Charming Mountainous Villages in the Greek Countryside
The mountain villages scattered in the backbone of the Greek countryside, hidden behind the clouds or covered by a thin mantle of snow are an ideal holiday destination for those passionate nature lovers and winter sports fans. The most popular ones, within a short distance from ski resorts, are Arachova, Portaria, Palaios Agios Athanasios and Vytina.
Let’s visit them one by one…
Arachova: Mt. Parnassos’ bride
Built over five hills at an elevation of 1,000 metres above sea level and only 160km from Athens, Arachova is Greece’s top cosmopolitan winter destination. Parnassos Ski resort is great for either beginners or advanced skiers. If you aren’t much into skiing, but yet wish to feel an adrenaline rush, then why not take advantage of the fine trail-paths in the woods or try hang-gliding or paragliding. Relax from all your exhilarating activities in traditional hostels and luxury chalets and taste local dishes next to a lit fireplace in nearby tavernas.
Portaria: Pelion’s hostess
The first village you’ll encounter on your way to the top of the mythical Pelion Mountain is the renowned Portaria. The area boasts of breathtaking views of the Pagasitikos Gulf and the nearby villages while being surrounded by a dense forest and natural springs. Magnificent manors or stone built houses, narrow streets aligned with flower pots, stone fountains, picturesque squares, beautiful churches and old monasteries compose a unique harmonious setting. If you are up for some adventure then Portaria makes an excellent starting point. The Agriolefkes ski resort is only 12 km away from the village, where skiing is embraced by a snow-covered scenery. Then again you can enjoy hiking on the Centaurs trail that goes around the village. On your return back from your outdoor activity relax by the fireplace and savour local dishes; taste the numerous pies made with greens and spetzofai (a local stew with sausages, peppers and tomato sauce), and don’t forget to accompany your food with plenty of tsipouro. To complete your meal you must end with the local spoon sweets made by the women's Agricultural Association of Portaria.
Palaios Agios Athanasios: a unique Macedonian settlement
Palaios Agios Athanasios is a top winter destination in Northern Greece, located at the foot of Voras Mountain. At an altitude of 1,200 metres, you’ll come across this captivating traditional settlement formerly known as Tsegani. The Kaimaktsalan ski resort is one of the reasons the village has gained fame and has become a tourist attraction. During winter holidays the village becomes an attraction to outdoor activity lovers. Embark on your own journey and create memories for a lifetime by skiing, horseback riding, climbing, or even (weather permitting) taking a boat ride on lake Vegoritida. Go for a walk on the stone-paved alleys which lead to restored houses bearing local architecture, beautiful hostels, beautiful shops as well as some exhilarating nightlife spots. Also, visit the church of Analipseos (17th century) decorated with Byzantine-style icons. Finally, pass by the impressive chapel of St. George, where five trees seem to come together forming a human body.
Vytina: the fir-covered gem of Mainalo Mountain
Vytina, is the renowned village of mountainous Arcadia, an ideal base for your winter excursions around the area. This hospitable village will heal your body and soul; it is literally covered by trees, has a traditional architectural character and is endowed with a rare climate. Reach Ostrakina’s Ski Resort at only 12km distance and enjoy your favourite winter sport.
Gaze upon the stunning fir forests that stretch up nearly touching the sky and fill your day with various activities like hiking, mountain biking, or driving a 4x4 vehicle in the numerous trails.
Begin your journey from the village’s main square where the imposing church of Agios Tryfonas stands, built with the black marble found in the area. Don’t miss the Library, where valuable historical records are kept, the Folk Museum, and the famous Greek School founded in 1782. Finally, take a romantic stroll down the tree-lined tunnel-like road also known as the “Path of Love”.