Olive Lore

Olive Tourism on Crete - Best Olive Experiences on Crete

Olive Tourism is the new black – or green (pun intended).  This new form of leisure industry is rising in many European countries, including Crete, Greece. Themed walks to ancient mythical olive trees, harvesting your own olives, visits to museums, olive oil tasting and stays on olive farms are just some of the main ingredients in this hot new style if mindful tourism.

groves of olive trees near the coast of crete island greece with mountains in the background

The Olive Industry of Crete

Olives are almost synonymous with Greece and Greek culture. Even in Greek mythology the olive tree plays an important role in several legends. It is said that the olive oil industry has it roots in the Minoan culture, Crete, going back as far as 3,500 BC. Some would even argue that traces of olive oil has been found from 6,500 BC, in Rethimno. In the village of Ano Vouves, in the western part of Crete, the supposedly oldest still producing olive tree stands with its more than 3,000 years of age.

Crete counts for 5% of the olive oil production of the entire world due to the dense concentration of olive trees on the sunny Mediterranean island. In good seasons, Crete can spike its production at nearly 100,000 tons of olive oil. Greece is the 3rd largest producer of olive oil in the world next after Italy and Spain. Crete itself is home to more than 30 million olive trees.

The warm climate, minimum air pollution and strict governmental regulations makes Greece and Crete an optimal place to look for high-quality olives. Moreover, a keywords in Cretan agriculture include sustainability and organic farming.

Types of olives that grow on Crete

Crete is home to mainly three varieties of olives; Koroneiki, Matsolia and Throumbolia. All of these varieties deliver some of the worlds most dense compounds of polyphenols acting as antioxidants.

Koroneiki is the most widespread variety, covering no less than 60% of all acreage of Greece. Koroneiki is very common and highly suited for oil production. The fruits are small, but yields a high flesh to oil ratio.

Matsolia – or tsounati – is a variety that is best suited as a table olive. It has a mild bitterness and medium spiciness, which makes it tasty as it is. Matsolia can grow in high altitudes and resist cold weather, making it a hardy fruit.

Throumbolia is renown for its natural debittering process on the trees, and for its exclusiveness of Greece. Throumbolia variety  are distinguished by a unique taste and aroma, and only needs to be slightly salted. They are rich in nutrients and polyphenols and very popular for producing high-quality extra virgin olive oil.

Olive tree of Vouves

Supposedly the world’s oldest olive tree, also known as “Tree of Vouves”, standing in the village of Ano Vouves, Crete.

Eric Nagle, CC BY-SA 4.0,

via Wikimedia Commons

There are other varieties of olives on Crete, but the aforementioned are most abundant on the beautiful island.

Best Olive Tasting Tours on Crete

Tasting really high-quality olive oil and olives is a major eyeopener if you haven’t already tried it.

Cretan Olive Oil Tasting

man and woman tasting and smelling fine extra virgin olive oil guided by a sommelier on crete island grecce

Learn how to taste and smell real high-quality olive oil. Guided by professionals, you will learn to judge both flaws and qualities in extra virgin olive oil, so that you can make better choices in the future. You will also learn about the many health benefits of olive oil.

Olive Oil Tasting with Cretan Food Pairing

Enjoy an olive oil tasting experience under the shade of real olive trees. You will learn how to taste olive oil, which will be followed by a food pairing of local products whilst you learn about the long olive oil history in Crete.

Historic Day Trip in Chania with Olive Oil Tasting at the Biolea Olive Farm

Discover the Cretan history first hand on this guided tour through the city of Chania. Visit the legendary 3,000 year-old olive tree of Vouves and the museum explaining everything about olive oil productions. After Chania, you visit the Biolea olive mill to experience the process of olive oil production.

Olive oil and wine tasting safari tour with lunch

116 reviews
5/5
olive oil and wine tasting tour on crete island greece

Immerse yourself in the Cretan food culture as you sample the local produce of Crete’s treasury. On this trip you’ll spend a day visiting the Anoskeli Winery Olive Mill where you’ll taste fine extra virgin olive oil, five labels of local wine, visit one of the oldest olives tree in the world and enjoy an amazing Cretan lunch, as well as discover the beautiful and ancient olive groves of the island.

Private Olive Oil and Wine Tasting in Heraklion

5 reviews
5/5
olive oil tasting in crete

You will be picked up in a comfortable minibus and taken to a local olive farm where you will taste the gold of Crete. After that you will have a delicious lunch at a local restaurant, followed by a vineyard tour with tastings of 7 premium labels. This trip offers the perfect way of tasting the best of what Crete has to offer, and it’s completely private.

