Today we’re on our way to an exciting Mediterranean destination for some summer sun (follow Jenna’s Twitter stream for details), but like all good travelers, we’re already thinking ahead for winter. Let’s see, we could follow the crowds to a top ski destination or a tropical winter break … or instead, we could migrate in the opposite direction, to where most people only travel in summer! Someplace like … Greece. Guest blogger Rob from Touristorama tells us how:
While Greece is hugely popular throughout Europe as a summer holiday destination, it also has a great deal to offer tourists looking for a refreshing break in the winter months. So where in Greece should holidaymakers be headed this winter?
The Greek capital has in the past been likened to New York City and Paris for its beautiful shopping arcades and numerous opportunities to indulge in some retail therapy. The big difference is that many of the best hotels in Athens are in and around the busy shopping areas, with everything in walking distance so you do not have to learn and brave a specific city’s underground train system!
The streets of Athens are alive throughout the winter, with vibrant cafés full of people spilling outside, such is the warmth of the weather still and the atmosphere in the Greek winter. The clubbing scene and restaurants are among some of the best in Europe, but because of the fame and great tourism reputation of the Greek islands, for many this is an unknown quantity.
Many tourists use Athens as a sort of “base camp” for winter holidays, as there are ferries at least once a day that take tourists to the surrounding resorts.
If the winter sunshine and shopping is not your thing, and you are looking to be a little more adventurous, then check out some of the country’s many ski resorts, of which Delphi is one of the most popular. Skiing is not something traditionally associated with Greece tourism; however it is a great way to experience the country in a different way from usual.
Many people falsely believe that the Greek Islands close for business during the winter months, yet in reality nothing could be further from the truth. Accommodation opportunities during the winter may be limited, as many people who own properties rent them out in the summer and return for the latter part of the year. That said, if you are able to experience the culture of the Greek islands during the winter, it is arguably a more authentic and rewarding experience than during the summer months.
Poros & Aegina
Popular destinations in winter include Poros and Aegina, as they are very close to Athens and offer great opportunities for exploring and seeing more of the country and the islands together. As sunbathing is generally off the agenda, the cooler temperatures mean that pursuits such as hiking and cycling are easier and altogether more endurable during a winter holiday.
The island of Syros is perfect for those who want to reflect and just take a little time away from the busy nature of the world. This is such a relaxed place and it is an excellent option for anyone who becomes easily annoyed and frustrated at the fuss surrounding winter and Christmas in particular.
Syros is a calm place, with very friendly locals and a thriving community spirit. One of the reasons that this island is so unique and authentic is that it is not predominantly driven by the tourist trade. Other islands can lose a little of their feel in the winter due to the absence of tourists, however Syros is a centre of trade with a lot of people coming to do business on the island. Syros is similar to islands such as Rhodes and Crete, where life just carries on as normal in the winter and thus remain top destinations for anyone looking for a winter break.
This resort provides the best options for those looking to incorporate a lot of hiking and exploring into their holiday. Due to its central location, it is also excellent for accessibility to many places, including the ancient, archaeological wonders at Peloponessos. All of the historical landmarks and highly popular tourism haunts remain open all year round, and the winter can provide an excellent opportunity to spend some time exposed to real Greek culture while the place is not completely overrun by other tourists.
How to Choose Wisely
You will need to approach booking your winter holiday with caution, as you could find yourself looking more than a little bit silly.
Try and avoid “flight only” options out of season, unless you are certain that you have somewhere to stay. Many people who travel to well-known destinations during the winter tend to find that many hotels are closed. Bars and restaurants will still be open as they are a natural part of everyday life in these places, however many hotels will not open if they are not likely to be more than 70% full.
With those factors in mind, ensure you do your research before selecting a resort, and keep our recommendations in mind. The smaller Greek Islands and Athens (where tourism is not the economy leader) tend to be the best choices, however doing something you wouldn’t normally associate with Greece, such as skiing at Delphi, is a great option, too.
Guest blogger Rob writes for Touristorama, which helps you plan your holidays in Greece and the Greek islands. He strongly believes that Greece is one of the most beautiful destinations for holidays in Europe.