Greece is beautiful all year round but there is something extra spectacular about this land during the cooler months. Many locals and overseas visitors make their way up North in Autumn and Winter and GCT has put together a list of all the best places that we think will make your adventure to Greece during this period and in this region- nothing less than an absolute Winter Wonderland.
♦Agios Athanasios Pellas →
The old village Agios Athanasios is built at an altitude of 1200 metres at the foot of the mountain Voras- this lovely village was built in the late 16th century. Today it is among the most popular and rapidly growing winter destinations in Macedonia- with traditional local architecture, sloping rooftops, cobblestone streets and everything you need to make your getaway extra special.
Here you will find one of the most modern ski resorts in Greece, at an altitude of almost 2,500m- combining style, high quality service and glorious mountain views. When you add in the historical sights in the area, it’s easy to understand why this has become a much loved spot for the locals. Whether you’re a ski junkie, a foodie, or adventurous creature- this is the place for you. Ancient Pella was actually discovered in a land that still hides treasures- scattered with Macedonian tombs and the remnants of ancient settlements, including gold coins and jewellery buried in the fields.
Once here, make sure you check out the Aridaia’s hot springs- where natural warm pools are found among beautiful streams, waterfalls and pine. Other places to see are The Archangel of Mt Paiko and the little church of Profitis Ilias.
At an altitude of 1,350metres, Nymfaio is a village located in a stunning natural landscape on the ridge of Mount Vernon. Here, you’ll stay in warm accomodation decorated with handmade furniture, you can revel in fine wine, taste delicious local delicacies, wander the streets of the village and explore the trails in the tree forest. You’ll also meet the bears that live in the Arcturos environmental protection centre- the only one of its kind in Greece.
Winemaker Yiannis Boutaris has also created a stunning place here called La Moara- it has only eight rooms but is known as one of the finest boutique hotels in Greece.
♦Prespa Lakes →
In the remote northwest corner of Greece, you will find the Prespa Lakes. There are two lakes- the Great Prespa (Megáli Préspa) and the Mikrí Préspa (Little Prespa Lake) these two lakes surrounded by mountains reflect the wooded slopes of the surrounding mountains in their waters. They lie 850 metres above sea-level and have a depth of 50 metres. The Prespa Lakes are considered to be a paradise for migratory birds; hundreds of bird species, many of them endangered, nest and breed here. If you cross the floating bridge it will lead you to the island of Saint Achilios and here you can view the ruins of a 10th century church.
Florina is a beautiful city with amazing architecture, highlighiting different periods and styles- featured all around the town. The houses in the city centre reflect elements of the 1930s- ranging from neo-byzantine to art deco.
Make sure you visit the Archaeological Museum standing next to the Railway Station, where you will also find an Art Gallery that exhibits works of local artists. One of the landmarks of the city is river Sakoulévas and around there you will also find other wonderful things to see and do. Make sure you taste Flórina’s exquisite local products, such as Flórina red peppers, Préspes beans, mountain tea and spoon sweets.
Kastoria is a wonderful town and make sure you start your holiday by wondering around the lake and taking a stroll on the narrow pathway along the lake’s coast. During your stroll stop by Dragon’s Cave, where you’ll get to see seven underground lakes. To view the city from up high, follow green path towards Profitis Ilias Church and continue even higher up to Agios Athanasios viewpoint.
You should also check out Doltso, a pretty corner of town where buildings date back to the 17th and 18th century, the Folk Art Museum, the Costume Museum and Apozari- where you will discover byzantine churches and castle like homes- typical of Macedonian architecture. Popular spots also include the freshwater aquarium and Kastoria’s Fur Centre.
♦Elati- Pertouli →
At an altitude of 900 meters lies Elati, the largest of the villages in the prefecture of Trikala- offering visitors a unique and natural experience. Elati offers plenty of snow in winter and at an altitude of 1090 meters and 50 kilometers from Trikala next to Elati lies the village of Pertouli. For ski lovers there is a resort just 7 km from the village Pertouli and there you can also find three climbing routes in a short distance from the village, at a place called Red Rock.
What makes the village extra special, is its picturesque stone houses with red or stone roofs. Throughout the year you can also try horse riding, archery and cycling. The forest near Pertouli is one of the most beautiful and well preserved forests in Greece. Local shops preserve the flavours of Trikalas’ old mountain recipes, especially in Elati where you’ll find sun-dried frumenty with goat’s milk, a selection of organic products- including honey, cracked wheat and sun-dried tomatoes, plus syrupy sweets, marmalade, and medicinal herbs.
♦Lake Plastira →
The famous Lake Plastira, located in the prefecture of Karditsa, was named after Nikolaos Plastiras, a former Prime Minister of Greece. It is situated 30 km west of Karditsa town. The lake is actually artificial and the huge arch-shaped dam 83 metres high and some 200m in length, created a reservoir. Villages like Mesenikolas, Morfovouni, Kerasia, Kalyvia Pezoula, Neraida, Belokomitis, Kastania, Lambero and others surrounding the lake are breathless because of the splendid view and backdrop.
It is a beautiful place offering opportunity for action-packed holidays with diverse activities such as horse riding, mountain-biking, canoeing, boating, rambling and rafting available. It is an ideal choice for nature lovers and religious tourists, as there are numerous churches and monasteries in the region, the most awe-inspiring of these being the Meteora monasteries.
You can also try skiing at Karamanoli’s small resort or crossing the ‘Grand Stream’ Canyon. Bring your own equipment, or rent from the many adventure companies in the area.
♦Mount Olympus →
Mount Olympus is Greece’s highest mountain and home to the Gods of Greek mythology. The mountain is rich in tree and plant life, supporting over 1700 species- some very rare. The main village of Litohoro is connected by bus from Athens and Thessaloniki. There are many places to stay, including budget hotels and campsites along the coast with good facilities. Climbing Olympus takes two days but you can easily spend longer if you please. There are a large number of decent trails and you won’t need special equipment or experience but you will need all your essentials- including warm clothes and walking shoes.
You can also visit the Archeological park and museum at Ancient Dion- at the foot of Mount Olympus. Sacred to the ancient Macedonians, Alexander the Great used to make sacrifices to the Gods here before going off to conquer the world.