Most people associate Greece with beaches, islands, and sunshine. However, the country does experience winter. Travelers should not feel discouraged from visiting during the colder months, when individuals can head to ski slopes, mountains, and other attractions.
Greece provides a radically different experience during the winter months. For example, new seasonal produce is available, including chestnuts, wild mushrooms, and oranges. These lend themselves to a variety of traditional dishes. In the winter, hearty stews replace the lighter salads served during the summer.
People generally put their sandals away and get out the hiking boots to explore nature. Outdoors enthusiasts should definitely plan a trip during this period.
Some of the best spots to check out for winter fun in Greece include:
Located a few hours from Athens, Kalavryta provides travelers with a whole host of activities in the heart of the Peloponnese. The town sits on the slopes of Mount Helmos and offers easy access to a number of winter sports. Hikers will be in heaven here.
Within a small area, individuals will find open caves, alpine lakes, and different types of evergreen forests. In nearby Planitero, travelers will find picturesque forests and bubbling springs. This area is known for its trout fishing.
Visitors will find a number of hotels and spas, as well as charming guest houses. For a more immersive experience, individuals can stay in one of the small surrounding villages. Some of the other attractions in Kalavryta include a World War II museum and gorgeous monasteries, as well as railway that connects to Diakofto on the coast.
This is one of the most breathtaking mountainous regions in all of Europe. Zagori offers waterfalls, caves, and rivers nestled among densely forested mountains. Additionally, it is home to the Zagorohoria, more than 45 small villages constructed from stone and slate.
There are hundreds of kilometers of hiking trails that cross over stone bridges and around historic monasteries. Many of these trails offer incredible vantage points of the nearby ridges. Plus, visitors can jump onto an organized hiking group to see the most the area has to offer.
Mountaineers are often attracted to Zagori because of the many peaks that they can climb. A number of companies cater to individuals who want to whitewater raft or backcountry ski. Travelers should check out as many villages as they can, as each has its own unique culture and exceptional architecture. Nearby to this area is Ioannina, another city worth a day trip.
In the northwestern part of Greece is the large Pindos mountain range. The lower part of this range is known as the Tzoumerka mountain chain, which creates a massive ridge dividing Ioannina from Arta. Like many of the other areas listed, Tzoumerka has crystalline springs and waterfalls feeding into rushing rivers. The National Park of Tzoumerka boasts a wide range of wildlife.
Like Zagori, the area has more than 45 villages. However, this area has undergone much less tourist development. This means that it is a fantastic option for experiencing untamed Greek countryside. Two villages that visitors should make sure to explore are Syrrako and Kalarrites. Another prime option is Melissourgi, which has various outdoors activities, including whitewater rafting, horseback riding, and mountain biking.
To get the most out of this region, travelers should have a vehicle. They should also be aware that the roads can be very narrow and winding.
For a more relaxed experience, visitors can turn to Loutraki Pella, known for its natural thermal spring. This particular spring is at the base of Mount Voras in Macedonia, not far from Thessaloniki.
The massive facility here takes advantage of the Toplitsa River gushing out of the springs. This enables it to offer 48 private baths as well as multiple indoor pools and a hydrotherapy center. Along the river, there are also thermal waterfalls that guests can explore at their leisure.
The village of Loutraki has a wide range of accommodations for people who want to stay in the area for a few days. Also, not far from the springs is Kaimaktsalan, a great ski resort.
People who want to split their time between exploring the Greek wilderness and the country’s culture should check out Metsovo in Epirus. Historically, this town emerged as a major military post and trading town. Much of the trade with other European nations went through Metsovo in the 18th and 19th centuries.
After that, the grandeur of the town began to deteriorate until, in the 1940s, Evangelos Averoff developed a foundation to keep the town thriving. The foundation has supported the development of wineries and a cheesemaking industry as a means to promote tourism.
This investment worked. Metsovo has become a prime attraction for Greeks and foreigners alike, especially those who enjoy wine and food. However, the town also has three small ski resorts nearby as well as a great folk museum and an art gallery.