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You might not know it, but many parts of Europe aren’t solely splendid in summer. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean it’s a write-off. To the contrary, a Greek winter is one of the most rewarding times of the year to visit. Here’s why.
Welcome to the Mediterranean, where Greek winter weather can be downright warm. Unless you head to the northern regions you shouldn’t find anything too heinous – like zero temperatures, rain or snow. In the southern parts, daily temperatures can reach 70F/21C which is perfect for exploring the cities or islands. Obviously, nice weather can’t be guaranteed: throw back to winter 2008-09 and even Athens had snowfall. But hey, take the risk – the odds are still in your favour.
Yeeeees (clench fist and say “get in”) - the crowds are gone. Rejoice, they’ve all skidaddled until next summer. No more selfie sticks in your face, elbows jabbing at your waist or soul-destroying queues to factor into your agenda. You can finally experience the real Greek culture. What’s more, the locals are more “themselves” when the hordes disappear. You’ll be able to listen to authentic Greek music in the tavernas, eavesdrop on delightful local chit-chat and eat the real food – preferred by the residents – and not what’s been prepared for a ‘tourist palette’.
When the crowds are gone, the prices are lower. Hurrah. Except for the ski resorts which are “in season” throughout winter. The period between Christmas and New Year is also when many hotels tend to charge more. Avoid those and you’ll find the off-season in Greece very affordable.
Finally you can visit Acropolis, Delphi or Meteora without having to be the first to enter the site in order to avoid both the crowds and the heat. Explore the sights at a slower pace. There’s nothing more pleasant than strolling between the ruins of the Acropolis enjoying every single piece of history. Take your time to linger and then stay until sunset when the Acropolis offers one of the most spectacular views of Athens.
Sometimes you see the perfect accommodation for your needs, but alas, it’s summer and they all sell out before you’ve even had chance to consult your credit card. Not so in winter. There’s a much higher chance that your preferred hotel will have availability, and like we said above, at a price that won’t make you (or your bank account) wince.
Oh, so you DO want snow? No problem, if you like to ski, go to Greece. The resorts in the northern part of the country, close to Thessaloniki, are a great place to spend a winter ski break.
Most people don’t even know it’s possible to ski in Greece so this little-known secret keeps the numbers down. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find a lot of Greeks skiing here so the vibe feels both authentic and relaxed. If you get bored with the powder, simply jump on a domestic flight and make a bee-line for Greece’s warmer regions. Cheap AND easy. Need we say more?
The largest and most popular is Parnassos. Compared to the rest of Europe, the ski passes and accommodation are cheaper, but the scenery is just as breath taking.
The ski season starts in December and ends in March or mid-April, depending on the region.
The largest and most popular ski resort in Greece, located 180 km from Athens.
With 12 slopes, 7 lifts and just 203 km from Athens.
16 slopes, 11 lifts and 95 km from Thessaloniki.
10 slopes, 7 lifts, artificial snow installation and a hotel. The resort is 108 km from Thessaloniki.
16 slopes and 8 lifts. The resort is 45km from the town of Grevena.
There are 11 slopes, 7 lifts, a chalet, ski school, store for renting ski equipment and other facilities. The resort is located near the town of Karpenisi and quite close to Lamia, 78 km.
Greece is without doubt a winning winter destination, but we advise you to check with House of Travel before you book. Many places operate from Easter until the end of October so you don’t want to rock up in November and find a ‘closed’ sign.
The good news is, no one knows Greece better than we do. If you’re keen – we’re keen to get you there. Simply tell us what you want and we’ll make sure it’s ready to give you a big fat Greek welcome.
What do you say? We have wonderful winter Greece deals up our sleeves. Better yet, come in-store and chat with one of our friendly travel experts. We love pairing Kiwis with their perfect holidays!
Fly to Athens with one transfer, which takes about 24 hours.
Summer temperatures can reach 40 degrees. We recommend visiting May or September/October, when the temperature is more pleasant. Winters are very mild and a less busy time to visit.
New Zealand citizens must have a passport valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay in Greece. No visa is required for a tourist stay up to 90 days, but it’s good to check with your consultant. It’s always a good idea to have a printed itinerary with proof of accommodation and return flights in case it’s requested.
Train networks are limited and buses offer the most routes on the mainland and more limited connections on the islands. Flying between islands can save you a lot of time: A few hours by plane can equate a day by boat. Taxis are relatively cheap, but keep an eye on the driver for safe practices.
Overall it’s safest to drink bottled water here, especially in the islands.
Greece: Know before you go.
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