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Vasilitsa is a mountain range in Northern Pindos, around 45 km far away from Grevena and 80 km from Konitsa. Valia Kalda National Park, one of my absolute favorite places in Greece, lies just a stone throw away to the south and the charming Zagorochoria and Mount Tymfi to the west.
It is a region of pristine mountains, pine forests, rushing rivers and sleepy villages forgotten by the world. Bears, otters, and wild goats are just a few of the inhabitants of Vasilitsa’s 15.000 acres of stunning mountainscape and are protected under the Northern Pindos National Park.
Contrary to popular opinion, Vasilitsa has plenty to offer all year round to any nature enthusiast. It is a paradise for any hiker, mountain biker or anyone just longing for a bit of shade during the long Greek summer. However, to the majority of Greeks, it is known for the Vasilitsa Ski Resort, one of the most popular ski resorts in the country (check out their official site HERE).
Vasilitsa Ski Resort (Χιονοδρομικο κεντρο Βασιλιτσας)
The Ski resort of Vasilitsa spreads on the slopes of Vasilitsa (2.249 m) and Gomara (2.126 m) between the villages of Smixi and Distrato. It is not large nor particularly modern but has a cool low key vibe popular especially among the snowboarders.
This is not the place to “be seen” but to actually ski your butt off. Don’t expect any fancy cafeterias or state of the art gondola lifts. In Vasilitsa, things are a bit more “retro” with wooden chalets, tiny rental shops and a shed-like canteen serving hot wine and hot dogs to the hungry skiers.
The slopes in Vasilitsa are mostly at the intermediate level with a couple of black runs and a lot of off-piste possibilities for the advanced skiers or snowboarders. There are few easy (blue) runs at the lower section of the ski center as well but overall it is probably not an ideal destination for a complete beginner.
I found the slopes quite narrow as well and as much as I loved its black-pine forest surroundings I had some hair-raising moments when getting too close to the trees. But the scariest part of skiing in Vasilitsa was leaving the two-seater lift towards Limnes.
It starts as a narrow corridor cut through a wall of snow but the left side suddenly disappears opening up to stunning views and a very steep and scary drop. And it didn’t help at all seeing some daredevil snowboarders jumping across the edge and down to the abyss.
Other than that, I loved skiing in Vasilitsa. It had just enough challenge for an intermediate skier like me and I enjoyed the wide variety of terrain and beautiful surroundings. And don’t even let me start on the handsomeness of Greek snowboarders..!
The Vasilitsa resort itself is split into two parts, the lower at the bottom station of a three-seater lift called Filippos and the higher at Distrato Chalet. Both sections have their own parking, canteen, ticket boots and of course multiple lifts, however, only the higher section offers ski rentals and school.
Both sections are connected via a medium difficulty slope starting at the top station of Elimeia lift or by an easy and extremely scenic track following the main asphalt road.
Only the lower part of Vasilitsa resort has a chair lift, starting with three-seater Filippos reaching an altitude of 1.825 meters followed by a two-seater Megas Alexandros with the top station at 2.110 meters. Therefore, it is a much better choice for beginner skiers and snowboarders who haven’t master the art of the Poma lift just yet.
The Distrato section consists of three surface lifts reaching an altitude of around 2.050 meters and a combination of red and black slopes. Thanks to its higher altitude, it can retain its snow cover a little bit longer but it also means much worse weather conditions on some days.
During our weekend in Vasilitsa, thick mist and snowfall was the norm at the top sections of the slopes while the lower parts offered better visibility and sometimes even a bit of sunshine.
Where to stay near Vasilitsa Resort
Vasilitsa is one of the rare ski resorts in Greece where you can find accommodation right on the slopes, even if limited. We didn’t get a chance to try any of the two chalets in the resort during our trip and quite frankly I didn’t even know this option existed until we arrived. But they looked awesome and I promise there will be an update on this soon.
There are two accommodation options at the top section of the Vasilitsa resort, the Distrato Chalet, and Refuge V1850. They both offer simple accommodation, home-cooked meals and superb views of the surrounding mountains.
But even if those two are fully booked or you fancy something more upscale don’t worry. There are plenty of lodging options in the nearby villages. Smixi and Distrato are the closest settlements near the ski resort and there are many secluded hotels and chalets scattered around the countryside.
Don’t expect much more on top of the accommodation though. There may be a tavern or two in the village and if you are lucky, even a mini-market but that’s it. These are not touristic destinations as such but traditional mountain settlements that just happened to be located in close proximity to a popular ski spot.
Even finding simple things like petrol or cigarettes is a challenge around here, let alone getting a missing part of ski equipment, so keep it in mind before your departure from the city.
Getting to Vasilitsa
Getting to Vasilitsa by car definitely has its merits. Public transport outside of Grevena is basically non-existent so having your own vehicle is the only way to move freely between the mountain villages and the ski center.
It is a long drive from Athens though (around 7 hours) and once past Kalambaka it is pretty tiring, too. Generally, the mountain roads around Greece are not of the best quality and the remote areas around Vasilitsa are not an exception.
It’s a completely different story if coming from Thessaloniki. The second-largest Greek city lies only around 200 kilometers away from Vasilitsa with the modern Egnatia Odos highway covering most of the distance. The possibility to reach Vasilitsa comfortably in no more than two hours makes it the perfect ski destination for the lucky Thessalonians.
By ski bus
Ok, I’m sure that taking a ski bus from Athens sounds pretty weird but please bear with me. Not only it is possible, but it is also a (surprisingly) comfortable and economical way to spend an awesome weekend in the mountains.
The ski bus to Vasilitsa is not a regular thing nor is there just one company organizing the trip. You’ll need to keep an eye out for it on the web or Facebook or ask around. We found ours on Snow Report website and it was organized by Patakis Travel agency.
For 95 euros per person, we got all the transportation, one-night accommodation near Vasilitsa, two-day ski pass and discount for ski and snowboard equipment rental. Plus a clear head, as we didn’t have to worry about anything.
We don’t usually do organized tours so I was a bit nervous about this one. I also worried about spending a night on the bus before skiing for the whole day. In the end, I didn’t have to. The trip was organized very well, without much waiting or confusing instructions, and the journey was comfortable enough.
We left Athens on Friday just before midnight (there were multiple boarding stops along the line of Glyfada – Center – Kifissia) and arrived at Vasilitsa around 7 o’clock on Saturday morning. We had a short break in our hotel (Don Constantino) and then continued to the ski center where we parted our ways for the day.
The bus returned in the afternoon after the lifts closed and took us back to our hotel. This was the only low point of the trip as the hotel, as cozy as it was, was in the middle of nowhere and there was absolutely no chance to go for dinner or a drink. It wasn’t a big deal though as we were exhausted anyway and fell asleep at 9 o’clock sharp.
On Sunday morning we packed our stuff in the morning, spend the day skiing and left for Athens at around 4 straight from the ski center. We stopped in Kalambaka for dinner and arrived back in Athens at around two o’clock in the morning. Overall, it was a great and budget-friendly way to enjoy two full days on the slope of picturesque Vasilitsa with very little effort on our side.