Nature’s Best: Greek Folklore Tea Remedies

Hippocrates, the father of ancient Greek medicine, whose knowledge was so way ahead of its time that we’re still startled by it today, strongly advocated the use of herbs for their remarkable curative purposes.

Throughout the millennia, Greeks have passed on this know-how from generation to generation and entrepreneurial modern Greeks continue to celebrate this ancient wisdom by successfully marketing delicious and sophisticated blends in Greece and worldwide. Here we offer you a warming mini guide of the best Greek herbal teas and their many health benefits for feel-good winter living.

Dittany (Diktamo)

Insights Greece - Nature’s Best: Greek Folklore Tea Remedies
Greek herbal tea by Anassa

Originating from Crete’s Mt Dikti, and also known as eronas, which means ‘youthful love’ because it’s said to have aphrodisiac qualities that make one feel young. Diktamo is a diuretic that’s high in antioxidants, and once boiled or steeped in hot water it releases oils thought to have potent antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. Traditionally, it’s made to relieve headaches, anxiety, indigestion, stomach cramps, bloating and fever. In folk medicine, its more medical uses included giving it to patients suffering from epilepsy, kidney and gall stones, rheumatism, for wound healing (as a tincture) and to bring on menstruation.

Sage (Faskomilo)

Believed to be a herb with holy properties by the ancient Greeks, and used even today to cleanse energy, this pungent tonic tea has powerful anti-microbial and antioxidant properties. Like rosemary, it’s thought to activate focus and memory, while its anti-inflammatory properties are also considered to help boost both mental clarity and physical balance. It is also rich in Vitamin K, which helps the body absorb calcium and thus to strengthen the bones.

Insights Greece - Nature’s Best: Greek Folklore Tea Remedies
Variety of teas

Lemon Balm (Louisa)
With a delicate lemony aroma, Louisa is a soothing and mood-lifting tea that came to the country in the 1700s and has been commonly grown in Greek gardens ever since. Often used alone or blended with chamomile to relieve indigestion, cramps and bloating, the herb is also considered a good friend to women because of its hormone-regulating elements. High in antioxidants, it’s ideal after a long hike (or workout) as it’s thought to help repair strained muscles.

Oregano (Rigani)

Insights Greece - Nature’s Best: Greek Folklore Tea Remedies
Herbs of Greece

Used by the ancient Greeks to make bridal wreaths because it represented joy, oregano is excellent for treating respiratory congestion when you’re bunged up with a cold because of its strong anti-microbial, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. It’s also wonderful for winter immunity because of its high levels of vitamin C and iron.

Linden Flowers (Tilio)

With an intoxicatingly sweet and soothing aroma, tilio flowers are thought to offer the human organism a loving hand during times of duress, as they are believed to relieve anxiety, melancholy and a racing mind, reducing blood pressure and quietening the heart. It is also high in phytonutrients, antioxidants and flavonoids, which help counter symptoms of the common cold, soothe sore throats and reduce mucus production.

Chamomile (Hamomili)

With benefits that were lauded since antiquity, hamomili is often referred to as the golden flower because of its cure-all qualities. This is probably because chamomile has been scientifically shown to have components that are anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, anti-microbial, antioxidant, antibacterial and antiviral! The sweet-smelling little flower tea is most commonly thought to help encourage a good night’s sleep, stomach upsets, anxiety and slight fever, but it is also used to treat an irritated eye or skin (a cotton disc can be soaked in the tea and placed on the face or body).   

Insights Greece - Nature’s Best: Greek Folklore Tea Remedies
Klio Greek Mountain Tea

Mountain Tea (Tsai tou Vounou)

Greek Mountain Tea is made using the dried leaves and flowers of Sideritis plants (ironwort). The tea made from Sideritis is credited with easing a wide range of physical ailments and is shown to have as many antioxidants as green tea. It’s also known to boost brain function, especially as prevention and even cure for Alzheimer’s.

Tip: Use any of the above herbs to make your own oil by packing a jar with the leaves or flowers and topping it with olive oil. Place the jar ideally in a spot that gets the sun and leave it for a month, occasionally giving the jar a shake. Then strain the oil and voila! The oil can be used in food, as aromatherapy or to treat skin conditions.

Greek Herbal Tea Brands to Check Out Online:

Grek Tea 
Anassa Organics
Daphnis and Chloe 
Krocus Kozanis Products  
Klio Tea 

GB Spa Named Greece’s Best Hotel Spa for 2021

Athens’ Grande Bretagne Spa was named Greece’s best hotel spa 2021 at the 7th World Spa Awards 2021, an international event that celebrates and rewards excellence in the spa and wellness industry.

Like entering another dimension, one where the lavish décor and top-notch pampering expertise is truly unparalleled, the GB Spa is by far Athens’ best (and one of the most expensive!).

Insights Greece - GB Spa Named Greece’s Best Hotel Spa for 2021
GB Spa Indoor pool

Guests are encouraged to relish the essence of the spa (‘salute per aqua’ or health by water) experience by connecting to the water element first – starting with a leisurely dip in the ozone-rich pool with curative thick sea salt and following that with an excellent choice of around five steam rooms, such as the Herbal Suite, where you can meditatively inhale the essences of Greek organic herbs like thyme, oregano, and lavender, or the Amethystos Grotto, where the walls are covered in a mosaic of amethyst stones and the steam is infused with pure eucalyptus oils.

