beer

9 of the Best Beers to Try in Greece

While many people may know that Greece produces some distinctive, flavorful varieties of wine, they may not be aware that it also has a rich beer heritage. Beer is particularly refreshing during the hottest summer months while people relax on the beach. Various regions of the country have their own go-to beers, and great examples of lagers, ales, and more are now brewed in Greece. The following are some must-try drinks for fans of beer who are traveling in Greece:

 

1. Nisos

In 2014, Nisos won the second prize at the European Beer Star competition, an impressive feat. Nisos is brewed on Tinos, a small island, by Cyclades Microbrewery. This beer is a pilsner that has several spices and herbal aromatics, adding to the complexity of the flavor. Several different flavor varieties are available, including a Beaufort edition that has heavy caramel notes and a high ABV (alcohol by volume), as well as one with the refreshing taste of green apple and lime. All Nisos beers are produced with organic ingredients and made in small quantities. These options are all designed as a great complement to a warm beach day.

 

2. Vergina

For more than two decades, Macedonian Thrace Brewery in Komotini, a small town near Thessaloniki, has produced truly distinctive brews. The brand has emerged as among the most popular in Greece and is definitely worth a try. The Red Vergina has a strong caramel taste, while the white variety offers much fruitier notes for those who want something lighter and sweeter.

 

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3. Septem

Two brothers, an economist and a chemist, founded Septem about a decade ago on the island of Evia in Orologio. The founders aimed to create a refined beer that would stand up to the distinctive wines of Greece. The duo applies many philosophies gleaned from the wine industry to the production of their beers, which include award-winning pilsners and pale ales, as well as seasonal varieties. Visitors who make their way to Evia are welcome to check out the brewery and try some of its great options, and travelers can simply look for beer options at different tavernas as they explore the country.

 

4. Corfu Beer

A family-run brewery, Corfu Beer is located in the small village of Arillas on the island of Corfu. Brewer Claudio Mouzakitis leads the operation and specializes in ales, along with some limited-edition runs. Corfu offers a wide range of different options, from a ginger beer to a fruity Weissbier. The brewery also offers some more bitter varieties, along with a red. The island of Corfu has demonstrated a strong affinity for ginger beer since the British brought the drink to the island in the 1800s, so it is something that travelers will find in several spots. However, this brewery’s version is one of the best.

 

5. Kirki

A microbrewery located in Halkida, Kirki is a newcomer and has operated only since 2015. Now, the brewery offers two celebrated options. One is the namesake Kirki, a cloudy pale ale that does not get filtered, and Pikri, a very light ale. Despite the young age of the brewery, Kirki has created quite a name for itself and will likely continue to grow rapidly in the future.

 

6. Piraiki

Pharmacist Alexander Koumantou launched Piraiki in Drapetsona, Piraeus, a part of Athens, in 2005. The brewery relocated to central Greece five years later so that it could increase production and change some of its methodologies. Piraiki maintains a commitment to authenticity and actually follows Reinheitsgebot, the German law for beer purity, in addition to using organic ingredients. These beers contain no additives or preservatives. Focused largely on German varieties of beer, the brewery produces pilsners, lagers, and pale ales.

 

7. Volkan

The name of this beer comes from the eruption that occurred in Santorini in 1600 BCE. Volkan produces beers with many of the most distinctive Greek flavors. For example, the Black beer highlights honey and citrus while the Gray beer has orange and bergamot notes. Travelers should find out if there have been any other unique additions to the Volkan lineup in the tavernas that they visit.

 

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8. Zeos

Produced under the claim of being the “beer of the gods,” Zeos has a distinctive blue label that visitors may quickly begin to recognize during their time in Greece. Individuals should try all of the different varieties to see which one is their favorite. One of the most unique options is the Black beer, which has the flavor of honey, brown sugar and grape. Another option combines orange and lemon for a very refreshing experience. Many Greeks enjoy the Weiss, a white beer that subtly combines the flavors of fruit and spices.

 

9. Bios 5

Featuring Demeter, the goddess of earth, nature, an agriculture, on the label, Bios 5 is a brew that attempts to replicate what the first beers produced would have tasted like. The brewery behind the drink uses only five ingredients, which is what inspired the “5” in the beer’s name. These ingredients are rice, corn, rice, wheat, and barley.

