A Gastronomic Journey Through Athens: My Experience with Rachel and Maik’s Walking Food Tours – Food Around Athens

Guest post by Nicolette Ford. One of our food tour guests in March 2024.

Athens, you’ll no doubt be aware, is dripping in history. However, did you also know, that the Mediterranean diet is the healthiest in the world? Neither did I.

Athens’ streets mix the ancient with the modern. While there, I experience modern roof tops bars with hip clientele (I’m not one of them) in Psyri and ancient streets with cobblestones in Plaka. The city weaves together traditional tavernas with bustling street food stalls and vibrant markets. Here, food is not just sustenance but a celebration of Greek culture, history, and the art of hospitality.

I want to experience the city beyond its ancient ruins and iconic monuments, so I embark on a journey with Rachel and Maik’s Food Around Athens walking tour.

The Tour

The meeting point is very easy to find, thanks to excellent instructions from the tour guides. A great, stress free, start to the afternoon.

One of the first things Rachel tell us is that she’s unashamedly not taking us to any pretty places. Those places are for tourists. The best food and the most authentic experience is in downtown Athens. These are places that are hard to find for a tourist.

I’m excited already!

Barely moments into the walking food tour, I find myself rapidly accumulating a ton of knowledge about Greek cuisine. Our journey starts with a leisurely stroll down an ancient Athens street. It’s here I learn of Greece’s fame for its robust Oregano – a revelation to me. The first of many to come.

Athens food tour - spanakopitaOur path soon leads us to our first culinary delight, a taste of heavenly spanakopita. This savoury pastry is a blend of spinach and feta encased in layers of buttery, flaky phyllo. Nom!

As we venture further, weaving through the heart of Athens, we walk through the bustling meat and fish markets, each a hub of activity and banter, before making our way to the aromatic alcoves of the spice shops.

Along the way, our palate is treated to an array of traditional Greek cuisine – pastries, succulent souvlaki, richly brewed Greek coffee, and the finest olive oil. We sample Greek honey, locally produced cheese, and fresh olives. Each tasting is a chapter in the story of Greek culinary tradition.

The Greeks, I notice, cherish the art of specialised shopping – where each vendor focuses on a particular genre of products.

When shop owners focus on what they do best, the result is excellent quality produce.

I would dearly love to shop like that, weaving in and out of the specialised shops with my shopping bags, buying the best of the best of everything and chatting to and laughing with everyone along the way. Sounds idyllic.

By the time our tour meandered to its conclusion with a sit-down meal at a traditional taverna, I’m pleasantly surprised, despite all the food tastings, that I have some room for a meze – a selection of small dishes that perfectly encapsulate the generosity and diversity of Greek cuisine. All the famous ones are here, calamari, Greek salad, gigantes beans, Greek yoghurt, honey, and many more.

My favourite part of the tour is that not once do I feel rushed. There are opportunities to buy produce but there is no pressure to do so, or to move on too quickly. The entire 3 hours feels relaxed, with plenty of time to soak up the history and anecdotes of Greek food.

Walking through Athens with Rachel and Maik feels like being part of an extended family, especially as we meet their friends, the proprietors of family-owned local shops and traditional tavernas. Their warmth and hospitality were the icing on the cake of an already unforgettable tour.

This isn’t just a food tour; it is an immersive journey into the heart of Athens, a food experience led by two individuals whose love for their city and its culinary heritage is infectious. Through their eyes, I see not just the flavours but the soul of Athens.

If you’d like to book your own Athens food tour, book this one. It’s the number one food tour for a reason.

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