Idea Lab – Greece

At the heart of our office is an Idea Lab: a space in which we are constantly innovating, dreaming, and designing new ways to enhance your travels. It may be our network of contacts that allow us to bring all these ideas to life, but it is you – our clients – who keep us challenged and having fun. Whether your trip is straightforward, over-the-top, or anywhere in the middle, we are always in our lab and ready.

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Food and Wine

  • Cook alongside a world-class Greek chef at his Michelin star restaurant – and maybe eat a thing or two besides.
  • Visit the wine region of Naoussa, the birthplace of Xinomavro, one of the “big four” indigenous grape varieties that have put Greek wines on the world map.
  • In Zagorochoria, a well-known healer and wild-foods expert will guide you on a nature walk to collect edible local mushrooms, plants, and herbs.
  • Learn how to make Lalagia, dangerously addictive donuts native to Peloponnese.
  • Enjoy private tastings at Greece’s top wineries, including exclusive vertical and barrel tastings.
  • You’re invited to a private dinner at the house of a wine expert, well-known all over Greece for his knowledge of the emerging wine market there.
  • Sifnos owes its reputation as a gourmet island to Nicholas Tselementes, a local chef who wrote the first book of Greek recipes in 1910. Together with a local foodie you’ll visit the island’s cheese makers and learn the ideal technique for baking chickpeas.
  • In the Northern Greek villages, sample the local produce and enjoy a cup of Greek coffee as locals do, outdoors, while basking in the sun.
  • Detox the old-fashioned way in an old Eastern Cretan village. Enjoy cleansing meals highlighting local fish and olive oil and study the uses of Cretan herbs.
  • Experience first-hand the production of the country’s most important export product. At the Olive Oil Press, near Chania, you will learn about every step of the process, from picking the olives to – finally – tasting delicious fresh olive oil!
  • Discover family recipes that have been passed word-of-mouth through generations of village women in Peloponnese: visit a family home, prepare food together, and share a home-cooked meal.
  • Ask us about our gastronomy trip to Tinos!

We have plenty more up our sleeves. Ask us.


Bring The Kids

  • Go on an adventurous day-trip to Santorini. Board your private boat and explore the craters of this ancient volcano; your guides will be a children’s storyteller and a volcanologist.
  • The Ancient Greeks believed that a baby whose lips are touched by a bee would become a great poet. Visit a traditional beekeeper and encounter bees in their natural environment; then, taste an array of Greek varieties of honey.
  • Children of all ages can study ancient history and mythology by observing Athens’ buildings and images: Zeus and his lightning-bolts, Poseidon and his trident and Athena with her spear and shield.
  • Enjoy a day cruise to Spinalonga on a traditional caïque (fishing boat). Your local host will prepare a delicious picnic on board, including honeyed sweets for dessert.
  • Bake your own rustic farmer’s bread. Learn how traditional village bakers sift and knead their doughs by hand.
  • Hunt for treasure in a sea kayak, winding around the mysterious castle and fortress at Nafplio.
  • A unique comedy workshop in Athens explores comedy through the age-old narratives of ancient Greek mythology. Sure to stimulate laughter and imagination!
  • In the Greek islands, fishing is inseparable from day-to-day life. Board a beautiful traditional wooden boat and try your hand at this indispensable local practice.
  • Crete is essentially an island-sized playground. Hike through Zakros Gorge, explore the Dikteon Cave (the birthplace of Zeus!), or go on a scuba diving adventure with a professional diver.
  • Pedal along the bike-friendly roads of Spetses or Nafplio for as long as your legs will allow.
  • Go horseback-riding along the beach, followed by a swim and a picnic by the water.
  • Make the pancakes of the gods… by drawing them on the pancakes you are about to eat! You’ll get to draw Zeus and his friends on your breakfast (in chocolate!) while listening to a storyteller’s absorbing re-telling of the myths.

Many – in fact, most – suggestions in other categories are family-friendly. Plus, we have plenty more up our sleeves. Ask us.


Adventure + Adrenaline

  • Be a pilot for a day: enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Athens in a familiarization flight with an instructor.
  • Trek or climb to the top of Mt Olympus, Greece’s highest peak and mythical dwelling of the ancient Greek gods.
  • Hike to Drakolimni (Dragon Lake) and learn how it earned its association with dragons.
  • Kayak, cycle or birdwatch your way through the wetlands of Lake Kerkini.
  • Pass through the traditional villages of the Vikos Gorge on a hike through Zagorochoria.
  • Participate in the Athens Marathon – home to the ancient marathon that started them all.
  • Meteora, a World Heritage Site, is considered a mecca by rock-climbing enthusiasts worldwide.
  • Start your climb in Sparta and pass among beautiful forests, gorges and ravines before you reach Taygetos, the highest mountain in Peloponnese.
  • Trek to the Gate to the Underworld (according to myth): the southernmost point of Europe’s mainland. The lighthouse here offers stunning views of the Aegean and Crete.
  • Discover what exists underneath the crystal-clear sea water in Folegandros during a guided diving experience.
  • Go bungee jumping! The Aradaina Bridge is one of the highest in Crete.
  • Cycle through the White Mountains of Crete, through olive fields, orange groves and villages.
  • Hike the Samaria Gorge, the longest of Europe’s limestone gorges, which stretches from the White Mountains down to the Libyan sea.
  • Explore the largely undiscovered Milos, a volcanic island whose dry landscape stirs with the mystery of abandoned mines, deserted chapels and hot springs.
  • Raft down the Lousios River, enjoying the lush vegetation and striking rock formations.
  • Greece has more than 6,000 islands and islets scattered across the Aegean and Ionian Seas. Begin the vast work of exploring them all on a “sea safari” on a private RIB boat.

