6 Destinations For Winter Holidays In Greece
Greece is one of the most picturesque countries in Europe. It lies on the Balkan Peninsula and is bordered by the Ionian, Aegean, Mediterranean and Cretan Seas. Its warm climate, rich history and hospitable locals have made it a popular tourist destination.
Travellers are more likely to choose Greece for their summer holiday. But where in the country can you holiday in winter? We tell you about six destinations where the winter scenery is breathtaking.
Three destinations for walking around the city
Athens is the perfect place for winter holidays and Christmas celebrations. The city hosts festivals and music events in December and January, with jazz and classical tunes playing in every street.
In Syntagmatos Square, outside the Royal Palace, you’ll find a Christmas tree, a merry-go-round and outdoor pavilions serving local food. Nearby is the National Garden of Athens, which hosts an ice rink in winter.
In winter, local guides also offer tours to suit all tastes, from the classic walk through the Acropolis hills to mini-trips through the city’s family-run wineries.
Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece. Aristotle Square hosts Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, and instead of a Christmas tree, the city decorates a ship every year. It is a Greek tradition.
On Kapani Street, where the market of the same name is located, there are dance battles between locals. They dance to traditional Greek music and drink red wine.
Thessaloniki is visited for winter shopping and for walks along the promenade. It is home to the White Tower, a museum of Byzantium as well as the history of the city. Nearby there are cafes and small restaurants. The locals advise tourists to be sure to try Terkenlis' famous Tsoureki chocolate.
Kastoria is one of the most romantic towns. It is built on the shores of Lake Orestiada. The city is ideal for walking, where visitors can enjoy the combination of classic and modern architecture in the streets, go for a coffee in a café and listen to the local Christmas carol.
From 6 to 8 January, Kastoria celebrates the famous Ragoutsaria, a Greek Epiphany festival of masks, costumes, traditional songs and dancing. Locals treat each other and visitors to Mediterranean snacks and wine.
Three destinations for holidays in the mountains
Snow by the sea is rare in Greece, falling once every few years. In the mountains there is snow every winter. Locals go to the mountains to ski, snowboard, play snowballs and make a snowman.
Kalavrita. The town is situated in the north of the Peloponnese peninsula on Mount Helmos. There is a ski resort which has been operating since 1988. Skiing, snowboarding, ski biking and tubing can be done on the slopes of Kalavrita. Those interested in skiing can attend ski schools.
The slopes are about 20 km long, with easier runs for beginners and more challenging runs for advanced skiers.
Next to the resort, on Mount Helmos, is the National Observatory. The Aristarchos telescope is the second largest in Europe.
The village of Arachova is close to Athens and Mount Parnassus. The place is popular with Greeks during the winter season: they come to ski and snowboard and stay to live in the village. Nearby there are three ski centres on Mount Parnassus.
Tourists can also make use of the saunas and spas available in the wooden chalets of Arahova. In the evening there are discos and themed parties in the village.
The village of Agios Athanasios is home to 184 people. It is located in the north of Greece on Mount Kaimaktsalan. The village was recognised as a traditional settlement in Greece in 1992.
Agios Athanasios is located near the ski resort of Kaimaktsalan. The resort has been awarded many times as the best winter resort in the country for its spectacular snow views. The snow cover lasts longer than in other parts of the country — from November to May.
How to travel in Greece without a visa
Russians need a visa to enter Greece and other Schengen countries. In December 2021, Greek borders are open to tourists, but the situation may change as European countries impose more restrictions due to a new variant of the coronavirus. For more details on entry rules and restrictions in the different countries, see our updated digest.
Greek residents have the right to come to the country despite restrictions. The Greek government offers investors a residence permit through a government programme. The investor has to choose one investment option:
buy a residential or commercial property;
rent a hotel or tourist residence for 10 years;
buy a plot of land for construction or agriculture;
to conclude a 10-year agreement (timeshare) that entitles the holder to use the property temporarily;
to inherit or receive real estate through an inheritance or donation agreement;
buy securities or open a deposit in a bank for an amount of €400,000 or more.
Buying a property for €250,000 is the most popular and profitable investment option. The amount invested in real estate is the minimum among the residence permit programmes in the European Union. After five years, the investor can obtain a residence permit and sell the properties.
A residence permit in Greece entitles the holder to stay in any city in the country for an unlimited amount of time per year — to live, work, study and benefit from medical care. Also, Greek residents can travel visa-free through the Schengen area, even during a pandemic.
Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent who helps to obtain a residence permit or citizenship on the basis of direct investment. If you wish to become a resident or citizen of an EU member state, seek advice from experts in investment programmes.