • BBQ and bar on the grounds
  • Beach towels provided

Upgrade to Villa Antonio in Romiri village (private villa with pool)

Perfect for those who seek privacy, Villa Antonio is tucked away in the peaceful and picturesque village of Romiri, set over 2000 square meters of private fenced olive grove land, with its own outdoor swimming pool and breathtaking views to the countryside.

This traditional style Greek villa comprises of three bedrooms and two bathrooms, an open plan kitchen, a living room, and verandas. It is surrounded by flower gardens, fruit and olive trees, and benefits from the warmth of the sun all day long.

The villa is suitable for couples, a family with children or a group of friends or colleagues sharing. It accommodates from 1 to 7 people.

Features

  • 6 km from Zakynthos Island Airport and ferry
  • Free transfers to and from Zakynthos Island airport and ferry terminal
  • Free shopping trips upon request
  • 2 km from nearest bakery, supermarket, butchers and groceries store (they all deliver to the villa)
  • AC and safe deposit boxes in all rooms
  • TV set
  • 2 hairdryers
  • Comfortable lounge / dining room
  • Sun lounges and beach towels provided
  • Large garden with hobby farm
  • Selection of books
  • BBQ facilities

Program

Please note, the following itinerary is for guidance only and subject to change depending on the season and group’s needs and wishes, but all the following activities will take place sometime during the week.

Day 1: Arrival and welcome drink, explore Zakynthos town in the evening and enjoy a serenaded dinner

On arrival at Zakynthos airport or port, your private driver will meet you and transfer you to your accommodation in Laganas. Famed for being home of the sea turtle Caretta-Caretta, Laganas will be your base for this fabulous culinary experience.

You will have time to unpack and settle into your new surroundings. A little later, your hosts will welcome you to join them for drinks and an informal meeting. They will answer any questions you may have and tell you all about the things to do and see in this diverse, lively resort all just a few minutes’ walk from your holiday home from home.

In the evening, explore Zakynthos main town. The first stop is at the Church of the island’s patron saint, St. Dionysius. The huge inside is richly decorated with gold and icons. The Saint’s remains are here in a silver casket, which on some occasions is open for viewing.

Continue with a gentle walk in town and get familiarized with the Ionian architecture and the market street to taste and buy local products and delicacies.

Later, you will have dinner at a harbourside taverna. Traditional Greek dishes are served by the owner and his sons, who later in the evening sing Greek folksongs “serenades”, accompanying themselves on the guitar and mandolin.

Welcome to Zakynthos!

Day 2: Cooking with your host Effie in the morning, meet Yannis and explore Alykanas village on a horseback

After breakfast, your host Effie will invite you to join her in her kitchen and cook a traditional light dish full of vitamins, summer colors and great aromas! You will be cooking traditional Greek stuffed vegetables, people call this “Gemista” tzatziki and prepare a colorful organic Greek salad with feta cheese. Effie welcomes questions, as she is proud to share her knowledge and experience of Zakynthian cuisine.

While tonight’s dinner is cooking, you may like to explore the surrounding area and the 7 kilometers long Laganas beach lying only 500 meters from the villa.

Laganas resort offers a great combination of everything a traveler could desire. In the famous sweeping bay, with its shallow, crystal clear water, you can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and if you are lucky, find yourself swimming alongside the large, graceful loggerhead turtles.

Sunbeds are plentiful if you just want to relax, and if you are adventurous enough why not go skinny dipping at the nudist beach a little further away. Later, back at the villa to enjoy the meal you helped prepare together with your hosts and Antonio’s chilled house wine.

You will have enough time to relax before Antonio drives you to Alykanas, a picturesque village combining sea and mountain views located on the east side of the island. There, you will meet your local guide and instructor Yannis, a lovely man with a great passion for the horses. Together with his lovely family, they look after their stables and horse riding center for the past 45 years.

Begin with an introductory tutorial if you are a beginner, while Yannis chooses the most suitable route and the horse for your capabilities and off you go to explore and discover the hidden treasures of Alykanas village.

