Snowfall blanketed much of Greece on Monday, from Athens and Crete to Naxos and Santorini, as the country turned into a winter wonderland with layers of snow.
A severe snowstorm disrupted road and air traffic Monday in the Greek capital of Athens while snow blanketed most of Greece, including Tinos, Naxos, Mykonos and Santorini as well Evia. And the Acropolis was covered in a layer of heavy snow on Tuesday as the Greek capital received its heaviest winter storm in 12 years. Ancient ruins around the city were covered in a coat of white snow, making for unique photoshoots of monuments across Athens.
The Greek government has also declared a holiday Tuesday in the greater Athens area, parts of central Greece and the islands to keep people safe. Only essential services including supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies remain open.
The snow closed parts of Greece’s highways and temporarily stopped ferry service from Athens to the Greek islands. Flights to and from regional airports were also disrupted, Authorities urged the public to refrain from nonessential travel.
Greek carrier Aegean Airlines cancelled most flights on Monday and said it expected schedules to be disrupted on Tuesday and possibly Wednesday.
The cold weather is expected to stay in Greece until Wednesday, moving further south to the island of Crete.
Just 15 minutes from Arachova and only two hours from Athens, Le Grand Chalet is a super cozy all-day lounge bar and restaurant located at the top entrance of charming Agoriani village.
Set inside a three-storey stone and wooden chalet, the large glass windows allow guests to sit back on one of the comfy lounges, as they enjoy uninterrupted mountain views- along with a warm beverage in hand.
Boasting a cosmopolitan yet elegant atmosphere, here you can smell the fresh alpine air as you are surrounded by lush fir trees and the most breathtaking views of Mount Parnassus.
Located in a prominent position on a hill, you’d be forgiven for thinking you are somewhere in the Swiss Alps, as Le Grand Chalet is only metres away from the snowy peaks of Parnassus and the plain of Boeotian Kifissos. And its close proximity to popular winter destination Arachova makes it one of the busiest spots over the cooler months, as it offers a gorgeous setting to enjoy brunch, lunch, dinner, or drinks.
From coffee and hot chocolate to unique beverages created to warm you up; we suggest you try the homemade ginger liqueur, Parnassus tea, honey and lemon, or the Metaxa (Greek brandy) and honey- there’s also a deluxe cellar with a great range of local wines to choose from.
If you are after something to eat, the menu includes light options such as club sandwiches, burgers and traditional pites (pies)- through to main meals at the à la carte restaurant downstairs- where you are able to taste creative Greek dishes made from fresh and local produce.
The desserts here are also amazing- we recommend the chocolate fondue and the homemade loukoumades (Greek honey puffs) which melt in your mouth! And let’s not forget the cocktail list, which is designed to turn up the heat! Featuring Greek spirits such as Rakomelo and Tsipouro- these drinks aren’t for the faint-hearted but they’ll surely warm you up from top to toe!
Just as we dress seasonally, reflecting changes in the weather, we choose seasonal destinations for our vacations. The weather also determines our eating habits; as certain recipes are ideal for summer and others are better cooked in winter. And so, it also makes sense to choose our wine dependent on the season.
Although in simple terms ‘seasonal wine’ seems to focus on colour, with refreshing whites and rosés of spring/summer being exchanged for warmer reds in autumn/ winter; colour is in fact not the most significant factor when drinking seasonally. The texture and weight of the wine are what really counts; with crisp, fresh whites and light, fruitier reds headlining the warm summer months and the heavier whites and reds taking centre stage during the cold winter.
This brings us down to November, and towards the end of fall before winter begins. What better way to get you through the dreary cold months than a night in with some great food and delicious wine to match?
My own preferences during the cooler days are full-bodied reds, with tannins and higher alcohol levels, and full-bodied, oaked whites. Here I list five Greek wines that I prefer in winter and also recommend some food options that pair well with each bottle.
-Merlot is usually fleshy and sweet. In the case of Kokkinomylos we find condensation, structure and the ability to evolve what few Greek merlots can give.
-The fruits of the forest predominate in a ripe version, the tannins are very soft, and its acidity gives freshness. The elements of the barrel give it aromatic complexity and a sense of vanilla, chocolate and sweet spices in the aftertaste.
