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Winter in Greece: A Traveler’s Guide to Visiting in the Cooler Months

winter in greece travel seasons
One of the most well-known and beautiful winter destinations in Greece is Meteora. Credit: Stathis floros/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Greece is known for its beautiful summers, of course, but many choose to travel to the country during other seasons, even in winter and for good reason.

Visiting Greece is a very different experience depending on whether you visit in summer or winter, but you are sure to have a great time in the country no matter when you choose to stay!

Visiting Greece in Winter: Where to travel

Although most picture sunny beaches when considering vacations to Greece, the country has a great deal to offer even in the winter months.

One of the most beautiful and unique places in Greece is Meteora, a stunning rock formation in northern Greece which is home to six enchanting monasteries.

The towering cliffs in Meteora, topped by age-old monasteries, are a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the country’s key tourist attractions. One of the most breathtaking places to visit in Greece, and entirely different from other areas across the country, it is certainly not to be missed.

Another option is the small village of Arachova, a short but scenic two-hour drive from Athens. Arachova is a charming and extremely picturesque mountain town with small houses made of wood and stone that lines cobblestone streets. Perfect for a cold weather getaway, one would find it hard to hold on to stress in such an idyllic and relaxing environment.

Arachova Greece
Arachova. Credit: wikimedia commons / herrAdams cc by 4.0

Many who visit Arachova do so to enjoy the ski slopes which are nearby. They are equipped with all modern ski facilities, including a lift, ski and snowboard leasing shops, and a chalet.

But just past the village is the ancient site of Delphi, one of the most important archaeological sites in the entire world. Do not miss any chance to see the panorama of this place, showing beautiful ruins against a backdrop staggeringly beautiful mountains.

Another option for a winter traveler to Greece would be to visit one of the two main cities in the country, Athens or Thessaloniki.

Both cities are jam-packed with things to do regardless of weather conditions, including stimulating museums, archaeological sites and good eats. However, the cities are a lot less crowded in the winter when there are fewer tourists, and the cities tend to become unbearably hot during the summer, meaning an urban vacation is perfect for the wintertime.

Of course, any holiday is what you make of it, but it visiting Greek islands in the winter may be underwhelming for most. This is because most islands see the vast majority of their restaurants and shops close for the winter, as the local population is too small to sustain them. However, larger islands such as Crete or Evia may still be worth a visit.

A unique vacation

There are many advantages to visiting almost any destination in Greece during the winter rather than the summer months.

For one, much of Greek cuisine is very seasonal, meaning that any repeat travelers will be able to sample entirely new traditional foods. There are some sweets, such as kourabiedes or melomakarona, which are generally only eaten around Christmastime.

However, the entirety of the Greek cuisine shifts in the winter to accommodate the slightly cooler temperatures with delicious stews and soups becoming a staple in the cooler months.

Drinks such as rakomelo are also best enjoyed in the colder months. A combination of raki, a Cretan spirit, and honey, the delicious alcoholic beverage is served warm. Sharing a carafe of rakomelo is a classic way to bond and enjoy a Greek treat with friends.

A perk about Greece is that most of the country does not become particularly cold in winter, very rarely dipping below ten degrees Celsius (fifty degrees Fahrenheit). A light coat is generally sufficient for even the coldest months, meaning that visiting in the winter doesn’t mean being locked inside.

A winter vacation also means a much cheaper one, as most hotels in Greece have seasonal pricing. Airfares tend to drop when it is not peak season, as well, making the overall costs of a trip much lower than usual!

Of course, the classic Greek summertime vacation is a wonderful experience, but a winter getaway in the country can also be incredibly special.

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