Insights Greece - GB Spa Named Greece’s Best Hotel Spa for 2021
Ice fountain

Outside the steam rooms are showers with six different settings, from Tropical Rain to Summer Shower, as well as two marble foot baths with hydromassage. ESPA products are used in all treatments, such as high-tech facials and massages, among which are deeply restorative, two-hour-long Ayurvedic rituals, the hot-stone Balinese massage, salt scrubs, and slimming, detoxifying or soothing body wraps.

For instant beautification, the  Spa Manager recommends the Signature GB facial, Prickly Pear Luxury Facial inspired by the 15th-century Japanese Kobido lifting massage.

A: Hotel Grande Bretagne, Vasileos Georgiou A 1, Syntagma Square 

Opening Hours: 11 am to 8 pm (Monday to Sunday) 

Greece’s Most Sought-After Homemade Marmalades

People from all over the country and the world arrive in Naxos each year to visit Melimilon, home to Greece’s most sought-after homemade marmalades. 

Local Evangelia Lianopoulou has spent the last few years introducing authentic Naxian flavours to thousands of people from all over the world through her delightful creations including homemade jams, marmalades, spoon sweets, and liqueurs, which are all made from locally sourced produce. 

“My passion has always been to give people a true and authentic Naxian experience. I try and use as many local products and Cycladic flavours for people to taste,” Evangelia tells IN+SIGHTS GREECE.

Ancient Greeks referred to marmalade as Melimilon, which is the name Evangelia chose for her thriving family business that now includes her famous range of homemade products, an all-day cafe and this year they also opened a concept store in the heart of town, where people can purchase an even wider range of Melimilon products. 

Evangelia’s creations include her apple and plum marmalade, prickly pear jam, and sweet potato jam; as well as a special tomato and onion marmalade- and if you are lucky you may be able to get your hands on limited edition beetroot, zucchini or pumpkin flavours.

“I try to use ingredients that give people more opportunity to try a different range of flavours, aromas and tastes of Greece and more specifically from our beautiful Cycladic islands,” she says.

Evangelia reveals it was her grandmother’s cooking that inspired her to launch her products, as her grandparents’ garden was always full of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs, all organic “with the most wonderful taste. I had to create something special and allow others to taste the wholesome goodness.”

After seeing the instant love people had for her homemade jams, Evangelia decided it was time to expand and she opened up a cafe, where visitors had a chance to try the marmalades before they purchased them. From its inviting courtyard setting to its chic old-style interior, which is filled with Melimilon products, the light and breezy cafe has quickly become a favourite breakfast spot on the island. 

The enticing menu includes free-range eggs made in a variety of ways, tiganites (Greek-style pancakes) topped with local cheese and Melimilon’s marmalades; cheese and spinach pies served with homemade spiced preserves, as well as freshly baked sweets and a range of coffees and juices. 

Melimilon’s success has seen it expand once again and this year they opened a charming store located in the island’s old town, where people can purchase a range of homemade jams, honey, liqueurs, spices, herbs, and other local goods they can take home. 

What makes Melimilon so special is that it allows visitors to experience an old-world charm, when Greece’s life had a slower pace, and locals from the island gathered food from their garden and shared it with family and friends. This is what Evangelia now wants to share with the rest of the world.  

Melimilon Cafe: Agios Georgiou Street, Chora, Naxos

Melimilon Pantry: Old Town, Naxos 

Featured Images by IN+SIGHTS GREECE

Celebrating Five Generations of Sustainable Spartan Farming

Nikkitas, is a Greek family business that spans five generations in Sparta. Producing truly exceptional extra virgin olive oil, honey, and olives- the sustainable company has a deep and utter respect for ancestral harvesting methods. 

Looking after their olive groves and beekeeping for hundreds of years, each family member has played a pivotal role in protecting the authenticity of the production- through both dedication and craftsmanship. 

Insights Greece - Celebrating Five Generations of Sustainable Spartan Farming
Nikkitas’ family olive grove

Set in a landscape of archaeological wealth and historical heritage, the lush family grove sits among the ruins of Ancient Sparta, at the foot of Mount Taygetos. Flanked by the Eurotas river and a stone away from heroic warrior King Leonidas’ tomb, it’s also close by to the Unesco World Heritage fortified town of Mystras.

Dedicated to producing the finest products and just as committed to taking care of the resources and its local community- Nikkitas’ main priority is to balance traditional techniques with modern quality controls, which allows them to create olive oil and honey that can be enjoyed and appreciated by people worldwide. Their liquid gold is produced entirely in Sparta in the family-owned groves; where in less than 24 hours, the handpicked olives are pressed and bottled, retaining all the fruits’ nutrients and producing an exceptional polyphenol-rich golden-green Extra Virgin Olive Oil- unique to these lands. Nikkitas’ antioxidant honey is pure, unheated, and unpasteurised; pine, thyme, flowers, and conifers honey deliver wonderful and complex tastes and are the fruits of nomadic beekeeping- using traditional methods, artisanal love, and care on carefully chosen fields.

The range of family-made products combines luxury and transparency bringing quality olive oil, heavenly pine honey, and glossy Kalamata olives into homes around the world. 

IN+SIGHTS GREECE recently spoke with Christina, who has helped turn her family’s love of farming into a successful Greek family business. 

How did it all come about?

Three years ago, in London, in a starred-restaurant, the chef mentioned he wanted me to try olive oil he had just found from Spain and I cheekily told him that my family produces a great extra virgin olive oil. He was curious and asked me to come back the next day so he could try it. When I came back he was there with a professional buyer – they tried my EVOO, olives, and honey and loved it all. They advised me to create nice packaging for my products. Until then, we had never thought of selling our products. They were always purely for friends and family’s consumption. And that’s how it all began. 

