Ionian Culture and Cooking on Zakynthos: Greek Islands Cooking Vacation
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Ionian Culture and Cooking on Zakynthos - NEW
Laganas (Zakynthos Island)

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Travel to the “Flower of the East,” as the Venetians once called Zakynthos Island during their rule from the 15th to 18th Century. Home to the famous Caretta-Caretta (Loggerhead) sea turtle and 7,000 species of flowers, Zakynthos is also famous for growing some of the best olives, wines, grains, and fruits due to its extremely fertile soil and temperate climate. The green island also boasts producing more than 10,000 tons of extra virgin olive oil, and it offers a breathtaking landscape that varies from sandy beaches to rocky cliffs surrounded by the clearest blue sea you will ever see.


Also due to its ideal fertile soil and water sources, Zakynthos has been conquered by numerous civilizations over the centuries, such as the Arcadians, Macedonians, Romans, Venetians, French, Turks, and British — all of whom impacted the gastronomy of the island. The island finally gained its independence in 1830 and officially became apart of Greece 1864. Today, the local people are delighted to share their beautiful island and its complex history with visitors.


About the accommodations: During your culinary vacation, stay at the beautiful Villa Spiros, a small family-run villa located just a short walk from the Laganas Beach and Laganas main street that is full of great local shops and restaurants. The colorful villa has three rooms and five suites with clean and modern accommodations. It is a quiet and relaxing oasis and your hosts are delighted to provide recommendations to make for an unforgettable vacation experiencing the local gastronomy and culture of Zakynthos. (During the high season, an alternative accommodation may be substituted, depending on availability).


About the cooking lessons: The cooking lessons take place in a variety of different kitchens and are hosted by famous local chefs as well as grandmothers — but all the recipes are ones that have been passed down for generations. The first cooking class takes place in a family-run taverna on Dafani beach, and focuses on creating tantalizing seafood dishes. Your second class is an authentic farm-to-fork experience with a charming grandmother who believes "happy animals" produce healthy meat. You'll also discover that wineries aren't only for producing wine; your third-cooking class will teach you how to use a wood oven to create amazing Greek dishes. On the final day of your Greek gastronomy journey, make the classic Baklava dish, and end your day with a fabulous Greek BBQ. All cooking classes take place in beautiful, unique locales, making the already-enjoyable experience even more spectacular.

Ionian Culture and Cooking on Zakynthos - NEW Itinerary

Day 1

  • Arrival at the Zakynthos airport or port and private transfer to your accommodations.
  • After settling in, meet your host for a welcome drink and recommendations on things to do on this lovely island.
  • In the evening, a welcome dinner awaits you in the romantic region of Bohali with a wonderful view of the town and sea. Enjoy your first taste of local Zakynthos cuisine accompanied with local wine while local singers known as kantades set the mood.
  • Overnight.

Day 2

  • After breakfast, begin the day with some time on your own to explore the beautiful area. Perhaps go into Zakynthos time to explore its historic area, and grab a coffee and a pastry. Or head to the bay with its crystal clear waters, where you can snorkel and swim, and perhaps even see some of the famous loggerhead turtles. Water sports and scuba diving are also available.
  • Lunch on your own.
  • In the afternoon, travel a short way to the important nesting grounds of the amazing and unfortunately endangered sea turtle Caretta-Caretta. First stop at the turtle museum, and then visit Dafni Beach, where turtle nests are scattered about the golden sands and watched over year round by volunteers passionate about the preservation of the turtles. While at the beach, you’ll have some time to unwind, swim, and perhaps even snorkel and try to spot a Caretta-Caretta. Don’t forget your camera!
  • In the evening, it’s time for your first cooking lesson with the owner of a family-run taverna on Dafni Beach. You’ll learn to cook traditional dishes that have been passed down for generations. Some potential menu items include stuffed vegetables, courgette balls, saganaki (fried cheese), and lemon pie, all served with locally-produced wine. Following this beach dinner, enjoy star gazing into the beautiful night sky.
  • Overnight.

