Thinking of spending the winter in Greece? Here are some of the best destinations to explore during the colder months of the year.
Winter in Greece probably isn’t your first thought when you think of Greece or holidays in Greece. Like many people, you tend to associate the country with summer holidays on the Greek islands. But you will be surprised but how much winter has to offer, provided you know where to look!
While these Greek winter destinations are beautiful in any season – the stone buildings, mountainous backdrops and quiet villages have a special kind of magic in the winter season and will enchant those who visit them!
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When you say the words ‘winter in Greece’ there is one destination that comes to mind immediately for many Greeks. Arahova. This little village is the Greek Queen of the winter! It is a favourite for locals who like to have a winter escape, as it is only 150km away from central Athens.
In Arahova you are spoilt for choice with delicious food and exquisite drinks, honey and cheese, herbs, beautifully handcrafted souvenirs, luxurious clothes and accessories. It will make you feel like you have found a unique and elegant marketplace. Arahova’s traditional architecture and astonishing views will enchant you in the winter season. All with the beautiful backdrop of a snowy Mount Parnassus!
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Agoriani is a close neighbour to the beautiful village of Arahova. In this area, you are also close to Delphi and the famous Sanctuary of Apollo which is a must-visit while you are in this region of Greece. If you are a nature lover you can walk from Agoriani to Delphi following the famous E4 European path, that passes through the most beautiful part of the forest. Another benefit for winter lovers is that the ski centre is only a few kilometres away so here you can enjoy the slopes as well as the village.
Agoriani will fulfil all your mountainous village dreams. You can explore the village streets and enjoy the stone houses, smoking chimneys and little tavernas with delicious local products. Despite being a popular spot during winter in Greece, this beautiful village still retains an air of authenticity. The locals radiate hospitality, and you are always more than welcome in the kafeneia (traditional Greek cafes).
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Kastoria, located in Northern Greece and nestled in the mountains, is a destination that remains a well-kept secret to most visitors. Here you can experience a city of old neighbourhoods, narrow lanes, stately mansions and Byzantine churches. On the shores of Lake Orestiada, you are forced to take a step back in time and embrace the joys of winter in Greece.
As you walk on the south shore next to the old mansions of wealthy furriers and you will experience some of the splendour of the Byzantine era. The city is famous for its high-quality fur. It was in fact named after the thriving beaver (in Greek kastoras) population that once populated these shores.
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Metsovo, a small mountain town in Epirus, is the perfect destination for winter in Greece. It is famous for its local cheese and wine varieties as well as being a popular winter and ski destination. Aside from the rustic charm and welcoming locals, this village is rich in culture. Be sure to visit the Folk Art Museum and the Averoff Museum of Neohellenic Art. Like anywhere in winter, a traditional warming meal is perfect on a cold evening, so do not miss the traditional tavernas.
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Kalavrita is a small city located in the Peloponnese region. Sitting at an altitude of 730 meters Kalavrita is famous for its ski centre. Only 188 km from Athens it is becoming more and more popular during the winter season as people come for a relaxing escape.
Just a short drive out of the city you can find the state-of-the-art ski park with 12 slopes and special snowboard and snow tube parks. Not to worry if skiing isn’t your thing. You can also enjoy the hiking trails, mountaineering on Mt Helmos, climbing, mountain biking and even paragliding if you’re brave enough!
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This will seem like an unlikely destination for winter in Greece, but as Santorini is such a popular spot, visiting this island in the winter gives you an entirely different perspective and experience. While swimming might be off the cards there is still plenty to do in Santorini. There are still restaurants open, museums and archaeological sites to explore, or why not do a wine tasting!
The Greek islands don’t have to be just a summer destination! A good tip to remember if you are thinking of visiting the islands in winter is that islands that are larger in size will have a bigger permanent population and offer more frequent travel options. They are also much more likely to have year-round restaurants, hotels and entertainment options for visitors!
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If you are considering winter in Greece, don’t forget the capital! This vibrant city is a beautiful place to explore in any season. If you are visiting Athens in December, Christmas festivities will be in full swing and you can indulge in some Greek Christmas traditions and try some festive food. Take an evening walk to the city centre and see Syntagma square ablaze with lights! The winter months are the perfect time to visit the many museums that Athens has on offer. It’s also the best time to explore the Acropolis with no crowds!
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FAQ about Winter in Greece:
Here are some of the frequently asked questions from people wanting to visit Greece in the winter:
How cold is winter in Greece?
Compared to other European cities, Greece in the winter can be surprisingly mild. It all depends on where you go. Athens, on the southern part of the country, will be most pleasant. Some islands like Crete are also good choices with plenty of sunshine but make sure to pack a jacket for the wind.
What is the temperature like in winter in Greece?
The average temperature for winter in Greece is 13 °C or about 55 °F.
For some of the northern destinations like Thessaloniki, there is a much lower average of 5.5 °C (41.9°F) whereas, in Crete, that would be closer to 10 °C or about 50 °F during January.
Do you recommend visiting the Greek islands in the wintertime?
Yes, you can absolutely visit the Greek islands during the wintertime. Some of the best options are Rhodes, Crete, Santorini and Corfu. Generally, the larger and more well-connected islands will have more options for accommodation and dining. You will also want to check this list of Greek islands with airports to narrow down your search. Having the option to fly could come in handy when weather conditions prevent ships from coming and going to the island – even though getting stranded on a Greek island isn’t the worst thing that can happen!
You may also want to check out, our winter guide to Santorini island. This is an ideal option for budget-friendly travel to one of the most luxurious and sought after honeymoon destinations around the world. As long as there is a hot pool in your Santorini hotel, you may still enjoy views over the caldera just like in the summertime.
Is there winter tourism in Greece?
Of course! Greeks love to visit mainland destinations during the winter months like Meteora, Arahova, the beautiful villages of Zagori, and the snow-covered slopes of Kalavrita. Skiing is also a popular activity for most Greeks during the wintertime.
Here are some of the best ski resorts around Greece.
What can I do during the winter in Greece?
Visit archaeological sites, explore the cities and towns without the extra crowds, jump over to some of the islands for a taste of real Greek life and of course partake in your favourite wintertime nature activities. For those that enjoy hiking and skiing, Greece will be a pleasant surprise, with a diverse setting and an array of options on offer. Greece is covered by mountains, so just pick a region that you haven’t visited before and you will soon realize that there is no shortage of options.
And of course, experiencing the Greek cuisine takes on a whole different meaning during the winter months, when hearty soups, stews and Christmas desserts enter the picture!
What is a Greek Christmas like?
There are plenty of Greek Christmas traditions you will get to experience during the holiday season. From hearing traditional carols, to tasting all the Greek Christmas desserts, this is a magical time where the role of religion in Greek society is evident. Here are a few Greek Christmas traditions you might not know about.