The first snows of the winter transforms mountain villages, their traditional dwellings and spiraling peaks, into a scene fit for a Christmas card. Icing sugar-dusted fir trees; crisp, clear air; smoke wafting gently out of chimney tops from the roaring log fires in every hearth; the smell of sweetmeats and pastries; rosy faces lit up in anticipation of the coming festivities and time-honoured customs. And on top of this, the mild winter in our country guarantees a generous helping of sunshine to accompany you on countryside walks and to add that extra touch of joie de vivre to the celebrations in cities, villages and islands all over Greece.
Athens always has a grand welcome in store for Christmas. The illuminated central squares and streets ring with music and merriment. All corners of the city- its hotels, shops, cafes and restaurants- are bedecked with thousands of twinkling fairy lights. Syntagma Square with its gleaming Christmas tree, carousel and other children’s rides, confectionary stalls and numerous events leads the whole city into the holiday mood. The National Garden is transformed into a dreamland of discovery that enchants both young and old alike.
You’ll be carried away by the intoxicating, fairytale atmosphere and as a visitor you’ll soon find yourself immersed in the jollities, with exactly the same verve and enthusiasm as the Athenians around you. There are literally countless opportunities for recreation and entertainment in cultural hubs like Technopolis and other such venues. Theatrical performances, music concerts, outdoor events, charity bazaars as well as the nightlife; whatever you choose has that special Christmas sparkle.
Patra becomes a children’s paradise at Christmas. Your little ones will adore the fairytale village that is now a seasonal fixture at the port. Weaving a little Christmas magic with all their favorite stories, it makes an irresistible festive treat.
Hopping on the famous rack-and-pinion railway, walking the town’s alleyways while taking great refreshing gulps of mountain air, visiting the Monastery of Agia Lavra and, of course, skiing or riding snowmobiles down the slopes of Helmos are just a few of the things you can do in this historic town.
Pelion enthralls its visitors with its heavenly beauty whatever the time of year and Christmas is no exception. It only takes a few snowflakes to settle to make the perfect winter wonderland. Take a winter stroll through gorgeous villages and forests so dense the sun rays cannot penetrate them. Finally, don’t forget to make some time for fun and games in the snow at its ski centre.
Elati – Pertouli
Fir trees, snow-covered meadows, the scent of wood and wet soil, a hot brew in a chalet or elegant café, sleigh rides at the ski centre of Pertouli. This is an area in the heart of Greece whose scenery can rival anything seen in the Alps.
Combine your stay with a visit to a special Christmas funpark in Trikala, the Mill of the Elves. Definitely a major winter highlight for the city, it consists of various rides, children’s activities and artistic events. It goes without saying that it all revolves around Santa’s workshop. Even now the elves will be beavering away to make the story of this Christmas as transfixing for Mum and Dad as it is for the kids.
You’ll get the feeling here that the lake is practically untouched by human hand and, as a veil of white mist swirls up from its waters, this mysterious and captivating location make an ideal romantic Christmas retreat. Definitely for lovers of pristine nature and those who hanker after more traditional ways of living.
Traditional and unpretentious, mountainous Metsovo enchants its visitors at Christmas with its authentic atmosphere and copious amounts of the white fluffy stuff!
Agios Athanasios – Kaimaktsalan
In Agios Athanasios, the beautiful village with its buildings of typical Macedonian style, you can celebrate Christmas in a snowy landscape of astounding beauty. And naturally the ascent to Kaimaktsalan ski centre is a must if you don’t want to miss all the fun on the slopes.
Illuminations twinkle through the misty air; wonderful aromas have you yearning for all the Christmas treats; the traditional decorated ship takes pride of place in Aristotelous square; groups of friends gallivant around town in high spirits and restaurants overflow with customers. The city pulls out all the stops at this most wonderful time of the year. Everyone and everything skips to the festive beat and a relaxed, joyful demeanor will unlock all the magic for you.
Whether your intention is to head for the ski slopes by day and the village bars and clubs by night or simply take relaxing strolls through magnificent countryside, Arahova guarantees an unforgettable Christmas.
Oniroupoli- The Dream town of Drama
Christmas is coming and Santa is in charge! In the central square of the city, he’s taken up temporary residence in a village straight out of your children’s sweetest dreams. And he’s brought his elves along to liven things up just in time for the big day.
Christmas customs in Greece
On Christmas and New Year’sEve, up and down the country, neighbourhoods harken to the voices of children singing carols
, heralding the happy news of Christ’s birth.
In Greek homes, a flurry of baking means that delicious aromas hang permanently in the air. The Christopsomo, blessed bread, is prepared for Christmas and Vasilopita, a special pie with a lucky coin hidden inside, for New Year’s Day. And no dining room would be complete without a bowl of kourambies and melomacarona, traditional Christmas treats, to tempt your guests throughout the holyday.
Finally, what better way to invoke the season’s spirit than watching children hanging baubles on the tree and then shrieking with delight when the lights are turned on for the first time. It has been known for some Greek families to get their tree up and decorated by the middle of November, such is their enthusiasm to get the celebrations underway.
In Greece we love and cherish Christmas. That's why everything comes together to make the Christmas you have always dreamt of. The one in your heart!