As far as destinations go, Greece is universally accepted to fall under the 'summer destination' category, right? Wrong! Unbeknownst to most, the country of 6,000 islands is actually a pretty cool winter destination as well. We have ski centers, warm chalets, and quaint mountain villages, not to mention the vivid nightlife the Greeks are so famous for, which stays very much alive during the winter months as well. Take a look at our favorite ski resorts in Greece, as well as our pick of what to combine your favorite extreme sport with.
Parnassos Ski Center
A sunny day with snow at mountain Parnassos - credits: Αndreas Tselios
Parnassos ski center is an all-time favorite winter destination for Athenians and visitors alike and for a good reason; it's comfortably situated two hours away from the city and it has a reputation for its flawless organization and top-notch activities and services. On top of that, the impressive archaeological site of Delphi, one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece, is very close to the resort, and open all year round due to the numerous visitors it attracts. During your visit to Parnassos ski center, you will pass by the picturesque mountain village of Arachova, yet another reason why we love this resort. The coziness and traditional beauty of this village, along with its lively atmosphere, is why visitors usually prefer it for their lodgement. As for the resort itself, it boasts 19 ski runs, 7 ski routes, 10 trails, and three mini beginner runs, with a total length of 36km. Here, you can rent equipment, if you don't own it already, and get a teacher for ski and snowboard if it's your first attempt at it. Afterward, you can relax in one of the two cafés-chalets or eat something in the restaurant. In case you are traveling with family, there is also a playground for young children. For the hard-core ski lovers, every Saturday it's possible to ski non-stop for 12 hours, if the weather allows you to, as the opening hours extend from 08:00 to 20:00. The Parnassos ski center, just like the vast majority of the ski centers in Greece, remains open from December to early May every year, since this is when the weather gets too warm for skiing.
Kalavrita Ski Centre
Kalavrita ski center - credits: xionodromika.gr
Kalavrita Ski Center is the second biggest ski center in Greece and still within a comfortable driving distance from Athens -approximately 2,5 hours away. It's situated in the mountain Helmos in the Peloponnese, and it's named after the beautiful little town of Kalavrita nearby, where people usually take lodging, go shopping, eat and go out to experience the Greek winter nightlife. The service and activities offered here are exceptional due to the popularity of the destination. Kalavrita Ski Centre boasts 12 slopes of varying levels of difficulty, 7 ski lifts as well as facilities for extreme sports and snowboard. You can rent your equipment here and get a teacher if it’s your first time or if you just need to refresh your memory and skills. There's is a cosy chalet and a canteen to relax in after the activities as well as a playground for children. The reason we love this resort is the opportunity to combine your skiing adventures with a ride on the famous funicular railway, called 'odontotos', that takes visitors from Dikopto to Kalavrita, following a marvelous one hour route through the mountains and impressive Greek landscape. Another reason is the impressive natural beauty of the Cave of Lakes, situated 17 km from Kalavrita, as well as the historic monastery of Aghia Lavra built on a steep side of Helmos mountain. Don't miss it for the world!
Ski Resort Voras Mount Kaimaktsalan
Kaimaktsalan ski resort - credits: web- Greece.gr
This ski center is more popular with people living or visiting Thessaloniki, the second biggest city after Athens in Greece, due to the fact that it is situated in the borders of Greece with Macedonia. Still, a lot of ski enthusiasts from the southern part of the country will choose to drive the extra mile, due to the fact that Kaimaktsalan resort boasts the highest altitude for ski in the country that reaches up to 2500 metres!. In numbers, here you can expect to find 6 ski lifts and 13 ski runs, as well as a snowboard park and a snow tubing park if you would like to try something different. Just like in the previous two places, you can rent equipment and hire a tutor for the day. You can combine your trip to the ski center with a visit to the beautiful city of Edessa, famous for its waterfalls, and afterward to the Pozar Thermal Baths, at the foot of the mountain, to relax and get pampered. While you are in the area, make sure to try the local xinomavro, a wine with a deep red color and a rich, fresh aste.
Mount Pelion Ski Centre
Pelion ski resort - credits: tourism academy
Pelion is an area in Greece you should definitely put at the top of your bucket list for Greece. It's both a winter and a summer destination, equally rich in aquamarine-coloured beaches and green mountains with traditional stone houses. We love this ski center because it's comfortably located between Athens and Thessaloniki and because it gives us the opportunity to discover the beautiful region of Pelion while practicing our favorite winter activity. It's smaller than the other resorts on our list, with 5 ski slopes, 4 lifts and an altitude of 1421 meters. Due to that fact, prices tend to be lower here, which is great if you are a beginner and don't want to spend a fortune on your early tries. There is equipment for sale or rent and the possibility to get a lesson from a professional. Afterward, you can relax at a lovely chalet or take a room at the refuge and spend the night in the peace and quietness Pelion's nature has to offer. Make some room in the evening for a stop at the sea town of Volos, famous for its numerous tsipouradika, where the locals go to enjoy the characteristic strong alcoholic drink called tsipouro and eat some mezedes -small plates of scrummy starters- while discussing politics, current affairs, and life in general!
Menalo Ski Centre
Mount Menalo - credits: oreivatikos
Mount Menalo is situated in the region of Arcadia, in the Peloponnese, and the drive is a little over two hours from Athens. The Menalo ski center has 3 lifts taking you to 7 slopes of various levels of difficulty, as well as a snowboard park. The facilities also include a ski school, shops for your ski and snowboard needs, and of course equipment for rent. There are two cozy chalets where you can spend the night, eat, or enjoy a hot beverage. The reason we love this resort is the beautiful traditional villages of Vytina, Dimitsana, and Stemnitsa situated within half an hour's drive from the mountain. The river Lousios nearby, where a lot of people go rafting, kayaking or just for a hike is another reason why this cute ski center is in our top five. Highly recommended for beginners who want to take their first steps in this world-favorite winter activity, and don't wish to spend more money than they have to.
Keep in mind that some of the resorts above, especially the smaller ones, rely heavily on the weather and the number of visitors to operate properly. As a result, opening hours can be prone to changes. Your safest bet to prevent anything from going wrong is to phone ahead of your visit to make sure of the situation on the particular day that interests you and avoid any unpleasant surprises. That's all folks, enjoy the snow!