I’ve only visited Greece once (back in 2008) and it seems crazy that it took me more than 6 years of living right next door in Turkey to make the trip over. I can still clearly remember the moments sitting at a taverna with my friend Kim, eating roasted octopus and washing it down with a cold beer. I also learned to love raw bell peppers (which I’d always hated) after my first bite of “greek salad” in Greece. Now, after living in Turkey, I have a new interest in the commonalities between the two cuisines, which hint at the overlap of histories, as well as their differences both past and present.
>> Visit my Greece Photo Galleries.
Map of Greece
Things to Do in Greece
- Athens – Of course there are the famous sights that you can’t miss in Athens – the Acropolis, Parthenon
- Athens for food lovers – Vavakios Agora (Athen’s Central Market) and nearby Evripidou Street
- Cruising the Dodecanese Islands – There are many opportunities to get into the water and explore islands and swimming coves in Greece and it’s possible to take ferries between many of the islands. But for a unique experience, you might consider small group fitness cruises with Sun Fun You. Their itineraries come with an on-board fitness trainer to design daily opportunities to hike, swim and do yoga on board a customized gulet.
- Wine Tastings –
- Take a food tour –
- Take a cooking class –
- See Athens with a Local (free!) – Local guides sign up to host themed walks on a variety of topics (food, street art, LGBTQ, architecture, etc. are just a few options) and host visitors on 2 hour walks to share their culture! No tips or payment are accepted as these aren’t professional tour guides.
What to Eat in Greece
Of course Greece is famous not just for its history and culture but its food! I’m looking forward to going beyond the basics and seeking out local specialties and supporting small businesses as much as possible.
- Athens –
- Local products to take home – particularly by sustainable and family producers – things like honey, olive oil and wine.
- Local products (Kos) – This great article from Greece Is lists items to seek out on the island of Kos in the Dodecanese, including olive oil, honey, sweet tomato preserves made from vergaki tomatoes and krasotyri, a”drunken” cheese preserved in wine.
- Other specialties of the Dodecanese – I always love how foods can tell you so much about the geography, history and people who inhabit a region and the Dodecanese Islands are no exception. This article lays out specialties of each island – beyond the seafood and meze you’d expect, there are pickles, cheeses, spices like cumin and meat dishes that speak to the influence of the Ottoman empire so many are very familiar to me after living in Turkey. Of course there are also many differences too, including pork!
- Specialities of Thessaloniki – Greece’s first UNESCO-recognized “city of gastronomy” is also famous for native grapes grown to the southwest of the city.
What to Drink in Greece
- Wine – The fabulous Andrea Lemieux has a post on her site about some of her favorite Greek wines so of course I’ve bookmarked them all! Grapes that are on my “list to try” include Malagousia, the well-known Assyrtiko and Fokiano, which is known as Foca Karasi in Turkey. I’m also interested in trying xinomavro (meaning “sour-black”).
- Ouzo –
- Culinary Backstreet’s City Guide: Athens – Culinary Backstreets hosts food tours for visitors and their team members are always up to date on the latest in the local food scene. Food tours are one of my favorite ways to dive into the food, culture and history of a destination.
- Greece Is – A wealth of information on gastronomy, shopping and culture in Greece, both past and present.
- Visit Greece – the country’s tourism site
- ThisIsAthens.org – Lots of great info for visitors, including (free!) walks with local volunteers.
- Greece and Turkey: Mediterranean Rivals that share culinary armour (Medium)
- Istanbul’s Greeks from the kitchen window (Duvar English)
- Workaway Host List for Greece – When I travel, I always try to find a way to go a bit deeper. If I have time I will often try to find a cultural exchange through Workaway or maybe Couchsurfing. It is a chance to meet locals and to hear about their experience.