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Written by Marco Santos from Travel Boo
When most people think of Greece, they immediately envisage crystal-clear turquoise waters reflecting off white-washed Greek buildings, gorgeous sandy beaches, and fabulous Greek cuisine. It is no wonder then that Greece is often considered to be a ‘summer-time’ holiday destination.
But the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. For a country so rich in history and culture, Greece should not be dismissed when considering a European winter getaway.
As such, I’ve decided to put together this guide on what you can do in Greece in winter to hopefully inspire you to visit this beautiful country, even in the colder winter months!
Is Greece Worth Visiting In Winter?
Winter in Greece is certainly not the country’s popular season. The beaches are quiet, the islands a little deserted, and the weather is undoubtedly chillier. But that doesn’t make it a bad time to visit. In fact, in many ways, winter is the best time to experience the culture, history, and versatility of this ancient nation.
With so many incredible attractions and destinations, Greece has a great deal to offer the winter traveler. Far fewer tourists mean shorter queues to get into major attractions, less crowded restaurants, and overall better pricing and travel deals to take advantage of.
Whatever kind of vacation you’re looking for, Greece in winter is a brilliant option.
Greece Winter Weather
Winter is Greece’s rainy season, so pack a rain jacket and some sturdy waterproof shoes – particularly if you plan on hiking. The northern and mountainous regions are a good deal colder than the southern lowlands. If you’re keen on snowy peaks, January and February are the coldest months. And if you head to the mountains, you’re likely to find snow there.
If milder temperatures are what you’re after, southern Greece is not only mild but frequently hot. You’ll definitely want to pack a pair of shorts for the sunniest days. It’s not laze-on-the-beach weather, but great to explore the country’s many ancient sites without dripping with sweat and being surrounded by other over-enthusiastic tourists.
We’ve dedicated a whole post on what to pack for Greece travel for those looking for more inspiration.
Greece In December – What Is A Greek Christmas Like?
Wondering if you should spend your Christmas in Greece? For anyone interested in cultural traditions and incredible cuisine, you can’t go wrong with this decision.
Listen to Greek Christmas carols. Admire the decorations, including lit-up boats celebrating a Greek Saint Basil and jolly older men representing another saint that’s undoubtedly not Santa. And enjoy the merry local traditions of whichever city or village you’re in.
Best Things To Do In Greece In Winter
There is so much to enjoy in Greece, and winter’s no different. The cold-weather season has some unique attractions and activities that make it a wonderful time to explore.
These are our top picks for what to do in Greece in winter.
Go Museum-Hopping In Athens
There are some incredible things to do in Athens, but the famous ancient city’s top draws are the historic sites and the world-class museums. The best thing about visiting Greece in winter is that the small crowds make museum-hopping so much easier and more enjoyable.
Two of the best museums in Athens are the Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum. Both showcase phenomenal historical artifacts from up to eight thousand years ago! If you’ve ever seen ancient Greek art in your history textbooks, chances are you’ll find it here.
The Byzantine and Christian Museum and Benaki Museum are two other fantastic options for those spending more than a weekend in Athens. You’ll learn so much about Greek history and culture and see some mind-boggling things too. All with hardly anyone around you, which museum-lovers will confirm, really elevates the experience.
Go Skiing In Arachova
Greece may not be well-known for its skiing, but there are some great options in the Hellenic country. The mountain town of Arachova is close to Mount Parnassos, which has some excellent ski-slopes for all skill levels.
While we don’t recommend choosing Greece over the more famous destinations for a ski holiday, it is a lovely thing to add to your Greek winter vacation. Not only can you ski here, but Arachova also offers world-class resorts and spas, fantastic nightlife, and some genuinely once-in-a-lifetime views.
See Meteora In Snow
If you’re visiting Greece in January or February, you have a chance of spotting Meteora surrounded by snow. This one-of-a-kind monastery is magical in all conditions. The snow just adds another layer to the beauty.
Throughout winter, snow or none, Meteora is a brilliant destination. The monastery complex is built on six natural pillars and massive boulders, making for a unique destination. In winter, the surrounding landscape is lush and green, benefitting from the seasonal rains and significantly reduced crowds.
The structures were initially built so that the monks could live in isolation, far from civilization and nearly inaccessible to outsiders. Today, the monastery is one of the best places to visit in Greece.
Take A Hiking Trip Through The Wild Mountain Landscapes
The mainland of Greece is covered with mountainous hiking trails. Most are not for the faint of heart and can take days or even weeks to complete. They’ll be some of the most memorable days of your life, but you do need to have quite a high level of fitness.
Hike along a scenic riverside path on the Samaria Gorge Trail, which takes you through Byzantine ruins in addition to the spectacular nature. Or find one of the many trails on beautiful Mount Athos.
For those keen on a multi-day hike, the seventy-five-kilometer Menalon trail will take you through the heart of the Peloponnese. Explore charming mountain villages, deep canyons, and striking mountains. It should take you around three days to complete, with time to stop and enjoy your surroundings.
Taste Greece’s Unique Winter Cuisine
Greece is particularly well-known for its summer foods. Greek salads, light meals, and rich yogurts with berries are all country staples. But the food goes through a substantial shift when the weather gets chilly.
If you’re visiting Greece in December, try some traditional Christmas treats like spinach and cheese pies and roast pork. Of course, Greek coffee with a slice of baklava is the perfect way to end off any meal, summer or winter. But its rich flavor is best suited to winter.
Swim In Thermal Lake Vouliagmeni
Lake Vouliagmeni is just outside of Athens, making for a great day trip from the city. It’s a beautiful, brackish lake with pleasant temperatures at any time of year. The minerals in the large lake include potassium, ammonium, calcium, and iodine. Together, the water’s minerals give relief to several health issues, including bone and muscle stresses, eczema, and arthritis.
The lake also has a happy doctor fish population, which provides natural (and ticklish) exfoliation. The spa facilities also include sunbeds, a restaurant, and nearby accommodation options.
Visit The Greek Islands
Modern Greece is most well-known for its gorgeous Greek islands. People come in droves to laze on the beaches, explore wild paradises, and enjoy the laid-back island vibe.
Winter on the Greek isles is a little different and may not be your obvious choice, but it should be considered nonetheless. The local population settles back into everyday daily life, and the tourism industry hunkers down till next summer season. You may find this to be your favorite time to visit the islands.
Get to know the locals, playing backgammon, and embracing the late-night cafe culture. Explore the islands, hiking, and cycling across the green landscapes. Winter is also when you’ll have some of the best cultural experiences, including live performances and art shows.
Corfu is one of the best options, with a “vibrant local tradition, a beautiful Old Town, and lots to keep you busy. Crete and Lesvos are also terrific options, with mountain villages you can hike between and frequently mild winter weather.
Tip: Do take note that most of the ferry operators, as well as flights connecting the mainland to the Greek Isles, do operate on a much more reduced schedule during these off-peak winter months. Be sure to plan and book in advance to avoid running into any schedule issues.
Whether you prefer spending your Greek winter breakaway sightseeing in the city of Athens, decide to explore the Greek isles, want to indulge in a thermal baths experience, or much rather prefer to go hiking instead, you will no doubt be pleasantly surprised by all that this amazing country has to offer, even during the much quieter winter months.
So, why not give Greece in the off-season a try and book your next winter getaway to this magical country instead!
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