Top 5 Winter Destinations in Greece
Greece pretty much has the Med on lockdown during the summer months, and so it’s usual for people to overlook the natural charm that Greece exudes during the off season months. That doesn’t mean it’s right. Greece is a naturalist’s paradise that has it all. Fauna, flora, winter sports, outdoor treks, scenic mountain villages covered in mist and quite possibly some of the most amazing comfort food this side of the pond.
1. Pelion. Pelion mountain is a scenic affair. Made up of 24 small traditional villages on its slopes, built in the time honored method with large stones from around the area exclusively. The result is breathtaking. The views from the top are magnificent and the food is out of this world.
But lets take a closer look at what Pelion has to offer. On one side, lies Volos and its famous tsipouradika tapas bars, while on the other side one can find some of the most spectacular beaches Greece has to offer. The mountain itself is a winter paradise on account of its ski center; Chania. Located at the very top of the mountain and flanked by the beautiful Makrinitsa village, Pelion is an easy decision. It combines great infrastructure, cozy hotels, tasty homey food and a family friendly atmosphere. The mythical home of the centaurs is abundant in its charm.
2. Parnassos mountain probably offers the best slopes with the most variety and organization, and due to its close proximity to Athens it is considered one of the best winter options for locals. And the rule of thumb when visiting another country is usually to follow what the locals are doing. So what do you do? You book yourself a room in Arachova, the nearest village, which also happens to be an absolutely magical setting with thatched roof houses, cozy wood fires and terrific food in the form of grilled cheeses and locally sourced cuts and sausages. If you’re not a fan of the whole winter sports business, its more than fine, as you’ll be able to relax and kick back at the many chalets and sip your coffee while you read a book by the fireplace.
3. One of the destinations that has long enthralled and captivated people is the Zagorohoria. 46 small villages dot the Pindus range along the northern passages. The Zagorohoria have a distinct history in the region, having enjoyed a semi-autonomous life from the Ottoman rulers in exchange for certain concessions. Its proximity to the northern Balkan states belies its origin; Zagora means mountain pass in Slavic. In effect, this melting pot of cultures, languages and customs has created an interesting fusion that is at once elusive and yet strangely familiar. There may not be a ski slope near, but its singular beauty is enough to keep you within its confines. Vikos gorge, nearby, is in actual fact the deepest one in the world according to the Guiness World Book of Records, so you know, there’s that.
4. Another great destination is Kaimaktsalan up in the northern border with FYROM on the slopes of Mt Voras. This is a strictly winter sports assignment for passionate winter sports enthusiasts who don’t mind a bit of a trek and some bitter cold. However, once atop the scenic mountain and its 13 courses, you’ll be able to catch some pretty nifty views of the Thermaicos Gulf and Lake Vegoritida.
The real zinger though, is the fact that you can unwind in the nearby thermal springs of Pozar and its 48 private baths and various indoor and outdoor pools. Really, it shouldn’t even be a question of if, but rather a question of when. Edessa, the town of the waterfalls, is also in close proximity and should not be missed given half a chance. It’s lush green vegetation and abundant fauna and flora make it a great trekking opportunity for outdoor fans.
5. Kalavryta definitely gets all the reps it should. But we think it should be getting way more. On the slopes of Mt. Helmos in the Peloponnese lies Kalavryta and its dreamy stone house paradise. A veritable lover’s getaway, Kalavryta boasts one of the most state of the art ski facilities in Greece with 7 lifts, 12 slalom courses, a snowboard park and snow tubing park, not to mention a healthy assortment of cafeterias and bars inside the premises for those who prefer the cozy confines of a chalet atmosphere. The town of Kalavryta has an added cultural signifier, as it was here that the Greek Revolution for independence from Ottoman rule began in earnest. What’s more, in addition to the obvious culinary charms of which you can rest assured will be of the usual lofty standard, Kalavryta happens to operate a cute train called the ‘Odontotos’ along the old railway tracks that leads to Diakoftos on a 22 km journey that meanders through some positively striking rural scenery.