Tell us about your family’s Spartan olive grove?

As a child, I used to spend three months in Sparta during summer, at my grandparents’ house. I remember the stark, ‘Spartan’ ways and silence of my grandparents’ home. I did not speak good Greek at the time and language was a clear barrier between us. I spent my days cycling in the garden, running after the chickens and amongst olive trees. Eventually, when I grew bored, I used to peek into the semi-dark kitchen backroom where my grandmother used to stand for hours, preparing food and marinating olives. The overpowering smell of olive oil and olives was intoxicating, inebriating… my Yiayia would stay in that room until it was lunchtime when she would call us all to sit. The sight of the kitchen table was unbelievable: covered with Greek delicacies, homemade delectable foods were bringing us all together and there and then, something magical happened: a flow of conversations, sounds, smells, tastes would submerge our home, in striking contrast to the rest of my day.

For me, Nikkitas is my strong connection to my roots, it symbolises the deep bond I could make as a child in a ‘Spartan’ austere upbringing, when for a brief moment in time, but forever in my memories, my home would be alive- surrounded by the most amazing smells and tastes- complete awakening of my senses. 

How important is sustainable farming to you?

Our family produces olive oil, olives, and honey, the traditional way- respectful of our great grandparents. Traditional care, pruning, composting, and no usage of machines enable a considerable increase in soil organic matter, which improves not only our olive groves’ soil fertility but also our trees’ health. This emphasizes the potential of our olive trees for mitigating climate change by storing carbon in the soil and in the tree biomass.  Our olive by-product is either used to feed goats, sheep and cows, or for energy generation and fertilization (with 80% used for composting and 20% in direct field application).

Our glass bottles and jars are responsibly sourced from raw materials and are infinitely recyclable. And we are proud to use 100% recyclable packaging. We are also supporting our local community of very small artisan producers, from whom we gather the fruits of hundreds of tiny neighbouring kindred family groves and fields, all applying the same respect for traditional ways in the fertile and wildlands of Sparta. 

We have also partnered with Desmos, a non-profit foundation, to support local schools in Sparta by providing educational equipment and supplies.

What makes your products so unique?

– Passionate craftsmen: we dedicate our skills to working our lands by hand. Many of our olive groves are in small, inaccessible orchards, so the olives are hand-picked, pressed and bottled on site in less than 24 hours, ensuring we keep the whole fruit’s nutrients.

– Transparency: our mill and factory are equipped with in-house chemical laboratories performing regular quality control analysis. Our cultivation, harvest, pressing, bottling, packaging and quality control all take place onsite.

– Unique extra virgin olive oil: we harvest and blend three exceptional varieties of polyphenol-rich olives in equal proportion: Koroneiki, Athinolia, and Koutsourolia. This balance is unique to our lands (as Athinolia can only be found on our lands and has an extremely high level of polyphenols) and results in highly antioxidant olives charged in polyphenols and healthy golden-green first cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, with a mildly piquant taste, full of texture and long-lasting aftertaste.

– Unique honey: every harvest depends on the quality of the ecosystem that surrounds it; wild forests and ecosystems are our home. We are nomad beekeepers looking for ideal conditions for our bees, and how far they travel to their food source. The natural properties of our real honey are impressive: antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-booster.

Where are your products stocked and do you ship internationally?

At the moment Nikkitas delivers to the UK, in 24/48hours, from our e-shop

We are also stocked in Hedonism Wines in Mayfair, Panzers in St John’s Wood, Jaks, and Zefi in Knightsbridge/Chelsea

Nikkitas is also looking to broaden the range of olives and honey varieties, so stay tuned. 

Deliciously Healthy Greek Dried Figs

Fig is one of the most popular summer fruits in Greece and there is nothing better than eating a fig fresh off the tree. Not only are figs deliciously tasty, but they are also packed with vitamins and nutrients that are beneficial to our wellbeing. 

And although we tend to associate figs with warmer months, the great news is we are also able to gain the benefits of figs throughout the entire year in their dried form. 

History of Figs in Greece

Insights Greece - Deliciously Healthy Greek Dried Figs
Figs produced in Greece

Ancient Greeks believed figs symbolised prosperity and peace and were especially valued in the region of Attica. The ruler of Attica, Solon, also recognized the worth of the fig and even deemed it illegal to export figs outside of Greece in order to reserve the sweet fruits for the local population. Today, the region of Attica is still known for its fig cultivation, and Markopoulo Mesogaias is a town within the region that is most famous for its fresh figs. In Markopoulo, some royal fig varieties were given a protected geographical indication (PGI) in 1996 by the European Union.

Figs Produced in Greece

Cultivating figs since ancient times, Greece is one of the largest producers of figs in the world and grows these small fruits for both fresh consumption and dried use. They come in the form of dried figs, jams, and pastes. There are many different varieties of figs that are found under the Greek fig label, including Black figs, Royal figs, and Red figs- depending on the specific growing regions across Greece. Though Greek figs vary in colour, size, and flavour, they are all available locally and worldwide. 

Benefits of Greek Dried Figs 

Whether eating flavourful dried figs as a snack or adding it into your recipes, dried figs are an excellent source of dietary fibre, as they include essential minerals such as potassium, iron and calcium, and are rich in health-promoting antioxidants and complex carbohydrates. Greek figs can stimulate digestion and are a highly alkaline food, which helps balance pH levels within the body and also boost and strengthen the immune system.  

