Gastronomy in Greece: Foodie Athens and Naxos
This eight-day foodie Athens and Naxos trip combines two the best Greek gastronomic destinations, including wine tastings and culinary and cultural walking tours. Explore vibrant Varvakios market in Athens and enjoy the finest Naxian produce from seafood and cheeses to kitron - a local lemon liquer.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Get a taste for local fare during a foodie tour of Athens, dipping into Varvakios Central Market and enjoying a delicious meal
- Head to the largest of the Cyclades Islands, Naxos, and learn about the history of food on the island
- Take a tour of a Venetian Castle
- Sample local cheese and vintages during a wine tasting evening
- Hike, bike, windsurf or kitesurf when in Naxos
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Day 1: Arrive in Athens
Your foodie Athens and Naxos holiday starts today with an early morning flight from London to Athens. The flight takes just under four hours, meaning that you will land in the Greek capital in the afternoon. Once you have landed, you will be whisked to your hotel in the centre of the city.
Take some time to settle in and freshen up before heading out for dinner. This being a foodie tour, our clued-up local Concierge will be only too happy to help with excellent restaurant recommendations - we would suggest ending the evening in one of the city's rooftop bars. Toast your first night while gazing across at the illuminated Acropolis, which has stood guard over the city for millennia.
Day 2: Foodie Feasting in Athens
It might be wise not having a huge breakfast this morning, as you take to the streets for a foodie tour of Athens. Meet your guide for a morning's adventure through the streets (and plates) of Athens.
The tour will see you wandering through markets and speciality food stores alongside a local chef. Delve into the highly localised world of Greek food, going way beyond the staples (delicious as they are) of feta cheese and olives. Quench your thirst on local wines and satisfy your sweet tooth with a drizzle of thick, golden honey on top of rich Greek yoghurt. Your tour will take you to Varvakios Central Market, a maze of walkways and hub of foodie Athens - it's a great place to learn about the city's culinary foodscape. Your walking will then be rewarded with a meal at a local Greek tavern, enjoying a delicious lunch of sharing plates.
You have the rest of the day on this foodie Athens and Naxos trip to yourself, to explore the city at your leisure. Our clued-up local Concierge is always on hand to offer advice on last minute things to do or to make restaurant and bar recommendations and reservations.
Day 3: Ferry to Naxos
After breakfast this morning you'll be heading to Naxos. Your driver will meet you at your hotel mid-morning to take you to the port at Piraeus from where the ferry will carry you south-east towards the island of Naxos.
The ferry crossing takes three-and-a-half hours, so sit back and relax, watching the waves breaking over the bow of boat as you glide through the shimmering waters. Once you have arrived in Naxos you can jump into your hire car and head towards your hotel.
You have the rest of the day to begin exploring Naxos. Don't worry about where is good for dinner, our local Concierge can help with recommendations - they know what's what when it comes to the best places in town.
Day 4: Chora Foodie Walking Tour
Breakfast of thick Greek-yogurt with lashings of amber-coloured honey is the perfect fuel for a day of relaxing and exploring this Greek Isle during your foodie Athens and Naxos holiday.
Basking in the inky Aegean, Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades Islands. From the charming waterfront of its main town Chora (or - more prosaically - Naxos Town) and charming mountain villages to its Venetian villas and the peak of Mount Zeus this island offers real bang for its buck. You have the whole day to explore as you wish, so you might want to hike the highest peak in the Cyclades Islands (Mount Zeus) to get a great panoramic perspective of the island, or laze on the sun-baked shores, cooled by the gentle breeze and beckoned by the shimmering waves. You might fancy exploring some of the mountain towns inland or visiting one of the island's famous marble quarries.
After a day spent in the sun, its time to eat! Your private food tour of Chora begins, appropriately enough, at a charming local deli before you wind through the narrow lanes as the sun sinks in the sky, delving into the history of food on this island and how the landscape has shaped food production. Hear how the island's mountains cause rain clouds to form, meaning Naxos has been blessed with more fertile slopes than its neighbouring islands. To the west, the land's bounty includes delicious Naxian potatoes, while the mountainous regions yield olive oil in the colder months. After your walking tour, it's time for a more practical appreciation of the island's produce, sitting down to a feast of food with local ingredients taking pride of place on the table and local wines the perfect accompaniment. Your evening ends with a short tour of the town's Venetian-era castle, before you retire for the night.
- Beachtime for snorkelling and swimming. We can recommend the best beaches on the island
- Self-Drive to the Temple of Demeter, and then a one-hour walk to the temple itself
Day 5: Explore Naxos and Sample Kitron
Today on your foodie Athens and Naxos holiday you have the whole day to yourself, to enjoy Naxos as you wish. Whatever time you choose to stir, you'll want to fuel up on breakfast before setting off to explore the island.
You could head to the beach, to swim in the impossibly blue waters. The waters surrounding the island are particularly good for windsurfing and kitesurfing, if you are looking for a more energetic beach day.
If you 'd rather explore the Naxian hinterland, Chalkio in the hills is a lovely town to visit. Wander along the winding alleyways past the church and fun galleries - Fish and Olive is our favourite. Chalkio is also a great hub from which to walk some of the best hiking trails in Naxos, and when you return to the town, visit a little distillery where they make kitron - the local moonshine made from lemons and lemon leaves - for a well-earned tipple.
This evening you can wander into Chora again to sample the wares in another of the restaurants you might have missed last night.
Day 6: Naxos Island Wine Tasting
Relax and take your time this morning - you have the day to yourself. As before you can go hiking, lounge on the beach, kitesurf or windsurf or swim in in gloriously clear and warm water.
As the sun starts to dip in the sky, you should get ready for today's culinary event - a wine tasting evening at a nearby vineyard. Naxos is an oasis for those who love cheese and wine, with an eclectic range of salty cheeses that perfectly complement the island's fine wines. This evening you have the chance to sample both, in the company of an expert sommelier at one of the best local wineries.
Day 7: Morning Foodie Tour of Apeiranthos
This is the last full day of your foodie Athens and Naxos trip, so it's time to tick off one last highlight - the village of Apeiranthos.
Regularly voted among the prettiest of all Greek villages, Apeiranthos would be worth a visit on any trip, but given that this holiday is all about experiencing the best of Greek gastronomy, the village also delivers on the taste bud front as well. You will be met by your guide for a wander along the well-worn marble alleys passing more fine examples of Venetian architecture, and sampling exceptional fresh produce from a number of restaurants and delis as you go, including delicious breads, cheeses and pork in a tomato sauce that is to die for.
After this final foodie extravaganza, you might want to walk off
some of the excess on a last hike, or head to the beach for a last
swim in the warm Aegean Sea.
Actually, it wasn't quite the last foodie fling, because tonight you can head back into Chora and enjoy one more celebratory supper on the terrace of one of the fine fish restaurants overlooking the harbour, where you can eat sumptuous fresh lobster before heading back to your hotel.
Day 8: Heading Home
Take your time over your last Greek breakfast this morning, the last of your foodie Athens and Naxos holiday. Then head to the airport to catch your flight back to Athens. Your lunchtime flight takes around 45 minutes, meaning you'll land in Athens in the mid-afternoon. If you've still got room, you'll have enough time for an early supper before the connecting flight from Athens to London. The flight home takes just under four hours, and you'll land back in London in the late evening.
Arran and Charlotte H are our experts for this itinerary and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.