Secrets and traditions of Greek cuisine

I can’t lie. The first time I set foot in Greece it was love at “first sight”.
The sea, the sun, the landscapes and the Greek cuisine, man!
How many times have you eaten better than at home while traveling? Greek cuisine has some little secrets and many tasty products that I will try to tell in this article …

You will discover the four basic secrets by sitting in any Greek restaurant and maybe you will fall in love too:

The secrets

  • Fresh ingredients of good quality;
  • correct use of flavorings and spices;
  • Greek olive oil (don’t be surprised if you turn the Greek islands into the midst of millions of fragrant olive groves);
  • simplicity;

The Greek diet is also famous and recognized all over the world for the positive effects it generates on human health. Several scientific studies have shown that a balanced diet of this type produces positive effects on people’s beauty, longevity and health. It is no coincidence that the appetizing and tasty Greek dishes are mostly the result of ancient recipes of high quality but still simple and original.

Greek cheeses

feta… GNTO/F.Baltazis

If feta is known all over the world and needs no introduction because it accompanies so many Greek dishes, you may not know that almost every island or town can boast its own local cheese. There are white, soft and creamy cheeses, such as anthotyro, manouri, galotyri from Epirus, xinomyzithra from Crete and katiki from Domokos.
If, on the other hand, you prefer harder yellow cheeses, the ones that suit you are kaseri (Macedonia and Thessaly), kefalograviera (Dodoni), metsovone (Metsovo), Graviera (Creta, Tinos and Naxos), formaella (Arachova), karathaki (Lemnos), San Michali (Syros), Ladotyri (Lesbos), Kefalotyri and others.

Olive oil

Image by Galina Afanaseva from Pixabay

The olive tree was a gift from the Greek goddess Athena to the capital and, since then, olive oil has been used in Greece for various purposes: in medicine, cosmetics and above all for food. Among the many Greek souvenir shops, there are several that sell products made with olive oil. If you are a lover of the genre, do not hesitate to stop and search.
If, on the other hand, you love olive oil as a food product, consider that in the Peloponnese, Crete, the island of Lesbos and central Greece you could find excellent products. But given the amount of olive trees around Greece and the islands, I don’t think you’ll ever have a hard time finding great olive oil, wherever you are.

Fresh fish and meat

Prasonisi Beach

Greece lives in close contact with the sea and, with it, its people and its delicious cuisine. A typical island dish is kakavia, a tasty fish soup that fishermen once prepared with small freshly caught fish. The fish can be served as an appetizer (meze) on the grill, fried or boiled. Oysters, mussels, sea urchins, shrimps, octopuses are among the many tasty “gifts” of the sea that you can taste in Greek taverns. Larger fish, on the other hand, are cooked in the oven or on the grill.

On the mainland or in the mountainous areas you can enjoy meat dishes, mainly lamb, pork or goat. Traditional dishes cooked with homemade pasta, meat pies from Epirus, tender kid meat cooked slowly in a casserole or rabbit stew with onions.

Souvlaki and gyros with pita (the soft Greek sliced bread) are popular street (or cheaper dish) foods that almost everyone knows. The culinary combinations in this case are many.
You can roll the meat inside the bread or savor it on the plate with a side of salad and fries. It is equally delicious.
To you the choice.

The wines

Athens Wine @GNTO/K Kouzouni

Greek wines occupy considerable importance in the international context of alcoholic beverages. Ancient traditions are combined with modern production techniques that give life to wines that have been awarded with various awards over the years.

Among the white wines you can find assyrtiko, moscofilero, athiri, zitsa from Epirus, roditis, robola from Kefalonia, Savatiano from Attica and vilana from Crete. If you prefer red wines you can instead opt for the agiorgitiko of Nemea, the xinomavro, the mantilaria and the kotsifali of Crete among many.
If you are looking for dessert wines, try without hesitation the movrodaphne, a sweet wine from Patras and Kefalonia, the Visanto from Santorini, the sweet muscat from Lemnos or Liatiko and Romeiko, two varietal wines from Crete.


