Want to go beyond the beaches on tour in Greece? We’re passing the mic to staffer Tom, our Senior Market Development & Responsible Travel Specialist, to hear about the under-the-radar highlights you can discover on tour with us. He handpicked his favorite Responsible Travel experiences to have as you island-hop from Corfu to Crete, tasting authentic bites and supporting local communities.
Read on for some of the best things to do in Greece—and yes, those include eating the most delicious mezze ever at local spots and sipping citrus liquor on an island in the Aegean.
If you’re curious about the Eastern Orthodox faith—and aren’t afraid of heights!—then making your way up to these 1,000-foot-high monasteries is one of the best things to do in Greece. Never heard of them? That’s because they’re perched on sandstone peaks, and are basically touching the clouds in the Pindus Mountains! They’re some of the most beautiful places in Greece, and if you ask staffer Tom, a visit should be on your bucket list.
“The pinnacle monasteries of Meteora have UNESCO protected status, and Eastern Orthodox monks have lived on the pinnacles off and on since the 11th century,” said Tom. “New for 2022, travelers will meet with a local nun, monk, or priest for a chat about the traditions and faith of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. They’ll have the opportunity for a Q&A to learn more about the religion and monasticism. This is a unique opportunity to hear from a member of the faith who will have intimate knowledge of the site’s history.”
If you like history and really, really good food, then you’re gonna want to put the Corfu Tavern Dinner excursion on your bucket list. “This is always a highlight on our Athens & Ancient Greece tour,” said staffer Tom. “The group is taken inland to Taverna Tripa, the oldest taverna on the island in the small village of Kinopiastes. It’s a place still frequented by locals for its delicious and genuinely Corfoit fare, and the lively environment showcases traditional culinary habits to travelers. The meal includes Greek staples like shared mezzes to start, but also Corfu specialties like Pastitsada, a pasta dish with meat. All in all, the excursion is a well-delivered expression of Greek tavern culture.”
A kitron tasting, a visit with local crafters, an included lunch of regional specialties—yep, our Apeiranthos Village Hike, Lunch & Liquor Tasting excursion is just as amazing as it sounds. “This excursion is a true education in how rural Greece is using tourism to maintain traditional ways of life,” said staffer Tom.
“Apeiranthos is a small village located in the hills of inland Naxos, and is renowned for its craft and culinary traditions,” said Tom. “Included on this excursion is a visit with the women of Apeiranthos Women’s Traditional Crafts Cooperative. They aim to keep the art of loom weaving alive, and have created a sustainable form of income for women in what otherwise would be a remote village. Travelers will be shown a demonstration of the loom and will listen to the story of how the women gathered in 1987 to form the cooperative. I purchased a beautiful blue-and-white tablecloth for my wife here.”
All that weaving will make you thirsty, so get ready to tip one back at Vallindras Distillery in the village of Halki. “Vallindras has been family-owned and operated since the 19th century, and produces kitron, a liqueur made from the citron fruit, which is a bit less bitter than lemon,” said staffer Tom. “This liqueur is traditional of Naxos, and is one of only three Greek aperitifs to have a protected PDO status. The excursion finishes with a lunch at an emblematic taverna.”
The island of Crete is also home to quintessential villages, and you won’t want to put your camera down as you travel through Iraklio wine country to Archanes Village. This is truly one of the most beautiful places in Greece, and is where local women whip up some of the best treats ever at a women’s co-op. “This is a very genuine visit to a women’s collective outside of Iraklio,” says staffer Tom. “The collective helps support local women’s employment through tourism and the sale of baked goods and preserves. Ingredients are all regional and help support agriculture in a fairly remote area of Crete.”
Even better? “For 2022, a budget has been added to ensure that Go Ahead Tours is also contributing to the mission of the cooperative, in addition to the sales generated by our travelers,” said Tom. Now THAT is a visit to feel good about!
If you have your heart set on trying some of Greece’s best bites, then Crete is the foodie mecca you’re looking for. We bring you to the heart of the island’s food scene on our Crete Olive Oil Tasting & Dinner excursion, where you’ll spend time tasting the best-of-the-best at Anoskeli Farm.
“This farm is a combination olive plantation and vineyard in the hills to the west of Chania, and produces two main, award-winning olive oils,” said staffer Tom. “As for wine, they source grapes from family-owned vineyards in the vicinity of the village, including two indigenous Cretan grapes like Vilana and Vidiano. Crete is also home to dozens of unique cheeses only made by small-scale village producers. This excursion offers travelers the chance to taste some, and support the increasingly rare small-scale cheesemakers of Crete.”