Athens is best known as a summertime destination where tourists soak in the sun and enjoy some of the best beaches in the world. But this ancient metropolis and its surrounding areas are also a great destination for some wintertime fun for the family. Airfares are cheaper in the winter months and the throngs of summertime tourists are smaller, making it the ideal time to explore some of the country’s most incredible attractions. While a wintertime Greek vacation won’t leave you sun-kissed, these activities make sure you have a memorable family vacation.
Located a few hours outside of Athens is the mountain village of Arahova, a local favorite for cold-weather fun. Nestled on the side of Mt. Parnassos, Arahova is home to the Parnassos Ski Center with two primary skiing locations to choose from, Kellaria and Fterolakka. Together they make up the biggest down-hill ski resort in the country. The traditional village of Arahova is not only home to some of Greece’s best skiing and snowboarding, but the winding, cobblestoned streets are the perfect place for enjoying a warm cup of hot chocolate after a day on the slopes. One of my favorite family Christmas memories is of spending the holiday in a small mountainside inn with extended family in this tiny village. The coziness of opening presents in front of a roaring fire while the surrounding forest was being blanketed with snow created memories that will last a lifetime.
Window Shopping and Wintertime Treats
Greeks love spending time out in the community enjoying the shops and cafes which are, quite literally, everywhere you turn. The shops are filled with every commodity imaginable and each member of the family is sure to find a unique treasure from handcrafted puppets to one-of-a-kind jewelry. Street vendors are a staple — in the summertime they peddle grilled corn on the cob, but when they bundle up and trade in their ears of corn for chestnuts roasted over hot coals, you know winter has arrived in Athens. Grab a handful to warm your belly and satisfy your taste buds while you walk around and enjoy the sights and sounds of a Greek winter.
Greek civilization dates back thousands of years and has an endless supply of archaeological ruins to visit. In the summer months, these sites can not only be crowded but brutally hot when the temperatures rise. Take advantage of the cooler weather and smaller crowds and visit some of the ancient wonders such as the Acropolis, located in the heart of the city, or the Temple of Poseidon, located a short drive outside of town on the coast at Cape Sounion.
When the outdoor temperatures get too chilly to climb the hills of the Acropolis, head indoors for some more of the country’s ancient culture. The Acropolis Museum in downtown Athens makes it possible to enjoy the Acropolis without having to subject yourself to the cold temperatures. A wall of windows offer an unparalleled view of this ancient wonder of the world and an impressive array of ancient artifacts are on display. The Greek National Archaeological Museum of Athens is the current host of the centuries-old Antikythera Mechanism, commonly known as the world’s first computer. The School Life and Education Museum is a small children’s museum that offers a glimpse into the life of Greek children. Activities for kids and adults are offered in and out of the museum, including evening walks around the Acropolis.