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Greek activity holidays

We organize greek gastronomy themed holidays, events, experiences  and workshops in places full of great people and great food. Discover the flavors of Greece through Hand Picked experiences.

Get on board, participate, relax, taste and feel like a local. It is a Journey through time and flavors.

We are looking forward to meeting all those foodies and travellers out there who appreciate the importance of authentic flavours, traditions and sustainable living.

What We Stand For

Travellers not tourists

We want you to travel like a local. We will travel with you, helping you embrace the local culture. You become part of the community and get immersed in everyday life, and some of the unique foodie activities that make this area famous. You can make the cheese, harvest the olives for olive oil, the grapes for wine or simply sample several traditional products and learn the local culinary habits. All this is wrapped together in our unique activity holidays in Greece.

Natural environment

We remain true to nature, trying to preserve natural resources with all our activities. Our eco-tourism principles mean that we will do our best to respect the local natural resources at every step.

Local economy

We aim to bring economic benefits to the local communities where we work. More of the cost of your holiday stays in local people’s hands, so you will be supporting the people who help make your experience truly authentic.

Authenticity and culture

We value authenticity and tradition so we hope that our guests will understand the true essence of Greece and become part of the community. We respect and promote the local character of each community, making efforts to conserve both the natural and the cultural heritage.

Who We Are

We belong to a generation that grew up picking the fruit straight from the tree. We lived on sour-dough bread that our mothers and grandmothers made and filled ourselves up with olive oil and home-grown tomatoes. That was back in the 80’s… in Greece. When hungry all we had to do was to grab a piece of bread and forage the garden or “make do” with a delicious piece of leftover pie. Happy and flavoursome times!

  • It is exactly these memories  that have shaped our decision to create Hand Picked Greece and deliver Greek activity holidays so others can share these good things. We have a strong desire to conserve, sustain and promote the flavours and experiences of Greece that we grew up with: simple, fresh and authentic.
  • We  have a passion for food, nature and the outdoors. We want to contribute to making a better place for local people to live in and a better place for travellers to visit.

Valia, Founder

Following my PhD in environmental science and a career in climate research, I have decided to focus my life more on my passion for food and all things natural. For many years I divided my time between the UK, where I studied and worked, and Greece, which I went on loving! I now consider both countries as home. I decided to turn my childhood memories into a business and founded Hand Picked Greece so that travellers can experience all the wonderful foodie things that I grew up with and just took for granted: natural and wholesome food, seasonal harvests, the many uses of tomatoes, traditional pies and home-made bread, warm summer nights and al fresco eating. Now that I am mainly living in Greece I am committed to spreading the word on seasonal and wholesome food and sustainable living.

Giannis, Founder

Hand Picked Greece for me is an opportunity to put into practise all the experience I have gained getting involved in many different projects; campaigning for human rights, working in the hospitality sector, growing things, farming and preserving heirloom seeds. I forgot to mention …enjoying long meals with friends, sharing wine and being brought up in Greece. Social equity has always been high up on my list so by founding HPG I wanted to develop a tourism model that supports local people and helps the economy to grow. I have a passion for trekking and camping and tend to spend long hours up in the mountains. It’s a great place for some creative thinking and strengthening the vision for self-sufficiency. I’m excited that our eco-tourism project is developing so well and I am eager to communicating our values to like minded people. No matter what I’m doing I’m always on the look-out for sustainable solutions!

Lefteris, host and tour guide

I was born in Athens by Cretan parents who later on decided to move back to Crete motivated by their will to raise their family in a natural environment. In my early years I have been assisting my father’s attempt to revive our family’s agricultural heritage, participating in olive harvesting, wine production, wild mushroom and herb collection. I returned to the Greek metropolis for my university studies in business administration, a discipline in which I worked for a decade before I decided to move back to my homeland. I have shared most of my life between the natural and urban environment and so I have developed a deep appreciation on the benefits and hardships of agricultural life. I am eager to share these experiences with people from all over world that share the same need for a more natural lifestyle.

Frini, Resident Cooking Instructor

I grew up in a family where everybody cooks, non-stop. My first teacher was my grandmother who immigrated to Crete form Asia Minor and carried along a significant gastronomic heritage. She taught me how to make pies, tomato paste, orange marmalade, Easter cookies and many more traditional dishes; she filled my childhood memories with flavors, tastes and skills. As I was leaving this wonderful childhood behind I realized that most people eat to live but there are some who live to eat. Happily, I figured that I belonged to the second group! I studied in Cyprus the “Art and Science of culinary preparation” and have been working as a gastronomy consultant and instructor of the Greek and Cretan cuisine ever since. Over the years, I have presented several radio shows focused on gastronomy and participated in numerous food blogs. I have taught dieticians and chefs the secrets of Greek and Cretan cuisine and I am aspiring to spread the word for the Greek diet as widely as possible. It is healthy, sustainable by nature but most of all flavorsome.

