Greece is well known for summer vacations in the islands or mainland, but few people know that Greece has also winter destinations, including 16 ski centers. Let’s see the 10 best winter destinations in Greece.
Arachova, amphitheatrical located at the southern end of Parnassos, is the top destination for ski tourism in Greece. Offering a sure weekend of mountain cosmopolitanism just 160 km from Athens. Very close to it, just a few minutes away is the archaeological site of Delphi, famous for its oracle.
The town of Boeotia, after all, built at 1,000 m., In addition to its stone-built picturesqueness, has acquired an enviable service infrastructure for the visitor (luxury resorts and elegant hostels, trendy cafes, neat restaurants, and shops). From the 28th of October (when an informal start of the season takes place) the narrow main road (with the even narrower sidewalks) but also the squares begin to be filled with excursionists who linger in the cafes and make supplies (local formaela cheese, sweet coconut, etc. a.) in traditional product stores.
The “rookies” with a touring mood will march in the alleys to the rock of Hera with the clock (the first landmark of the city, breathtaking views as Arachova is revealed to you after the last turn of the road) and those who endure the uphill will take the 264 stone steps for the church of St. George. When the snow covers the slopes of Mount Parnassos, skiers do not take the lead for the three ski resorts and of course for Livadi, the satellite settlement of Arachova, which has developed rapidly and uncontrollably, hosting from taverns to luxury cottages.
Between the Pagasitic Gulf and the Aegean Sea, northeast from the city of Volos, rises the imposingly Pelion, having over 40 villages with unique architecture mansions, beautiful cobbled streets, historic churches, and raging nature.
The whole mountain is overgrown with forests, with oaks, chestnuts, plane trees, pines, and firs. The lowlands are covered by areas with apple and olive trees but also dense low vegetation.
According to mythology, Pelion was inhabited by the Centaurs, who were mythical creatures with a horse body from the middle and bottom and a human body from the middle and above. One of the most famous Centaurs was Chiron, a teacher of Jason.
Pelion has a very good road network and from the city of Volos, you can visit all its villages with relative comfort. Excellent tourist infrastructure, picturesque villages, unique routes, and many activities focused on nature are offered all year round to the visitors of Pelion.
Ski-in the ski center of Portaria, drink the “immortal water” in Makrinitsa, swim in the beautiful beaches of the area, and tour between the villages with the legendary train called “Moutzouris”. Whatever season you are in Pelion, one thing is for sure: you will enjoy a wonderful vacation and the memories will accompany you for a lifetime.
Kalavrita is another popular winter destination in Greece, especially loved by sports lovers because of the nearby ski resort. The historic city of Kalavrita is built at an altitude of 756 meters in the “shadow” of Helmos mountain, in a privileged position in a beautiful fir forest. The ski resort is 15 km away and is one of the finest in the country, following an impressive route through the snow-covered fir forest.
Among the most popular attractions of the area are the Caves of the Lakes that have something exclusively of its own. It’s 13 consecutive stepped lakes make it unique of its kind in the world. The utilized length of the cave is 500 m. While its total length is 1,980 m.
And the famous “odontotos’ railway of Diakoptos-Kalavrita. The route followed by the train has been described as the most spectacular railway line in the Balkans and one of the best in the world. Other sites to see are the monastery of Mega Spileo (big cave) that dates back to 4th century AC and the monastery of Agia Lavra that was built in 961 AC.
Arrogant mountains and rivers that challenge you for adventure, stone-built villages, and monasteries with history: from the popular valley of the Karpenisiotis river to Prousos and from Velouchi to the artificial lake of Kremasta, each season has its own colors in Evritania.
Add organized and basically neat accommodation infrastructure, even in villages that are hard to find on the map, and you have the complete “package” for a promising long weekend. Skiers and non-skiers, in winter your compass will be tuned to the bipolar ski center (for playing on an alpine background) and Karpenisi (for spending the night in the main bar street of the town).
In summer, hikers trip to the cool waters of Krikellopotamos, against the backdrop of the charming local gorge, in the southern part of the prefecture. In spring and autumn, the colors and smells in Potamia and its stone-built villages wake up: the walks on the cobbled streets of Paleo Mikro Chorio and Megalo Chorio, in Voutyro, in the monastery-eagle-nest of Prousos.
Few places in Greece have the majesty of Meteora. This important geological phenomenon of the impressive rocks with the monasteries hooked on them not only gathers believers who see it as the “second Mount Athos” but also travelers who are looking for landscapes capable of taking their breath away. Designated by UNESCO as a cultural heritage site, Meteora impresses the visitor who sees for the first time the giant stone complex.
Just 25 km from Trikala, these formations, which geologists call “tectonic horns”, were created 30 million years ago when the sea in the area began to recede, dragging rocks to the bottom which gradually became solid. Over time, Meteora will be inhabited by monks and will take their name from the Holy Meteor Athanasios of the Monastery of Megalo Meteora.
Of the 24 monasteries in total, today only 6 are in operation while the rest are uninhabited and in ruins. In the past, monks and nuns settled on these sacred rocks were isolated and sought the salvation of people day and night with long prayers. You will meet their successors today in the monasteries of Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas, Metamorphoseos to Sotiros or Megalo Meteoro, Barlaam, Roussanou, Agia Triada, and Agios Stefanos. With respect to the place, here the pilgrim will talk to them to tell him stories of faith.
But Meteora, apart from their monastic life, offers all kinds of activities in nature. Nearby Kalambaka ensures your stay with perfect hotel accommodation while being a global climbing destination. In Kalambaka, you will find hagiography and wood carving workshops and you will fill your lungs with oxygen during the walks in the surrounding villages of the area.