Ouzo, Olive and sardines @GNTO/F. Baltatzis

Ouzo is a very famous Greek alcoholic flavored with anise. Serve with seafood or salty specialties (mezedes) by the sea. Always make sure it is served with ice cubes and a little cold water, which serve to give it a little whitish color and intensify its taste. The best distilleries of Ouzo are found on the northern Greek islands, in Thessaly, Chios and Lesbos. Tsikoudia and Tsipouro are spirits distilled in a similar way to ouzo. You can try the former in the bars and distilleries of Crete, the latter in Thessaly and Epirus

Honey and spoon desserts

Honey @GNTO/F.Baltatzis

Honey was once used as a basic sweetener for the dishes of the ancient Greeks. Today, as then, its nutritional value and medicinal properties are highly appreciated. Tradition also has it that in Greek weddings a spoonful of honey is served to the newlyweds as a sign of good luck in the new common life.

You can taste thyme honey in the mountainous areas of the country, pine from Euboea, fir honey from Mount Olympus, aromatic citrus honey from Epirus, chestnut honey from Mount Athos, as well as oak honey. and heather from various mountainous regions of the country.

As for the spoon desserts you can try those based on fruit, flowers and vegetables.
In Greece you will find tasty orange, pomelo and rose sweets in the Peloponnese, apples and walnuts on Mount Pelion, citrus and bitter orange in Epirus, cherry tomatoes in Santorini and Kos, pistachio on Aegina island, green olives, grapes and raisins in Crete, kumquats in Corfu and aubergines in Lenidion in the Peloponnese.
The spoon desserts are served with a glass of fresh water and, as they do not contain fat, they are an excellent healthy alternative to many other desserts and pastries without creating unnecessary remorse in you … Without sacrificing taste.

Source and photos: Visitgreece

9 good reasons to visit and fall in love with the Greek islands

I know it. The Greek islands do not need many introductions around the world, because their good reputation is so recognized that it should be enough to attract tourists for the next 1000 years. However, I find it fascinating to tell the beauty of this part of the world, trying to “summarize” in a few points what really attracts so many people to these parts. At least from what a simple traveler like me can see …

1. The friendliness, the welcome and the Greek people

Skiathos… Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

The Greeks make hospitality and kindness a way of life. You ask for information in English and they answer in your language. Ask 500 questions and they (almost) never lose patience, keeping calm and smiling. Tourists and travelers in Greece are considered a treasure and are treated as such. Contrary to what one might think, on the Greek islands there are essential services that work excellently: from car rentals to emergency services, everything works perfectly to ensure that those who visit the island have an optimal stay. I saw firefighters putting out fires and gardeners working early in the morning in the green spaces of hotels and tourist resorts. The Greeks you know around are always available and a smile corresponds to a smile.

2. The excellent Greek cuisine

Image by Claire05 from Pixabay

Greece boasts a culinary tradition that is nothing short of excellent. As in the whole Mediterranean area you will find fresh dishes, tasty products, excellent olive oil and even good wine.
A simple Greek salad is a delicious rich and tasty dish ideal to satisfy anyone on a hot summer day on some Greek islet. Trying any freshly caught fish from the sea is still the best way (in my opinion) to approach the delights of the island you are visiting.
There are restaurateurs who let guests in near the kitchen to choose the fish that is still fresh. Here you will have the possibility to choose the type of cooking and the side dishes.
… and while you wait outside with a few slices of pita (soft and tasty Greek bread), the chefs prepare sublime dishes for you.
There is nothing better than relaxing in a Greek restaurant overlooking the sea while sipping good wine or a cold beer…
Don’t forget Ouzo, the typical liqueur also served with ice cubes. Personally, I also love Greek coffee, but beware of the slightly “dusty” bottom. It’s not like espresso that you can throw down in an instant and run away…
Greek coffee is to be drunk calmly…sitting down…

3. The transparent sea

Paxos… Image by conolan from Pixabay

Whether you prefer the pebble beach or the fine sand one, on the Greek islands you will always find a blue and transparent sea to welcome you.
I remember The intense blue of Platis Gialos in Lipsi welcome me after a long walk under the June sun. But also the transparency of the waters on more “touristy” islands and crowded beaches such as Tsampika beach in Rhodes, in the scorching July 2021.
However, I think it is also a question of “tourist presence”. The most beautiful and cleanest beaches are always those a little off the beaten path. It depends on what you are looking for…
Greece has many beaches without any service or tourist that are real terrestrial paradises. Seek and you will find.