We have plenty more up our sleeves. Ask us.


The Arts

  • Take a tour of Athens’ vibrant underground graffiti and street-art scene, guided by one of its internationally renowned artists.
  • Get an exclusive look at the private collection of the founder of the DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art. He is currently serving on the councils of several museums worldwide and has continuously been on Art Review's Power 100 List since its inception.
  • Enjoy a curator-led tour of Athens through the city’s contemporary galleries. You will be met and hosted by the gallery owners.
  • We will arrange private tours of the great Athenian museums--the Acropolis Museum, the Benaki Museum and the Cycladic Art Museum--spaces where there is a constant dialogue between the ancient and modern.
  • Take a crash course in art history in an unlikely place: the Athenian subway stations. Underground highlights include ancient Greek discoveries in Acropolis Station and Takis’s famous light installations.
  • Participate in an intensive sculpture workshop on Tinos island, using the island’s unique marble. The workshop is led by the Cycladic Museum’s team of Art Experts.
  • Get a deeper, more hands-on experience of the Cycladic Museum, with themed tours and an exclusive experience in the Museum’s vaults.
  • Greece’s turbulent history has contributed to the creation of an extraordinary folk art tradition. Our specialist will guide you through music, food and crafts from every corner of Greece.
  • Take part in a religious icon painting workshop in Meteora. The workshop is a singular experience in one of the Greece’s most impressive landscapes, host to a complex of Orthodox monasteries.

We have plenty more up our bejewelled sleeves. Ask us.


History

  • Experience Delos, the center of the Cycladic world. Right across from the island of Mykonos, Delos is the birthplace of those ancient myths and legends we so readily associate with Greece.
  • The Ancient Greeks considered Delphi to be the navel of the world. When you visit the Omphalos, the temple of the Oracle, don’t be surprised if you feel the physical charge of its deep history.
  • The Acropolis is a tangible symbol of Athens, the civilization that became the cornerstone of the contemporary world. Enjoy special entrance privileges and, guided by our expert, consider the true meaning of this ancient monument to democracy, art and culture.
  • Visit the palace of Minos, the first King of Crete, son of Zeus and Europa. This is a great place to start learning about the 3,000-year-old history of this fascinating island.
  • In Mystras, a fortified town with Byzantine roots, the breathtaking landscape, marvelous frescoes and the grandeur of the architecture instill reverence and awe.
  • Spend a day with Alexander the Great: Vergina, his birthplace and a World Heritage Site, hosts all remaining traces of his upbringing, education, and early years.

We have plenty more up our toga sleeves. Ask us.


Jewish Heritage

The Jewish presence in Greece dates to the 3rd century, B.C. (and is the oldest Jewish establishment outside of Israel). This ancient community follows Romaniote tradition.

For more about our own connections to Jewish heritage, please visit Jewish Heritage: It’s All Personal

  • In Athens, visit the Old Synagogue, still used today during the High Holidays. Very near the synagogue stands the Holocaust memorial and the Jewish Museum, which documents 2,300 years of Jewish life in Greece.
  • The absolute must-visit is Thessaloniki: the biggest Jewish community in Greece and one of the biggest in Europe before the war. Thessaloniki is home to the elegant family villas of many old Jewish families, as well as myriad Jewish monuments and museums celebrating the community, past and present.
  • Ask us about visiting a local Jewish school.
  • Travel to Crete to visit the Etz Hayyim synagogue, the only surviving Jewish monument on the island. Crete lost its entire Jewish population during the Second World War. Meet Nikos Stavroulakis, the heart and soul of the community.
  • Walk the narrow streets of Rhodes City’s Jewish quarter and find ancient plaques written in Hebrew, Italian and Judeo-Spanish (or Ladino). The Jewish cemetery in Rhodes contains tombstones dating as far back as 1500.
  • Volos is another Greek home to a Romaniote Synagogue and a Holocaust Memorial.
  • Receive a private lecture on Greece’s Jewish presence, from one of the leading authorities in Greek Jewish history.

Oy. We have so much more up our sleeves.


