Pure Cuisine of the Cycladic Islands

The Cyclades made up of around 30 inhabited islands, are not only characterised by dazzling coastlines, rugged landscapes (except for Andros, known for its abundance of water and greenery), a rich ancient history, whitewashed box-like buildings with cobalt blue shutters and but also by the simple, succulent, generally healthy and pure cuisine of the island group. 

Occupations by pirates, the Franks, Venetians, Ottomans and Maltese left their mark on these islands on many levels, including their culinary philosophies. 

Since 2000 when the face of tourism began to change the islands, their cuisine changed too, with more international styles, techniques and ingredients bringing more creativity, finesse and sophistication to their valuable PDO products like bresaola-style louza, honey, Santorini tomatoes and fava, a variety of cheeses and capers. 

Winemaking too has become a common attribute of this island group, with Santorini (and its 17 wineries) remaining the star. Here we offer you a guide to help you know what not to miss when you’re travelling around the Cyclades.


The Cycladic islands are more meat (especially pork) oriented than fish, although the beloved kakavia fish soup is made in different renditions. Kakavia, traditionally the “fisherman’s soup” is made by combining various kinds of fish or parts of fish, with tomatoes and in some renditions with celery as well as plenty of olive oil and lemon or avgolemono (egg-lemon) sauce. 

In Syros fish dishes are more unique – atherina fish is cooked with onion, tomato and egg, and locals also have a real taste for shark meat.


The Cyclades are known for their delicious cheeses: goat an cow’s milk gruyere (graviera) and mild myzithra from Naxos, sharp xinomyzithra from Paros and flavoursome San Michali from Syros, trovolia from Mykonos (also made in a version with sugar and dry figs) which is the star of the island’s beloved kopanisti, also loved in Astypalea and Chios

These and other cheese become the inspiration for pies – both sweet and savoury – made in different styles in each of the islands; small and fried, large and mixed with herbs, drizzled in honey and sesame and other dishes.


Thin, long green beans known as ambelofasoula are easily found in the Cyclades, and they’re often eaten boiled as a salad with lemon and oil or even alongside skordalia garlic sauce in some islands. 

Black-eyed beans are also commonly served around these islands, served with Feta, tomato and cucumber as a salad, or sautéed with greens. Chickpeas are especially popular in Paros and Sifnos, where they are traditionally slow-cooked overnight in a revithada soup made in a clay pot. 

In Sifnos revithokeftdes (chickpea patties), like falafel crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, are also a popular treat. 

Santorini is known for its creamy, rich yellow fava, made with split peas and usually served with a topping of raw or caramelised onions, capers and lemon juice.


Capers (which are actually flower buds that when left to blossom create beautiful purple and white flowers) grow wild on rocky walls and enclaves around the Cyclades, and in-the-know locals rush to gather them at the end of June to pickle them in saltwater and then vinegar for the year. 

Santorini is famous for its flavour-packed tomatoes, grown by hydration rather than watering, and these make for not only excellent salads and sauces but the island’s well-known tomato fritters (domatokeftedes). In Andros, most green grocers sell the massive courgette-like vegetable called lyraki, which is eaten boiled with oil and lemon.


Pork products especially are characteristic of Cycladic cuisine mainly rooting back to the annual pig slaughtering tradition that began in pre-refrigerator days, when the animals were killed and every part of them was made use of in a fresh but mainly preserved form – sausages and cured louza ham. Other popular meats are lamb and in some islands, game.

Top 6 Mastic Villages of Chios

The 24 villages from where mastiha is harvested are known as Mastihochoria or Mastic Villages. Unchanged since Byzantine times, these charming villages are a must-see when visiting Chios island. 

Mastiha is a famous resin, which is known for its strong flavour and natural therapeutic benefits. It’s cultivated exclusively on Southern Chios and used in everything from desserts and liqueurs to beauty products and gum. Having been exported to all parts of the world since the Middle Ages, the Masticohoria were fortified with walls and watchtowers to protect supplies of this precious resin from smugglers and pirates. Each one has its own unique beauty and we’ve put together a list of the most picturesque. 


This is the largest in the complex and is referred to as the painted village, as it’s filled with black or grey and white geometrical decorative motifs on the facades of the buildings. Labelled “Xysta” they are created by a plastering-sand applied to the wall, which is then carefully painted white, and finally scraped with the designs. While here, also visit the ubiquitous village clock tower rising above the town and the beautiful Byzantine-era church of Agioi Apostoloi (Holy Apostles). We should also mention, it’s believed that Christopher Columbus is descended from a family in Pyrgi, and some claim he lived here. 


