1. The weather! Greece enjoys up to 300 days of sunshine a year. Winters temperatures are generally mild and you will often find that you are still able to bask in the warmth of the daytime sunshine. Yes, there will be cold and rain, but a lot less of it than in most other European destinations.
2. Avoid the tourist crowds. In winter, everywhere from the Greek islands to cities as well as famous archaeological sites and museums are a delight to experience without having to fight your way through hordes of tourists. Wander through Knossos or the Acropolis in quiet and stillness and allow yourself to be transported back in time.
3. Get to know the locals. Everyone in Greece is more relaxed in the winter season, which is not surprising after the long summer months of non-stop work in hospitality taking care of summer visitors. In winter you can really get to know the locals. The Greek people are incredibly hospitable and friendly, so they also get to enjoy the company of visiting tourists much more out of season. For a start, they have more time to talk in winter, and after all talking is one of the great national pastimes in Greece. Great philosophers, whether ancient or modern rely on the opportunity for regular, deep discussions. Winter is the ideal time to get deep and meaningful, especially over a few drinks and with plenty of music, song and dance thrown into the mix.
4. Cities. Greek cities truly come in to their own in the autumn and winter seasons. The mainland cities of Athens and Thessaloniki spring to life from September onward and offer a vibrant cultural, art and night life scene to savour. The cafe culture is easily one of Europe’s finest, while the winter also provides the opportunity to appreciate the many award winning museums and galleries on offer. Did I mention festivals? Festivals abound in the winter months, from film and art to Christmas and carnivals as well as the famed Easter celebrations are all on offer. Island cities such as Chania and Herakleion in Crete, and Hermoupolis in Syros offer all of the above, simply with an even greater sense of serene tranquillity once you start wandering through the architecturally rich streets and alleys. Many of which are dotted with bohemian cafes and bars. Apart from all of this, glorious countryside and beaches are a heartbeat from most city centres.
5. Deserted beaches. Some of the best beaches in the world are in Greece. Experience all of the beauty and charm of beaches such as Elafonissi and Balos in Crete. In fact, Elafonissi beach in SW Crete and Navagio beach on Zakynthos island have recently been included in a top 50 list of the best beaches in the world by Flight Network. Seriously, it would be a hard task ‘not’ to find amazing beaches anywhere along the Greek coastline, simply seek and find.
6. Walking and hiking. Without a doubt walking and hiking are far more pleasurable in Greece in the cooler months. Wander through forests and orange groves in the Peloponnese and appreciate the huge range of treks available on larger islands such as Crete, which is famed for its multitude of incredible walks and trails. Winter is indeed the perfect time to explore the Greek countryside.
7. Food. Winter is the ideal time to taste the best of the best in terms of Greek food. When the summer season ends, particularly on the islands, the customers at the tavernas and restaurants, which stay open in winter, will be serving mainly local clientele. This means you will really get to savour all the incredible seasonal tastes and dishes on offer.
8. Skiing. In addition to the mountains of the Peloponnese, Evrytania, Kalavrita, Pelion, Delphi and Epirus all have ski centres and Swiss chalet style mountains refuges, with ski lifts and a variety of downhill and cross-country runs. Apparently skiing has become so popular that advance reservations are a must in popular ski resorts such as Arachova, where you can ski all day on Mount Parnassus, then head to the shores of the Corinthian Gulf for your après ski. On some days, even a short swim might be possible!
9. Educational courses and classes. There are an incredible array of holiday classes and courses you will be able to access in Greece in the winter months. Whatever your interests may be, yoga, wellness, art, photography, film-making, organic lifestyle, cooking, trekking and on and on, you are sure to find a suitable course and destination. It’s all at your fingertips with a quick internet search.
10. Relaxation! Enjoy true rest and relaxation. After all, what do most of us want to experience on holiday? Feeling relaxed! Greece is famed for helping stressed and weary visitors relax at all times of the year; it’s just an even more chilled out affair in winter.