About Food and Drink tour in Northern Greece
Tickle your tastebuds on this small group tour! Authentic locally-produced food & drink in unspoilt surroundings. Departs 12th Sept 2021
Duration: 7 nights/8 days
Small group tour departs 12th September, 2021
Travelling is all about exciting your senses, exploring new places and indulging in exquisite local delicacies.
Working together with Joysters, our partners in Greece, we give you the chance to explore Northern Greece, with an emphasis on enjoying delicious locally produced food and drink.
During the tour you'll visit a protected traditional settlement in a breathtaking location, a lake town with more than 70 Byzantine churches dating back to the 9th century, one of the best 10 wineries in Europe & the highest tectonic lakes in the Balkans.
Accommodation will be in aristocratic guest houses & during the week you'll be sampling heavenly pies and homemade confits as well as the best sparkling wine in Greece (and one of the best in the world!).
Your excellent local guides will give you an insight into the cuisine of this part of Greece. As well as meeting local producers you will also be contributing to the sustainability and the promotion of these local communities.
Tour can be booked as a private tour for any date upon request for a minimum of 6 persons.
What does the tour include:
• 6 nights in traditional guesthouses plus one night in a 4 star hotel
• Breakfast, midday break and dinner (a glass of wine/beer included)
• Private transfer with a dedicated driver for the entire trip, including fuel and tolls
• All taxes
• Visits to sites of interest (including entrance fees)
• Professional guides, where needed
• 24/7 service and support of our partners in Greece
The programme does not include:
• International airfares (though we can arrange flights, if required)
• Travel insurance
• Extra beverages or alcoholic drinks during meals
• Other expenses of personal nature and tips
Please note: Both the itinerary and accommodation are subject to change. However, every change made will always reflect the same high level of service included in the agreed programme.
Please contact us for a full quote.
Upon arrival you will be met at Thessaloniki Airport and then it's onwards to visit the Royal burial cluster of Philip II (father of Alexander the Great). The museum of the tumulus of Philip II was built over the tombs leaving them in situ and showing the tumulus as it was before the excavations. It's certainly one of the most impressive museums you'll get to visit during your stay in Greece.
At lunchtime you will have your first taste of Greek iced coffee, known here as frappe. This really is an institution in Greece and is readily available everywhere.
In the evening you'll arrive in Nymfaio, one of the ten most picturesque villages in Europe, according to UNESCO. Surrounded by a forest of beech trees Nymfaio looks like it has stepped from the pages of a fairytale book with its sturdy stone houses and cobblestone paths.
You'll have a chance to settle into your guesthouse in the village - La Moara is an imposing mansion, a member of 'Historic Hotels of Europe'. Its interior combines tradition with modern comfort and it is surrounded by a large alpine meadow, gardens and spruce trees.
Dinner this evening will be taken at “Thomas” restaurant/taverna - with more than 40 different dishes daily and a selection of more than 30 cheeses and 520 different wines, the expression “spoilt for choice” is taken to an entirely different level.
Overnight at La Moara Guesthouse.
Breakfast is served and what a breakfast it is! All products here are locally sourced so there will always be an array of mouth-watering home-made dishes on offer, including traditional pies and confits.
This morning you will learn a little of the history and culture of this lovely village. You'll discover how the guardians of the most important Imperial road, the Via Egnatia, turned into the most prominent silversmiths and goldsmiths in the Balkans and later into tobacco merchants and how they left their mark on Nymfaio's finely decorated mansions & its magnificent Saint Nicholas Church.
Your midday break will be taken in the shade of a tree in the summer or somewhere cosy in the winter and this will be accompanied by a high quality 'tsipouro'. This is a strong distilled spirit, usually offered as an aperitif and accompanied by olives, fresh onions, cucumbers and various local meze (nibbles). This Greek tradition can be traced back to the 14th century.
This afternoon pay a visit to the Arcturos Environmental Sanctuary, which is located in a beautiful beech forest a short distance from the village. Here you will see brown bears which have been rescued from poor captive conditions - they will live out their remaining years in this natural environment.
Dinner this evening very much depends on the weather and season! Enjoy an atmospheric dinner 1500m above sea level - this was a noble Nivestian (from Nymfaio) activity, particularly when the weather was good. Locally sourced food, cooked with meraki (an combination of love and skill), in breathtaking surroundings.
Overnight at La Moara Guesthouse.
After another delicious breakfast you will disappear off to the nearby forests for a spot of truffle or mushroom foraging. Afterwards explore the best ways to use them and learn how to cook a heavenly delicacy (the foraging again is weather dependent!).
For your midday break today try some Greek coffee with a spoon sweet - this is a sweet preserve, served on a spoon as a gesture of hospitality in Greece. These sweets can be made from almost any fruit, though sour and bitter fruits are especially prized.
Your afternoon visit today is to the Alpha estate for a VIP Wine Tasting. The Alpha Estate is the biggest winery in Greece and broadly represents the “birth” of a new era in the world of Greek wine. This VIP wine tasting session will give you the chance to sample more than 14 different wines. Angelos Iatridis (the winemaker) was nominated for Winemaker of the Year in 2014 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
This evening's dinner will be at “Kontosoros” Restaurant/Taverna. The late Nikos Kontosoros - owner and chef - had been running one of the best restaurants in Greece off the tourist trail but just a stone’s throw away from where you will be staying. His wife and daughter have now taken over the taverna, determined to protect his unique approach to re-inventing traditional Greek recipes. Dinner at Kontosoros makes for a truly unforgettable tasting experience.
