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8 Day Greek Cookery and Olives Harvest Holiday in Zakynthos, Ionian Islands

Villa Spiros, Laganas, Zakynthos, Greece

Olive Picking and Cooking Vacation in Greece

Come and experience the great Greek tradition of olive picking in the Autumn, working with the locals in an olive grove, on Zakynthos island that produces some of the finest olive oil in the country, if not the World. Harvest the olives straight from the trees by hand in the traditional way, using just an olive wood stick, then follow them to the olive press. Taste warm fresh olive oil on village bread which just hours before was a humble olive on a tree. A priceless experience!

Highlights

  • 2 cooking classes
  • 2 olive harvest activities
  • Take part in olive oil and wine tasting
  • Bring back home 2 liters olive oil and 250 grams olives
  • Opportunity to go truffle hunting
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • Airport transfers

Styles


7 days with instruction in English
The organizer also speaks: Greek
Group size: Maximum of 8 participants
Airport transfer included: Zakynthos International Airport
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Accommodation

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

During this holiday, hands-on participation is optional. You may choose simply to be our guest and observe the process, enjoying the glowing green-and-gold Autumn landscape.

When you are not harvesting, enjoy hands-on Greek cooking lessons, go truffle hunting, experience an olive woodcarving workshop and acquire great knowledge of the island’s culture, and history during guided tours.

Your hosts, the Vythoulkas family, will be on hand to ensure every element of your holiday delights you and ensure you return home feeling relaxed and inspired by mouth-watering Greek cooking, a great collection of new recipes and techniques to show your friends and family.

Holiday itinerary

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 some time during the week.

Day 1: Arrival and welcome Traditional Zakynthian dinner with your hosts

On arrival, you will be transferred to your accommodation, Villa Spiros in Laganas. Famed as the home of the sea turtle Caretta caretta, Laganas will be your base for this exciting Olive harvest holiday. You will have time to unpack and settle in your new surroundings.

Early afternoon, you are invited to take part in a shopping trip to the nearby large supermarket to buy your holiday necessities.

This evening, your hosts will invite you to join them and fellow guests for an informal welcome meeting and homecooked meal over which you can discuss the week’s proposed itinerary and familiarize yourself with the many things there are to do and see in this diverse, lively resort.

Day 2: Olive Harvest and tour to Zakynthos town in the evening

Eat a hearty breakfast to fuel those engines! You will need lots of energy for today’s three-hour olive harvest adventure. You make your way to one of the family’s prized organic olive groves, in Romiri village, where Andonis and a local helper will greet you. Marvel at the shape of each unique ancient tree. Olive wood is highly prized amongst artists and craftsmen throughout the world.

Andonis will explain the time-honored process of olive picking, using sticks cut from the olive tree. He will demonstrate how the olives are beaten from the branches into nets waiting below. Now it’s your turn to become an olive farmer for the day and harvest this simple but versatile fruit.

Mid-day, you will take your place on picnic blankets spread in the shade of the trees, sip local wine and enjoy a freshly prepared rustic picnic lunch. After lunch, you head back to Villa Spiros where you can shower and relax.

Early evening, you set off to historic Zakynthos Town. Here, you will discover the history and culture of the old 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.

Later, enjoy a gentle walk and get familiarized with the Ionian architecture, recharge your batteries at a café by San Marcus Square before you enjoy a gentle walk in the market street to taste and shop for top-quality local products and delicacies.

You will have time on your own to relax in one of the many specialty coffee shops, before you meet others later for dining over the famous Greek souvlaki (meat on a stick), before heading back to Villa Spiros.

Day 3: Olive press visit, revealing the Greek cuisine secrets in the afternoon

After breakfast, you will go back to the olive grove to spend a short time cleaning and gathering the olives into hessian sacks for the short journey to the press. At the olive oil press and museum, see the display of machinery from the old days before touring the modern factory with your guide and watch in amazement how the humble olive becomes liquid gold the precious oil that gives Zakynthians their lust for life. You may taste the warm freshly pressed extra virgin oil on village bread.

Back at the villa, enjoy a light lunch and have some free time to relax or swim, weather permitting.

In the late afternoon, get ready for a cooking activity with your host Effie. She will invite you to join her in her kitchen and cook a traditional dinner full of vitamins, seasonal colors, and great aromas! You will be cooking stuffed vegetables, “Giouvetsi”, which is orzo pasta with lamp in the oven, you will prepare a colorful organic Greek salad and learn step by step how to make Frigania dessert.

Effie welcomes questions, as she is proud to share her knowledge and experience of Zakynthian cuisine. Later, enjoy the meal you helped prepare together with your hosts and fellow guests with plenty of Antonio’s homemade wine.