4. Greek history and monuments

Lindos Acropolis…Image by 11333328 from Pixabay

The history of Greece has very ancient origins, so much so that Greek art and culture are defined as the “cradle of Western civilization”.
Visiting the Greek islands does not only mean spending whole days by the sea sunbathing or swimming in the sea (no one forbids you to do it of course!) But also having the opportunity to explore many buildings that belonged to the past and archaeological sites that nowhere else of the world you will find so preserved.
Touching and admiring amphitheaters, immense columns of temples with sensational views of the sea will give you an idea of what Greece and its islands were in history and how civilization has evolved over the centuries.

5. Nature and animals

Kastelorizo…sea turtle

Despite the many tourists, the Greek islands still preserve areas where uncontaminated nature holds up very well and some animals live in absolute freedom. You will immediately notice the imposing presence of cats all over the islands that go in search of food among the tables of the restaurants. They are not annoying. Just a little hungry.
Donkeys are among the most common animals in Greece and are used both for carrying things and for attracting tourists. If you love to walk and look for unusual places off the beaten track, you will find small outdoor stalls by the sea where they stay and return after a few short morning outings.
Goats are everywhere! you will find them day and night climbing on the most inaccessible mountains and on the paths to reach the beaches. Be careful if you rent a car! They are often on small roads that lead to the sea. But they just observe the strange individuals moving around in as many strange tin boxes: the tourists in their rental cars.

Lindos: goats grazing at dawn

A good time to see Greek goats running and jumping in total freedom is dawn. Early in the morning the Greek shepherds take the goats to pasture and leave them free to roam around the small villages. Tourists are still sleeping and it is a sight to see these animals running freely. If you want to wake up so early (in the summer the sun rises between 5.30 and 6.15 in the morning), you can admire beautiful breathtaking views.

The lucky ones also have the pleasure of admiring and photographing some sea turtles swimming in the seas of the Greek islands. They are very strong and very resistant animals that approach the harbors of the islands in search of some fish and in search of food. They give a sense of life and constant presence of nature as well as joy. In kastelorizo there are five or six who have been returning and living around the island for years. An inhabitant of the island told me how their presence was constant over time despite the tourists and boats present in the small port.

Not least is the vegetation present on the Greek islands. Don’t be surprised if in the gardens of the houses or around the island you are visiting you come across some strange flower or tree from time to time. The spontaneous variety of the Mediterranean in this area is truly incredible
f you want to learn more and know more, consult this article on our partner site dedicated to the flowers of the Greek islands.

6. Colors

white signage beside purple bougainvillea beside body of water
Photo by Gotta Be Worth It on

Imagine the blue of the sea and that of the domes of the Greek churches. Then think of the doors and windows that are also blue.
The blue sky.
The burning sun.
The colors of the flowers: from the purple of the bungavillea to the red of the hibiscus.
Nothing is missing on the Greek islands.
Not even the whiteness of the houses or the perfectly kept paths of hotels and tourist resorts. And if you like shades you can throw yourself on the sunsets: Santorini has the reputation of having the most beautiful ones but I challenge anyone who has been on a Greek island to go home without a photo of a crazy sunset by the sea or on top of some Mountain.

7. The scent of the greek islands

Hydra: girl sniffs flowers… Photo Shutterstock

Explaining a perfume is really difficult but I’ll try.
The scents of the Greek islands are the most unique and devastating (in a positive sense) there is.
From the flowers to the sea, from the sky to the earth, everything smells of something.
Imagine waking up in the morning and already smelling some perfume that comes from the sea, then passing from the coffee, to the scent of the sand, arriving at lunch with the table filled with colors and scents.
The Greek islands are a bit like this: wherever you set foot you will feel something good, different sensations and something pleasant to welcome you.
…and if that’s not enough…

8. The sun

Sun in Santorini… Image by Russell_Yan from Pixabay

Since I started traveling between the Greek islands, I don’t remember cloudy days, much less rain or cold days.
The hot sun constantly floods this part of the world for much of the summer, giving warm weather and beautiful tans to those who come here. Personally I also find the morning shade and the air conditioning out of place. But I think I am a bit strange to love the heat and the scorching Greek sun so much.
After all, no one is perfect.