Pairs well with: Braised beef, hare, or wild boar stew. Also a good choice with yellow-aged cheeses.
-A Cabernet Sauvignon could not be missing from this list. With an acre yield of fewer than 500 kilos per acre, one thought comes to mind: Condensation.
-The 24-month maturation in the barrel gives aromas of butter, spices, chocolate, caramel that in combination with the aromas of red fruits, eucalyptus, lavender and green pepper create a complex set of aromas and flavours that are characterised by intensity and exuberance.
Pairs well with: Roast pork or wild boar, as well as braised meat dishes.
-This is probably the first Greek chardonnay wine that matured in oak barrels somewhere in the early 1990s. Although its name refers to smoke due to the long stay in a barrel, the elements of oak are very distinctive.
-It has a rich flavor and creamy texture and in the mouth, there are constantly alternating flavors of tropical fruits, herbs, honey with discreet notes of vanilla.
Pairs well with: Fish, pasta in white sauces, as well as roast chicken.
-A Santorini wine could not be missing from the list. Tradition says that Nykteri is the wine that the sun does not see, as the harvest becomes night. In this case, the overripe grapes rest for 12 months in oak barrels creating a complex whole with a perfect structure.
-Sweet lemon, orange peel, dried peach, grapefruit, vanilla, toast, butter, and vanilla. The sharp acidity balances with the intense oiliness and all this in a background of sea air and intense minerality. An impressive wine that expresses a unique terroir.
Pairs well with: Lamb or goat in the oven, as well as with a thick piece of fish on the grill.
At this point, I would like to mention that I could easily write a winter list consisting of 20 labels with more Greek varieties, but that’s not the point. The list is indicative and includes labels that I have tasted since 2005 that are always at a high level of quality.
For more wonderful wine explorations, follow George on Instagram @george.winestories
Mount Taygetos is the highest mountain in the Peloponnese and one of the highest in Greece, boasting a height of 2404 metres. It’s the perfect place to enjoy wonderful hiking routes, picturesque villages, lovely creeks and striking stone bridges.
With lush forests covering the middle mountain zone, fragrant phrygana shrubs sprinkled in the lower parts of the mountain, gorges and ravines shaded by plane trees, Mount Tagyetos is located on the border between the areas of Laconia and Messinia.
The highest mountain peak in the Peloponnese is named Prophet Elias and here you will find a a chapel of the same name. Every year on the 20th of July, thousands of pilgrims hike to the top and pay a visit to the church on the Feast Day of Prophet Elias. The most popular route to get to the church starts from Maganiari spring. The path to the top starts from Maganiari spring (980m altitude) and crosses the forest until the spring of Barbara.
One of the mountain’s most spectacular geographical features is the Vyros Gorge, which runs from the foot of Prophet Elias summit to the town of Kardamyli on the Messinian Gulf coast. Other peaks of Mount Taygetos include Sidirokastro (2340 m), Spanakaki (2024 m), Neraidovouna (2020 m), Goupata (2031 m), Koufovouni (1850 m) and Broken Mountain (2204 m).
The eastern slopes of the mountain form many ravines which supply water to the Evrotas River. The region is part of the Natura 2000 network of habitats and its significant infrastructure projects have been initiated for the development of mild ecotourism. in fact, Mount Taygetos has been designated as an ‘Important Bird Area’ of Greece.
The mountain provides plenty of hiking routes which are well signposted and attract a lot of visitors throughout the year. During winter the snow makes climbing quite difficult and special equipment is necessary. One of the most rewarding experiences is reaching the top of the mountain at Prophet Elias and taking in the breathtaking view of the Peloponnese. There is also the Mystras- Taygeti – Moni Faneromenis route, which is also amazing.
Georgitsi known as “the balcony of Taygetos”, is a village at 970 meters altitude and offers an astonishing view of Sparta. Here you will find stone houses with tiled roofs, firs and chestnut trees. Kastori village is perfect for those who love adventures as it’s great for hiking, mountain biking and canyoning. Are you can enjoy hikes through the beautiful route of the gorge of Kastoras River with the springs and the arched bridge. Also check out the chapel of Agios Loukas which is located inside a cave.