Honey and Olive Oil Tasting

8 reviews
5/5

This is a unique experience that gives you a glimpse of how Cretans produce honey and olive oil locally.

Cooking Classes on Crete

What better way to experience the true magic of olives than to learn how to cook with them yourself? On Crete, you have the unique opportunity to learn from the best what the Mediterranean diet is and how to make every ingredient a protagonist in the tasting experience.

The Olive Farm

On the western side of Crete, not far from Chania, you will find The Olive Farm, a rusting and authentic old farm based on sustainable principles and with deepest respect for nature. From it’s beautiful location, you can enjoy the magical views of the Lefka Ori mountain range rising above the plains of the picturesque Apokoronas region.

Experience a mindful day where you will pick fresh olives directly from the trees in the grove, learn about the process of making oil and learn how to cook Cretan style with fresh olive oil. Uhhh, and, you get to take with you home a bottle of the freshly produced olive oil from the olives you picked.

Have a look at their website here

Traditional Cooking Classes

Traditional Cooking Classes is a company specialized in gastronomical experiences on Crete. They offer a wide range of sensuous experiences that will spellbind you to the Greek cuisine and the scenic island.

You will learn to use the commodities of the island and, to bring out the best features of each in your dishes. No longer will you have to watch youtube videos and read long boring blog posts, but you will actually be able to pair ingredients according to Greek traditions.

Have a look at their website here

Best Places to Stay on Crete

There are many wonderful places to stay on Crete, but if you truly want to feel Crete and bond with the island, we suggest that you try one of the following accommodation options.

Vamos Traditional Village

table in front of a house facade in vamos village on crete island greece

Escape hustle and bustle of everyday life, even the stressful mass tourism resorts of the island and bond with Crete on a whole different level.

Vamos Traditional Village is a small local company specializing in holidays with a difference that focus on the cultural aspects of the Vamos area and which promote ethical sustainable eco-tourism and agro-tourism. Step back in time in our beautiful traditional village, away from the busy tourist resorts but only a few minutes drive from several sandy beaches. Our guests range from individual travelers, families and small groups of friends, who love to enjoy the benefits that responsible low-impact tourism can bring to the area and the local community. We offer accommodation in traditional guest houses and activities that promote village life, the tradition of our villages in respect to our history.

Vamos Traditional Village is an exciting co-operative that has turned an entire village into a charming and authentic resort. You can choose between small traditional townhouses, villas and cottages, with or without swimming pool.

What’s really interesting here, is the many social activities offered in the village. A range of fun and cultural activities, as well as events, are on the program throughout the year. Cooking classes, village festivals, guided walks in the beautiful scenery surrounding Vamos, are just some of the things you can look forward to here.

The history of Vamos village goes back to the 8th century, having been under influence of different cultures. Architectural heritage is abundant in Vamos, with many traditional and original houses still standing, giving the village a natural charm and appeal. Actually, Vamos is prized of the most attractive villages in Crete.

Read more and book on their website

Enagron Ecotourism Village

terrace of apartment at the enagron ecotourism village on Crete island Greece with mountains in the background

In the heart of the picturesque Rethymno region, at the foothills of Mount Psiloritis, the highest mountain of Crete, lies the ancient village of Axos surrounded by olive groves, fruit plantations and wild flora. Right here, in the middle of nature, you will find the Enagron Village, an ecotourism resort built on principles of sustainability and respect for Cretan nature and culture.

The village comprise a total of 32 fully furnished apartments, all paying homage to the traditional Cretan style. Here you will be able to completely disconnect from your regular everyday life and reconnect with your roots. The village also have “public” spaces such as tavern, lounge area, spa & wellness, restaurant etc. Also, there are a number of stunning vantage points where you can relax while taking in the magnificent views over the evergreen mountain valley.

Aside from the authentic and very charming frames of the village, there are a number of great activities and experiences available to you. For example, traditional bread and cheese making class, or Cretan cooking class. Also, various excursions are being arranged where you get to experience local places of interest, like the Monastery Of Halepa, or botanical walk where you can discover why Crete is deeply linked to traditional medicine and high-quality foods.

Read more and book on their website

Metohi Kindelis

Wellness and yoga retreat Metohi Kindelis on Crete island Greece

Located just 10 minutes from Chania town, you will find the Metohi Kindelis farm, a rural hideaway. The farm has existed for centuries and provided Chania with fresh produce from its fields and, was actually one of the first farm to be certified as organic in Crete.

Metohi Kindelis have created a sanctuary of serenity, a place that lets you connect with nature on a deeper level. All meals served are made from fresh produce from the farm, and include special holistic approaches. For example, you can find special detox dishes.

