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What is it like to visit Greece in winter? Does it snow in Greece? Are there any ski resorts in Greece? Have you ever asked yourself any of these questions?
Or did you live in the blissful ignorance of thinking that Greece only consists of the sea, beaches, and neverending sunshine like I did?
Either way, I decided to put together this post to show you that Greece in winter is as amazing 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 in Greece even during the winter season and the sea is always just a stone’s throw away!
#1 Mount Parnitha
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 Athenian nature lovers and families with kids longing for snowball fights and snowmen.
And the best thing? Mount Parnitha lies only a 30-minute drive away from the city center and with a dash of creativity can be reached by Athenian public transport as well!
#2 Mount Chelmos
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 it is also one of the most popular mountains in Greece in winter.
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 a few pretty scary-looking freeride options as well.
The 360 degrees views from the top station of the 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.
Mount 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.
#3 Mount Parnassus
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 excellent 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 a 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!
#6 Mount Taygetos
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 the 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 their deep chasms to get rid of their imperfect offspring, it is one of the most mystical mountains as well.
#7 Megali Ziria
At 2.376 meters, Megali Ziria or Kyllini is the second-highest mountain in Peloponnese and the 14th-highest mountain in Greece. However, it is considered one of the easier mountains to climb during winter thanks to its relatively gentle slopes and the conveniently placed Ziria Ski Center. One of the easier doesn’t mean easy, though. You’ll need proper winter gear and all the necessary mountaineering skills to make the climb safe and enjoyable.
As with almost any Greek mountain Mount Kyllini has its place in Greek mythology as well. Hermes, the messenger of gods, was born here as well as the Pleiades, the seven companions of the goddess Artemis. The mountain itself took its name from the nymph Cyllene who dwelled in the area or it may have been the other way around, who knows.
During our winter ascent of Megali Ziria we were treated to the best weather conditions we could wish for! The skies were clear and cloudless, the temperatures mild and the visibility endless. There was just the right amount of stiff snow on the slopes, too, making our ascent all the more enjoyable.
From the top of the mountain, we could see almost all the mountains of the Peloponnese sprinkled with a fresh blanket of snow, as well as Mount Parnassus towering above the Corinthian Gulf.
#7 Mount Olympus
There aren’t many mountains more iconic than Mount Olympus! At 2.918 meters high, it is the highest mountain in Greece and the second highest in the Balkans, but it is better known as the mythological home to Zeus and the ancient gods.
During summer, the trails of Mount Olympus overflow with visitors from all over the world attempting to conquer one of its many summits. But when the mountain huts close for the winter and the first snow falls, the mountain transforms into a calm and quiet paradise of endless white slopes and deserted windswept mountain tops.
Climbing Mount Olympus in winter is a serious mountaineering quest requiring proper equipment and skills. We joined our mountaineering club for our winter ascent of the mountain and it is something I would recommend to everyone!
I must admit that I underestimated the difficulty of the climb and arriver at the Muses Plateau in darkness, feeling exhausted and defeated at the same time.
But waking up the next morning to the snowy landscape of the plateau and the majestic Stefani peak bathing in sunshine I quickly forgot the suffering of the ascent and remained in sheer awe of the beauty all around for the rest of our stay.
A few more reasons to visit Greece in winter
Being primarily a summer destination, Greece is much less crowded during the winter months. This means you’ll get to enjoy some of the notoriously overcrowded places like the Acropolis of Athens, Delphi, or Santorini all by yourself.
From my experience, lesser tourists also mean increased hospitality of the locals as they are happy to see a new face and to earn some extra income during the quieter months. If you want to know what it is like to visit Santorini in winter check out THIS post.
Greece in winter is more budget-friendly compared to the summer months, too. During winter, you can find considerably lower prices on accommodation or entrance fees.
What’s more, every first Sunday of the month from November to March the entrance to archaeological sites and some museums becomes completely free which can lead to significant savings. For more info check out THIS site.
Even though the Greek mountains get a considerable amount of snow each winter, the weather in Greece during winter is generally mild. There can be quite a lot of rain during the winter months but it never lasts for too long.
In between, you’ll be treated to beautiful sunny days with temperatures climbing as high as 20 degrees, especially during the lovely Alkyonides days in January.