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7 Days Exciting Culinary Holiday in Zakynthos, Greece

Villa Spiros, Laganas, Zakynthos Municipality, Zakynthos, Ionian Islands, Greece

Delightful Greece Culinary Holiday

Villa Spiros invites you to the beautiful Greek island of Zakynthos for a home from home long stay holiday at Villa Spiros studios and apartments. In a central, yet quiet location just 300 meters from Laganas beach, Villa Spiros owners have put together an exciting long stay program for the off-season months. At this time of year, the days are warm, the beaches are not crowded, the cooler evenings lend themselves tο cozy indoor nights and all the locals are at their most relaxed, turning their attention to the seasonal agricultural activities. This is very different from the hustle and bustle of the summer crowds.

So, leave those winter blues behind and come to settle into the slow-paced life of beautiful sunny and warm Zakynthos while experiencing authentic Greek hospitality. Take time to chat and enjoy the company of your fellow guests and hosts in a safe, comfortable environment.

Highlights

  • 4 cooking sessions, 10h of cooking
  • Evening entertainment program
  • Guided walks and cycling tours to the surrounding area
  • Transfers from and to Zakynthos International Airport (ZTH) or port
  • Daily breakfast and 4 lunches and 3 dinners
  • 6 nights of accommodation

6 days with instruction
The maximum participants in the group is 8
Airport transfer included: Zakynthos International Airport
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Accommodation

Villa Spiros features a mixture of self-catering ground floor studios and first-floor apartments, furnished to a high standard in a clean modern style. Villa Spiros has a warm, relaxing atmosphere, where you can experience the calm pace of life, that makes this nation one of the healthiest in Europe. They offer you traditional family accommodation in comfortable fully equipped rooms, with the friendly Greek host family on site at all times.

There is a mixture of ground floor and first floor, fully equipped apartments. There is a small but welcoming reception area which doubles as a gathering place for lots of the art and creative pastimes. Here also, guests get together to enjoy a variety of evening activities. At the Villa’s organic farm and olive grove, you are welcome to join in the planting and picking of seasonal fruit and vegetables or to help with the olive harvest during November.

Equipements of the spacious apartments

  • Central heating
  • Carpets
  • Flannelette sheets
  • Electric blankets
  • Winter weight duvets
  • Wi-Fi
  • Fully equipped kitchen with fridge and kettle
  • En suite shower room
  • Satellite TV
  • Large veranda
  • Iron and board available upon request

Facilities

  • Wi-Fi
  • Satellite TV
  • Wide selection of novels, DVDs, and music
  • Board games and playing cards
  • Reception hall

Room

The rooms are all equipped with high-speed Wi-Fi Internet connection, along with a host of other modern amenities and features, stylishly and thoughtfully designed, ensuring the discerning holidaymaker or independent traveler a relaxing and comfortable stay.

Program

Your family hosts are on site at all times making sure, your stay is as comfortable and pleasant as it can be, with tours and special interest days organized each week. You can explore picturesque villages, mingle with locals, go walking, go cycling, go sailing or just sit in the sun with a book. Should you want to develop your artistic flair, there will be creativity workshops available, with local artists sharing their love and passion for creativity with you.

Your arrival

On arrival at Villa Spiros, you will be welcomed with drinks and left to settle and get comfortable in your new surroundings. After breakfast on your first morning, you will hold an informal meeting, providing you with all you need to know to make the very best of your stay. Villa Spiros will help you see and experience things most tourists miss out on.

They can plan trips, suggest activities, show you the best sights and help you decide on the perfect itinerary for your holiday. So, whatever your preferences are, sunbathing, relaxing, boating, horse riding, picnicking in the shade of an olive grove, visiting museums and historic places of interest or just taking a stroll in the countryside with a knowledgeable guide, Villa Spiros can help you experience the very best of everything. For land lovers, there are spectacular mountains and hidden coves, with an abundance of flora and fauna. For sea lovers, there is an endless list of things to do. They will find you the best beaches and activities, boat trips and sights.