Figs of Evia

Today Greek figs are widely cultivated across Greece- especially in the areas of Markopoulo, Kalamata and Evia. These delicious figs come from small family farms in the northern area of the island of Evia- a region that is famous for the quality of its figs. These moist and delicious fruits are organically farmed and naturally sun-dried. They are 100% organic with no additives or preservatives. What makes the dried Evia figs so special is the drying method- as the fresh figs are split in two before the exposure under the sun and are then brought back together to form the “askada” when dried.


Traditional Flavours With a Fresh Twist

TRADIFRESH, an organic food company based that produces products based on Florina’s famous red peppers, was established in September, 2019 in Antigono, Florina and is based in Amyntaio.

Insights Greece - Traditional Flavours With a Fresh Twist

Founded by Ioannis Tsakiridis, who was involved in the cultivation of the family’s farms from an early age, the idea behind the establishment of TRADIFRESH came about after the realisation that there was so much more that could be done with this flavoursome and super healthy local product that is famous worldwide. Florina’s red peppers can be found all over Greece and Europe, and are usually eaten as a mezedaki (side dish). TRADIFRESH’s mission is to create value for its customers by creating high-quality products and services by applying their expertise and technology, from production to storage and promotion of the final product as well as the commitment to customer satisfaction. Morality, passion, honesty and keeping their promise is what helps them achieve their mission which is the following- 

‘Mother Earth’s Treasure on your Table’

“In our company we firmly believe that people are increasingly turning to a healthier lifestyle, the so-called well-being. They raise awareness to their nutritional identity and wonder if what they consume has quality, is safe and provides them with an essential nutritional value. As a company, we observe the continuous increasing demand for local products and the need for the consumers to be aware not only of its origin roots, but the entire route followed by each product towards their table,” says Sales and Marketing Manager, Klelia Eleni Chaimeli. 

Insights Greece - Traditional Flavours With a Fresh Twist

The company are strong supporters of the new trend, named ‘From Farm to Fork’, which among other things helps the sustainability of their region, as they collaborate with other local producers to supply fresh materials from areas of good agricultural practices. “In this way, we strengthen local social and economic development as well as trying to involve local producers to evolve and integrate technology and modern methods in the production process of their goods, increasing consumers’ safety and their efficiency and profitability,” says Klelia. 

“Certainly, it is not easy to grow a business. Nevertheless, we have developed a business plan and a strategy which we follow faithfully and try to respond as best as we can to the needs and preferences of consumers by offering a different nutritional value proposition,” she adds. The company is active in the processing and packaging of Florina’s red pepper and the product portfolio consists of the ‘Lygistis’ series, which is the red roasted pepper and five spreads in different flavours. They believe that in each jar is enclosed “love, passion, taste, quality, safety, and all that was mentioned above which represent our company’s ethics.”

All of the above are reflected in the values ​​of the company which are:

Insights Greece - Traditional Flavours With a Fresh Twist

• Supporting the domestic economy through the proper farming of agricultural products

• Strengthening the local farmers in Western Macedonia

• Legitimate and fare trade practices for consumers and producers of raw materials

• Safe, healthy, and quality products

• Human-oriented and customer-oriented corporate culture

TRADIFRESH also make efforts to reinforce the mentality of synergies and collaborations on many levels. Through this, they believe that every business is strengthened by using resources and capabilities, from these actions, which they lack of or may not be capable to create. As a result, innovative actions can be developed, and the comparative advantage of each company can be increased making them  grow faster. In their case, this strategy has been effective.  

They are committed to continue in this way and stay true to their principles. 

How to be a Sustainable Traveller in Greece

Over recent years people have become more interested in sustainable tourism. Many of us have already tried to reduce (as much as possible) our negative imprint on the environment during our stay in another country; and this is becoming more important than ever. 

As we all navigate through what will be a new way of travelling, Greek tourism and travel expert Maria Athanasopoulou shares her tips on how we can become more sustainable tourists during our next visit to Greece. 

By Maria Athanasopoulou

To be a sustainable tourist, you need to travel, stay, eat and have fun at places that implement sustainable practices. You also need to try to give back as much as possible to the local community you are visiting; as well as ensuring you respect the locals, their culture, and customs.

Let us not forget that when we travel, we always become guests. And guests should always respect their host.

Sustainable tourism is a philosophy and a way of life, which is not difficult to adopt. I believe it will not take us long to get used to this idea and it will hopefully become easier to see the positive aspect as we give back to our environment, to the people, and to the places we visit. 

Greece is a country where sustainable practices have been constantly evolving and in recent years many food and tourism companies have invested their time and money to sustainable tourism.

Here are some tips on what we, individuals can do to be responsible – ethical and sustainable – tourists in Greece.

1Pay attention to the way you move, while you are at your destination.

Insights Greece - How to be a Sustainable Traveller in Greece

 Opt to walk where possible, or cycle where you can instead of driving. Otherwise, let us not forget the means of public transport.

An example is your movement while vacationing on one of the Greek islands. Usually, the distances to the capitals but also to the villages of the Greek islands and the mainland, are not far.

So, you will have the opportunity to move on foot and get to know the place much better. One of my favourites is the promenade walk in the capital of Mykonos, from the new port to the windmills. Also, a walk in the old port of Chania, or a walk on the promenade of Thessaloniki is always a good idea! Wherever you are, you can walk to your destination and see many hidden sights as you go. 