Golf

  • Former Ryder Cup Captain and US Masters Champion Bernhard Langer is the architect of Costa Navarino, the first 18-hole signature designed golf course in Greece. Ideal for all experience levels and surrounded by olive and lemon groves.
  • The Crete Golf Club is the only 18-hole golf course that meets international standards on the island of Crete; it also offers elite coaching to guests. Its architect aimed to keep the original landscape intact where possible, so much of the course appears beautifully wild and untouched.
  • First opened in 1966, the Athens’ Golf Club is the oldest golf course in Greece. Just slightly outside the city, it offers a perfect day-long escape for those staying in Athens.

We have plenty more in our golf bags. Ask us.


Celebrations

  • Have a celebratory dinner at the marvelous, Michelin-starred Hytra restaurant on the roof of Onassis Cultural Centre, overlooking the Acropolis.
  • Celebrate like a local by indulging in one of the traditional feasts held routinely in Greece’s small villages.
  • Imagine a bachelorette party in Cyclades, watching the endless blue of the Aegean disappear from the deck of a luxury yacht.
  • Plan an exclusive party and throw it in a villa at the location of your choice.
  • Renew your vows and take second-time-around wedding photos against a Mediterranean backdrop.
  • Enjoy an on-the-beach barbeque on a remote island, reachable only by private boat.
  • Rent out one of Athens’ chic art galleries for an evening for a private party.
  • Sleep under the stars in Athens’ top luxury suite, with a stunning view of the Acropolis.
  • Celebrate a child’s graduation or other big occasion around a passionate drum circle.
  • Invite your friends for a private event at Zappeion Mansion, the world’s earliest Olympic stadium.

Many – in fact, most – suggestions in other categories are great for celebrating a special occasion. Plus, we have plenty more up our sleeves. Ask us.


Bragging Rights: Signature Experiences

  • Climb Mount Olympus with Panagiotis Kotronaros, the leader of the first Greek team to scale Mount Everest--a modern-day Greek god.
  • Wander the new Acropolis Museum after hours; you’ll be given a private tour and welcomed by the president of the museum.
  • Discover the private collection of the Museum of Cycladic Art and eat dinner at the museum’s neoclassical Stathatos Mansion.
  • Boat to the off-the-beaten-track island of Sikinos and enjoy a wine-tasting experience with the mayor of the island.
  • Submerge yourself in the atmosphere of “Agio Oros,” Greece’s holy mountain: more than 65 monasteries exist here. Men are invited to stay in a sketae (small cell) in one of the monasteries.
  • Explore one of Greece’s most recently excavated archaeological sites, Eleutherna, in Crete. Your private guide will be the University of Crete professor who discovered the site.
  • Take an exclusive shopping trip and visit the ateliers of some of Greece’s well-known designers.
  • Visit artists’ studios and galleries privately, in the most elegant of Athens neighborhoods.
  • Learn how to prepare Greek pastries with Stelios Parliaros, Greece’s famed and innovative pastry chef, in his own state-of-the-art kitchen.
  • Organize your own Olympic Games at the beachfront location of your choice.
  • Create a private, open-air cinema – all you’ll have to take care of is picking the movie!
  • Apprentice for a day with an avant-garde Greek jewelry designer.
  • Visit the former home of Patrick Leigh Fermor, one of the most charismatic and adventurous personalities of the last century and a beloved British travel writer.

We have plenty more up our sleeves. Ask us.


And, in case you were wondering, some of our favorites

We are always asked. We passed the question around to our staff in New York, our staff in Greece, and some of our top guides and specialists. Here are the answers.

  • Take a cooking lesson in a traditional house in Crete: learn the arts of cuisine and hospitality from a true Greek grandmother.
  • Sea-kayak around the island of Milos, passing sun-bleached white rocks and stopping to dive into the deep turquoise water.
  • Hike to Folegandros and walk the long pebbled beach of Katergo Bay, one of our favorite spots in all of Greece.
  • Arrange a trip to sacred Patmos, the “Jerusalem of the Aegean,” and visit the Cave of Apocalypse. St. John is said to have written the book of Revelation here.
  • Explore Peloponnese on two wheels: spend several days on a bicycle tour, taking in gorgeous scenery, tasting local products, and resting up at out-of-the-way boutique hotels.
  • With a real street artist as your guide, explore the emerging street art scene in Athens: you’ll see a colorful landscape of works in a variety of media.
  • Attend one of many exciting concerts and performances during the annual Athens Festival.
  • Enjoy a musical instruments workshop in a 13th-century Venetian tower within the Castle of Akrotiri in Santorini. You will construct a tsabouna (a Greek bagpipe) and play ancient flute.
  • Attend the Jazz Festival that takes place in Kardamili in May. The outstanding Sapsborg Jazz club (from Norway) performs a romantic, intimate set each year.
  • Take part in Messinia’s olive harvest: join locals in collecting olives by hand and learn about the production of olive oil.