The tours

Swimming at the Shipwreck Bay (Navagio) and a magical sunset dinner

Around midday, you set off for the north of the island, with several gastronomic stops along the way. You will take a boat past fabulous blue caves to famous Shipwreck Bay, for swimming. If you are lucky, you may see base jumpers and paragliders launch themselves from the towering cliffs. If the weather is too windy for the boat, you will still be able to admire the shipwreck from the viewing platform set into the cliff top.

A traditional dinner is coming up later, at the locals’ favorite taverna, in Kabi. Not only is this restaurant famous for Zakynthian cuisine and its welcoming owners, but for the most magical sunsets on the island. The view from the restaurant, down to aquamarine waters must be one of the best in the world.

Turtle boat trip to the “Turtle Island” and beach picnic

At Agios Sostis harbor, you board your own boat "Poseidon" (skippered by host Antonio). Crossing the sweeping bay, you hope to see and even swim alongside some of the large, graceful loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta). Next, you head for uninhabited Marathonisi Island. You will notice it is turtle shaped. Perfect for snorkeling, swimming or just a paddle, this tiny island beach with its fine powder like sand will captivate the water lover and land lover alike.

Enjoy combing the beach for driftwood and pretty shells. Look out for little cages, handmade from sticks, which cover and protect the nests of the loggerhead turtles. The other side of this paradise island has intriguing little caves to explore. When you have worked up a healthy appetite, allow to spoil you with a beach picnic, packed full of fresh, tasty treats.

Sweet treats in Zakynthos town

Visit Zakynthos town and discover the history and culture of the old town alongside the café culture of the new. Relax in one of the specialty coffee shops, or maybe enjoy a homemade ice cream and indulge in a spot of people watching; a favorite Greek pastime. Last minute shopping, a coffee shop and a leisurely walk time to enjoy being alone to wander.

Later, one of the traditional confectionery workshops of the town plays host to give you a sweet treat. The fourth generation confectioner and shop owner, will put on his apron and show you how to make Baklava with almonds, walnuts and spices folded into a syrupy filo pastry. Simply irresistible!

Swimming at Xigia beach, an authentic farm-to-fork culinary experience

In the morning, you set off for the picturesque north of the island. A refreshing swim at the “healing” beach of Xigia will set you up for the day. Sulphur springs bubble up from the seabed, making the warm water's mineral rich. There’s a slightly eggy aroma, but your skin will thank you for the experience! Continue north, driving through picturesque villages to your lunch destination; a family owned and run mountain taverna. Here, you will enjoy a farm to fork culinary experience.

After a warm welcome and a cool welcome drink, Grandmother Athina will show you, step by step, how to cook a family recipe handed down the generations: stuffed free-range chicken in tomato sauce with pasta, plus a variety of starters. While the food cooks in a traditional wood-fired oven, the hosts take you around the farm to see where the ingredients were grown and to meet the livestock. Then back to the taverna in the shade of a spreading oak tree, you’ll enjoy the food you cooked, plus local wine, and homemade dessert to add that final sweet flourish.

Monastery, winery, Bochali, and taverna singing

You set off for a monastery (strictly a convent, housing 13 nuns) just outside Machairado village. It was built by a local priest, who decorated it by hand with mosaic icons inside and out. The ceilings and interior walls also display huge murals painted by the nuns. Then a short drive takes you to a vineyard and winery run by the third generation of the Grampsas family. It is beautifully presented, from the neat rows of vines to the display of winemaking equipment from bygone days. Son Tassos will talk you through the whole winemaking process before inviting you to sit on the shady terrace to sample white and red wines with local cheese.

That evening, you’ll take a stroll through Bohali, at the top of Zakynthos town. The view from this exclusive residential area is breathtaking, over the whole town and harbor and out to sea. Then, you’ll have dinner in a harbourside taverna. Traditional Greek dished are served by the owner and his sons, who later in the evening sing Greek folk songs, accompanying themselves on the guitar and mandolin. You will feel you have discovered real Greek life.

