Elatohori: Spirit of Christmas
Elatohori literally means Fir village. Up on the slopes of the Pierian Mountain range, only a short drive away from Katerini, this under the radar hamlet lives on a different bubble than the rest of us. How do we know? Well, for one, there’s only a handful of tripadvisor entries to its name (though AirBnB has found a way to claw itself in there). That pretty much guarantees a fairly authentic experience. And we here at Athens Express, pride ourselves in finding the sleepers and the late bloomers. So, understandably, we’re pretty excited to shed some light on Elatohori.
Elatohori is actually made up of two settlements. The older one which was razed by Nazis in 1944 and the newer one built afterwards. Needless to say which one we prefer. (hint: don’t mention the war).
Situated at about 780 meters altitude, you won’t mistake this for a summer resort. Everything here screams winter. And how could it not, when Elatohori ski center beckons? The fact that the ski slopes were inaugurated some 18 years ago has kept the character intact. It’s a small ski center, but because it’s a recent addition it does boast a slightly better level of infrastructure than most old ones. With more than 12,000 km of ski-able slopes and trails and some 10 pistes, this is one of the most overlooked skiing destinations in Greece. It’s got baby lifts, a 500 meter snowboard track as well as the obligatory café and first aid center, not to mention the ever useful skiing instructors. At an altitude of 1,400-1,800 meters it’s no slouch.
Elatohori village is a mere 8 kilometers from the ski center, and despite the lure of the ski slopes one shouldn’t overlook its many other charms. And there are a few.
The Kremastos waterfalls rains down from 1000 metres altitude, although only 30 are in fact visible. All along you’ll find mountain paths and small and man-made lakes such as Velvento and Polifitou. Powered by the 3 river deltas of Aksios, Gallikos and Aliakmonoas the surrounding areas are predictably green.
There is abundant flora and fauna, in this verdant corner of Greece. Packs of wolves and foxes roam for prey, and there are established colonies of wild boars and deer.
If you have spare time, you’d be well advised to head over to the Dion Archaeological Park. It’s only a few kilometers away, but it’s absolutely worth it (no brownie points if you bring your kids). If the history bug bites hard, then check out Vergina, the ancient capital of Macedonia, or even Platamonas Castle a bit further away.
As is custom, you’ll chow down in one of the many traditional, family run taverns in the area. Thankfully, you won’t have to look too hard for a good bite.
When looking for ideal, undiluted experiences it pays to persevere when others are floundering. The rewards go further than you’d expect.