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Best Mountain Villages for Winter in Greece

Winter is a time in Greece for hearty Christmas-time stews replace the summer salads, and new seasonal products start to appear, like mandarin oranges, wild mushrooms, and Greece’s famous chestnuts. 

 

What is Greece Like in the Winter?

During winter in Greece, the temperature generally is warmer the farther South you go. In January, the average in Crete is 16 degrees Celsius during the day, 14 degrees in Athens, and 9 in the North in Thessaloniki.

Meteora

Where Can I Find Mild Winters in Greece?

In Crete, Rhodes, and the islands of the southern Aegean, the winters are mild and the weather doesn’t usually drop to freezing. In Gavdos, an island just south of Crete, for example, the coldest month of the year has an average high of 16 degrees Celsius. In January in Heraklion, Crete, the average temperature is 12.5 degrees Celsius. We will cover winter in Crete in another article, where the weather is considerably warmer than in Greece’s mountains on the mainland.

Rethymno
Rethymnon, Crete

Winter in Greece’s Mountain Villages

Of course, not all of Greece gets beach weather during the winter. But this is part of the beauty of being in Greece out of the peak season – you see Greece’s diversity. Winter in Greece is a time for rivers, mountains, and unique landscapes that mass tourism do not know about. The Greek mainland has a wealth of beautiful mountain towns, many with a unique charm during the Winter. We will explore the top mountain towns in Greece in this article.

 

Metsovo

Metsovo is a large traditional village in the Epirus region, at an elevation of 1200 meters in the Pindus mountains. The architecture in Metsovo goes back centuries, and there are many cafes and restaurants to enjoy the view of the mountains. For winter sport lovers, Metsovo has a ski center and there are many trails for snowshoeing. For foodies, Metsovo is also known for its famous local cheese. 

Metsovo

Trikala / Meteora

Trikala is a medium-sized city in central Greece, popular for its Christmas markets and its access to the Meteora monasteries. The city has lovely architecture and it is lovely to walk along the beautiful river which flows through Trikala. The Paleokarya stone bridge is also worth seeing. Inside Trikala, there are plenty of lively cafes and restaurants with excellent local dishes. You definitely must visit Meteora while in Trikala, because it is one of the most famous places in Greece and is only 30 minutes away.

Meteora, Near Trikala

Litochoro

At the base of Mount Olympos are a series of charming towns. The most popular is Litochoro, which is built into the mountainside and is made with typical Macedonian architecture. Mount Olympos is the tallest peak in Greece, and the ancient Greeks said it was the home of the Olympian gods. Thousands of hikers walk up Mount Olympus every year to try to reach the peak at 2900 meters.

 

The area is a named UNESCO reserve since 1981. There are many monasteries to visit on the mountain, and the most famous is St. Dionysios of Olympus, which was originally built in 1542. If you do plan on hiking a portion of Mount Olympus, plan ahead with an agency to organize your tour safely. When not hiking, Litochoro town has lovely shops and the feeling of a quiet alpine town. 

Litochoro, 1 Hour By Car From Thessaloniki

Edessa

Edessa is known as the city of waters in Greece. It is located in central Macedonia, which is in Northern Greece not far from Thessaloniki. Edessa has 12 waterfalls, as well as the picturesque old city quarter Varosi. Edessa is a great option as a base for winter holidays because it has easy access to Paleos Agios Athanasios, a picturesque village, as well as the Voras Ski Center at Kaimaktsalan Mountain. For those who are more relaxed, you can visit Loutraki Arideas, where you will find the Pozar Thermal Baths. This spa is ideal for those with muscle problems or other injuries.

Loutra Pozar Baths, Near Edessa | © Loutra Pozar

Kastoria

Kastoria is a hidden gem and a quiet city in Macedonia in Northern Greece. It is known for its peace and quiet, cozy cafes, restaurants, and bars with local Greek dishes. One of the best places to visit for a meal is “To Steki Tis Pareas,” which roughly means “Your group’s gathering place.” In the city, it is a pleasure to walk or cycle around the lake. There are also some nice museums, like the Folklore Museum of Kastoria. Also worth visiting on day trips are the Dragon’s Cave and the Prehistoric Settlement of Dispilio.

Kastoria

Karpenisi

This winter destination, despite its name ending in “nisi”, which means “island” in Greek, is found in central Greece. The surrounding valleys are full of fir trees. Karpenisi is a place to explore the natural environment at the Panta Vrehi Canyon, the Prousos Monastery, and the Velouchi Ski Center. The town of Karpenisi is full of cozy restaurants and cafes with hearty local Greek dishes. 

Prousos Monastery, Near Karpenisi

Zagori 

Zagori is a town of mountain magic. It is right next to dense forest, deep gorges, lovely rivers, waterfalls, and caves. Nearby are 46 stone villages, known as the Zagorachoria, which create a mountain paradise. There are hundreds of kilometers of marked trails to explore in the area, which pass by breathtaking views, monasteries, and old stone bridges. The area of Zagori is also popular for backcountry skiing and organized hikes. Zagori is also famous for its savory pies, which were a main food source for the inhabitants of the area.

Zagori, 3 Hours by Car From Thessaloniki

Agios Athanasios

This area is one of the farthest north areas you can visit in Greece. The small town of Agios Athanasios is nestled in the mountains close to the border with Northern Macedonia. Just north of Agios Athanasios is the Kaimaktsalan mountain, one of the most famous ski areas of Macedonia and in all of Greece. 

 

At the top of Mount Kaimaktsalan, on the border line, you will find a small church which was a monument to World War I. At the ski resort, you can ski or snowboard, and can enjoy a coffee with a view into the valley. On a clear day, you can see to the Thermaikos Gulf and the top of Mount Olympus. For more relaxed travelers visiting Agios Athanasios, you can also walk on the marked trails and visit local traditional villages like Panagitsa.

Chapel at Border on Kaimaktsalan

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