Greece is known worldwide as the best summer holiday destination. However, winter in Greece is just as magical. The Greek countryside is ideal for winter vacations, as they provide modern winter sport facilities along with spectacular scenery and a traditional welcome. Here are our suggestions on the most popular winter destinations in Greece:
Mount Pelion is one of the top winter destinations in Greece. Its magnificent scenery combines mountain and sea. As far as the eye can see, there is dense greenery and the deep blue waters of the Aegean Sea and the Pagasetic Gulf. Just take a stroll around the traditional stone-built villages, like Tsagarada and Makrinitsa, to experience the magic of winter in Greece.
You can also participate in a lot of activities during winter. Skiing is very popular, as there is a ski centre near the village of Hania, at 1,500 meters altitude. The ski centre has 3 long stages, a 5,000 meter endurance stage, ski lifts and an ample space for beginners. Skiers can hire the necessary equipment there and also have a tutorial session with an instructor.
Another popular activity in winter time is hiking in the forest paths of Mount Pelion. Most of the hiking trails, with various ranges of difficulty, are signposted and pass through old monasteries, traditional villages and waterfalls. The trekking route between the villages of Milies and Tsagarada is particularly popular, although this is a 4hour hike. After a long day of hiking, spend the evening by the fireplace with a hot tea with local herbs.
Zagoria and Ioannina
A complex of traditional villages, built among the slopes of Mount Tymfi in north western Greece, Zagoria offers amazing winter holidays. The region combines wonderful landscape of snowy hilltops and pine trees with a lot of action-packed activities.
Hiking is the most popular activity in Zagoria, due to the unique landscape of mountains, rivers, forests and gorges. Hiking routes pass through picturesque villages and lead to Vikos Gorge, the second deepest gorge in the world. A popular hike is to the magical lake of Drakolimni, where dragons used to live according to the legend.
Many sports companies have their base in the region of Zagoria and organize activities like horse riding, climbing and also river trekking, rafting and canoe kayak in the river Voidomatis.
Close to Zagoria is the stunning city of Ioannina, surrounded by mountains and constructed on the shores of Lake Pamvotis. Most winter tourists have their base in Zagoria and visit Ioannina for a day trip to see the Castle, Perama Cave with the fantastic stalagmites and stalactites, and the Pavlos Vrellis Museum of Wax Effigies.
Arachova and Delphi
Found on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, the traditional village of Arachova is surely among the top winter destinations in Greece. This is the closest Greek winter resort to Athens and actually there are many winter packages from Athens to Arachova.
The region attracts many visitors due to the close ski centre that has 22 stages with various levels of difficulty, a snowboard park and an adventure arena. The area has also many paths that lead to beautiful villages, forests and hilltops, so it is ideal for hiking.
Driving around the region is very nice as well, as it gives you the opportunity to enjoy the magnificent scenery and discover small secret villages, old monasteries, and important sights. It is worth to mention that the archaeological site of Delphi, the most famous oracle of the ancient times, is located only 10 km from Arachova. After your ventures in the mountain, you can relax a luxury hotel or wooden chalet in Arachova, or spend the night out in a bar.
Between Thessaly and Macedonia, on the northern side of the Greek mainland, you will find one of the top winter destinations in Greece, Mount Olympus. This is the highest mountain range in Greece, reaching 2,917 metres. Olympus is only one hour drive from the city of Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, so tourists can come easily from there.
In Mount Olympus, a variety of winter sports is available, from hiking and skiing to rock climbing. This is why it attracts both individuals and groups. There is also a small ski centre close to Elatochori village, although this is more suitable for experienced skiers.