You may be thinking ‘Greece in winter?’. But trust me, winter in Athens is one of the best ways to see this country. It will offer you an entirely new perspective. Snowy mountain tops, warming traditional food, Christmas festivities and some cosy indoor retreats. These are some of the activities that will give you a feel for the city and the culture in ways you never could have imagined.
Weather In Winter
Athens is an ideal place to visit in winter because the weather is incredibly mild, the crowds are few and the days can be bright and sunny. But you can expect a little rain and some cold evenings. So, when packing for your Greek holiday keep in mind that you will need some warm layers.
Visit The National Park
Many people don’t know this, but a short drive from the city centre lies a beautiful escape, Parnitha National Park. In just over 40 km you’ll be able to enjoy winter in Athens in the foothills of the mountains! This National Park is known to have one of the richest flora in Greece with over 1000 different species. Here you can explore the marked trails and wander through the fir trees or pay a visit to the local casino!
☞ Related: Activities for nature lovers
Enjoy The Green Spaces
There are so many lovely green spaces that are great to explore during winter in Athens. You might want to explore all 7 hills of Athens, uncover its lost ancient rivers or, simply take a walk through the National Gardens. Whatever you choose, the winter season provides relief from the usual summer heat and all these places are within walking distance from the city centre.
Indulge In The Seasonal Treats
Trying traditional food is always a must. But December in Greece means Christmas treats! If you’re visiting Athens in winter that means you need to try kourampiedes and melomakarona. Kourampiedes are almond biscuits coated in a thick layer of icing sugar. While melomakarona are cookies made out of a mix of semolina flour, honey and olive oil. Once baked, they are dipped into a syrupy mixture and topped with chopped walnuts or other nuts. This delicious Greek dessert carries the wintery scents of clove, orange and cognac.
There are so many places dedicated to desserts in Athens. You must try Lukumades, who sell traditional Greek donuts! But one of my favourites is Little Kook. This quirky café is located just a short walk from Monastiraki square and it has the most elaborate display of decorations I have ever seen. The perk of visiting Athens in winter is that you will get to appreciate the Christmas decorations at Little Kook! You can’t miss it, look out for Santa!
Visit The Stavros Niarchos Center
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre is home to the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera. Winter in Athens is a spectacular time to visit as the centre is a perfect rainy-day activity. Take a wander through this beautiful building that has views of the tastefully landscaped garden, city and beyond. Here you can also enjoy a free tour inside the centre.
☞ Related: Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre
See The Acropolis
Winter or summer everyone must visit the Acropolis in Athens. This majestic piece of history is awe inspiring no matter the season. And in winter, on the odd occasion, the Acropolis has even been known to be covered in snow!
Visit The Museums
The museums are a wonderful way to enjoy winter in Athens. In fact, there are so many museums in Athens that you could spend your entire holiday in Greece just wandering through the incredible collections that the city has to offer. Do some research and take your pick of the best museums and you’ll easily fill an entire day (or two) learning about the fascinating history of Greece.
Explore The Archeological Sites
Athens is a beautiful winter destination and during the quieter months you have the benefit of fewer crowds. This gives you the chance to explore the archaeological sites uninterrupted. Prices are also reduced during the off-season so you can take your time exploring the cultural side of Athens without feeling rushed or having to claim your space among other visitors. There are so many incredible pieces of history throughout the centre of the city so make sure you see more than just the Acropolis. The Ancient Agora, for example, is arguably one of the most important sites in the city!
Walk Through Syntagma Square
Syntagma square is the perfect place to start exploring Athens. This is because one of the main metro lines runs directly under the square. In this central location, you are also close to a number of museums that are just around the corner! But there is another thing special about the square during winter in Athens. This is because at Christmas time Syntagma square in Athens is lit with a dazzling display of lights and decorations. This in itself is worth the trip!
Grab A Drink At Noel
Noel is a Christmas themed bar and restaurant located in the centre of Athens. Here you’ll be surrounded by twinkling fairy lights, red and white candy cane shaped arches, velvet curtains and an aristocratic atmosphere of Parisian glamour with a Christmas theme. The cocktails at Noel are redesigned frequently and are always delicious. The cheese platters come with their own freshly baked bread. Come early and prepare to indulge in the Christmas spirit.
Warm Up With A Coffee
What better way to warm up on a cold winters day than with a hot cup of coffee. Café culture in Greece is a part of every locals’ daily routine. This is why there are so many coffee shops in Athens! One of our favourites is Oraia Hellas, here you can sit and enjoy a cup of coffee with a view of the Acropolis.
Take A Day Trip
The great thing about Athens is that it is only a short journey to some other incredible places. All you need to do is rent a car. This frees you up to see some of the wonders of Central Greece or drive to the coast. You could even venture as far as Meteora, the famous monasteries that are perched upon towering rocks. This place is all the more idyllic with a dusting of snow.