Greek Liquid Gold: 25 Aug.2017   By Lisa Radinovsky  ( )

A closer link between tourism and agriculture in Crete has long been advocated by local individuals and organizations such as the Association of Cretan Olive Municipalities (ACOM, or SEDIK, in Greek). In a recent article with a title that translates as “Olive tourism! The key to linking agriculture and tourism in Crete,” ACOM’s scientific consultant, Dr. Nikos Michelakis, explains that ACOM has helped promote more than 50 olive-related attractions in Crete that can draw visitors to the island’s scenic interior: various monumental olive trees, which ACOM has identified on a map on its website, as well as olive oil museums, mills, and bottling plants, archaeological monuments related to olive oil, and restaurants featuring traditional Cretan dishes made with locally produced olive oil.

vouves touristesMichelakis reports that ACOM’s efforts to promote agrotourism activities focused on olive trees and olive oil in Crete have born fruit. For example, more than 8,000 tourists visited the monumental olive tree of Vouves in July alone. Most came on a guided bus tour that also included the olive museum next to the ancient tree, free illustrated books about olive oil published by ACOM and the International Olive Council, and visits to another monumental tree, a restaurant in the midst of olive groves, and Anoskeli olive mill and winery, which offers guided tours and tasting sessions.

Michelakis explains that local mayors have helped promote the monumental olive tree of Vouves and the adjacent museum as a pioneering Cretan agrotourism destination – the kind ACOM has been advocating for years. Attracting growing numbers of visitors in recent years (20,000 or more, annually), the Vouves tree is a fitting centerpiece for Cretan tourism, not only because locals believe it to be the oldest olive tree in the world, but also due to its beautiful sculptural qualities and its cultural significance as the source of wreaths for Olympic champions starting in 2004.

In a second article, Michelakis advocates the development of additional olive routes in other parts of Crete and offers some suggestions (many visible on ACOM’s helpful online map, with several also discussed and mapped on the Cretan Beaches website). In the following paragraphs, I summarize Michelakis’s recommendations and add additional links to more information for tourists.

In the Chania prefecture, Michelakis suggests tourists visit the Olive Museum of Vatolakkos and the ancient olive tree near it. In the Apokoronas area, he proposes the monumental olive tree of Samonas, the Byzantine olive press at the Monastery of Agios Georgios (Saint George), and the pre-industrial olive press of Gavalochori.

In the prefecture of Rethymno, Michelakis recommends a route including the Prinaris Mill museum and the ancient olive tree in Chromonastiri, as well as a visit to the monumental olive trees of Amari and the Olive Museum of Panakron, which can be accompanied by stops at olive presses and restaurants featuring olive oil.

In the prefecture of Heraklion (Iraklio), Michelakis proposes routes featuring the monumental olive trees of Kamilari, Gortina (or Gortyna, or Gortyn),  and Panassos and the olive mill at the Odigitria Monastery, as well as nearby olive mills such as Protogerakis in Vori, which welcomes visitors. Michelakis also recommends the areas of Malevizi and Hersonissos for their olive mills and museums (such as the Lychnostatis Open Air Museum).

In Lasithi, eastern Crete, itineraries can include the Agricultural Cooperative of Kritsa and the monumental olive tree of Kavousios – another grand old tree which locals believe to be the oldest in the world -- and the Mathena (or Mathaina) olive tree in Lastros, as well as the facilities of the Toplou Monastery, where award-winning extra virgin olive oil is produced, and the Agricultural Cooperative of Kato Zakros in Sitia.


Originally published on the Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil website (, which provides English-language news and information about the Greek olive oil world, as well as photos, recipes, and agrotourism and food tourism suggestions