Greece in winter – an undiscovered wonderland that you must definitely add on your bucket list! When one thinks of Greece, sun-kissed beaches, cerulean seas and vibrant summer festivals may come to mind. However, as the summer tourists depart and the winter breeze settles in, Greece undergoes a transformation. It reveals a side that’s equally enchanting yet less explored. El Greco Tours invites you to discover the charms of Greece in winter, a magical season with its own allure.
So, if you are interested in travelling during that season, keep reading the following article.
What to do during winter in Greece
- Explore the tranquil landscapes and villages
The summer crowds disperse, leaving behind serene landscapes that beckon the soul-searcher. Whether it’s the calming waves on the shores of Santorini or the mist-covered hills of the Peloponnese, Greece in winter offers a peaceful escape. Moreover, the contrast of white snow against the classic blue rooftops in some regions is a sight to behold.
More specific, during the winter months, Greek villages take on an ethereal charm, offering a stark yet captivating contrast to the country’s summer image. For example, in the mountainous Epirus region, villages like Metsovo and Zagori are swathed in snow. Their stone-built houses and cobbled streets offer a picturesque and unforgettable setting. In addition, the holy monasteries of Meteora are a must visit! The stunning monasteries perched atop towering rock formations take on a mystical aura in winter, especially when veiled in mist or snow.
Picture by: frimufilms
The narrow alleys of Arachova, perched on the slopes of Mount Parnassos, become a bustling hub for winter sports enthusiasts. Furthermore, the Peloponnese village of Dimitsana, with its stone bridges and ancient monasteries, offers panoramic views of snow-capped mountains and forested valleys. Whether it’s the serene beauty of Nymfaio in Northern Greece, renowned for its traditional architecture, or the wintry splendor of Kaimaktsalan Mountain, Greek villages in winter present a dreamy tableau of nature’s beauty blended seamlessly with age-old traditions.
Greece, primarily celebrated for its sun-drenched beaches and ancient landmarks, surprisingly morphs into a winter sports haven as the snow settles. Nestled among its mountainous terrains are top-notch ski resorts that beckon winter enthusiasts. Skiing, snowboarding, or even just snowshoeing are activities that aren’t typically associated with Greece but are abundantly available.
Specifically, the slopes of Mount Parnassos are a favorite among skiers and snowboarders, boasting a plethora of trails suitable for all athletes. Also, Vasilitsa in Northern Greece offers exceptional off-piste skiing opportunities, while the Peloponnese’s Mainalo Ski Center is a treat for families looking for snowy fun. Beyond skiing, the mountain regions host activities like snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and even winter paragliding.
Apart from the skiing activities, the thermal baths in Greece are also one of the top destinations! Places like Pozar boasts springs renowned for their therapeutic properties. In addition, Edipsos on Evia Island boasts more than 80 thermal springs, earning it the moniker “spa town.” These natural spas, set amidst serene landscapes, offer a therapeutic escape, making winter the ideal time for rejuvenation.
Picture by: Lefteris_
Experience traditions and celebrations
Winter in Greece is not just about serene landscapes and snow-capped mountains. Ιt’s also a season rich in festivals and age-old traditions that echo the country’s deep cultural roots.
To begin with, Christmas in Greece is a magical experience. Towns and cities are adorned with twinkling lights and nativity scenes. Streets resonate with the sound of carols, known as ‘kalanda’, sung by children who go door-to-door spreading festive cheer. Moreover, the New Year, locally referred to as ‘Protochronia’, has its own mascot called Agios Vasilis, Greece’s version of Santa Claus. A special cake called ‘Vasilopita’ is baked with a hidden coin and the one who finds it is believed to have good luck for the year. Tip for the travelers: indulge in seasonal delights such as ‘melomakarona’ and ‘kourabiedes’ which you will find everywhere in the country!
Additionally, the revelry continues till the Epiphany on January 6th, marked by the ‘Blessing of the Waters’ ceremonies. In this unique tradition, a cross is thrown into the sea, rivers, or lakes and brave locals dive in to retrieve it. This tradition symbolizes the baptism of Christ. Another winter highlight is the vibrant carnival season, ‘Apokries’, which leads up to Lent. The Patras Carnival stands out with its parades, masquerade balls and satirical floats. Together, these winter festivals and traditions offer a glimpse into Greece’s soul, where antiquity intertwines seamlessly with modern celebrations.
Picture by: Konstantinos Lagos
Visit the archaeological sites
Winter offers a distinctive experience for those keen on exploring Greece’s archaeological treasures. The country’s museums and ancient sites become quiet sanctuaries of history and culture.
Explore the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, which houses an unparalleled collection of artifacts and appreciate its rich tapestry of antiquities. Similarly, the iconic Acropolis presents a more peaceful ambiance, offering unhindered views of the Parthenon and other majestic ruins. Furthermore, sites like the ancient theater of Epidaurus, the Minoan palace of Knossos in Crete or the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, are imbued with a serene beauty. The charm of visiting these archaeological marvels in winter lies in the profound intimacy and connection it fosters between the visitor and Greece’s illustrious past.
Escape to Island Getaways
While the islands are a summer favorite, they have a distinct winter charm. Imagine a quiet walk along the caldera in Santorini or exploring the medieval streets of Rhodes without the usual hustle. The slower pace allows for a more authentic experience and you might even make friends with the locals over a cup of steaming Greek coffee.
Furthermore, on islands like Crete, the winter landscape transforms, revealing snow-capped peaks and verdant valleys that beckon explorers. Meanwhile, the mild temperatures make all of them ideal for off-season hikes and historical excursions. Visiting the Greek islands in winter is akin to discovering a well-kept secret. Read more about the best Greek islands to visit in October here.
Picture by: Latsalamao
Greece in winter is a different kind of paradise with its own rhythms and rituals. As the land of myth and history dons its winter attire, a new world opens up for the traveler. With El Greco Tours, you’re immersing, engaging and falling in love with Greece all over again in a way you’ve never seen before. Join us this winter and let the hidden wonders of Greece warm your heart!