Day 4: Truffle hunt, wine tasting, and culinary secrets to a longer life

Enjoy breakfast at your leisure. Later today, you will meet Dennis, a local mushroom expert and tavern owner, who will take you on a stroll through the forest, pointing out the many varieties of edible fungi. You will pick mushrooms to enjoy later at his tavern in Macherado village.

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.

Later, you will drive a short distance to Macherado village to enjoy a delicious lunch prepared by Dennis, focused on the scavenged and the farm products used to make a unique lunch.

Back at the villa, have some time to yourself, relaxing, walking or swimming down the beach if water not too cold for you. Later, in the afternoon, join your host Effie, at the villa, to cook together today’s meal, focusing on “Land, Sea, and the Seasons”, including delightful fish soup and pie based on fresh local seasonal ingredients for tonight’s dinner.

Truffle hunting is available only in late November until mid December. In October, truffle hunting can be replaced with a turtle island trip or guided hiking.

Day 5: Home-made infused olive oil and olives and Olive wood carving workshop

After breakfast, you will make herb and garlic-infused olive oils and prepare jar olives from Villa Spiros' own trees in vinegar and oils. These are their gifts to you to take home and enjoy with your salads a lasting reminder of your wonderful “Olive harvest and cooking” holiday.

Later, you set off for a scenic drive towards Agios Leon village, to meet the talented olive wood carver Dionysis, at his workshop and gift shop. Marvel at his unique exhibition of olivewood handmade items, ranging from salad bowls to wine holders and chopping boards, before you experience a creative hands-on olive wood carving workshop, with Dionysis providing you with all necessary equipment, materials, inspiration, and guidance to create your very own piece of art to take home.

In the evening, back at the villa, you will have enough time to relax, before tonight’s homemade dinner.

Day 6: Boat tour to the west coast, the Shipwreck Bay and the Blue Caves and an authentic farm-to-fork culinary experience

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 the secluded coves, crystal clear water, dramatic caves, swimming stops, to arrive at mesmerizing Shipwreck Bay. This is what we call a natural eye delight. The Villa Spiros team will prepare for you a packed lunch with drinks to take with you on board.

Back at the villa, you will have enough time to relax before we set off for the north of the island to our dinner destination, a family-owned and run mountain taverna. Here, you will enjoy a farm to fork culinary experience.

After a warm welcome and a cool welcome drink, Grandmother Athina will show you, step by step, how to cook a family recipe handed down the generations: stuffed free-range chicken in tomato sauce with pasta, plus a variety of starters.

While the food cooks in a traditional wood-fired oven, your hosts take you around the farm to see where the ingredients were grown and to meet the livestock. Then back to the taverna where in the shade of a spreading oak tree you’ll enjoy the food you cooked, plus local wine, and homemade dessert to add that final sweet flourish.

Day 7: Learn how to cook lentil soup and make a “fearless phyllo” cheese pie, enjoy a farewell dinner in the evening

Tuck into a homecooked delicious breakfast and get the day off to a great start. Then, Effie will invite you to her kitchen to cook, a traditional recipe featuring tomato lentil soup with fresh tomato juice and “fearless phyllo” cheese pie made from scratch. The taste is magical.

While lunch is cooking, enjoy some free time swimming, sunbathing or reading your favorite book by the sea. At lunchtime, back at the villa to enjoy the meal you helped prepare together with your hosts.

In the evening, dress up for the farewell party at “Dennis”, Villa Spiros team's favorite tavern in Lithakia village. There, you 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. A grand finale to a great week!

Day 8: Departure day

This morning enjoy your breakfast, maybe a walk to Laganas Main Street for last-minute shopping, or a stroll to Laganas Beach to take a last dip. Your driver will later take you to the airport or port in good time for your departure. By now you will truly be feeling at home here, Zakynthian through and through, and definitely like a member of Villa Spiros family.

Kallo Taxidi! (safe journey)

Location

This 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

Sample menu is as follows:

  • "Gemista" stuffed vegetables
  • Organic chicken in tomato sauce
  • "Giouvetsi" orzo pasta with lamp 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
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

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 with breakfast
  • Airport transfers
  • 2 olive harvest activities
  • Lunch and dinner included
  • Country picnic at an olive grove
  • Boat tour to the west coast of the island
  • Swimming at the Shipwreck Beach and the Turtle Island
  • Tour to Zakynthos town
  • Olive oil and wine tasting
  • 2 cooking classes
  • Truffle hunting
  • Olive wood carving workshop
  • 2 liters olive oil and 250 grams olives
  • A farewell dinner party

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 20% 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
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Non-activity participating guests are welcome to join.

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