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7 of the Most Unique Beverages That Greece Has to Offer Visitors

Tourists who visit Greece should understand the unique drinking culture that exists in the country. The most traditional drinks are designed to be enjoyed with food, and it is rare for Greeks to drink alcohol without at least a little something to nibble on, even in bars. In the more rural parts of the country, complimentary small plates may be provided alongside glasses of beer or wine. A number of different traditional spirits exist in Greece, several of which have flavors that tourists may not expect, such as aniseed. Of course, Greece also has a rich wine and beer culture, along with some traditional nonalcoholic beverages. Some of the options that tourists may want to try include:

1. Tsipouro

A product interwoven closely with the Greek lifestyle, “tsipouro” is almost always found on occasions of hospitality or entertainment. The spirit is produced by distilling grape marc, the fermented skins of grapes otherwise used to create wine. Individuals may serve tsipouro in a number of different ways depending on the season and time of day. Sometimes, tsipouro comes chilled as a form of refreshment while at other times it comes hot. Many people drink tsipouro instead of coffee or wine, and the flavors pair particularly well with feta, olives, ham, and other mezze, as well as desserts such as halva.

2. Ouzo

People who have not yet visited Greece may still be familiar with “ouzo,” as it has become a popular spirit around the world while remaining intimately connected to Greek culture. Ouzo has a very strong anise flavor and aroma. Frequently, people serve it with a bit of water and ice in a small glass, a preparation that turns the clear liquid to a cloudy white color. The slightly sweet flavor of the beverage means that it pairs very well with small fish, as well as fries and other appetizers.

 

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3. Raki

Also known as “tsikoudia,” “raki” comes from the island of Crete. A strong spirit, raki usually contains between 40 percent and 65 percent alcohol by volume, so travelers should definitely keep this in mind when they try it. People who travel in Crete will undoubtedly find the spirit, but it has spread to other regions of the country. Usually, raki is offered as a sort of digestif after a meal in a restaurant or taverna. The annual distillation of raki in Crete has become a massive celebration complete with food, music, and dancing. Usually, this event takes place toward the end of October or the beginning of November, so this would be an ideal time to come to Crete. Tsikoudia is the Greek name for the drink, but the Turkish word “raki” has become more popular. The term raki come from a similar Turkish drink.

4. Retsina

A uniquely Greek drink, “retsina” is a sort of wine cocktail that uses white wine or rose as a base and then adds the flavor of pine resin. The history of retsina stretches back thousands of years in Greece, and some say that the flavor profile comes from when Aleppo pine was used to seal amphorae and other wine vessels. The sealing process helped to keep air out while also adding the flavor of pine to the wine.

5. Greek Coffee

Travelers who have had Turkish coffee may think that the Greek variety is very similar. Unlike coffee from a lot of other places in the world, the Greek version is quite thick, as hot water is combined directly with very finely ground beans that are allowed to settle into the bottom of the cup. Individuals should be careful not to consume the grounds when they sip. What distinguishes Turkish from Greek coffee is the roasting process for the beans. Greek coffee uses beans that have not been roasted as long.

 

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6. Metaxa

Many people around Greece drink Metaxa as a type of digestif after a large meal. The spirit tastes a lot like a sweet brandy. Unlike the other drinks on this list, Metaxa refers to a brand rather than a style. Produced in Athens since 1888, Metaxa has become one of the most widely exported spirits from Greece, so visitors may have seen it in other places around the world. The liqueur is made from white wine distillates aged in oak casts in an underground cellar before being blended with Muscat wine, rose petals, and herbs.

7. Masticha

Another Greek after-dinner drink is “masticha,” which is created from the aromatic resin of the mastic tree that possesses therapeutic properties. The tree flourishes only in the southern part of Chios, and the liqueur is produced primarily on the island. The production process involves the distillation of mastic, which can only be undertaken in Greece, according to legislation from the European Union. The product has become available in a few international markets, but there is nothing like trying it for the first time in its homeland.