2. Choose carefully where you stay

Many hotels and hostels in Greece have started to implement sustainable practices. Wherever you travel in Greece, you will have a choice regarding sustainable accommodation.

Even if you choose to stay in a big city like Athens or Thessaloniki, you will definitely find a hotel that applies energy-saving practices, uses local products for the food they serve, has local vendors, local staff, etc. All these are sustainable practices and it is important to financially support the businesses who are trying to implement them.

For example, in northern Greece, in beautiful Halkidiki, you will find Nine Muses Studios, next to one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, Kalamitsi. The accommodation is located in nature, while the owners support sustainable tourism in many ways. Serving breakfast using excellent local products, supporting Greek wine and Greek beer producers, making sure they are reducing food waste, recycling, etc.

You will find such accommodations with similar action everywhere in Greece and there is a great range of hotels that are on board, so you will definitely find one that suits your taste and budget.

3. Eat locally

Insights Greece - How to be a Sustainable Traveller in Greece

During your vacation, try to taste the authentic recipes of the region you visit. In Greece, wherever you travel, you will find restaurants that cook with fresh and organic local ingredients, and the dishes are of great variety and quality.  This way, you support the local producers, but also the owners of the restaurants that support traditional Greek gastronomy.

For example, in Kalamata, the restaurant “Ta Rolla”, has already started to implement many sustainable practices, such as using local authentic products in all their dishes, offering food that is leftover every day to groups of people who need it, etc. In “Rolla” you can choose what to eat from a wide variety of local recipes and drinks.

4. Respect the environment

Wherever you are in Greece, you will no doubt have a great time. While you enjoy your holidays, show your respect towards Greek nature and the Greek cities, with your daily behaviour. Avoid reckless use of natural energy sources, avoid using plastic, avoid using a car even for your short transfers, in general, try to burden the environment as little as possible.

5. Support the local communities

Buy gifts and items from small local shops. You will have better service, better prices and this way, you will financially support the local community of the place you visit. Shopping is a first-class opportunity to meet the locals, to chat with them, and through this communication you can discover the special identity of each place.

6. Become one with nature

No matter what destination you decide to visit in Greece, try spending a day in an area with activities that bring you close to nature; such as bird watching, swimming in a lake, hiking in nature, etc. There are gorges of exceptional beauty in Greece such as Samaria in Crete and Vikos in Epirus, places where one can indulge in bird watching such as Dadia in Thrace or Lake Kerkini. Look for places where you can go horseback riding, or get to know one of the mythical rivers of Greece such as Acheron in Epirus or Ladonas in the Peloponnese.

Greece is an ideal holiday destination for millions of people around the world. It has imposing monuments, beautiful nature and most of all, hospitable people. Visit Greece as often as you can, and show the country and its people your love!

Maria Athanasopoulou is the founder of the tourism marketing company Respond On Demand. She is also the founder of the non-profit urban company Top Tourism. She serves as the Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the World Food Travel Association and she is also a Master Culinary Travel Professional. She serves as an ambassador of the World Gourmet Society in Greece and Cyprus, and she also serves as an ambassador of Green Destinations. She has given seminars for tourism professionals, as well as many speeches and presentations on tourism issues, in events in Greece and abroad. She is also a Sustainable Tourism marketing expert.

Cover image Nine Muses Studios 

Tips for Growing Greek Basil at Home

Greek basil is a highly flavoured and fragrant plant that can be found all over Greece- from remote villages to the most popular islands- it is used in both cooking and as a decorative plant that adds lush greenery to any space. 

It’s quite low maintenance and easy to grow at home, so even if you are a beginner gardener this is a great one to start off with! 

Where and When to Grow Greek Basil 

Insights Greece - Tips for Growing Greek Basil at Home

Plant your basil in a place that enjoys full sun. It is great for pots, containers, but can also be planted in the ground. It requires rich soil that retains moisture yet drains well. Also make sure it is in a frost free position. Greek basil is an annual plant and its best to harvest before a cold snap. The size of the leaves on a basil plant will help determine the position you should give it in the garden, the larger the leaf the more shade they require. Tip: Plant your basil near tomato and capsicums to improve growth.

How to Plant and Grow Greek Basil

Insights Greece - Tips for Growing Greek Basil at Home

-Prepare soil before planting.

-Plant seedlings after winter has past and the soil has warmed in spring. Seeds can also be planted indoors earlier. 

-Care for your plant by regular watering, pruning and only fertizilize if required. Fertilizing may alter the flavour and aroma, so try and avoid it unless it is needed.

-Harvest when leaves begin to grow on all shoots, starting with the top. 

-Plant reaches maturity in 60-90 days. Be sure to harvest all you need for use and storage before allowing flowers to develop.

Tips & Facts  

Insights Greece - Tips for Growing Greek Basil at Home

-Greek basil stores well for later use. Dry it in a cool space by hanging upside down in small bundles. When its dry, store in a tightly sealed glass jar and store in a dark spot. 

-Fresh leaves may be frozen in plastic bags. 

-Greek basil is used in quite a few Greek and Italian recipes and is mostly added to tomato sauce based dishes, pastas and topped fresh on pizza. 

-Greek Basil is packed with vitamins and is high in antioxidants. Ancient Greeks, including Hippocrates “the father of  medicine,” claimed basil is good for the heart, stomach and also helps heal wounds and sores.