– One classical route to approach Taygetos is through Trypi village on the road from Sparta-Kalamata. This route is one of the most beautiful in the Peloponnese as you will be driving through a forest and the gorge of Lagkadas.
-There is also the route from Sparta to the mountainous village Anavriti. This road might be difficult for some drivers as it is close to the edge of the cliffs and not for the faint hearted.
-If you would like to head towards the northern side of Taygetos you should take the route from Mystras towards the village Kastori.
Let’s face it, this is going to be a long winter of spending time at home, so we might as well make the experience as cosy, comfy and stylish as possible. Here IN+SIGHTS GREECE selects some 100% made in Greece warm winter comforts to have in your wardrobe and home right now.
Warm silk scarves, leather gloves, soft traditional pom pom slippers and a modern rendition of the classic Greek fisherman’s hat are some of the lovely Greek buys can brighten up your lockdown life.
Arachova is a stunning mountainous village that sits perfectly at the foot of Mount Parnassos, at an altitude of 973 meters. It’s considered to be the most cosmopolitan winter destination in Greece thanks to its cool all-day cafes/bars, fine dining restaurants, chic boutiques and luxurious hotels.
Due to its close proximity to Athens (around a 2-hour drive) over the cooler months, it is buzzing on the weekends with guests (many local and international celebrities and socialites) looking for a classy and cozy escape. We’ve gathered the Top 14 reasons as to why Arachova is a must-visit winter destination!
1. Discover the traditional character of Arachova Village by taking leisurely strolls through its narrow cobblestone streets. Here you will discover traditional little shops and you can mingle with the friendly locals. Make sure you sit down at an old kafeneio (cafe) and enjoy a traditional Greek coffee.
2. Here you will find Greece’s most popular ski resort, which is only a few minutes drive away from the village centre. You can enjoy skiing down the slopes of Mount Parnassos.
3. Thrill seekers can take part in outdoor activities such as hiking, and mountain biking as well as other winter sports like snowboarding and sledging at Gerontovrachos, Kelaria and Fterolaka.
4. Indulge in some shopping as here you’ll find local and international luxury brands as well as a great variety of skiing and outdoor gear. At the main shopping strip you will come across a range of chic boutiques stocking well-known brands as well as the popular concept store L’escalier which is full of stylish pieces.
5. Enjoy a winter cocktail, a glass of port, or a shot of Tsipouro at Isidora Gallery Bar, Sehre Cafe, Gospel or Doctor John Chillout Bar, which all serve up amazing drinks for the colder months.
6. Taste some local wines such as the Parnassos red variety “Mavroudi”, which has Protected Designation of Origin status since 2006, or the “Black Arachova Vine.”
7. Try the amazingFormaela cheese- usually served as melted ‘saganaki’ with a squeeze of lemon.
Isidora Gallery Bar
8. Also make sure you taste the local Amfissa olives.
9. To warm up, sit in front of a fireplace and sip on the locally grown organic mountain tea.
10. Taste authentic specialties including Trahana (soup), free-range wild boar, goat or rooster with Hilopites (handmade pasta), as well as Kotosouvli, Kokkoretsi, at taverns such as Panayiota, Fasouli, Kaplanis, Archontiko and Dasargiris. And for some French cuisine check out Le Sapin.
11. Make sure you try the spoon sweets and honey, which you will definitely want to take home with you!
12. Visit the church of Agios Giorgios with its picturesque clock tower rising over the village. Byzantine churches and monasteries are very special here and every year, on the name day of Agios Giorgios, there is a huge festival in Arachova, celebrating this historical event and the Protector Saint of the town. There is a Holy Mass and celebrations outside the beautiful church, which sits on the highest spot of the town.
13. From here you can easily make your way to Delphi, the ancient sanctuary that is recognised by Unesco as a World Heritage Site. Visit nearby Parnassos National Park too.
14. The region of Arachova is well-known for its textiles and woodwork, before you leave make sure to pick up some hand-made coloured woven carpets (flocati rugs) and textiles to take with you.