When studying abroad in Greece what should you look forward to most… is it the beaches? Is it the language? Is it the ruins? While we’re a fan of all of those, let’s be honest with ourselves. We travel to Greece for… THE FOOD.
Anyone headed to Greece knows that delicious eating is definitely expected, and maybe you’ve even heard of souvlaki, gyros, or kebab (all musts after a day exploring the city). But before you get on filling your stomach with all sorts of Greek goodies, our Student Ambassador straight outta Michigan State University, Calli Jansen, needs to talk you through some basic tips to get the most out of this amazing, new Greek foodie culture.
1. Try the seafood
Sure, it’s a bit weird to have your food staring at you from your plate, but if you can get past this you’ll enjoy some of the freshest and tastiest seafood around. Seafood addict? Make sure you visit the fish market in Aegina – they’re known for the freshest seafood in Greece.
2. If in doubt, follow the crowds
With restaurants everywhere you look, the more touristy parts of Greece have an overwhelming amount of options to choose from to satisfy your cravings. If a restaurant is busy, chances are it’s good. However, to be totally sure of where to go, follow these steps:
- Have a look on Rayka – the perfect place for finding reviews from students
- Ask for recommendations – whether it’s from friends, family, colleagues or people you meet at your hostel or hotel.
- Or even better, don’t be afraid to ask a local for recommendations – there are restaurants everywhere you turn, so you could spend hours searching for “The world’s best souvlaki”. A local can easily give you the low-down on the most authentic places and stop you getting sucked in by the tourist traps.
3. Sample some street food
At every Greek restaurant, they will have souvlaki on their menu, which is basically cubes of pork or chicken with tzatziki, fries, tomatoes and onions. However, the best bang for your buck will be one from a corner stand (hello 2 Euro Souvlaki!). Check out Kostas in Platia Agias Eirinis for the best of the best – you’ll notice it from the long line in front of this hidden gem (cue tip #2).
4. Try the ouzo and Raki
These are 2 aniseed-flavored liquors which are Greek specialties. Ouzo is known for its black licorice aroma and usually served over ice to give it the signature cloudy look. Raki is made with leftover grapes in the wine-making process, and is a smooth clear liquor. If you’re looking for a cheap cocktail in Greece, these are the spirits to look out for.
5. Get a Greek salad
A Greek salad in its’ native country isn’t the same as the American version. For starters, there’s no lettuce, and it’s dressed with oil instead of dressing. The rest of the salad is filled with fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, black olives and green peppers. Love feta? Then you’ll definitely want to try this version, because you get a whole block of it on top of your salad!
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6. There will be A LOT of bread, so don’t fill up on it
Greeks take their bread very seriously, so at every restaurant and meal there will be an offering of bread… so much that upon your return from Greece you will feel lost without a piece with every meal. Ok ok… we know you can’t resist a taste with every meal (pro bread tip: ask for the farmer’s bread & try it with fresh olive oils or tzatziki), but in case you can’t think over the grumbling of your stomach trust us when we say don’t fill up on the bread!! There’s so much more delicious Greek food to try.
7. Go to a local market
See the Greek take on a “farmers market”. Take in the different foods they have to offer, learn to barter (bonus points for you language buffs using Greek words!), and taste the freshness of their produce. This is a great way to get immersed in the culture and get a feel for local life. P.S. The Athens Dimotiki Agora is THE major marketplace in Athens worth visiting. Here you’ll get your meats, veggies, and all the herbs you could ask for.
So what did I learn from my study abroad you ask? When traveling to another country, learn to embrace the new and wonderfully weird. From twists on crowd favorites, new flavors, and new food groups keep an open mind and try the new things. Who knows… it might become your new favorite food. Ready to book your flights? Check out our cheap flights to Greece for students and under 26ers.