*All images by IN+SIGHTS GREECE © (Copyright) 

Relax and Unwind at Loutraki Pozar Thermal Springs

If you are searching for a unique healing destination where you can unwind and let your body, mind, and soul relax, Loutraki Pozar thermal baths in the Pella district of northern Greece offers the perfect escape. 

The majestic thermal springs complex features 48 individual baths, 6 indoor pools, an Olympic-size outdoor pool, two outdoor waterfall pools with a temperature of 37 °C, indoor private baths, hammams, four new hydrotherapy pools, massage and spa services, as well as jacuzzis. 

Insights Greece - Relax and Unwind at Loutraki Pozar Thermal Springs

Recommended for those with muscular aches and pains as well as other ailments, the Pozar hot springs are beneficial for overall wellbeing, either by bathing in them, or drinking their water. 

Pozar’s water contains elements proven to help ease many physical discomforts as it includes ideal levels of sodium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and fluoride to help replenish and restore muscles. 

Originally named Loutraki Aridaias, the springs are located 110 km from Thessaloniki and 40 km from Edessa, the capital of Pella, one of the loveliest cities in Greece- making it a great spot to explore. 

After relaxing in the hot springs you are able to enjoy some adventurous activities including climbing and mountaineering, as well as hiking at the nearby Dark Forest, known as one of the most beautiful and lush forests in the country. If you are visiting during winter you can also ski at Kaimaktsalan ski resort, which is also great for snowboarding. 

Insights Greece - Relax and Unwind at Loutraki Pozar Thermal Springs

When it comes time to eat, make sure you try the fish at the local taverns, which feature the catch of the day from Vegorítida Lake and meat lovers will rejoice in the wide variety on offer. And don’t miss the nearby town of Amyntaio where there are plenty of surrounding wineries; we suggest you try the famous ‘xinomavro’ and pink champagne. 

Getting there

You can drive to Loutraki Polar from Thessaloniki, which is 110km and takes around two hours or an hour’s drive from Edessa. 

Opening Hours 

The Polar Thermal Springs are open from 8 am until late in the evening.

Monday through to Thursday, the waterfall pools close at around 10 pm. While Friday to Sunday, the waterfall pools close at 2 am.

The outdoor Olympic-sized pool is open from 8 am to 9 pm in winter, and 8 am to 10 pm in summer.

A: Aridaia 584 00, Greece

Greek Honey, A Love Story  

Like olive oil, honey is one of the miraculous staple foods of Greece and comes in a multitude of beneficial and delicious varieties. As a variable ingredient it can be used in everything from tea to yogurt to cakes and even savoury dishes to offer flavour, texture and dimension.

For the love of honey

Insights Greece - Greek Honey, A Love Story  

Beekeeping has been vital to Greek life since antiquity, when it was established as a large-scale practice. Archaeologists have discovered that during the Hellenistic period beekeepers were so ahead of their time that they interchanged their beehives throughout big regions in order to make the best of utilising different varieties of plants endemic to each area.

Greece is well recognised for its extraordinary variety of medicinal and aromatic herbs and plants, which carry their aromas and essence into honey. Various scientific research has revealed that Greek honey is rich in compounds such as polyphenols, phenolic acids and many more.

In recent news, since the Covid-19 pandemic hit Greek reality, honey consumption rose by 15%. This is owed to several factors – the high and widespread production nationwide, the accessibility and the inherent, ancient knowledge Greeks hold about it being a superfood. In fact, research at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki has even shown that Greek honey has higher antioxidant qualities than Manuka honey, which is regularly lauded as the most beneficial honey globally.

During the Greek financial crisis, many people left the city or urban-based activities and turned to the ancient art and science of beekeeping. As a result, today there are around 20-25,000 beekeepers in the country with over beehives. It’s estimated that outr of this number of beekeepers, 5000 are professionals, 10,000 are part-timers and another 10,000 are amateurs. The Greek Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) says that Greece produces around 17 tons of honey per year.

Variety, variety, variety

Insights Greece - Greek Honey, A Love Story  

Because of Greece’s great variety of flora – around 6,500 different types, of which 1,500 are endemic, textures and colours -there are many different types of honey with an exciting range of tastes and properties. The most commonly found varieties of honey one can find are Pine, Flower, Thyme, Chestnut, Orange, Sage, Eriki, Carob and Mainalos Vanilla.

Honey is certainly a blessing for Greeks and for the world, and an especially healthful and delightful ingredient to enjoy every day.

Honey Health Benefits

  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Is anti-inflammatory
  • Supports digestion and improves gut health
  • Is high in B vitamins which help strengthen the nervous system
  • Is high in antioxidants and has anti-carcinogenic properties
  • Soothes the throat
  • Induces relaxation and helps sleep
  • Gives energy

Bonus recipe!

Pasteli, the Ancient Greek honey health bar:


1 1/3 cups thyme honey

3 cups white sesame

1 lemon peel


  1. In a deep pan heat the honey and lemon peel until it reaches a boil.
  2. Add the sesame and stir well, until it reaches a second boil.
  3. Remove from the heat, and remove the lemon peel.
  4. Pour onto a baking sheet spreading to a 5cm thickness and place onto a cool surface.
  5. When the mixture has cooled to room temperature, place it in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours.
  6. Remove and slice or break into pieces.

Some awarded Greek honeys to look out for (and order online!) 

