With its blend of ancient history, idyllic islands and vibrant culture, Greece is a bucket-list destination for all types of travellers! One of the best things about visiting Greece? Greek food! In fact, Expat Explore Greece tours may just offer the best food out of any of our tours! To get you excited about the incredible, authentic cuisine you’ll taste on your Greece tour, we’ve put together a list of top Greek dishes and drinks you simply have to try. We’ll also tell you where you can try them!
Greeks and olives go together like Italians and pasta! While kalamata olives may be what comes to mind when you picture Greek olives, there are actually many species of Greek olives that range in size and colour. Some varieties are served in salty brine while others are wrinkly and eaten straight from the tree! Either way, olives accompany most Greek meals.
Likewise, almost all Greek cooking makes use of olive oil, from salads and dips to meats and seafood! Most tavernas make their own olive oil. Olive oil is also an integral part of Greek history and mythology. Homer referred to olive oil as “liquid gold” while ancient warriors would rub it over their bodies for its healing properties – and for good luck!
You won’t need to seek out olives and olive oil in Greece, they’ll be everywhere you look! To taste an assortment of olive oil and to learn more about this product while on tour, why not join the Greek Dinner and Traditional Dancing optional experience on the Best of Greece and Taste of Greece tours? Enjoy an olive oil tasting before your evening which includes a three-course meal of Greek delicacies along with traditional music and dancing!
If the thought of salad bores you then you definitely have never had an authentic Greek salad! What makes Greek salad, known as horiatiki in Greece, so special is its high-quality, fresh ingredients. While many restaurants in other countries load up a “Greek salad” with piles of tasteless lettuce, horiatiki contains none. The core ingredients of a Greek salad are tomatoes, cucumber, onion, feta cheese and olives. The dressing is a simple mix of olive oil, salt, pepper and Greek oregano.
Anywhere! You’ll find Greek salads all over Greece and enjoy them as a side dish with most meals at most restaurants. However, the ingredients and preparation may vary slightly depending on the region. If you’re joining our Taste of Greece or Best of Greece tour, you’ll taste authentic Greek salad and other delicious local eats with an included welcome dinner. This dinner takes place on your first night in Athens at Acropol Restaurant in the lovely Plaka neighbourhood.
Related: Find out what makes Greece such an ideal bucket-list destination on an episode of Behind the Bucket List!
Raki, also known as tsikoudia or tsipouro, is a must-have digestif after a traditional Greek dinner! The liquor is made using grapes leftover from the winemaking process. Raki also contains anise giving the beverage a slightly herbal flavour. As this is quite a strong alcohol, it may not be for everyone. However, you could always try rakomelo, a sweeter raki drink flavoured with honey and cinnamon!
Many local Greek restaurants will offer guests raki as a sign of hospitality. Especially in Crete, where raki is considered the national drink. Many restaurants distil their own raki and will offer it after the meal due to its digestive properties. You can try raki if you choose to join our Greek Dinner and Traditional Dancing optional experience while on tour.
One of the most iconic images of Greece sees octopuses hung out to dry like laundry on a clothesline. Local fisherman catch the octopi by spearing them close to the shore – it doesn’t get much fresher than that! Octopus is usually served grilled, hot or cold and dressed with traditional Greek spices, olive oil and lemon juice.
Octopus is eaten all over Greece but particularly on the islands where fresh fish is caught daily. You can pretty much be guaranteed to find octopus on the menu in any local psarotaverna (fish tavern).
Directly translated, Kolokithokeftedes means zucchini meatball. These crispy, pillowy fritters are actually an excellent vegetarian alternative to meatballs or keftedes. Kolokithokeftedes are made with shredded zucchini, feta and fresh herbs like dill, mint and chives. The real draw of this dish is its unique texture which perfectly combines a crisp exterior with a soft and creamy middle. Apparently, you can judge a Greek chef by the quality of their kolokithokeftedes!
Kolokithokeftedes originated on the Greek island of Crete. However, today, you can find them at restaurants and taverns all over Greece. On all of our Greece tours, you’ll visit the beautiful, serene island of Trizonia. Here, travellers have the option to enjoy a seaside lunch full of delectable seafood and meze (appetisers) – including kolokithokeftedes!
The only thing better than cheese? Fried cheese! Saganaki is a simple yet extremely satisfying Greek appetiser of cheese coated in flour and pan-fried. Traditional saganaki is usually made using local graviera, kefalograviera or kefalotyri cheese. These cheeses have a medium firmness and a mild nutty flavour.