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9 of the Best Seafood Dishes that Greece Has to Offer Tourists

When people think of Greek cuisine, they may first think about cheese or grilled lamb, but the heart of cuisine in many parts of Greece is seafood. After all, much of the country is surrounded by water, so it makes sense that so many meals are based on what the sea provides. While traveling to the islands, you’ll have the chance to try all kinds of different types of seafood in a variety of preparations. However, even on the mainland, you can find incredible fish, mussels, squid, and so much else. Some of the must-try dishes include:

 

Fried calamari

Virtually every psarotaverna, or fish tavern, will serve fried calamari, especially during the summer months. This dish makes the perfect snack and is often served as an appetizer to share before a meal. Typically, the squid is dredged in flour spiced with various seasonings and then fried until it is crispy and golden. The seasonings are often enough, but a sometimes a spritz of lemon juice brings that extra freshness to the calamari, as do fresh tomatoes and cucumbers.

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Shrimp saganaki

Cheese may come to mind when you hear the word “saganaki,” but the word actually refers to a frying pan with a thick bottom and two handles. The shrimp version, like the cheese, is prepared in this dish. Shrimp saganaki involves sautéeing fresh shrimp in Greek olive oil and then deglazing the pan with ouzo, an anise-flavored liquor that’s widely popular in Greece. The cooked shrimp are added to a spicy tomato sauce that’s topped with fresh herbs and a sprinkling of feta. Traditionally, the dish is served as an appetizer, although many people find it filling enough to constitute a whole meal.

 

Sardines

One of the most popular fish to eat in Greece, sardines (or sardeles) can be found in a variety of dishes. You’ll often encounter them on menus as a small dish that comes either grilled or fried, depending on the restaurant. Either way, sardines are delicious. Another tasty, but less common preparation involves baking the sardines with fresh lemon, oregano, and tomato sauce. As a general rule, smaller sardines are more flavorful than larger ones.

 

Mussels

In Northern Greece, mussels can be found in just about any fish restaurant because of their popularity. Typically, the mussels are prepared in a tomato sauce with feta cheese after they have been meticulously scrubbed. This variety is known as mussels saganaki because it is finished in the oven in that same pan. Greek chefs also commonly steam mussels with fennel, fresh tomato, and ouzo before finishing them off with cream. Many people enjoy sipping the salty broth from the bottom of the pan or soaking it up with some bread.

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Lavraki

In Greek, the word “lavraki” refers to sea bass. In Greece, it’s popular to coat a whole fish with salt, pepper, and herbs, and then grill it over charcoal. Sometimes, restaurants will serve the fish with ladolemono, a sort of lemon vinaigrette dressing. Another version of lavraki involves wrapping the fish in parchment paper and baking it. Travelers on the island of Cephalonia will find the fish virtually everywhere, but it is also offered at other restaurants across the islands and mainland.

 

Cuttlefish

Similar to squid is the cuttlefish, which has shorter tentacles. Because of the ease of cooking cuttlefish, especially compared to squid, it has become very popular throughout Greece. Unlike squid, cuttlefish is virtually never fried, but instead stewed in a tomato sauce or sautéed with spinach. The sautéed version usually contains bay leaves, dill, tomato, and lemon juice for a nice tart kick.

 

Crab salad

A traditional dish served throughout Greece, crab salad makes good use of fresh crab meat by combining it with lemon juice, mayonnaise, onion, tomato, and white wine. Some aromatic herbs usually top off the mixture—in addition to a variety of other ingredients that depend on the chef’s particular taste. You’ll likely find that different islands, and even different restaurants on the same island, have their own secret ingredients that they think makes their crab salad the best in the country. While most chefs will not reveal their secrets, it can be fun to try to guess what the mystery flavors are.

 

Octopus

Considered a delicacy in Greece, octopus can prove difficult to catch, so it does not often appear on restaurant menus. However, Greek chefs can do wonderful things to this protein so that it simply melts in the mouth. On the islands, you’ll sometimes encounter an octopus hanging out to dry outside of a taverna. Once caught, restaurants usually dry the octopus for a period of time and then grill it on the barbecue, although some chefs also stew it with tomatoes and serve it over pasta.

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Astakomakaronada

If you spend some time out on the water, you may spot lobsters crawling along the floor of the sea in the shallower depths. This familiar creature serves as the start of astakomakaronada, a classic Greek dish considered by many the best the Mediterranean has to offer. The lobster is served on top of pasta with a sauce that is usually made from garlic, tomato, onion, and wine, as well as a small pinch of star anise to give it a unique flavor. While the dish is not hard to find among psarotavernas, it’s typically one of the most expensive options, although it’s certainly worth trying at least once.

