If you think that all Greece has to offer is beautiful sandy beaches and crystal clear seas under the hot sun you have never been in the country during the winter. Greece gets a good amount of snow every year from November to March and has more than 15 ski resorts. The most famous winter destination and Greece’s largest ski resort is Arachova.
Arachova is a natural jewel located at the foot of Mt. Parnassus at an altitude of 950 meters. The small mountain town of Arachova is only two hours drive away from Athens but is a must meeting point for Greek and foreign visitors during the winter season mainly due to its cosmopolitan way of life easily blending with tradition and local customs as well as the big and well-organized ski center on Mt. Parnassus. But there’s way much more to enjoy while visiting Arachova from December to May, and if you are not a sport enthtsiast Arachova will not let you down with its culture, nightlife and closeness to nature.
Winters are usually cold and rainy in this mountainous area of Greece, so prepare yourself for loads of snow. But don’t let the snow keep you from visiting the nearby sites and the famed clock situated on a remote cliff. From up there the view is breathtaking and at nights it gets all illuminated with light. The clock was built in the beginning of the early 18th Century but collapsed in the 1870 disastrous earthquake that rattled the broader area. In 1944, the Nazis blew it up, and it was once again rebuilt in 1966 by Abbot Nektarios Kamvasinos from the monastery of St. Luke.
Don’t forget to pay a visit to the St. George Cathedral, which is a marvelous well-preserved historic site and has impressed its visitors with its history, architecture and surroundings. Furthermore, there is the monument in memory of 1821 hero Karaiskakis at the western exit from the town.
The beautiful ski center of Parnassus features three main sections: Kelaria, Fterolakka and Gerondovrachos. Kelaria has 15 tracks and 23 lifts and lies at an altitude of 2280 meters. Fterolakka has six aerial lifts, six tow lifts, one four-seater cabin and two beginner lifts. Gerondovrachos is a smaller facility but has three lifts and four downhill runs. If you’re an experienced skier, Parnassus is like heaven with all the possibilities it offers. If you’re amateur, the ski center has coaching schools where you can start practicing sliding on snow and standing up on your feet.
Take a walk around the small town both in daylight and late in the afternoon. The traditions and popular activities are maintained and celebrated by the inhabitants. Traditional dances, the reviving of the fight of Arachova against the Turks as well as the Formaella cheese (which is sold only in Arachova) and locally produced tsipouro must be definitely tried out. At night, Arachova offers many bars, clubs and after-clubs that are usually full of young people dancing and enjoying themselves to the early morning hours.
Only eight kilometers away lies the archaeological site of Delphi, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. About 30 kilometers distant is the beautiful monastery of St. Luke, one of the most important Byzantine architecture sites across Greece. The nearby village of Distomo presents the Mausoleum of Nazi Victims from World War II.
For nature enthusiasts, Arachova is the stepping stone to explore the beauties of the Parnassus slopes. Countless tracks and paths leading to vast green meadows and crystal clear springs and waterfalls exceed 80 meters in height. Alternatively you can always try wandering, go hiking or biking, down hill, or even mountain climbing. Arachova provides experienced guides who will help you witness for yourselves the true beauties of the region during your trips.