Insights Greece - Greek Honey, A Love Story  
E-La-Won Honey


Fir Honey Helmos



Apiculture Amfipolis

Tea Honey



Apiculture Amfipolis

Rose Honey


Artius Mt Taygetos Thyme Honey



Likou Eftixia


Foodcross Natural Products



Geranos Stefanos-Forest


& Geranos Stefanos-Antheon


Attiki Honey – Wild Flora & Thyme


Greece &

Attiki Greek Dark Brown Forest Honey




Gypsy Queen


Nomad Premium Greek Honey


Insights Greece - Greek Honey, A Love Story  


Voria Chora


ennea Premium Honey-Conifers & Herbs



ennea Premium Honey-Flowerz,Herbs & Thyme


Thyme Honey Metamorphosis

Smari Cretan Honey-Nikolarakis Emmanouil

Smari Cretan Thyme & Pine Honey



Mint and Chocolate Infused Honey

Little Donkey Honey


Georgakas Family







Relax and Recharge at Nefeli Nine Retreat  

Relax, recharge and reinvigorate yourself in just a few days at Nefeli Nine Retreat, located just an hour’s drive from Athens city centre.

The renowned retreat offers tailored experiences to meet all personal situations or goals — whether you’re in need of a fitness boost, peaceful sleep, nutrition advice, or relaxation and refocusing, Nefeli Nine is the ideal place to help you create a life-changing journey specific to you and your goals.

Insights Greece - Relax and Recharge at Nefeli Nine Retreat  

And it’s not just the personalised programs that will help you unwind — many features of the retreat were created with Ancient Greek design principles in mind to help you to disconnect and detox.

Found in Dikastika, in the Attica region, the location will enchant you by transporting you through its unspoiled beauty, rural scenery and historical monuments. Here you can indulge in pure R&R at a traditional villa with panoramic views of the sea.

We recently spoke with founder Stephanie Contomichalos, about her successful health and wellness retreat, which can quickly take you away from the hustle and bustle of the city and treat your mind and body to much-needed TLC.

When did Nefeli Nine Retreat open and what was the concept behind it?

I started Nefeli Nine in 2018. I grew up in the UK and would spend every summer and Easter in Greece with my grandparents. In 2016 I moved here and completely fell in love with Athens. It is a young, vibrant city, the weather is fantastic, and nature is very easy to access. It ticked every box. Nefeli Nine was really born from two things: My love for Greece, coupled with my love for nature and sports. Health and fitness have always been important to me, so it felt very natural to combine all the things I love and to share that with other people.

Why do you think Greece is a great destination for healing? 

What is so special about Greece is its simplicity, the colours, the food, the traditions all play a huge role in what makes Greece so unique. Having grown up in London I really started to appreciate the simple things; the concept of eating seasonal food (which is totally alien in London where we eat mangoes and raspberries all year round), the pure joy of just being outside on a hiking trail, and the beauty of all the traditions.

Insights Greece - Relax and Recharge at Nefeli Nine Retreat  

Why did you chose Dikastika as the spot where you would open your retreat?

I had a few criteria, but the most important ones were that it was close to mountains and sea, easily accessed and yet gave you a feeling of being far away. Dikastika ticked every box. It is right on the sea, facing Evia island with beautiful views of the Aegean and is very close to the mountains. Despite its proximity to town, the thing that I really love about this area is the feeling of being in a small seaside village.

Dikastika will enchant you by transporting you through its unspoiled beauty, rural scenery and historical monuments to a glorious past. Located very close to Marathon (yes 26 miles from Athens!) the area is rich in history… from the famous battle of the Greeks versus Persians, the birthplace of the Marathon and you can even still visit the city of Rhamnous, a well-preserved and ancient citadel dating from 400BC.  During your time at Nefeli Nine, we will explore these ancient wonders and get lost amid pieces of living history.

What benefits can guests expect after visiting Nefeli Nine?

Insights Greece - Relax and Recharge at Nefeli Nine Retreat  

My main goal for guests is for them to leave feeling completely relaxed and refreshed. We aim to not ask any questions of people during their stay with us (other than whether they want us to bring tea or coffee to their room in the morning!) and all activities are optional. We do not push people. We hope that a week of fresh air, good food and exercise leaves them feeling revitalized and ready to go when they leave.

Nefeli Nine was designed to give people a true break from the stresses of their everyday lives, to spend a week by the sea, hiking, eating well, moving well and enjoying the company of others. Clients have the opportunity to experience Greek traditions, see some lesser-known archaeological sites, eat delicious seasonal food, and take a few days off from having any obligations. They leave feeling mentally relaxed and physically raring to go!

What is the busiest time of year for you and when do you recommend people visit?

We run retreats in Spring (April – June) and Autumn (September – November). These are my favourite times of the year, the weather tends to be lovely, there are less tourists and you get to truly enjoy Greece and all that it has to offer.

Tell us about the healthy dishes you prepare for guests and the local produce you use.

Insights Greece - Relax and Recharge at Nefeli Nine Retreat  

Coming from a Greek and Middle Eastern background, the table has always been an especially important place for me. When I was younger, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my grandmother watching her cook and taking notes, and then the whole family would sit together and share the food. This is very much a concept that I encourage at Nefeli Nine.

Everything I prepare is locally sourced and using seasonal ingredients. We buy our honey from a local beekeeper (who I actually found on a hike), our fruits and vegetables all come from local farmers’ markets, and even our wine and olive oil are produced within the area.