9. The beaches and the empty streets

My Mini (for rent) on the way to Prasonissi beach

Over time I realized one thing: the earlier you wake up in the morning, the more tranquility and peace you will find on the beach.
Since I started to love photography, I have discovered that better photos are taken at sunrise (and at sunset). Except that at sunset it is full of people while at dawn there is hardly anyone.
In Greece there are beaches that are overcrowded during the day that remain almost empty until 10 in the morning, others out of the way, which are almost always deserted, because there are no umbrellas, bars or restaurants on the beach.
The same goes for the streets.
If you travel between May and mid-July or after August until the end of the season, the problem hardly arises, but there are roads not far from super tourist areas where you will come across more goats than cars.
People have a habit of following the “beaten” and safe roads, ignoring the smaller road signs.
Personally I am attracted by the small signs that read “beach”, “anywhere” or by the small white villages with the streets so narrow that a woman in the ninth month of pregnancy would have difficulty crossing.

But it’s the best way to get lost…and I love getting lost in the Greek islands…

Traveling solo in a convertible around Rhodes

It may happen that, after almost two summers away from your beloved Greece, you feel like returning to an island you’ve already seen. … But this time you decide to see it from a different point of view: – Almost totally alone and with the wind and the scents blowing in your face, while the hot July sun warms you from up there.

So it was Rhodes 2021.
A rental Mini convertible, the warm Greek wind, the emotions of a wonderful car through the solitudes of the wildest corners of this unique island. The less touristy beaches, the more remote typical Greek restaurants, the goats that slow down traffic and, finally, the white villages, which even with a small Mini Cabriolet you cannot enter. The beauty of being able to enter, find an almost deserted parking lot, walk a bit, then come back and find the car so hot that you can’t even touch the steering wheel.

My Mini on the way to Prasonisi Beach

In order not to get too bored with the same photos, here is some of the Greek splendor that everyone should enjoy and, without going too far, I am going to conclude with a few photos this short but intense journey that I hope to repeat soon, always on board of another Mini convertible and always on another Greek island.

A divine fish lunch in a restaurant on Primiri beach

On the road to Primmiri beach

finally the pearl.

A “small” accident (not caused by me of course) knocked out my Mini two days before my return home and, as usual, the Greeks proved helpful and efficient. When it comes to tourism, these people are always at the top and do not miss the opportunity to prove themselves the best for hospitality, kindness and respect for the traveler. After assisting me for most of the night, here’s what they brought me in exchange for the Mini the following morning. Nothing less than an Audi A3. (I preferred the Mini, which certainly lends itself better to solo travel but I certainly can’t complain)

and that’s it … if you see a Mini Convertible on some Greek island with someone driving who often stops to take lots of photos, it could be me. …follow me…

Lipsi: the island of the Dodecanese

In Lipsi there is no airport, no hospital, very few inhabitants and when I’ve been here in 2018, mass tourism had not yet arrived at the end of June.
People come here to be in peace, explore the island and enjoy the blue sea along with the splendid Greek sun.
The silence is broken only by the sound of the sea waves and, when you move a little away from the beach, also by the bells of the goats. They are the characteristic sounds of these parts of Greece. They will make you fall in love … Just as you will fall in love with these splendid little churches with blue roofs that are scattered almost everywhere. Some are open, others closed, but the best part is climbing a hill, walking for a while and finding these buildings perfectly preserved over time …

Photo by Patty Apostolides on Unsplash

Here, in Lipsi, you can get lost in the village streets in search of a restaurant where you can enjoy a delicious Mediterranean meal. While there aren’t crowds of other Greek islands, some evenings you may already find some full restaurants, especially the more popular ones or those with sea views (not necessarily the same ones). But breathing this peace and quiet of the place after a panorama of is always worthwhile.

Lipsi: the white and blue houses of the village crossed by small streets
Photo Adobe stock

If walking a bit doesn’t tire you, you can admire the landscape that leads to the most suggestive beaches (alternatively you can rent bikes, scooters or take a taxi).

Robert Powell, CC BY-SA 3.0, through Wikimedia Commons

Personally my favorite beach in Lipsi is Platis Gialos (not the one in the picture) for these reasons:
– there is a suggestive walk to get there (under the sun so get organized);
-there is a restaurant;
-the water is blue like that of a swimming pool and also at a pleasant temperature;
-until too many people start to arrive, it is divinely;
-here too you will find ducks and goats and, if you are with children, you make them have fun without having to keep them in the water all the time.