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6 of the Most Fun and Fascinating Day Trips to Take from Athens

Many tourists choose to start their Greek adventure in Athens, the country’s cultural and political capital as well as its largest city. While Athens has some incredible culinary offerings and some of the most iconic ruins in all of Greece, you should still make an effort to get out and see other parts of the country. Luckily, there are a wide range of exciting day trips from Athens that will allow you to see more important ancient sites, truly breathtaking scenery, and other attractions. Some of the day trips you may want to check out include:

 

  1. Delphi

One of the most culturally important cities in Ancient Greece, Delphi is an active, extensive archaeological site as well as a modern city. On a day trip from Athens, be sure to check out the Temple of Apollo and the Tholos, as well as the nearby town of Arachova, a picturesque winter resort. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Delphi once served as the home of the famed oracle; the Ancient Greeks believed Delphi was the “navel of the world.” The ruins in the area include stadiums, temples, and theaters, all situated on the southwestern slope of Mount Parnassus, with commanding views of the surrounding area. To orient yourself and learn the context for everything you’ll see, start your day at the Delphi Museum. To get to Delphi, you can rent a car and drive at your own pace, but there are also many guided tours that will take you directly from Athens to Delphi.

 

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  1. Meteora

While Meteora is much further from Athens than Delphi, you can still make the trip in a single day if you’re willing to spend a decent chunk of time in the car or on a train. However, Meteora is worth the time it takes to get there. Another UNESCO World Heritage site, Meteora is home to many centuries-old monasteries constructed on top of enormous natural rock pillars. The natural scenery is incredible, and the manmade structures blend in perfectly with the imposing rock formations. You can also explore parts of the monasteries and meet some of the monks while enjoying the fresh air and natural scenery. There are several travel companies offering overnight tours that combine Meteora with Delphi; consider one of these to combine a trip to two stunning sites.

 

  1. Cape Sounio

Not far from Athens is Cape Sounio, which can be a half-day or full-day trip from the city. The primary attraction in the area is the Temple of Poseidon, which dates back to about 50 BC. This ancient ruin celebrates the Greek god of the sea and provides some of the best views of the Aegean in the whole country. A nearby beach offers crystalline waters for swimming and diving during the summer months as well. In addition, the area is known for its tavernas with fresh seafood dishes. If you go, try to stay in the area to snap a photo of the sunset—the sun sinks behind the ruins and lights up the sky in beautiful orange and pink. Fortunately, there are number of different organized tours to the area, so a trip to Cape Sounio is easy to fit into a busy travel schedule.

 

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  1. Ancient Olympia

Olympia is the home of the first Olympics held in ancient times, and you can see where the original games were played as well as view related artifacts on display at the nearby Archaeological Museum. This museum also houses a number of pieces from the Temple of Zeus, a local structure that has become a shining example of Doric architecture. To learn more about the history of sports in Greece, visit the nearby Museum of the Olympic Games.

Visitors can book private tours to Ancient Olympia that focus on both the gorgeous landscape of the area and its historic importance. Many of these tours also stop at the Corinth Canal, which divides the Peloponnese peninsula from mainland Greece. Built in the late 1800s to connect the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf, this narrow canal flows between steep limestone cliffs. Though its narrowness prevented it from ever attracting much shipping traffic, the canal is now popular as a tourist attraction.

 

  1. Evia

Not all of the incredible day trips from Athens are bound by land. If you want to get your feet wet, check out Evia, near the Attica prefecture. This island breaks many of the preconceived notions about Greek islands because of its huge size and expansive green space. In addition, it features some great ancient cities to explore and spas heated by thermal springs in Aidipsos. However, if you’re after a more traditional Greek beach trip, Evia also provides that too—try the Lichades islands. This small group of islands off the northwest coast of Evia is often called the Maldives or Bahamas of Greece.

 

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  1. Thermopylae

If you have a strong interest in Greek history, take a day trip to Thermopylae, the site where Persian troops led by Xerxes and guided by Ephialtes launched a surprise attack on Greek soldiers. The ensuing Battle of Thermopylae saw King Leonidas of Sparta staying behind with a small group of soldiers and fighting to the death to protect the rest of the Greek forces as they retreated. The story was retold in the 2006 blockbuster 300. Thermopylae also has significance in Greek mythology. Purportedly, Hercules used the hot springs here to bathe and regain energy after his exploits. Guided tours that take visitors on hikes around the area are available, and these options often include a dip in the same hot springs that Hercules is said to have used.