This small scenic village with vaulted archways is located 35 km southwest of Chios Town. It’s the best-preserved medieval village on the island and the houses are built attached to each other, forming a fortified wall. The charming narrow cobbled alleys lead to the central square, where you will find a local hotel, a few shops, and restaurants. Here you will also discover Megalos Taksiarhis (church of the Archangels) which is the largest Greek Orthodox church on the island and one of the biggest in all of Greece. It was built in the mid-1800s, at the same place where the original castle tower was also built. 


This village was established in the 13th century and stands out for its remarkable architecture. The houses are built in a way where the outer walls are conjoined, so that anyone facing the village will see a fortress with no visible openings, except for one door that allows people in and out; this door is located at present-day Kato Porta. Boasting narrow cobbled streets, there is also a 20 metre high tower that stands at the center of the village, which was used for defense in case of a pirates attack; today, the tower houses a nice restaurant. Also visit Agia Paraskevi church, the Trapeza of Olympi, and the Cave of Olympi, close to Sykia village; it dates back almost 200,000 years and has wonderful stalactites and stalagmites formations.


Around 19 km from Chios town is the village of Vessa, which is dominated by castles. It’s worth wandering around the narrow streets to admire the striking architecture of the mansions, which have remained intact. Also, visit the church of Agios Dimitrios to view its beautiful icons. 


The streets of Kambos are narrow and surrounded by the tall walls of the mansions. The arch gates with heavy wooden doors lead to the main garden. Many of the restored mansions are used as guesthouses, which are very popular with local and international visitors who gather over summer and spring when the entire area is blossoming with citrus trees.


This is one of the largest villages, located in the southeast part of the island. Visit Varvakas, the centre of the settlement, plus the church of Agia Paraskevi and Panagia Agrelopousaina. Also, make your way to the temple of Profitis Ilias and at the top of the hill, you will be able to enjoy an incredible view of the island. 

Cover image @izkiz

5 Greek Islands for Amazing Culinary Experiences

Are you a foodie going to Greece for vacation? Amazing. This write-up is for you!

Apart from the beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and relaxed vibe, the Greek islands offer visitors an abundance of delicious dishes and delicacies. There are so many things to try on each island that you literally cannot go wrong with what food you choose.

Here, I will include five Greek islands that offer unique tastes and will, for sure, excite your taste buds.

Let’s go see…


The island of Crete is known for having some of the greatest food in the country. You have to try the ‘dakos’ salad, ‘sfakiani pita,’ ‘bougatsa,’ ‘kaltsounia,’ and ‘gamopilafo.’ Everything is made with Crete’s fresh and pure ingredients, such as locally produced olive oil, cheese, and herbs. Make sure to accompany your food with a glass of ‘tsikoudia’, the popular local spirit.


This beautiful sun-soaked island unfolds a rich gastronomic experience. Besides the well-known potatoes (the best you will try, for sure), Naxos stands out for its delicious cheese variety, stew (stifado), goat dishes, such as ‘kleftiko,’ pork dishes and of course locally produced cheeses, like ‘arseniko,’ ‘xinomizithra’ and ‘graviera.’

Insights Greece - 5 Greek Islands for Amazing Culinary Experiences


An undiscovered island, Chios is known for the ‘mastiha’ (mastic) production, popular in ancient times for its therapeutic value and unique aroma. The island, which is located in the northern Aegean Sea, is also known for its mandarins, which are of high quality and flavour due to the sun and climate, mastelo cheese-perfect for ‘saganaki,’ and ‘kopanisti’ among other delicacies.


An island untouched by mass tourism keeps its gastronomic traditions intact. Besides the rich cultural and historical background, Lemnos (also known as Limnos) presents an exciting culinary adventure. Local cheese is simply delicious; ‘melichloro’ and ‘kalathaki’ are a must-try. Moving on, don’t miss out on the sardines, octopus, and local meat dishes. Last but not least, Lemnos produces excellent wine to accompany your food.


This small island offers stunning landscapes and beaches of wild beauty. At the same time, it unravels interesting gastronomic choices. ‘Matsata’ is one of the island’s specialty dishes, which is fresh pasta served with chicken or rabbit, ‘souroto’ is a salty and soft cheese used for the best cheese pie and ‘karpouzenia,’ dessert is made of watermelon.

Greece is a wonderful destination for foodies, and these are just a few of the must-visit islands for all you food aficionados. It’s also worth mentioning that due to years of austerity, many young people have returned to their homeland and started beautiful initiatives, such as running restaurants or farms, all designed to highlight local delicacies.