Korina, instructor - artisan cosmetics

I was born and raised on Cretan land and have spent my childhood years observing my nana collecting herbs, drying plants and grinding seeds. My mentor on creating cosmetics using all natural ingredients has been my grandmother. She had mastered the art of producing natural cosmetics and had been taught from her grandmother, they all spend long hours up in the mountains collecting the herbs and treated most of our colds and wounds using those herbs and flowers. Over the years I adopted and revived recipes and methodologies, so now we prepare products that can be used by small kids or even during pregnancy. To provide ingredients for the workshops at the Olive Farm we collect wild herbs, flowers and seeds throughout the year, from either the farm or during our excursions. We infuse olive oil and we also prepare our own essential oils.
Nature and sustainability form a major part of my own personal values so it is my principle to communicate those values during the workshops and inspire people the way my grandmother inspired me!

Antonia, host at the Mani Peninsula tours

I grew up in the remote and beautiful Mani peninsula. I have lived elsewhere, but eventually returned to Kardamyli where I have been running my own guest houses for more than ten years.
I love my birthplace and enjoy long walks and visits to the beach – and creating jewellery out of almost anything.
I would like to invite you to come and experience the Mani for yourself. Come and meet the people and relax in this beautiful place. I love to cook and to offer hospitality and to meet visitors from all over the world. You will be made most welcome.
Good slow cooking and a relaxed pace are definitely on the agenda here.

Lianka - Visiting chef

Cooking is the love of my life …I am officially a chef but I prefer to call myself a cook. Having worked in hospitality for many years, I decided to open up my own restaurant, Nonna, at the city center of Athens. I am now spending my days and nights cooking, emotionally! Always considering food as the fuel for our mind, spirit and body the challenge is always there for me; combining the right ingredients to end up with a nutritious, tasty and beautiful dish that makes people happy. I love teaching people how to cook beautiful food for their loved ones, sharing my knowledge and skills and fully respecting any nutritional habits that arise due to allergies religion or regional characteristics. My interest in travelling and my love for natural living allowed me to fully comprehend the relationship that we ought to develop with the natural world if we are to live sustainably. I am honored to be part of Hand Picked Greece’s team and I am looking forward to cooking wonderful Greek dishes with the produce we collect from the Olive Farm and surrounding villages. There is nothing more fulfilling than handpicking the food you will end up eating, respecting and loving nature for the great gifts we are being provided with.

Introducing Eleni

I studied and worked in the UK for many years, in the PR sector, but I’m really enjoying being back in Greece more full-time. The way of life really suits me. I have a passion for all things holistic and everything natural – especially food of course.
As a dedicated vegan you’d think that Crete (famous for its cheese, cheese is everywhere) would be the last place I’d want to live, but actually it works surprisingly well.
In recent years I’ve developed a bit of a passion for social media, a really important route for us to promote the business. So do follow us on Facebook or Pintrest and we’ll keep you up to date with how it is all developing.

Marilou Nikolaou, Yoga instructor and host

Following my studies in management and communications and after working in related fields for over ten years, I decided to search for a more fulfilling and creative way of life.
I founded LU Creative Studio, an artistic multiplex where creative seminars, retreats and special events are organised.
This quest for creativity also lead me to the path of Yoga. I started practicing from a very early age with different yoga instructors and participated in various theoretical courses and workshops. In 2010 I received my first Yoga Teacher Training Diploma (200hrs) from Sivananda Vedanta Centre and in 2013 I completed the Advanced Teacher Training Course (500hrs) in Ghyta Yoga School (both centres accredited by the Yoga Alliance International).I enjoy teaching small groups, especially close to nature. I find that it is easier for students to understand their inner potential through the practice, away from the noise and distractions of city life. Looking inwards comes naturally, after a couple of sessions; we can then be more creative and distance ourselves from the familiar way of thinking.

Our Suppliers

We have established a network of wonderful people whose products and services are helping us create our special Greek foodie offering.

  • Local artisan producers, winemakers, beekeepers and cheese makers.
  • Local farmers that often provide us with their produce.
  • Hotel and house owners with wonderful personal histories, amazing skills and a passion for what they do.
  • Mountaineer and walking tour guides who know the area well – all the trails and paths, the gorges and the the best spots to enjoy the magical views
  • Naturalists and scientists who day in and day out concentrate their efforts on preserving the natural beauty of Greece and communicating science and raising environmental awareness.