Lonely Planet: First time in Greece? Taste Cretan cuisine!
With its sparkling white beaches, crystalline water and venerable ancient sites, Greece lives up to all the hype. But how to approach this vast country with enough islands to suit everyone’s taste and antiquities dotting the landscape like a historical map of Western civilisation?
Most first-time visitors will arrive and depart through Athens, which makes an excellent jumping-off point or punctuation at the end of the trip, but beyond that it’s time to explore.
The long lunch
You haven’t lived the Greek life, and certainly not had a full summer experience, until you’ve partaken in the ‘long lunch’. Ideally, you’d have a table-full of friends and family, but even with a smaller group, while you’re in Greece be sure to head to a seafood taverna and dine al fresco. Sip endless afternoon ouzo accompanied by a continuous parade of mezedhes (small dishes): meatballs, zucchini balls, grilled octopus, taramasalata (fish roe dip) and more. Lazy laughter with a continuous feast in the beauty of the Greek outdoors, ideally beachside…nothing compares. Top food islands are Lesvos (Mytilini), Corfu, Crete and Tinos. But really, you can’t go wrong!
What about Crete?
Crete is a magical quilt of splendid beaches, ancient treasures and landscapes encompassing vibrant cities and dreamy villages, where locals will share with you their traditions, wonderful cuisine and generous spirit.
If you’re a traveller on the gourmet trail, you’ll delight in the distinctive farm-fresh and organic cuisine served in tavernas across the island. In fact, the Cretan diet is among the healthiest in the world. Be sure to pair your meal with an excellent local wine and, to cap it off, a fiery shot of raki.