Agrotourism holidays full of hands-on action and where one can connect with local societies, are a blossoming option in Greece.
By: Alexia Amvrazi
Agrotourism: new travel trend
Gone are the days when basking in the sun, spending endless hours sipping ouzo and nibbling on a meze feast, and strolling through meandering cobblestone village streets to admire picturesque architecture and bump into local legends was enough during a Greek holiday. Today, travelers thirst for adventure, profound experiences, educational activities, and spiritual fulfillment when they book their flight. Thankfully, Greece caters to all of them by offering exquisite possibilities for taking in culture in indiscriminate ways.
Crisis breeds creativity
Greece’s financial crisis instigated a notable exodus from the capital and other major cities, as people in their 20s-50s returned to their native lands or other rural areas to start up farms. These nature-inspired enterprises include traditional and gourmet food production, culture tours, winemaking., and adventure holidays set in the vast variety of stunning Greek landscapes. Among these new businesses emerged the trend for agrotourism vacations. Travelers may enjoy accommodations set in naturally splendid or traditionally rich areas. They can also partake in holidays at farms with guesthouses. There, visitors can actually participate in the agricultural action — from gathering olives for making oil, to being involved in winemaking, mastic cultivation, and more.
Although – or perhaps because – I’ve always lived in cities, I feel vibrantly alive when I’m in nature. In my mid 30s, I visited Eumelia Agrotourism Farm in the Peloponnese for a weekend yoga retreat. There I discovered that the owner was seeking help to run the guesthouse and farm on a voluntary exchange basis. My husband and I, both nature enthusiasts, were ready for the experience. For four months we left behind our Athens apartment to live in a tiny cottage. My duties were to cook for guests. My biggest feat was a 20-person Thanksgiving feast involving two turkeys, two kinds of stuffing, three side dishes, and gravy — all prepared in a kitchen so tiny it could barely fit me. I made chutneys, pickles and jams from vegetables and fruits growing on the farm, and ran a blog to promote the business.
My husband fed the cacophonous chickens, ducks and rabbits, occasionally wrestled with a stubborn ram called Foivos as he tried to put him back in his cage. He helped out doing odd maintenance jobs like varnishing or olive gathering. In our free time we took long walks among the thick olive groves (especially dreamy in the light of the full moon). We often drove down to the nearby coast for delectable fish lunches in the sun, and read books or played games by the fireplace. I didn’t miss my urban existence. I started waking up naturally at 6:00 am, used olive oil as a body moisturizer. I relished experiences like walking across a field and stopping, awestruck to drink in the dramatic glory of a sunset in absolute silence, the air thick with the smell of firewood and the crisp coolness of “green air”. This experience changed me. Someday I’ll live in nature again.
Before and since that experience I have traveled across the country exploring nature-based accommodations that offer a rewarding and exciting stay, whether it be for a day or a couple of weeks. My selection of the top places to recommend follow.
For Active Agrotourism Holidays
Just outside of the tiny and picturesque mountain village of Seliana in Ahaia, Peloponnese, Re-Green is an eco-culture guesthouse with elegant facilities and a permaculture farm.The owners live there throughout the year and welcome guests for workshops and courses that range from botany, meditation, healthy eating and yoga to permaculture, survival skills and African dance.
Tel: (+30) 6948407233
An organic olive farm with five cottages that welcomes guests to help in gathering olives, fruit and almonds, press grapes and feed or just visit the ‘household’ animals. The farm also runs occasional workshops in yoga, raw food preparation and more.
Tel: (+30) 6947151400
Red Tractor Farm
Just a short boat-ride from Athens, on the verdant and tranquil island of Kea, you’ll find Red Tractor Farm, where guests can learn about local winemaking practices, try their hand at making traditional jams and preserves and learn how the owners make cookies from acorns.
Tel: (+30) 22880 21346
For Agrotourism-style Accommodations
A hotel & agrotourism Farm in Evia, Eleonas (Greek for olive grove) produces its own olive oil, and even has a jewelry line inspired by the olive. The hotel has double, single and family rooms and offers plenty of activity options on the grounds and in the surrounding area.
Tel: (+30) 22270 71 619
Mikro Papingo 1700
This eco-conscious and multi-awarded boutique hotel & spa makes for a luxuriously delightful base for exploring the stunning Zagori area with its astoundingly well preserved traditional architecture, lush natural landscapes including Vikos gorge, the deepest gorge in Europe, and the Pindos National Park.
Tel: (+30) 26530 41179
This beautiful and cozy guesthouse, which is set in the lush Ikarian countryside and overlooks a vineyard that rollls toward the Aegean sea, is accompanied by an organic farm, winery, wine museum and a fantastic farm restaurant where owner Eleni Karimalis cooks up a storm for her guests.
Tel: (+30) 22750 31151
More agrotourism info
If you’re interested in a longer, more hands-on stay that involves volunteering, look up a huge variety of choices on the following websites:
What a great way to reconnect with nature. When planning your next trip, consider an agrotourism adventure.