Be enchanted by the exceptional natural beauty and local architecture, see old monasteries, mills, mansion ruins and learn about the local history, as you are riding through traditional small villages, passing through vineyards and olive groves with ancient olive trees, making your way up to a magical off the beaten track location combining mountain and sea views.

From a vantage point, capture some amazing pictures with the Ionian Blue providing a stunning backdrop to a spectacular setting.

Day 3: Revealing the Mousaka secrets, horse riding in Kalamaki pine forest & Laganas sand dunes at sunset

Enjoy a leisurely Greek breakfast when you rise for the day and get ready for a sensational culinary experience and a breathtaking horse ride. Today, Effie is happy to offer you a choice between cooking “Giouvetsi”, orzo pasta with lamb in the oven or the Greek legendary moussaka. The choice is yours. Both dishes are a tasteful sensation!

After the cooking lesson, you will have enough time to go swimming, enjoy the lunch you helped prepare and relax before your sunset ride.

In the late afternoon, your host Antonio will drive you to the nearby Tsourakis farm and horse riding center. The Greek-American Tsourakis family have been respected horsemen for several generations with over 50 beautiful horses and ponies. After your guide chooses the most suitable horse and route for your riding capabilities, let the fun begin.

Today’s two-hour tour will take place in Kalamaki and Laganas, the most important nesting grounds of the sea turtle Caretta caretta. Ride through a luscious meadow to arrive at a pine forest setting leading to Kalamaki and Laganas sand dunes, see turtle nests scattered along the golden sandy beach and learn about the turtles. Just a little way out to Laganas Bay, the secluded uninhabited Islands of Pelouzo, Cameo and the Turtle Island, provide a stunning backdrop to a spectacular setting. The time now to truly unwind and enjoy horse riding to the relaxing sounds and aromas of the Ionian Sea at sunset. It’s mesmerizing!

Day 4: Boat tour to the west coast with swimming stops along the way, seaside dinner

Wake up to another fun and exciting day. Today, from Agios Sostis fishing port set off for a once in a lifetime boat trip experience towards the breathtaking west coast of Zakynthos with secluded coves, crystal clear water, dramatic caves, swimming stops, to arrive at mesmerizing Shipwreck Bay. This is what we call a natural eye delight. If the weather is too windy for the boat, you will drive north and still be able to admire the shipwreck from the viewing platform set into the clifftop.

Day 5: Enjoy a scenic countryside ride at the hilly village of Kiliomenos and a farm-to-fork cooking lesson at Abelostrates taverna

Again, relax over a leisurely homemade breakfast, before Antonio drives you to Koiliomenos village, set 7 km away from Laganas resort. Discover Abelostrates tavern and there meet Andonis, the tavern owner and today’s local guide, and experienced horse riding instructor. Enjoy a Greek coffee, while Andonis prepares the horses for your sensational ride in the village with a longstanding architectural tradition, an impressive historic bell tower, church, and stunning countryside.

Arriving back at Abelostrates, it is time to freshen up and relax before you endeavor to a cooking lesson with local chef Mika, Andonis' wife.

Mika will show you step by step how to prepare a rustic lunch, featuring a mouth-watering salad with finely cut organic raw vegetables accompanied with Greek yogurt and a home-made phyllo pie with aromatic greens from the mountains and cheese from a local farm.

Enjoy your meal with homemade wine and dessert to add that final sweet flourish. Simply irresistible! Return to Villa Spiros and enjoy the rest of the day as you like. In the evening, join your hosts and fellow guests at Villa Spiros for cheese, wine, and fresh fruit.

Day 6: Ride up to mount Skopos, cooking lesson "Land, Sea, and the Seasons"

Tuck into a healthy breakfast and get ready for a magical three-hour riding experience with your professional guide from Tsourakis horse riding center up to mount Skopos with captivating views all the way. You will see shepherds with their herds of goats, impressive rock formations you will smell the aromas of wild flowers and herbs, you will relax at nature’s sounds and the Ionian endless blue and you will capture amazing views as Laganas bay slowly reveals in front of you.

Return back to the villa to relax and enjoy a fresh salad, before you start cooking today’s meal, focusing on “Land, Sea, and the Seasons”, including a four-course meal and a lot of tips for balanced, healthy living.