The concept behind Nefeli Nine is based on the Blue Zones Lifestyle, and this also applies to all of the food that we prepare. We can cater to vegans and vegetarians, but we promote a predominantly plant-based diet, supplemented by organic lean meat and fresh fish. We avoid all processed sugars, chemicals and additives, but we do offer delicious homemade sweets. 

Insights Greece - Relax and Recharge at Nefeli Nine Retreat  

What fitness classes can guests participate in?

We offer yoga, mobility, and bodyweight fitness classes. We tend to adjust these classes depending on our clients. For those who are looking for more we can organize watersports activities (windsurf, SUP, waterskiing and wakeboarding) nearby.

Are the programs designed for people of all fitness levels?  

The Nefeli Nine program has been carefully designed so that people of all levels can join. Our hikes have been chosen so that everyone can participate and there are always at least two guides allowing people to walk at different paces. All our yoga and mobility classes can be adjusted accordingly. We will never leave anybody behind, nor will we leave those looking for more of a harder workout feeling unchallenged!

Insights Greece - Relax and Recharge at Nefeli Nine Retreat  

Tell us more about the hikes.

All our hikes offer wonderful and surprisingly different experiences. Our hiking guides are very well-versed on the flora and fauna of the surrounding mountains and we always try to bring home some fresh herbs, mushrooms, wild greens or asparagus from our hikes.

Do you offer a more personalised program for guests?

We are deliberately small precisely so that we can be flexible and cater to everything from a couple who want to do something different and perhaps challenging, to a small group or family where we tailor different programs for people of different ages or fitness levels. If you are looking for the ‘one size fits all’ offering, then we may not be for you. If you want a bespoke product designed for your work team, family group or just the two of you, then we will rise to the challenge. We have a limit of 10 people.

Tell us more about the villas and the facilities available.

It’s a traditional stone villa, spotlessly clean and well-appointed so guests can truly relax. We have had to instill a program of daily rigorous cleansing and disinfecting so our guests can enjoy themselves without worry. Beds are firm, cushions and towels are fluffy, and you wake up with a view that puts you in a good mood for the rest of the day. There is a pool, there is WiFi, there are books and a variety of games, but the reality is you may just want to use the house for your downtime to recharge for the next day.


Where Health Food Fans Can Shop in Athens

Organic, vegan, gluten-free, blessed by angels before packaging – you name it and you’ll be able to find a store selling it.

Mangos, papayas and avocados from Crete. Endless varieties of Greek and exotic mushrooms and truffles from Epirus and Evia. Seitan, vegan cheese, kale crackers, gluten-free-anything and other packaged vegan or super healthy bioproducts. Ethically farmed meat and fish. Biodynamic and organic wines. Pure olive oil and honey of all grades, shades and tastes. Salt pipes and Neti pots. Health supplements in the form of liquids, potions, capsules, and powders. Oil press extractors. By now the health-food and alternative wellness trend is in full swing in Athens and bio minimarkets are regularly opening their doors to new streams of keen and increasingly savvy customers. Here’s our reliable guide to the best places where you can stock up in the capital.

Insights Greece - Where Health Food Fans Can Shop in Athens

Gaia’s Dora (Online)

What you’ll find: Organic food products, vegan, vegetarian and raw food products, health supplements, household cleaning products and essential oils. Anything special? A great variety of organic pasta from Greece and abroad.

Four Seasons Bio (30 Nikis, Syntagma)

What you’ll find: Fresh groceries (including avocadoes, mushrooms, papayas and mangos from Crete and Evia) eco-friendly cosmetics, organic foods and household cleaning products and cosmetics from around Greece and the world. Anything really special? The store can create a Bach flower remedy blend of your choice at a good price.  

Bamboo Vegan (102 Solonos & Mavromichali, Exarcheia)

What you’ll find: As the store’s name suggests, there are vegan food products a-plenty here – a broad variety of meat and cheese alternatives as well as sweets. Also, a good range of green cosmetics, superfoods and supplements. Anything really special? Vegan pet food.

Viofos – Organic Products (Themistokleous 3, Exarcheia)

Insights Greece - Where Health Food Fans Can Shop in Athens

What you’ll find: Organic food products, superfoods, health supplements, household cleaning products, natural/green/ethically produced cosmetics for face and body. Anything special? A broad variety of gluten-free products.

Viologiko Horio (in Kolonaki, Psychiko, Voula, Nea Smyrni)

What you’ll find: A supermarket chain in many areas of Attica, this is where you’ll find practically anything and everything organic, fair trade, ethically farmed, vegan, gluten free and green. Anything special? A huge selection of healthy kid-centric products in the food and cosmetics categories.

Kampos Biomarket (Filellinon 2 & Mitropoleos, Syntagma) 

What you’ll find: A more than satisfying array of fresh food products (groceries and refrigerated goods, as well as frozen, dried and other packaged foods from Greece and abroad. Essential oils, flower remedies, superfoods, supplements and books.Anything really special? The cosmetics range includes a large variety of face and body products including organic Henna hair dyes.

Bioway (57 Panepistimiou, Omonia)

What you’ll find: Organic food products of all varieties, superfoods, supplements and cosmetics. Anything special?A great array of innovative wellness-related equipment and appliances like humidifiers, dehydrators, wooden flour mills, blenders, juicers, an oil press extractor, a salt pipe and ecological cups.

Bioshop (30 Veikou Ave, Galatsi)

What you’ll findBooks, gardening accessories and products. Organic cosmetics, eco household items, supplements and superfoods and an array of quality health foods. Anything special? A good range of wellness tools and items like salt inhalers and salt crystal lighting.