An unforgettable food tour of Chania
You’ll have heard about the food and wine of Crete. Rich in everything healthy and wholesome, it’s widely considered the original Mediterranean diet and the very essence of its famously spirited people. So dedicating a day to a food tour of Chania is just as rewarding as discovering the region’s famous beaches, culture, and mountains and gorges.
The way the olive groves blanket the landscape with green and silver leaves, the gently rolling vineyards and aromatic wines they produce, the golden drizzle of olive oil over blush-red tomatoes and the scent of mountain thyme and oregano… everything you experience in the countryside of Chania is part of its intangible cultural heritage.
Just as every culinary experience in Crete is a window into the island’s soul… whether it’s a cookery lesson (where the key ingredients are the smile and stories of your teacher), wine-tasting and a vineyard tour, or a visit to a traditional olive oil press. Every village in Chania will have its cheese producers and apiaries and you’ll adore being introduced to a bewildering variety of greens, pulses and fresh vegetables that accompany so many dishes – tsigariasto, boureki, kalitsounia, pilafi, dakos – as well as all sorts of delicious dairy products and grilled meat. So whatever you do on your holiday in Chania, don’t forget to bring your appetite.
A food tour of Chania
Your entire holiday in Chania will be a culinary journey, but three experiences stand out:
A tour of a vineyard and wine-tasting
They’ve been making wine in Crete for 4,000 years and the island boasts more than 10 indigenous grape varieties. So no time spent in Chania is complete without visiting a vineyard. There are plenty to choose from, from the foothills of the White Mountains to the Apokoronas villages, where you’ll be introduced to mantilari and vilana (Crete’s most prolific red and white grape respectively). Wine-tasting is also a great way to discover Cretan cheeses (yellow, piquant graviera and smooth-white myzithra and anthotiro). And for a final twist on the wine theme, you can also visit a rakokazano (raki distillery) where end-of-season grapes are turned into the local firewater.
Visiting an olive press and olive oil tasting
It isn’t just that olive oil is king when it comes to cooking in Crete… it’s that Cretan olive oil is king. Golden and peppery, but at the same time smooth on the palate, olive oil will feature in almost every meal you’ll enjoy in Chania. Just as the sight of olive groves will accompany every journey outside Chania town. There are olive presses you can visit in and around mountain villages that still use stone mills and others that combine traditional and modern techniques to produce amazing extra-virgin olive oil. Just don’t forget to buy a bottle or two to take home with you.
A cookery class with a local
On an island that’s self-sufficient in natural produce, farm to fork isn’t so much a culinary movement as a way of life. So there’s no better way than with a cookery lesson to get to know Crete’s cheeses and natural products like honey, cured meats, greens and pulses. You could even learn how to smoke meat Cretan-style.
And when have you ever made a meal where all your ingredients were locally and sustainably sourced?
If you’re lucky, your food tour in Chania will include picking some ingredients from a vegetable patch before cooking a five-course Cretan meal – washed down with local wine or beer and a lot of laughter. It will turn you into a Cretan Master Chef when you’re home.
What are the best places to visit on a Chania food tour?
There are plenty of options for vineyards, olive presses and cookery lessons in Chania, but here are a few favourites (all distances from Chania town):
- Manousakis winery (Vatolakkos): 30km (40min) More information
- Dourakis winery (Alikampos): 43km (45min) More information
- Karavitakis winery (Pontikiana): 43km (50min) More information
- Violea Biolea olive press (Astrikas): 53km (1hr) More information
- The Olive Farm (Listarda): 37km (43min) More information
- Cretan Cooking Classes (Chania): 6km (10min) More information
- Vamos Village Culinary Experience cookery class (Vamos): 35km (40min) More information
- Chania Gastronomy Tours: 11km (15min) More information
What is the best time for a food tour of Chania?
- Most local businesses offering excellent culinary experiences are open all year round.
- Make sure to call or be certain they are open before visiting as some only open upon request, especially at quieter times of the year.
- It’s worth visiting at harvest-time (September for grapes, November for olives) or during spring when the grapes are pressed and vineyards are in bloom.
Spring and autumn are very special times in Chania when you can enjoy all the region’s outdoor activities (including cookery lessons) with cooler weather and fewer people.
How long does a food tours of Chania last?
It depends on whether you dedicate a day to the experience, or spread your food & wine tour over your entire holiday.
- Visiting a winery will last 2-3 hours, depending on which experiences you choose.
- A tour of an olive press, accompanied by a meal with local products, lasts around 4 hours.
- A cooking class usually lasts around 4 hours, including time to enjoy your meal.
- To enjoy all the culinary experiences described here, you will need 2-3 days.