Greek Gastronomy on Santorini: Greek Islands Cooking Vacation
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Greek Gastronomy on Santorini
Santorini Island (Cyclades)

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With its warm breezes, white-washed stone homes, flower gardens, vineyards, and a lagoon surrounded by a stony cliff, the Greek island of Santorini in the south Aegean Sea is a piece of heaven on earth. While it's a part of the Cyclades group of islands, Santorini is a mythical island that has a magic all its own. Once known as Kalliste, or "the most beautiful one," Santorini today is named after Saint Irene. Despite its name change, it continues to be regaled for its beauty; Travel+Leisure magazine named it the number one island in all of Europe in 2011, in large part due to its natural beauty.

The island, also known as a caldera (volcano), dates back to the Minoan civilization. Once part of a larger island, a volcanic eruption during the Bronze Age — 3,500 years ago — split the island away from others in the Cyclades island chain. With the island's volcanic soil, Santorini is particularly suited to a wonderful array of vegetables that are grown with very little water, including the island's famous fava, white eggplants, large cucumbers, capers, and, especially, cherry tomatoes. Their ancient winemaking traditions are also important on Santorini; most vintages are made with Assyrtiko grapes, and locals are particularly proud of their sweet Vinsanto wine.

About the accommodations: Discover the local gastronomy and ancient Greek-Cycladic culture on Santorini while staying in a 3 or 4 star small boutique hotel, which will be determined at the time of booking. Many of these properties are family run, all are well-equipped, and most are located on the caldera — meaning you'll experience breathtaking views of both the island and the blue sea.

Chef VassilisAbout the cooking classes: Chef Vassilis grew up on the island with a large family, and today he runs a popular local restaurant which is known for its delectable appetizers and use of local products. When he's not in his kitchen or spending evening soirees with friends singing, drinking, and eating, he's representing the island in international cooking competitions.

Through two hands-on cooking classes with Chef Vassilis, one of his collaborators, or another local chef, you'll learn about the traditions and techniques of Greek Island cooking. While many recipes are seafood based, ingredients — such as the island's famous tomatoes — are sourced from the local market.

Greek Gastronomy on Santorini Itinerary

Day 1: Saturday

  • Arrive at Santorini airport or port, and take a private transfer to your boutique hotel for the week.
  • Dinner on your own.
  • Overnight.

Day 2: Sunday

  • Breakfast.
  • Get to know the history of the island with a private tour starting with the Akrotiri excavations, a prehistoric settlement. After the Bronze Age eruption, many of the Minoan civilization’s buildings were protected by volcanic materials, similar to Pompeii. Explore sacred areas, admire ancient wall paintings and frescos, and walk through ancient buildings.
  • Continue the tour with a visit to the mountain of Prophet Elias — located at an altitude of nearly 2,000 feet — and stopping at a Christian monastery that dates back to the 1700s. With the stunning views, it’s the perfect time to take some beautiful panoramic photos.
  • Next, participate in a wine tasting, where you’ll also hear about the island’s ancient viticulture traditions.
  • Stop for a light lunch.
  • Return to the hotel for some time on your own to relax. Perhaps visit, on your own, the villages of Oia, Firostefáni, and Imerovigli.
  • Dinner on your own.
  • Overnight.

Day 3: Monday

  • Following breakfast, take part in your first hands-on cooking class. Today’s course will take place in a traditional restaurant with Chef Vassilis, who has competed in international culinary competitions and is considered a legend of local cooking, or one of his collaborators. After trying a few Greek appetizers, the chef will teach you to make three typical dishes.
  • Lunch to follow based on your efforts, local wine included.
  • Time on your own in the afternoon.
  • Dinner on your own.
  • Overnight.

Day 4: Tuesday

  • After breakfast, depart for the beautiful countryside, which is home to a number of charming villages and old vineyards. Not only will you discover how the volcanic soil has influenced the island’s winemaking for the past 4,000 years, but you’ll also tour some artisanal wineries and cellars. During the wine tastings, you’ll get a chance to try a variety of local and Greek wines, including Nykteri, Assyrtiko and the popular sweet Vinsanto, along with Greek olives and cheese.
  • Lunch on your own.
  • Enjoy the afternoon on your own to relax or continue exploring the beautiful island.
  • Dinner on your own.
  • Overnight.

Day 5: Wednesday

  • Breafkast. Take the day to explore Santorini at your leisure. Perhaps visit Droso-Chrysos, a folklore museum in Pyrgos. Or, tour the island by taking the local buses or renting a bike, car, or scooter. You could even take a boat to the neighboring island of Ios.
  • Lunch and dinner on your own.
  • Overnight.

Day 6: Thursday

  • Breakfast.
  • In the morning, learn more secrets of Santorinian gastronomy during your second hands-on cooking class with a local chef. He will not only teach you about the local volcanic products of Santorini but also the cuisine of the Cycladic Islands.
  • Lunch to follow based on your efforts, local wine included.
  • Afternoon and dinner on your own.

Day 7: Friday

  • Following breakfast, spend the morning on your own. Feel free to go shopping, swim, or simply relax on your last full day!
  • Lunch on your own.
  • In the late afternoon, depart for a sunset sailing tour. While out at sea, you’ll have the chance to swim near the island, or in the local hot springs. A dinner that features local specialities will be served aboard the boat.
  • Return transfer to your hotel and overnight.

Day 8: Saturday

  • Breakfast and check out.
  • Private transfer to the port or airport of Santorini.