Day 3

  • Breakfast.
  • Start your day off with a refreshing swim at Xigia Beach on the north side of the island. This is a “healing” beach, as the warm waters here have natural sulfur springs that make the waters riche with minerals and famous healing properties.
  • Continue traveling north through picturesque tiny villages.
  • Lunch on your own upon arrival at a mountain taverna.
  • Your afternoon culinary adventure is a true “farm to fork” culinary experience, starting with a welcome drink with the hosts and a short private walk through their vegetable and herb garden, and livestock farm. The grandma will then share some of her cooking secrets as she teaches you a family recipe that has been passed down for generations; this cooking class takes place in the shade of a lovely old tree. All ingredients used are based on the fresh variety of vegetables and livestock from the family’s farm.
  • The dinner menu tonight may include free-range stuffed chicken or rabbit in tomato sauce with pasta and seasonal vegetables picked from their garden. While your meal is cooking over the fire, you’ll have some time to relax, enjoy a cold drink, and perhaps a leisurely walk around the area.
  • Return to the taverna to enjoy a sensational dinner accompanied with the house wine, followed by homemade dessert.
  • Return to the villa and overnight.

Day 4

  • Breakfast.
  • Today, choose to enjoy either a leisurely morning at the villa or have an early start and depart for a special aquatic experience. This experience includes a 15-minute walk to the picturesque port of Ag. Sostis for a turtle boat trip to the non-inhabited Marathonisi Island. Take a dip in the crystal clear waters, and have breakfast on the beach while watching the sunrise.
  • Lunch today is on your own.
  • In the afternoon, depart for the largest agricultural producing area of the island to visit with a local wine and olive oil farmer and producer. The farmer, Andonis, will take you on a tour of his olive grove and explain the techniques used to turn the olives into the beloved olive oil, or as they say, liquid gold. An olive oil tasting will follow the tour.
  • Continue to Lagopodo, a wine region blessed with 9,000 fertile acres of vineyards. Here, we’ll visit the family-run Grampsas winery that has been producing wine for three generations. The family will provide a tour of their prized vineyard and explain how they produce their wine followed by a special tasting.
  • At the winery, take part in your third cooking lesson in the vineyard’s garden using a traditional wood oven, which gives the dishes a taste like none other. Possible menu dishes include traditional bread, rabbit in tomato sauce with fried potatoes, aubergine with béchamel sauce over minced meat (papoutsakia), tzatziki, and aubergine salad.
  • Return to the villa and overnight.

Day 5

  • Breakfast.
  • Enjoy the morning on your own to relax, go to the beach, or walk around town.
  • Lunch on your own.
  • In the afternoon, set off for another excursion to the northern part of the island. Along the drive, stops will be made at some of our favorite food producers. Finish the tour with a delightful boat ride to the famous Shipwreck Bay (weather permitting); if you’re lucky, you may see some base jumpers and paragliders launch themselves from the towering clifftops.
  • In the evening, arrive at a lovely tavern in Kabi where the owners are delighted to share with you traditional food of Zakynthos as well as a breathtaking view of the rugged cliffs and the sun setting over the Ionian Sea.
  • Return to the villa and overnight.

Day 6

  • Breakfast, followed by your last day in Zakynthos town. Spend some time on your own for some last minute shopping and a leisurely walk. Perhaps enjoy one last specialty coffee or delicious homemade ice cream, all while indulging in people watching.
  • Later in the morning, visit an award-winning and fourth-generation local confectioner who will show you how to make a classic Baklava, complete with almonds, walnuts, and spices folded into a syrupy film pastry.
  • Return to the villa around lunch time (if you’re still hungry after dessert, lunch is on your own).
  • Spend the afternoon as you’d like!
  • Dinner on your own.
  • Overnight.

Day 7

  • Breakfast followed by a day at leisure.
  • Perhaps return to the unending sandy beach and crystal clear waters of the local beach.
  • If you’d like to arrange another excursion today, your hosts can do that for you as well.
  • Lunch on your own.
  • In the evening, take part in a special farewell dinner at one of the locals’ favorite taverns for a special Greek celebration with great traditional food, dancing, and company. You’ll enjoy an array of rustic dishes to wrap up the end of your culinary vacation in Zakynthos.
  • Overnight.

Day 8

  • Breakfast.
  • Group transfer back to Zakynthos airport or port. Kallo Taxidi! Have a safe journey!