The Greek diet is rich in tasty Mediterranean flavours – think garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, herbs and tomatoes. Meals are built around freshly-caught fish and seafood, tender grilled or barbecued meats – and cheese. (Did we mention the cheese?)
You may not know it, but Greek wine is also on the way up, and there are some fine bottles just waiting to be uncorked over a leisurely lunch or dinner. And of course, there’s ouzo. Lots and lots of ouzo – although we’d steer clear of sinking too many shots if you want to remember your holiday.
Here’s our pick of what to eat on whichever of these captivating Greek islands you find yourself…
Crete is Greece’s biggest island and its status as a foodie haven is rock solid. Lamb is a staple dish, and Cretans typically roast it in olive oil and oregano, with a generous helping of lemon juice. You’ll also find lamb broth used as a meaty stock in gamopilafo – a creamy rice dish often served at celebrations. Cretan goats’ milk cheeses are renowned too, with most villages having their own variety. Try graviera, a delicious hard cheese, or herby feta cheese, which is typically served alongside juicy olives, or stuffed in spicy bell peppers. Cheese pies – kaltsounia – are a popular treat, too, especially when finished off with local honey.
If you want to stay in Crete, we recommend the TUI BLUE Insula Alba near Heraklion. This adults-only hotel is right on the beach, and has an à la carte restaurant serving traditional Greek dishes.
Find out more about TUI BLUE Insula Alba
A jewel in the Ionian sea, Corfu is one of the larger Greek islands, and it has a varied eating scene to match. Souvlaki is a big deal here, and you’ll find these meaty skewers wherever you go. Pork and lamb are most popular, but you’ll often find versions crammed with veggies too.
Another must-eat in Corfu is sofrito – tender beef or veal cooked in garlic, parsley and wine, and served with a Greek salad. Then there’s stifado, a meaty stew made with red wine, baby onions and tomatoes, which is mopped up with chunky bread. You might encounter the local fish soup too, which sometimes packs a spicy punch.
If you’re searching for a hotel with a strong foodie set-up, check out the adults-only TUI BLUE Atlantica Grand Mediterraneo Resort, which gets excellent reviews for its culinary offering. The hotel’s al fresco restaurant, Vertigo, offers gourmet dining with postcard-worthy vistas thanks to its cliffside position, while beachfront option Kulinarium wows with its Greek fusion food.
This chic little Aegean island has carved out its own kind of cuisine, with specialities including domatokefedes. These small parcels of deep-fried feta with cherry tomatoes and a minty tang which will have you reaching for seconds. Fava beans grow in plentiful supply here too, and locals love to serve them mashed up with onion, olives, butter and a sprinkle of paprika.
Santorini’s also carving out a reputation as a quality wine producer. One of the most popular tipples is Assirtiko, a dry, citrussy white number that’s a superb match for both meat and fish dishes. If red grapes are more your bag, try Mavrotragano, another local vine which produces rich redcurrant flavours. If you’re interested in wines, don’t miss the Boutari winery, one of the most highly prized estates on the island.
Book a stay at the TUI BLUE Meltemi in Santorini for a luxury break. The hotel’s right on the doorstep of a black-sand beach and has an al fresco yoga space, plus three pools.
Find out more about TUI BLUE Meltemi
Rhodes is the most visited island in the country, so there’s been plenty of opportunities to fine-tune all those famous Greek recipes. Meze is hugely popular here, and you’ll find an overwhelming choice at tavernas across the isle. Pitaroudia is one well-known dish, made by frying up chickpeas, potato, onions and mint. Then there’s dolmades, which perfectly sums up the freshness of Greek food – and you’ll find a diverse range of fillings stuffed into these rolled cabbage leaves. Minced meat, aubergine, peppers, tomatoes are often the starring ingredients, and on Rhodes they’re often accompanied with an egg and lemon sauce.
Wild asparagus grows in abundance too, and the excellent local Rhodian honey is said to have healing properties. Meanwhile, seafood fans can tuck into a bounty of octopus, while lots of restaurants serve up fresh fish marinated in oil, vinegar and rosemary.
If you’ve got your eye on Rhodes, stay at the TUI BLUE Atlantica Aegean Blue. This family hotel is right on the seafront, and has kids’ clubs and a waterpark.
The beautiful island of Zante blends a flower-filled, green landscape with rocky coves and vibrant resorts. Its inhabitants are proud of their signature dish, a rabbit concoction called spetsofai. Although not to everyone’s taste, the meat is stuffed with creamy cheese and cooked in red wine and herbs.
Locals may also insist you try ladotyri, a tangy, oily cheese often served as meze or in casseroles. In addition, sardines, red mullet, bream, bass and swordfish make up the island’s fish quota.
Although dessert does not feature very highly on most Greek menus, Zante is known for baklava, which is made with filo pastry and stuffed with cinnamon and chopped nuts, all held together with oozy syrup or honey.
The TUI BLUE Zante Maris is our top pick for Zante getaways. This swish adults-only hotel flaunts a sea-view pool, a luxury spa, and beachfront Bali beds.
Find out more about TUI BLUE Zante Maris
Ready to eat your way around the Greek islands?
Take a look at our holidays to Greece. And, if you’re still deciding which island to visit, read our articles on which island is for you, and the best beaches in the country.
Pssst. Head to the Discover homepage for our latest articles.
Author: Ali Jacobs
The TUI BLUE Meltemi’s setting the bar high on the luxury front, with an al fresco yoga space, a trio of chic bars and a gourmet eatery.
With an exciting waterpark and a beachfront location, the TUI BLUE Atlantica Aegean Blue is perfect for family getaways.
Beachfront Bali beds and a luxury spa head up this adults-only hotel, which was unveiled for 2019.
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