Later this evening you may wish to go star-gazing - it can be quite an experience up in the mountains, with almost non-existent light pollution. With the help and guidance of the local stargazing club, wish upon a star while sipping your wine.
Overnight at La Moara Guesthouse.
This morning after breakfast there will be a food workshop concentrating on local herbs and spice or pie making (season dependent). Food workshops will teach you how and why those scrumptious local pies (pittes) and/or freshly baked bread taste so heavenly. After all, the pies you personally bake always smell and taste better!
For your midday break you'll enjoy the fruits of your labour - a piece or two of local pie and a cup of herbal tea. Not to worry though if the results aren’t as expected! After all it’s only your first try. We’ll make sure we have a proper one ready for you just in case!
A spot of free time to have a wander around the village before a mid afternoon visit to Domaine Karanika and dinner (a variety of mezes). Domaine Karanika is a small winery that relies on gravity instead of pumps and filters, true to Karanika’s winemaking philosophy of following nature rather than trying to control it. Domaine Karanika produces the finest quality sparkling wines in its organic/ biodynamic vineyards in harmony with nature. In the words of Evan Turner (wine guru), “It’s just glorious. Line it up, next to Champagne, or anything sparkling; I’d put it up against whatever you got.”
Upon your return to the guesthouse you will have a Greek dancing lesson! Form a circle, hold each others hands and follow the steps of the lead dancer (instructor). Get the chance to learn how to move to the rhythm of Greek music and celebrate life the way Greeks do.
Overnight at La Moara Guesthouse.
Enjoy your final breakfast at la Moara before departing for Kastoria and your new accommodation for the next two nights- Orologopoulos Guesthouse. The old mansion of the Orologopoulos family (the first elected mayor of Kastoria), built in the 19th century, has been lovingly restored with the use of special materials, construction methods and morphological features. Located in the historical district of Doltso with its paved alleys, elaborate mansions and stone-built houses adorned with all sorts of flowers creates the feeling of travelling back in time.
Once you have settled in to the guesthouse you'll enjoy tsipouro and mezes before heading off on your guided tour of Byzantine Kastoria. The Belgian historian Henri Grégoire once said “if the Byzantine tradition is ever lost, the city of Kastoria is enough to recover it.” This tour is designed to uncover the natural, historic and architectural secrets of the “Lake’s Byzantine Princess”. The tour will take you from the Neolithic era, through classical antiquity, the Byzantine era to modern day Kastoria and you will round off this fascinating afternoon by having dinner by the lake. Kastoria is full of aromas and traditional dishes with fresh seasonal ingredients. We recommend pork hock, pork or boar with plums and raisins, sarmadakia (stuffed cabbage roll) and sundried tomato rissoles.
Return to your guesthouse to freshen up before seeing Kastoria by night (first drink is on us!)
Overnight Orologopoulos Guesthouse.
Breakfast is traditional at the Orologopoulos Guesthouse and Sideris, the owner, takes great pride in his homemade pies and local cheeses. After breakfast you'll depart for the Prespa Lakes. Retreating glaciers and a series of seismic phenomena have created a magical world of unmatched beauty. Prespa lakes (Great Prespa & Small Prespa) are the two highest tectonic lakes in the Balkans.
Your guided tour will take you to the northmost Greek village of Psarades, where you’ll catch a boat to hermitages and retreats with frescoes painted on the steep rocks.
60% of the lake belongs to North Macedonia, 22% to Greece and 18% to Albania. The most important hermitage in the area, Panagia Eleousa (1409 AD) is one of the hidden gems in the area. A 650m floating footbridge connects the mainland with Saint Achilleios - only the second inhabited island in a lake after the Ioannina islet - where the three-aisled Basilica of Saint Achilles, dating from the late 10th century AD, dominates the scenery.
Following your visit you can relax and enjoy a local herbal tea or a Greek coffee with spoon sweet before visiting the watermill in Agios Germanos.
Out of 20 watermills in Prespes’ region, the watermill in the village of Agios Germanos is the only one which has been fully restored. The Society for the Protection of Prespa undertook to create a “living monument” of the region’s industrial heritage as well as to reinstate the production of flour, which would in turn enhance and support traditional occupations in the village and the cultivation of organic cereal crops in the surrounding area.
Dinner this evening will be in Mikrolimni village by the Small Prespa Lake at a traditional taverna, run by a family that takes visitors on a simple, yet delicious local produce trip.
Overnight at Orologopoulos Guesthouse.
Yet another tasty breakfast will set you up for the journey to your Thessaloniki hotel.
You will arrive around lunchtime - time therefore for a frappe coffee with “Koulouri” (traditional Greek pretzel with sesame seeds) or “Bougatsa” (a warm and crunchy pastry like a custard pie.)
This afternoon is devoted to the 'Thessaloniki City Secrets Tour'. You'll be taken to the thriving food and culture spots of Thessaloniki. Throughout the tour you will enjoy stories about Greek culture, customs and traditions and immerse yourself in local life, while taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the different areas of the city.
Your farewell dinner will be at one of the most authentic restaurants in the city overlooking Thermaikos bay. Sunset views in Greece’s most romantic city, as southern Greeks love to call it, will add a scarlet-tinted backdrop to your evening.
After dinner you might like to partake in an evening stroll along the longest esplanade in the Balkans to get a feeling of the urban pulse, while merging with the locals. A way to live and breathe the greatest city in Northern Greece.
Overnight in Thessaloniki.
Breakfast at your hotel with locally sourced produce. You will then be taken to the airport or you can choose to extend your stay in the city or nearby.