When thinking of Greece, most travelers envision summer vacations in locations such as Santorini or Mykonos. But this beautiful country is so much more than just a summertime destination! It’s time to consider Greece for a winter holiday and all of its possibilities.
Skiing and Other Outdoor Sports
Large areas of woodland with snow-capped peaks, forest trails and old pathways, fast-flowing rivers crowned with stone bridges, and striking lakes create the ideal setting for having a truly memorable experience during your winter holiday. The biggest ski resorts in the country are on Kaimaktsalan, Parnassos, Kalavryta, Vasilitsa, Tria-Pente Pigadia, Pelion, and Mainalo Mountains and they offer unforgettable snowy adventures in an all-white setting.
Enjoy the natural beauty of the mountainous areas with numerous cloud–capped peaks and a wide network of signposted trails for hiking or cross-country skiing. If you love mountain biking or 4-wheeling adventures, you will discover many off-road routes that will lead you deep into the heart of Greek nature.
Dotting the Greek countryside, partly covered in clouds or lying under a cloak of pure white snow, these villages are perfect for jet-setters who wish to see the countryside, while simultaneously enjoying city-style nightclubs where the party continues from sundown to sunrise. Arachova in Central Greece, which is often referred to as the “Winter Mykonos,” and the picture-perfect traditional town of Palaios Agios Athanasios are two of the most popular destinations for this type of experience and both are located just a stone’s throw from ski resorts.
Kastoria, Ioannina, Metsovo, and Karpenisi are four towns that perfectly illustrate how some destinations are enhanced by the winter months.
In Kastoria, one of Macedonia’s gem towns, you will enjoy touring the lake’s serene surroundings. Wander in the town’s traditional neighborhoods, see the Byzantine monuments, and visit Dispilio (7km SE of Kastoria) a lake settlement of pile dwellings dating back to 5000 BC.
Ioannina, the capital of the Epirus region is a beautiful old town with an amazing cultural heritage, imposing monuments, and picturesque neighborhoods. Visit Lake Pamvotida, one of the area’s highlights along with the picture-perfect islet of Kyra Frosyni located right in the center of the lake.
Metsovo is a traditional town, perched on a mountain slope and built according to the Epirus architectural style. Visit the impressive art and cultural sites, taste local dishes and experience the region’s beautiful forests and mountains.
Hidden Mountain Paradises
Nothing holds a candle to the mountainous parts of Korinthia and Arcadia in the Peloponnese when it comes to areas of natural beauty that also share a rich history.
If you travel to the mountainous parts of Nafpaktia you’ll discover more than 40 villages scattered on the area’s seven mountains, nestled in forested peaks and next to winding trails. Visit Zagorochoria, a group of 48 traditional, stone-built villages in the center of the Epirus region, and be captivated by the wonderful works of nature and men.
If you choose Mt. Pelion, you will enjoy visiting the villages perched on the mountain slopes, as they are fine examples of the local traditional architecture. You’ll also find an interesting network of hiking trails under the breathtaking canopy of foliage on the mountain of the mythical Centaurs.
Greek Culinary Treasures
The Greek mainland is a gastronomic paradise. Try the rich-flavored meats either charcoal-grilled or flame-cooked or on a skewer, traditional types of pasta, savory or sweet pies, nutritious legumes, as well as local wines and distilled spirits. Travelers will find those sweet temptations are equally difficult to resist! In Thessaloniki and Serres, taste the best custard-filled bougatsa you’ve ever had; in Kavala, try kourabiedes (a shortbread type of confection covered in caster sugar); and when visiting Mt. Pelion, be sure to sample the ravani (a syrupy confection made with yogurt and semolina). Baked dishes soaked in syrup are a specialty when visiting Ioannina and Xanthi.
Greece is known for its nightlife so it’s the ideal destination for leaving your cares behind.
As the country’s three biggest cities, Athens, Thessaloniki, and Patras are leaders when it comes to nightlife in Greece.
So, if clubbing is what you desire while on vacation, you’ll find several hot spots where you can party the night away.
If you are romantic by nature, take a trip to Nafplio, a beautiful historic town where you can stroll the streets of the old town and visit the castle at Palamidi as well as the much-photographed Bourtzi fortress built on Agioi Theodoroi islet. Visit the fortified town of Monemvasia, and walk by the grand stone-built houses, medieval towers, historic buildings, and centuries-old churches. Stop by Galaxidi, a seafarers’ town, as well as nearby Nafpaktos – these two towns are among the most romantic places on the Greek mainland. Nymfaio Village is located near Florina town, a place where you can see well-tended mansions and winding cobblestone streets, surrounded by a lush birch tree forest.
If a winter resort is what you have in mind, visit Elati and Pertouli, two lovely snow-covered villages, or consider Papigo, one of the most popular traditional villages in the west Zagori area.
Last but not least, don’t forget the big urban centers: Thessaloniki is Northern Greece’s largest multi-cultured city, with a romantic atmosphere; and it’s impossible to resist the allure of the capital city and historic center of Athens.
Undoubtedly, Greece is beautiful in the summer. But don’t discount this destination as a winter holiday because there’s just as much to see and do, and just as much fun to be had.
Source: Visit Greece
Kaimáktsalan Ski Resort – courtesy of Kaimáktsalan Ski Resort
Kastoria – Wikimedia by Manthos 2010. Transferred by Vagrand License CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Arachova – Athens Greece Now
Nafpaktia – Visit Nafpaktia
Bougatsa – Visit Greece
Nightlife – Antoine J on Unsplash
Nafplio – Discover Greece