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Magical Greece: winter destinations

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Greece is known worldwide as one of the best summer holiday destinations. 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.

 

ioanninaNature, snow, fresh air and good food are what anyone looks for in a winter destination. Greece has landscapes of unique beauty with picturesque villages that offer the opportunity to escape with a quick trip.

The tireless Mediterranean sun doesn’t stop to rest even in winter. In Greece, the light warms up the landscapes, people and the chilliest spirit even on the frostiest days of winter. Whether you are looking for touring ancient sites, exploring little country villages with spectacular scenery, taking advantage of Greece’s plethora of extreme sports, island hopping or visiting any number of cities which offer a rich programme of events throughout the season, Greece has it all.

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Island hopping

The mention of Greece brings up images of white arcing beaches and sparkling aqua waters under sun-drenched skies. But the secret in plain sight is that this nation, blessed with more than 6,000 islands, actually offers some of its best features outside the tourist-crazed summer season.

Winter-time island life becomes something quite special, with locals jumping at the chance for you to experience the wonders of Greek hospitality.

Visiting ancient sites

ancient-ruin-winter-400x260Winter is unquestionably the best time to see Greece’s ancient sites, some of the most iconic in the world and the veritable foundations of western civilisation. Practically deserted, in comparison to the teeming summer months, the mainland sites range from Athens’ Acropolis and Ancient Agora to Delphi (home of the ancient Oracle); Meteora, with its pinnacle-topped monasteries; and the awe-inspiring Macedonian tomb treasures of Vergina, outside Thessaloniki. In winter, the Temple of Poseidon on dramatic Cape Sounion, is a worthwhile and close opportunity for a day-trip, which can even be combined with a visit to the Lake of Vouliagmeni, whose warm underground thermal springs offer a natural and unique thermal spa experience.

The Peloponnese is also laden with impressive sites, from Olympia (home of the original Olympic Games), to Mycenae, Corinth and Epidavros with its grand ancient theatre and healing centre.

City escape

6ad9660cc88a9bfff0d995f33dba22dfWinter is when cities come into their own. The mild weather of Athens and Thessaloniki make them ideal winter destinations for a quick getaway. Patras, Volos, Naoussa, Veria and Ioannina also have rewards for a winter break: walks, shopping and entertainment, particularly during the holiday season. Winter’s also a time to revel in the season’s festivals. The carnival in Patras, for example, is renown throughout Europe.

In Kastoria, you might want to check out the Ragoutsaria, a three-day period of music on traditional brass instruments, dancing, food and wine that has its roots in Dionysian rituals. And at Epiphany on January 6th, you’ll want to see the Blessing of the Waters.

 

Winter is probably the best time to see Greece’s ancient sites, some of the most iconic in the world and the veritable foundations of western civilisation.

It is also time to take advantage of a host of action-packed activities throughout the country and explore mythological snow-capped mountains, picturesque villages posing magnificent scenery, sample some of the best regional cuisine utilising fresh local produce and creative recipes and experience the renowned Greek hospitality.

 

Exploring Greece’s hospitality

dasiko_xorio_artaWalk down cobbled lanes and admire the traditional architecture in any one of Greece’s tiny villages nestled high in the mountains overlooking the blue sea, expansive lakes or snow-capped mountains. Throughout the country you will find a wide variety of comfy B&Bs or luxury hotels, complete with spa treatments. Most winter retreats even have log fires to stoke in your own room! Wonderful on a chilly day after hiking up steep mountains or skiing down freshly powered snow slopes.

Mount Pelion is probably one of the top winter destinations in Greece. Its magnificent scenery combines mountain and sea. Take a stroll around the traditional stone-built villages, like Tsagarada and Makrinitsa, to experience the magic of winter in Greece. Another popular activity in winter time is hiking in the forest paths of Mount Pelion; hiking trails, with various ranges of difficulty, are signposted and pass through old monasteries, traditional villages and waterfalls.

pelio6A 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.

Found on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, the traditional village of Arachova is also 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.

img_0226Between Thessaly and Macedonia, on the northern side of the Greek mainland, you another top winter destination, Mount Olympus. This is the highest mountain range in Greece, reaching 2,917 metres.

Throughout Greece you can find many companies which offer activities such as horse riding, 4×4, skiing, climbing, river trekking, rafting and canoe kayaking – never of course far away from ancient sites, castles, monasteries, caves and museums to explore; and not’s let forget the amazing home cooked food and local wines, tsipouro or more recently, locally brewed beer. And of course, no trip would be complete without a souvenir, choosing anyone of the handmade items for sale from carpets to jams, pasta to wooden utensils.

Skiing & extreme sports

pelion-ski-resortThe heart of Greek winter beats on snow-covered mountain tops, where ski enthusiasts – craving for adventure – can experience the sought-after intensity and adrenalin rush.

Escape to an idyllic white mountain setting where the cold mountain air puts human will and endurance to the test! Skiing (and its alternative version, snowboarding) is undoubtedly the ‘king’ of extreme sports; an exciting pastime offering a unique sense of freedom as the human body becomes attuned to the elements and forces of nature.

Although Greece is a country where the sun shines most of the year, it can also boast some very good skiing resorts with ultra-modern facilities that can satisfy even the most demanding skiers, offering an unforgettable experience down spectacular ski runs where the beauty of the alpine landscape is guaranteed to take your breath away.

Enjoy a ski run in some of the best known skiing resorts of the country and feast your eyes on the beauty of snow-clad mountaintops as you experience an overwhelming feeling of freedom.

The snow queen here is Arahova with its lady in waiting, Livadi, below the Parnassos centre, considered Greece’s best. The hotels are top and non-skiers can go horse-riding, mountain biking, or driving their ATVs on special routes.

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From Pelion’s ski resort at Agriolefkes, you can combine winter sports with exploring the mountains famed villages. Other excellent ski resorts can be found at Falakro (Drama), Kaimaktsalan, Vasilitsa, Seli, Karpenissi, Elatohori and Kalavryta. They’re all set in spectacular locations, conveniently close to archaeological sites, Byzantine monuments and hamlets untouched by tourism.

Between Thessaly and Macedonia, on the northern side of the Greek mainland, you another top winter destination, Mount Olympus. This is the highest mountain range in Greece, reaching 2,917 metres.

Throughout Greece you can find many companies which offer activities such as horse riding, 4×4, skiing, climbing, river trekking, rafting and canoe kayaking – never of course far away from ancient sites, castles, monasteries, caves and museums to explore; and not’s let forget the amazing home cooked food and local wines, tsipouro or more recently, locally brewed beer. And of course, no trip would be complete without a souvenir, choosing anyone of the handmade items for sale from carpets to jams, pasta to wooden utensils.

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