For most people, Greece is a sunny country ideal for summer vacations. And while that’s actually true, there is plenty to see even in wintertime. In fact, the country’s diverse landscapes will certainly take you by surprise at this time of year. Should you devote some time to explore the winter destinations hidden on the mainland, you’ll find yourself among breathtaking forests, steep mountains and rivers. From November until April, locals – including me – leave the Greek islands behind and head to the northern part of the country.

From my travels across the Greek countryside, I have picked out the places whose landscapes keep astonishing me no matter how many times I travel there. There is always something new to discover and plenty of outdoor activities to try out at these top winter destinations in Greece.


Boasting deep gorges, lush forests, rivers and turquoise lakes, the Zagori region in northwestern Greece is one of the best places to see nature at its best, and tops our list of the best winter destinations in Greece. In autumn the old oak trees paint the sacred forests of Zagori and Konitsa in brown color while in winter the slopes of Tymfi mountain are dressed in white. Vikos Gorge, the deepest gorge in the world in proportion to its width, goes up to 3,281 feet (1,000 meters) depth and it’s part of Vikos–Aoös National Park, one of the two national parks in the area. Hiking Vikos gorge is definitely a unique experience but if you don’t plan to spend much time in the region you may want to swap this trail for the one leading up to Dragonlake on the summit of Tymfi mountain. Most hikers start from Mikro Papigo village from where it takes around 5 hours to reach the top. The 46 villages called Zagorochoria scattered among the mountain slopes still preserve the traditional architecture and authentic atmosphere that characterize the Greek mountainous villages.



Around two hours south of Zagori you’ll find Ioannina, the capital of Epirus and one of the most beautiful cities in Greece. Being a melting pot of Christians, Jews, and Muslims, Ioannina has a rich cultural heritage which nowadays visitors can explore in the numerous museums and monuments. Restaurants, souvenir shops and traditional taverns packed with students create a vibrant atmosphere. Built on the west shore of Pamvotida Lake, the elegant city doesn’t lack natural beauty either. Take the boat to the small island in the middle of the lake and roam around among pine trees and little stone houses.


Arachova is Greece’s most cosmopolitan destination. Those visiting Mykonos in summer most definitely organize a short getaway to Arachova in winter. Located only two hours from Athens, the picturesque village is overpacked on weekends with Athenians seeking a two-day break from the capital. There are countless cafés, restaurants and hotels to choose from but most of them are jam-packed especially during December and January. One of the reasons Arachova has become the hippest winter destination in Greece is that it lies on the foot of Parnassos Mountain. That means that Parnassos ski center, Greece’s most popular ski destination is just a short jaunt from the city.


Trikala, Corinthia

Over the past few years, Trikala village in Corinthia has become quite known among locals and tourists alike. Lavish hotels and spa resorts have popped up, transforming the once low-key region into one of the must-visit winter destinations in Greece. Luckily, its reputation hasn’t reached the level of Arachova yet so it isn’t nearly as crowded. Not yet at least. Trikala consists of three settlements – the Upper, Middle, and Lower Trikala. Stone houses, scenic squares and traditional taverns with fireplaces compose the scenery in each one of them. Mount Kyllini, Ziria ski center and Limni Stymfalia are close to Trikala providing great opportunities for one-day trips in the countryside.


The sight of the monasteries built on top of 1,000-feet (300 meters) tall rock pillars in Meteora will leave you staring in awe. The largest of all 6 monasteries that are nowadays in function and open to the public is The Monastery of Great Meteoron which dates back to the mid-14th century. Due to the impressive rock formations, Meteora attracts climbing and hiking enthusiasts. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a real gem that you definitely don’t want to miss on your winter escapade in Greece.


Pelion (Pilio)

What I like about Mount Pelion the most is that it’s a destination for all seasons. Located in the middle of the Aegean Sea and the Pagasetic Gulf, the alpine peninsula boasts both spectacular beaches and dense forests marked with trails ideal for hiking and other outdoor activities. The picturesque mountain villages offer a serene atmosphere and a taste of life in the Greek countryside. Hiking trails that extend through forests and cobblestoned paths that connect the villages provide exceptional opportunities for scenic walks. If you’re in the mood for a refreshing dive head to Mylopotamos, Papa Nero or Fakistra, the most popular beaches on the eastern side of the peninsula.

Lake Plastira

Lake Plastiras is an artificial lake surrounded by broadleaf oaks, spruces and colorful flowers. Spanning for 7,4 miles (12 kilometers) and with a total surface of 9,2 square miles (24 square kilometers), the magical lake looks more like a northern European landscape than one you’d expect to find in Greece. The mountains’ slopes around the lake are dotted with villages offering accommodations with a great view over the lake. Around the lake, you’ll see families with kids honing their skills in canoeing, horseback riding or water bicycling. The most adventurous visitors climb the hills to paraglide along the steep slopes and enjoy astonishing views of the valley below.

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Just a 3-hour drive from Athens and 9,3 miles (15 kilometers) from Helmos ski center, lies the city of Kalavryta. Due to its proximity to the capital and being the second most popular ski resort in Greece, the Peloponnesian city attracts a mixed crowd of families and millennials. The trip with the rack railway line -or odontotos as Greek call it is a reason on its own to visit Kalavryta. The train starts from Diakofto village at the seaside and goes all the way up to the mountainous town of Kalavryta. Along the way, you’ll pass through thick forests and Vouraikos gorge and cross 49 bridges. The route lasts one hour but it’s so fascinating that it will feel like you were on the train just for a couple of minutes.


Winter Destinations in Greece photos courtesy of Jason Blackeye / Unsplash, Alex Antoniadis / Unsplash, Sorin Cicos / Unsplash, George Terezakis / Flickr, Marion Schneider & Christoph Aistleitner / Wikimedia Commons, Steve Petty / Unsplash