Day 7: Wine and olive oil tasting, a farewell Greek celebration to remember!

After breakfast, together with Antonio, visit Aristeon olive press & winery. At the olive oil museum, see the display of machinery from the old days before touring the modern factory with your guide and learn how the humble olive becomes liquid gold the precious oil that gives Zakynthians their lust for life. Olive oil is also claimed to be the ‘ultimate cosmetic product’ and this is your chance to try some top-quality body, hand and face olive oil creams.

At the end, taste a variety of extra virgin oils on village bread and buy some of their products if you liked them.

You continue the tour visiting Grampsas winery run by the third generation of the family, widely respected by Zakynthians and international clients alike. During the summer months, the yachting fraternity visit regularly to restock their boats with wines for their Greek Island Odyssey.

The winery is beautifully presented, from the neat rows of vines to the display of winemaking equipment from bygone days. Son Tassos will talk you through the whole winemaking process before inviting you to sit on the shady terrace to sample white and red wines with local cheese.

Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, and in the evening, dress up for a farewell party at “Dennis”, Villa Spiros team's favorite tavern in Lithakia village. There, we will enjoy a traditional Greek celebration, with great BBQ and plenty of local wine and of course Greek live music and dancing. Enjoy the sounds of bouzouki while learning how to dance syrtaki.

Phew! A grand finale to a great week!

Day 8: Departure day

This morning enjoy a traditional breakfast, maybe a walk to Laganas Main Street for shopping or a stroll to Laganas Beach to take a last dip. Your driver will take you in good time to the airport or port for your departure.

Kallo Taxidi! (safe journey)

Location

This horse riding culinary holiday takes place in the beautiful Greek island of Zakynthos.

Distances

  • Zakynthos Island airport ZTH, 4 kilometers away
  • Kefalonia Island airport EFL - 10 minutes' flight to Zakynthos
  • Athens airport ATH - 45 minutes' flight to Zakynthos

Food

Daily breakfast and 10 meals (5 lunches & 5 dinners) are included in the price. Also included are four cooking sessions, a serenaded dinner, a seaside dinner, and wine and olive tasting.

Sample menu is as follows:

  • "Gemista" stuffed vegetables
  • Organic chicken in tomato sauce
  • "Giouvetsi" orzo pasta with lamb or beef
  • Mousaka
  • BBQ (mixed grill)
  • "Grandma's" pasta with garlic, mushrooms and beaf
  • "Frigania" local dessert
  • Fava beans
  • Lentil soup
  • Bakaliaros with garlic sauce
  • Souvlaki
  • Tzatziki
  • Village bread
  • Greek salad

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast

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)

Extra activities

  • Group yoga / Pilates session
  • Private yoga / Pilates session
  • Transports to extra sights and activities
  • Private tours
  • Massage therapy
  • Handmade creations workshop
  • Cooking lessons including meal

The following activities are priced seasonally, but your hosts will get you the best prices while you’re there:

  • Horse riding through a pine forest and Kalamaki sand dunes
  • Sailing
  • Kitesurfing
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • SUP
  • Diving

What's included

  • 7 nights accommodation at Villa Spiros with breakfast
  • Airport transfers
  • Welcome serenaded dinner in Zakynthos town
  • 9 hours horse riding in different locations: Laganas sand dunes, Kalamaki pine forest, Mount Skopos, Koiliomenos and Alykanas villages
  • 10 meals (5 lunches and 5 dinners)
  • 4 hands-on cooking classes with local chefs
  • Zakynthos town tour with serenaded dinner
  • Boat trip to the Shipwreck Beach, Blue Caves
  • Boat trip to the Turtle Island
  • Seaside dinner
  • Wine and olive oil tasting
  • A Greek celebration night

What's not included

  • Airfare

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Zakynthos International Airport (ZTH). All transfers are included from Zakynthos airport or from the Zakynthos ferry terminal to the villa. Full, detailed directions will be shown on your booking confirmation voucher.

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

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 10% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid on arrival.

Value for money
Accommodation & facilities
Food
Location
Quality of activity
8 days / 7 nights
from --
Availability
  • Low season: March, April, October, November
  • Mid season: May, June, September
  • High season: July, August

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