Moreover, the Metohi Kindelis farm offers a range of of mindful experiences, perfect for cleansing mind and body. Yoga classes, massages, wellness treatments, qi gong and tai chi, are some of the wonderful activities you can indulge in while completely rebuilding your system.

At Metohi Kindelis you will stay in one of the three charming and fully equipped guesthouses, boasting Cretan authenticity and charm down to the very last detail. You will feel more like a guest of the family rather than a hotel guest here, a much more present way of traveling.

Read more and book on their website

Museums to visit on Crete island

Are you interested in the history of the Cretan culture and the influence of olive oil, then a visit to one of the island’s olive museums is a must. Here are the best and most interesting museums you should consider adding to your vacation schedule on Crete.

Olive Oil Museum of Kapsaliana

The small olive oil museum is located in the charming village of Kapsaliana, a village considered of high cultural heritage.  The museum is kind of a hidden gem, as it has not been promoted very much due to lack of attention from the tourist operators. But it’s not fair, because the museum is a treasury of collectibles that tell the unique story of Cretan olive oil and, the village itself.

The old olive mill stored here was the original one used by the monks of the nearby beautiful Arkadi monastery, which has a history that dates back to the 11th century.

Legend has it that the olive mill not only supplied the monks at the monastery, but led to the foundation of the entire village of Kapsaliana. The mill was in use for almost 300 years, until the village was abandoned following World War II.

Museum of Vouves

The Olive Museum of Vouves is housed in a traditional building from the 1800s, in Ano Vouves, in which all the original characteristic elements of the architecture of the region are preserved. The preeminent olive-producing region of the hinterland of the municipality of Platanias, with a long tradition in olive growing, where the famous and multi-award winning Kolymbarium oils derive from.

The museum is found just next to the legendary olive tree of Vouves, said to be the oldest in the world with its 3 – 5,000 years of age. The tree has a trunk circumference of 12.50 meters and a diameter of 4.60 meter.

At the museum, you will be taken on a journey back in time to understand how olives have been related to life in Crete throughout times, from planting, cultivating, harvesting, pruning, storing and processing.

Dermitzaki Folklore Collection

The Dermitzaki Folklore Collection and Olive and Oil Museum is situated in the village of Vatolakkos, southwest of Chania. The museum is housed in an old oil factory dating back from the 18th century, the oldest of a total of six factories the village used to have.

The collection consist of more than 100 objects which illuminate the industrial and domestic lives of the Cretan society throughout times.

The 5 Best Olive Oils of Crete

Crete is the producer of some of the best olive oils in the world. Thousands of years of cultivation and development

Pamako Premium High-Phenolic Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

What makes this olive oil so special? Simple! It contains a significantly high amount of polyphenols (compounds acting as antioxidants) due to the unique combination of two of Crete’s best olive varieties; Koroneiki and Matsolia.

The flavor is intensely fruity, with aromas of artichoke, rosemary and wildflowers. The aftertaste is mildly spicy and bitter, perfect for a range of Mediterranean dishes.

Purchase here

Kolymvari Extra Virgin Olive Oil PDO

bottles of kolymvari extra virgin olive oil from crete island greece

With a certificate of Protected Designation of Origin, you are sure to find an absolutely superior product in this amazing oil. The olives are harvested with much attention and carefulness not to bruise the fruits, this leaves you with a fruity aroma that reminiscent of those warm days on the beautiful island of Crete.

Sitia Lasithiou Kritis

bottle of sitia kritis olive oil from crete island greece

Based on koroneiki olives from the groves of the famous Toplou monastery in northeastern Crete, the Sitia Lasithiou Kritis oil comes with hundreds of years of knowledge on how to bring out the best flavor. The fruits are carefully harvested by beating the trees with wooden branches in order not to damage the fruits when they drop. You will find a flavorful combination of slight bitterness, spiciness and fresh citrus fruits.

P.G.I. Chania Kritis Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Combinations of mild fruitiness and spiciness leaves you with a distinguished flavor perfect for either fish, salads or even marinates. This is an excellent all-round olive oil that truly brings out the aromas of authentic Crete.

Skoutari EVOO

Skoutari organix evoo from Crete, Greece, in ceramic bottle.

Made from the philosophy of Hippocrates…“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”  The Skoutari extra virgin olive oil carries, as one of few, a health certificate according to the EU No 432/2012.

The oil is based on Crete’s most beloved fruit, the Koroneiki, and handpicked with much care. The Skoutari is only produced in very small amounts due to the high state of attention given to produce the finest oil.