The tireless Mediterranean sun doesn’t stop to rest even in winter. The sun warms the landscape, just as it does even the chilliest spirit on the frostiest days of winter in Greece. These clear bright days are so beautiful that the Greeks call them ‘the joy of God’.
During your winter holidays in Greece, dress up warm and visit one or several of the many winter destinations you’ll find on the map.
In the famous mountain villages in the north or the Peloponnese, take a walk down the cobbled lanes and admire the traditional architecture. In your comfy B&B or cosy taverna, seated by the fire, you’ll find that Greece’s classic products – cheeses, hand-kneaded bread, olives, extra-virgin olive oil – taste even better than in the city.
You’ll dine on hearty soups and grandmothers’ recipes for local meat and vegetables produced right next door. They’ll be accompanied by home-brewed drinks from wine to raki and ouzo. In the morning, you’ll wake up with tea made from mountain herbs and homemade jams.
Popular winter destinations in Greece
An early morning stroll takes you through evergreen forests and to hamlets with glorious views along the way. If it has snowed, you’ll want to visit Greece’s ski resorts and enjoy your favourite winter sports. The snow queen here is Arahova with its lady in waiting, Livadi, below the Parnassos ski centre, considered Greece’s best. There are top hotels and non-skiers can go horse-riding or mountain-biking.
From Pelion’s ski resort at Agriolefkes, you can combine winter sports with exploring the mountains’ famed villages. Other excellent ski resorts can be found at Falakro (Drama), Kaimaktsalan, Vasilitsa, Seli, Karpenissi, Elatohori and Kalavryta. They’re all set in spectacular locations, conveniently close to archaeological sites, Byzantine monuments and hamlets virtually untouched by tourism.
Life in the big cities
Winter is when the cities come into their own. The mild winters of Athens and Thessaloniki make them ideal winter destinations for a quick getaway. Patras, Volos, Naoussa, Veria and Ioannina also have rewards for a winter break: walks, shopping, and entertainment, particularly during the holiday season. Winter is also a time to revel in the season’s festivals. Carnival in Patras, for example, is renowned throughout Greece.
In Kastoria, you might want to check out the Ragoutsaria, a three-day period of music played on traditional brass instruments, dancing, food and wine that has its roots in Dionysian rituals. And at Epiphany on January 6, you’ll want to see the Blessing of the Waters, though you probably won’t be tempted to dive for the cross thrown by the priest into the icy cold sea.