Making Baklava and a walk round Zakynthos town

Mid-morning, go to a confectioner’s shop in Zakynthos town. The fourth generation confectioner and shop owner will put on his apron to show you step by step how to make classic Baklava (almonds, walnuts, and spices folded into buttery filo pastry). Then take a gentle walk round Zakynthos town. First stop is at the Church of the island’s patron saint, Saint Dionysius. The huge inside is richly decorated with gold and icons.

The saint’s remains are here in a silver casket, which on some occasions is open for viewing. Then walk along the harbor and sample a local custard-type pastry from a street stall before walking through Solomos Square and hearing about the poet. Effie then takes you to St Mark’s Square to sit and watch the world go by outside her favorite coffee shop. Batteries recharged, you are ready to hit the shops before a final stop for lunch at a traditional taverna. There’s a wide choice of food, but this is a good chance to try the famous souvlaki or gyros.

Koiliomenos - Louha - Giri - Agia Marina

The journey is planned so that you get a local’s feeling for the island, avoiding the most tourists visit spots, paths off the beaten track, known only to locals. First stop is at the Women’s Cooperative to taste their homemade products. Then, you will take a tour through the traditional villages of Louha and Giri, two picturesque little villages retaining traditional characteristics, set in the green slopes of the north of the island.

You will wander the colorful alleys, visit ruined mills and enjoy the countryside. Hectares of cultivated land spread before you. Vineyards, olive groves, farms and tiny family-owned factories, compliment this beautiful rural setting. You will have the opportunity to enjoy a rustic country lunch, tantalizing your taste buds with yet more delicious home-produced food.

Olive oil tasting and visit the seaside Keri village

Keri is one of the most picturesque villages on Zakynthos with sea and mountain views. The first stop is at Lithakia village to an olive oil factory. See the display of machinery from the old days before touring the modern factory with your guide. At the end is a chance to taste a variety of oils on village bread. You continue your drive towards Keri, to visit beautiful Keri lake, see the biggest Greek flag ever made, and the Faros at the top of the village. The views to the Mizithres rocks and the Ionian Sea are some of the most spectacular anywhere in the Ionian islands. Be sure to take a picture not that you could ever forget a Zakynthian sunset! Before heading back, you will enjoy a traditional meal at one of the tavernas. Fresh caught fish is a must for fish lovers.

Lithakia and Agalas villages

Today, your first stop is at an olive factory / press, to taste olive oil on fresh village bread. Then, you continue to the isolated mountain village, Agalas, surrounded by pine woods and olive groves with a great sea view. You enjoy a Greek coffee with the locals at the kafenio (coffee shop) in the village, before making the way to the two-tiered Damianos cave and Adronios Wells. Before heading home, you will enjoy dinner at a family taverna with magnificent views of the countryside and the Ionian Sea.

Iperagathos Monastery - Kabi

A day dedicated to exploring the beautiful countryside, with a visit to the Monastery of Iperagathos, surrounded by the glories of nature. Then, we continue north to Kabi, a small village, renowned as one of the best places on the island to see spectacular sunsets. You will enjoy a walk to the Mycenaean cemetery. Many of its tombs were opened in the past and destroyed by looters, but others contained weapons and vases which archaeologists have studied to gain a deeper understanding of life from this period. You can take photographs and enjoy authentic Greek food at a nearby taverna. Today’s taverna is right on the cliff tops and serves organic products direct from their family farm. The views are amazing.

Kallipado - Tragaki - Kipseli

Three picturesque villages on the west of the island, surrounded by olive groves and vineyards. You will visit Callinikos winery, to taste some great varieties of wine. Then on to the Abeloravdi mansion, which takes you back to the 17th century and to wealthy, stately, times past. Next, you visit Spiloula church. Set in a cave, the church was entirely handmade by solitary monk, who lived there in the 17th century. Today, the cave holds a wonderful picture of the Virgin Mary. You continue to Kipseli village to visit Agios Ioannis chapel and the Venetian Vardiola. You dine at one of the many tavernas, with traditional dishes prepared with pride and love, as is the Zakynthian way.

