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What is it like to visit Greece in the winter? Does it snow in Greece? Are there any ski resorts in Greece? Have you ever asked your self any of these questions? Or did you live in the blissful ignorance of thinking that Greece only consists of sea, beaches and neverending sunshine? I know I did!
Either way, I decided to put together this post to show you that Greece is as amazing during the winter as it is through the rest of the year. It has everything a true snow bunny can wish for even if on a smaller scale than let’s say the Alps. On the other hand, the sunshine never ends for too long even during the winter and the sea is always just a stone throw away!
I’m not gonna lie, getting these incredible snow conditions so close to Athens requires at least a little bit of luck. Mount Parnitha usually only gets a couple of weeks of snow each year but when it happens, it is pure magic.
The combination of a snowy forest, cozy mountain huts, panoramic views of the city and even a few glimpses of the sea make for an amazing experience. Once the snow falls, Parnitha becomes a great place for easy winter hiking and fills quickly with the Athenian nature lovers and families with kids longing for snowball fights and snowmen.
And the best thing? Mount Parnitha lies only a 30 minutes drive away from the city center and with a dash of creativity can be reached by the Athenian public transport as well!
At 2.355 meters, Mount Chelmos or Aroania is the 3rd tallest mountain in Peloponnese. Thanks to the relatively large Kalavrita Ski Center spreading over its northern slopes and the unique Helmos Observatory it is also one of the most popular.
There are daily ski buses connecting the Kalavrita ski center with Athens making this one of the easiest skiing trips from the capital. Skiing on Chelmos is better suited for slightly more advanced skiers especially in the upper parts of the ski center with few pretty scary looking freeride options as well.
The 360 degrees views from the top station of Styga chairlift near the observatory are breathtaking. You will be able to see as far as Parnassos and Giona in the north as well as the mountains of northern Peloponnese including Ziria or Erymanthos.
Chelmos is a great place for backcountry adventures as well, from easier hikes through its stunning gorges and to waterfalls, to challenging mountaineering ascents and ski touring. This way, you will get to enjoy its quieter, wilder and way more beautiful side.
Mount Parnassus is another popular winter destination among the Athenians thanks to its large modern ski resort and the picturesque mountain village of Arachova catering to all its visitor’s needs. It is not a cheap destination, though, and is mostly frequented by the Greek rich and famous.
Parnassos lies only about two and a half hours away from Athens and is connected to the capital with reasonably good roads. There are ski buses running daily between Athens and Parnassos during the winter making it yet another great option for a skiing day trip.
Parnassos is perfect for beginner skiers offering a great variety of easy to moderate slopes and plenty of ski schools and rentals. It is an awesome place for mountaineers of all levels as well thanks to its many beautiful peaks and ridges.
Bonus tip: For true mountaineering experience stay at the cozy Michalis Defner mountain refuge located near the abandoned Athinaikos ski resort. During the high winter season, you’ll be squashed together with tenths of other sweaty and tired mountain enthusiasts but the delicious food and friendly atmosphere are well worth it.
One of my favorite ski resorts in Greece lies deep in the wild remote Pindos mountains in Northern Greece. It is not the largest nor is it particularly modern but it has plenty of character and beautiful scenery all around.
Lying more than 450 km north of Athens this is not a place for a day trip. You’ll need at least a weekend to make the long drive worthwhile. However, thanks to its northern location the quality and quantity of snowfall in Vasilitsa surpasses its southern competitors.
The amenities of Vasilitsa ski center are quite retro, especially the small wooden shed-like buildings housing ski rentals and canteens. This was not an issue for me at all, I found them atmospheric and charming. The same goes for accommodation in the area, supplied by small hotels or guest houses in one of the nearby mountain villages.
For some of the best mountain vistas in Greece head to Velouchi (or Tymfristos) in Evritania. This 2.315 meters tall mountain sits in the heart of Central Greece surrounded by some of the country’s most beautiful mountain peaks and ranges including Kaliakouda, Panaitoliko, Vardusia and Agrafa.
Velouchi is yet another popular destination for skiers and snowboarders even though the ski center is not particularly large and has infamously difficult weather conditions. There are a mountain refuge and a chalet at the ski center as well as ski rentals and schools accompanying 18 slopes of varying difficulty.
The most popular base for trips to Velouchi is Karpenisi, the capital of the region of Evritania. It offers plenty of accommodation, shops, and restaurants but is not particularly pretty except for its stunning surroundings. On the other hand, the smaller mountain villages scattered across the valley of the Karpenisiotis river are the perfect choice for an authentic stay.
Extra tip: Don’t forget to visit the mountain refuge at Velouchi for the best portokalopita (orange pie) in Greece!
Taygetos stole my heart the first time I saw him towering above the city of Kalamata and to this day remains one of my favorite mountains in Greece. At 2.404 meters it is the tallest mountain in Peloponnese and one of the few mountains in Greece with amazing sea views.
There are no ski resorts on Mount Taygetos nor are there many roads climbing the slopes of the mountain at its central parts. This means that it remains relatively unspoiled and wild despite its close proximity to the two largest cities in Southern Peloponnese, Sparta and Kalamata.
But Taygetos is not just a mountain with pristine nature and amazing views, it is a place of myths and legends, too. From nymphs that gave the mountain its name to the mysterious pyramid at the top and the Spartan warriors using its deep chasms to get rid of their imperfect offsprings, it is one of the most mystical mountains as well.