Although Greece is beloved and quite famous for its islands and summer life, few realize the wonders that northern Greece has to offer. Just above Athens lies the regional unit of Beotia (pronounced Vee-oh-tee-ah), a collection of mountain villages, agriculture, and ski slopes. Many an Athenian flocks to the popular village of Arachova to enjoy local delicacies and nights of Greek music and sweet wine by the fire. Further up is Delphi, a thriving town with a rich history that is running for European Capital of Culture 2021. In ancient times Delphi was thought to be the center or “navel” of the earth (the titan Gaia), and was home to many legendary figures of ancient times, including the serpent Python, the demigod Pan, and the Delphic Oracle.
Unknown to visitors, Greece has quite a popular skiing scene, but snow is scarce, appearing sporadically for only a month or two a year, so if you want the winter wonderland experience, head up north to Delphi and Arachova during January and February.
But if you want something a little different, something just as magical, head up to the mountain villages in the earliest days of spring. This year was unusual in that the snow melted right in the middle of February, the Greece’s biggest skiing season. Needless to say, it is still beautiful. Instead of feathery snow and glistening icicles, the red-brick architecture of Arachova is bathed in sunlight and pleasant breezes. Without the snow, landscape is a flurry of green and earthy hues, the mountains looming tall and grand above all.
Beotia also has an unexpected local treasure: almond trees. Although present in Athens as well, up in the mountains the blossoming almond trees are everywhere, covering the mountain with fields and pops of white and pale pink. There’s really nothing like driving on the edge of a mountain road with a great expanse of valley below you and flowering almond trees all around. It truly is otherworldly—as we say in Greek, apokosmo. Just be careful on those twisting mountain roads, as many tragic accidents have occurred along those tricky bends. Stay close to the mountain!
Stay tuned for more hidden travel hideouts in beautiful Greece!