Saganaki is a popular meze at many restaurants all over Greece. Depending on the region, other cheeses like halloumi or sheep’s milk feta may be used. Our optional Trizonia lunch also includes a mouthwatering portion of saganaki!
Related: Our Co-founder Carl describes what it was like to press play on travel in Greece in 2021.
Greece may not be as well-known as fellow Mediterranean winemaking regions such as Italy or Spain. However, Greece is one of the oldest wine-producing countries in the world with an industry that dates back thousands of years! Wine lovers are spoiled for choice in Greece with a wide variety of expertly cultivated red and white wines made from local grapes grown all over the country. One of the most popular Greek varietals is retsina, a white wine infused with the sap of Aleppo pine! Another must-try Greek wine is assyrtiko which comes from Santorini and is a perfect accompaniment to seafood dishes.
You’ll be able to order different types of Greek wine at most restaurants in Greece. However, we highly recommend visiting a local winery to learn more about the wines’ history and production process. If you choose to join our optional Santorini Island Day Tour on either our Best of Greece tour or the Athens, Mykonos & Santorini tour, you’ll enjoy a visit to Santo Wines. Here, admire the stunning views over the caldera and taste the exceptional wines grown from this volcanic soil!
While most Greek eats date back to ancient times, pastisio is a more modern, but just as beloved, dish. The current version of the dish only dates back to the early 20th century! Pastisio is often referred to as “Greek lasagne” due to the dishes’ similarities. The name pastisio is also derived from an Italian word which refers to a range of baked dishes. Much like lasagne, pastisio is made with ground meat and béchamel sauce, topped with cheese (usually goat’s cheese) and baked in the oven. However, pastisio uses tubular pasta like macaroni instead of lasagne sheets.
Pastisio is a homestyle dish and often served at dinner parties – with many families arguing over whose grandmother makes it best! If pastisio is on a Greek taverna’s menu it’s usually a sign of a family-run establishment. Try pastisio with your new tour family over an included lunch in Mycenae. On our Taste of Greece and Best of Greece tours, explore this fascinating archaeological site before sitting down to a hearty lunch at Kolizeras restaurant.
This one is for the carnivores! Souvlaki is essentially a Greek kebab consisting of succulent grilled meat on a skewer. Pork is the most commonly used souvlaki meat but chicken, beef and lamb can also be used. The juicy meat is usually served with pita bread, tzatziki (a refreshing, must-eat Greek dip made with yoghurt, cucumber and garlic) and fried potatoes.
Souvlaki is generally considered a fast food and can be purchased as an on-the-go meal from souvlatzidiko – specialised souvlaki shops. You’ll also find souvlaki sold by street vendors and served at many restaurants. On all of our tours, you can try souvlaki with all the trimmings! Enjoy an included lunch in Athens at the Vyzantino restaurant in the Plaka neighbourhood where you will be served a variety of appetisers as well as souvlaki for your main course and ice-cream for dessert.
Related: Don’t miss out on these must-try street foods in Europe!
Baklava is a hugely popular dessert all over the world, particularly in the Middle East and the Balkans. Many nations dispute over who first created baklava and the history is not well documented. However, there does appear to be some evidence that ancient Greeks ate a baklava-like dessert. This golden, sticky-sweet dessert contains filo pastry, walnuts and honey syrup. Traditionally, it is supposed to contain 33 layers to symbolise the years of Jesus’s life! That tells you all you need to know about how sacred this irresistible dessert is in Greece.
Along with many other unique traditional Greek sweets, baklava is sold in local patisseries. It’s almost impossible to walk by one of these shops without purchasing one of the beautiful desserts on display! Baklava is also often available as a dessert on restaurant menus. Our optional Greek Dinner and Traditional Dancing experience ends with some baklava or other local desserts.
Ice-cream may not be the first dessert you would associate with Greece. However, much like in the rest of the world, ice-cream is a beloved summertime treat all over Greece. On a sunny day, be sure to try a range of mini chocolate-covered ice-creams! Some have sticks attached (imagine an artisanal Magnum) while others are little truffles or other chocolates filled with ice-cream.
Just visit a local patisserie! Amongst other delectable pastries and confectioneries, you’ll find plenty of mini ice-creams stored in the bakeries’ refrigerated shelves. You can even buy a box of truffle or praline-style chocolates to take home with you!
Craving the fresh flavours of Greek cuisine? Enjoy these delicious food and drinks along with many unforgettable adventures on our Greece tours! For more exciting destinations, have a look at our upcoming tours.
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