The tireless Mediterranean sun doesn’t stop to rest even in winter. In Greece, the light warms up the landscapes, people and the chilliest spirit even on the frostiest days of winter. These clear bright days are so beautiful that the Greeks call them ‘the joy of God.’
During your winter holidays in Greece, wear your warmest clothes and visit one or several of the many winter destinations you’ll find on the map – the famous mountain villages in the north or the Peloponnese. Walk down their cobbled lanes and admire their 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 next door. They’ll be accompanied by strong home-brewed drinks from wine to raki to ouzo. In the morning you’ll wake up with tea made from mountain herbs and home-made jams. Winter in Greece promises to give you some of the most spectacular experiences of your life!
Popular destinations in Greece during winter
An early morning stroll may take you onto a delightful path through an evergreen forest to another hamlet with glorious views along the way. If it has snowed, then you’ll want to visit Greece’s well-known ski resorts and enjoy your favourite winter sports. The snow queen here is Arahova with its lady in waiting, Livadi, below the Parnassos centre, considered Greece’s best. There are top hotels and non-skiers can go horseriding, mountainbiking, or driving their ATVs on special routes.
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 unspoilt by tourism.
Winter in Greece: traditions and customs in the big cities
Winter is when the cities come into their own. The mild weather 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’s also a time to revel in the season’s festivals. Carnival in Patras, for example, is renowned throughout Europe.
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 6th, 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.