“Liquid Gold” the olive picking experience (available in November)

Zakynthos is beautiful all year round, but during the olive season the whole island becomes a hive of activity, buzzing with industrious families turning their attention to the business of the olive harvest. Called “Liquid Gold” by the locals, Zakynthian organic olive oil ranks among the best in the world. Work with the locals harvesting olives in the traditional way, striking the tree with an olive wood stick, so the olives fall into nets spread below.

The olives are then bagged in traditional hessian sacks and carefully transported. You follow your olives to the olive factory, where you watch the press turning fruit into liquid gold. Imagine the delight when you get to dip village bread into warm oil which just hours before was olives on a tree (hands-on participation is optional. Alternatively, simply be the guests and observe the process, enjoying the scene as the green-and-gold landscape is bathed in autumnal glow). The olive harvest trip takes place in the villages of Mouzaki, Lagopodo, and Romiri and includes a freshly prepared country picnic lunch in the shade of the olive trees.

Trygos (available in September) the ultimate treat for wine lovers and foodies

Imagine yourself in a vineyard during the grape harvest, sheers in hand on a beautiful autumnal morning. Zakynthian sunshine warms you as work. You are enveloped by the fragrance of amber and purple grapes on vines stretching as far as the eye can see. You will have the opportunity to harvest this wonderful fruit straight from the vine, as Villa Spiros takes you to one of the region’s most respected family-owned vineyards.

You will enjoy a tour of the Grampsas winery, hosted by the owners. There will be the chance to sample the aromas and tastes of some of the finest wines accompanied by farm fresh finger food, selected and prepared to complement the wines. This is a chance to connect with the history of the winemaking process in Zakynthos. For the producers, this is the labor of love, from the planting of the vine to the sipping of the wine.

Location

Just 300 meters from Laganas Beach, the most important nesting grounds for the sea turtle Caretta caretta, Villa Spiros is surrounded by vines and well-kept flower beds. A five-minute stroll brings you to Lagana's main street, with its parade of shops, restaurants, bars and medical center. There is plenty to do and see in the immediate vicinity. Most small businesses close for the winter months, but kiosks, supermarkets, tavernas and medical centers are open daily. A short drive or bus ride brings you to the Zakynthos town where everything is open and available to you.

Nearby places:

  • Laganas Beach, 300 meters

Food

This retreat includes daily breakfast and one meal per day.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast

Things to do (optional)

You may enjoy art and creativity workshops including (painting and drawing, pebble art, glass painting, handmade creations, cooking Greek cuisine, dessert making, baking cookies, and cakes) and participation in tours (as detailed below) by comfortable 20-seater bus with an English-speaking guide. The tours are specially designed to take in the most beautiful, off the beaten track locations and gastronomic delights. Villa Spiros will take you only to traditional Greek-owned and run family establishments. There is also the opportunity to taste cheese, wine, honey and olive oil straight from the homes and businesses of local family producers.

What's included

  • 4 cooking sessions, 10h of cooking
  • A Greek celebration night to remember
  • A magical sunset dinner
  • Culinary experience
  • Boat trip to the Turtle Island
  • Making Baklava
  • Visit the Turtle museum
  • Swimming at Dafni beach
  • Tour to Zakynthos town
  • Transfers from and to Zakynthos International Airport (ZTH) or port
  • Wine tasting

What's not included

  • Evening meals either cooked fresh at Villa Spiros with organic products from the farm or at tavernas throughout the island
  • Car, motorcycle, scooter, or bicycle hire can be arranged
  • Laundry service
  • Medical assistance
  • The service of an English speaking doctor and dentist nearby
  • The service of an English speaking hairdresser, manicurist and beauty therapist
  • English newspapers and magazines
  • Takeaway meal deliveries

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 15% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid on arrival.

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7 days / 6 nights
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