Built amphitheatrically on the green slopes of Pindos above the Metsovitikos river, at an altitude of 1,200 m., The Vlach village of Kefalochori has left its mark on the travel map of mountainous Greece. Houses built with the traditional continental architecture, with stone, wood, and slabs, between cobblestones, downhill streets, a picturesque central square with huge plane trees and numerous taverns and cafes, shops with traditional wood products and local textiles.
The homeland of national benefactors such as Georgios Averoff, Nikolaos Stournaras, and Mikhail Tositsa, he has been particularly favored by his children. Opposite the church of the central square, Agia Paraskevi, three fountains are a meeting point for the locals with the traditional costumes and the characteristic glitz. Two small ski resorts and hiking trails have also made Metsovo a favorite of nature lovers. And of course, thanks to Egnatia Odos, in recent years it has redefined its profile with new quality hotel units and attracts more and more visitors.
A favorite mountain destination for nature lovers and fans of alternative sports and families, Lake Plastira, at an altitude of 750 m. Southwest of the Prefecture of Karditsa, is surrounded by 18 beautiful and picturesque villages and has a developed tourist infrastructure.
Do not leave a single meter unexplored than the 55 km required to complete the tour of the lake, which has an area of about 25,000 acres. Neochori – the most developed tourist in relation to the other villages – spreads on the slope and offers panoramic views of Lake Plastira. Also known as “Paralia”, Kalivia Pezoulas, just a stone’s throw from the lake, on its southwest side, took its name from the one-room makeshift structures made of reeds and mud in which the farmers of the area stored their agricultural products and tools.
In the village, you will find professionals that organize outdoor activities, such as horse riding and archery, but also many taverns. Neraida, among the fir trees, at an altitude of 1,120 m. And overlooking the lake that will take your breath away, is offered for routes to the fountain of Alexander or the Church of Genesis Theotokos (16th century) 3 km northeast of the village.
Kastania, hidden in an area overgrown with fir trees, is the ideal destination for campers, as there are organized camping in the area. Do not leave here if you do not see up close one of the three remaining tsarouchia handicrafts in Greece. In the village, there are rooms for rent and a community guest house. Other beautiful villages are Pezoula, built on the banks of the Great River, with the houses of the settlement spread on both sides of the ravine with chestnuts, firs, and oaks, and Belokomyti, perched on a picturesque slope of Agrafa, with the stone houses, flowered courtyards, and wood-carved balconies to “decorate” its narrow streets.
Among the most popular mountain destinations in Greece, they have personality, rich history, culture, very well-preserved architecture, unique natural landscape and people who do not let them stand still for a moment, constantly creating new occasions to visit them.
The 46 mountainous stone-built villages in the north of Ioannina, between Mitsikeli and Tymfi (or Gamila), against the backdrop of the imposing ravine of Vikos, “beyond the mountain” as evidenced by their Slavic name, are divided into West, East, and Central Zagori and it seems that they are set to surpass each other in picturesqueness and tourist infrastructure.
Here you will find cosmopolitan and quiet villages, with wonderful views or hidden in the forest, forests and bare peaks, rivers with crystal clear waters such as Voidomatis, alpine lakes such as Drakolimnes and the Vikos-Aoos National Park. Most settlements have been characterized as traditional, with stone and wood predominating.
Bridges-monuments, monasteries, and churches, developed hotel infrastructure (mountain resorts, atmospheric hostels, etc.), local cuisine, beautiful cafes, outdoor activities (hiking, horse riding, mountaineering, rafting, canoe kayak, mountain biking, and swimming).
Built on the southwest side of Koziakas, at an altitude of 950 m., In a dreamy mountainous landscape dominated by fir trees, Elati is the largest village in the mountains of Trikala city and one of the most popular mountain destinations in Greece. The area is suitable for small and large excursions to the surrounding picturesque villages and many outdoor activities on the mountain – the ski center of Pertouli is within walking distance – for walks in the forest, but also on the river Acheloos which has its springs.
A winter paradise surrounded by mountains, with dense forests, green meadows, and running waters. Pertouli is built at an altitude of 1,100 m. Also, build at the slopes of Koziakas, having picturesque stone houses, ski resorts, and good tourist infrastructure. It is one of the most popular mountain resorts for a vacation in Greece. In the forests, deers can pass by you while you have a picnic in the recreation areas that has rivers and bridges.
One of the most beautiful “balconies” of Pieria, a preserved settlement has been turned into a tourist attraction for the whole prefecture. Perched on the slopes of Mount Olympus, it offers incredible views of Thermaikos and the coast of Pieria.
The main square with the plane trees, the old church of Agios Panteleimon, and the old school is the place where most people gather to enjoy the view and dine in the many traditional taverns. Beautiful shops with souvenirs, folk art items, decorations, gifts, and jewelry are scattered on its cobbled streets, while abandoned houses of continental architecture and mansions that are constantly restored and converted into houses and hostels.
The village already has a remarkable hotel infrastructure and manages to attract visitors throughout the year, as in winter it is very charming, while in summer it offers coolness and is only a few kilometers from the beach of Neos Panteleimon and the other coasts of the southern prefecture.
The dense – full of chestnuts and beeches – a forest that embraces Paleos Panteleimon is ideal for hiking and mountain biking and 4×4. Litochoro, the Olympus National Park, the beaches of the prefecture, and, of course, the unique Archaeological Site in Dion which is the largest in Greece and shows the civilization of Makedonia, offers many options for different style excursions in the area.