5 villages in Greece for a relaxed Christmas – Stone houses, snow and good food
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Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, as the songs say, but there is not just one way to experience it or get into its festive mood.
For this reason, it is difficult to find accommodation in the most popular winter locations of Greece, such as Pelion, Arachova and Vytina, if one has not taken care to make a reservation in time.
For others, however, Christmas is better if it is combined with rest and relaxation. Which means keeping your distance from the crowd, the hustle and bustle, but also from the waiting lines at famous cafes and restaurants.
They thus focus on destinations that provide the necessary comforts, but are preferred by very few, combining stone, fireplace, snow and good food. So if you want such an experience for this year’s festivities, these 5 villages recommended by Travel will prove to be ideal.
At 1,050 metres above sea level, in the Vardousia Mountains of Fokida, Athanasios Diakos is a village that comes alive from spring onwards as only a few of its inhabitants live there in the winter. However, it remains a charming mountain destination, with plenty of snow, in a landscape full of firs, chestnuts, oaks and walnuts.
Due to the altitude, of course, you should keep an eye on the weather when coming here – and check in advance whether all the infrastructure will be available if the winter is forecast to be severe. Under normal conditions, however, you will find a village with nice streets and fountains, which has both stone-built, traditional guesthouses and a hotel unit, but also very good food options.
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Good recommendations for accommodation are the guesthouse “To Meterizi” (tel. 22650-63201), which enjoys a panoramic view of the village, and the hotel “Vardousia” (22650-63148), which is located among the fir trees.
Meanwhile, “Meterizi” operates the tavern of the same name, where you can enjoy local game, boiled goat and wine liver. The cafe-tavern “O Sotiris” is recommended for coffee, dessert, ouzo and mezes. Be sure, however, to try the handmade vegetable pies and cheese pies that are prepared there.
At 840 metres above sea level, on the forested slopes of Mount Parnon, Kastanitsa is considered one of the most ideal places in mountainous Arcadia for those who love tranquility and hiking. Coming here, you will find a preserved settlement with Tsakonian character and several tower houses (some with more than 3 centuries of life), built between two ravines.
Something worth doing is to climb to the top of the hill above the village, where there are the ruins of a 14th century Byzantine tower. From there you will gaze at a wonderful view towards the chestnut, fir and pine forests of Parnonas, with the eye reaching the blue of the Argolic Gulf.
A good suggestion for accommodation in Kastanitsa is the traditional guest house “Antoniou” (6978069687, 6979003530), built with stone and wood.
For food, you will find the traditional tavern “Liakouris”, where, among other things, you will enjoy wild boar stew, as well as pork with chestnuts.
However, take into account that it is closed in January and February and that, apart from holidays, it usually operates on weekends – so be sure to inquire about days, hours (and also the Christmas menu) by calling 2755052293.
On another side of mountainous Arcadia, compared to the aforementioned Kastanitsa, Zatouna is a traditional settlement perched at 1,050 metres above sea level, on Mount Goupato, above the gorge of the Lousios River.
Coming here you will find a quiet, historic village, with lots of running water, but also with its own gentle development. Due to its altitude, Zatouna also has an amphitheatre view towards Dimitsana and the aforementioned gorge.
Its stone-built houses are also considered representative examples of the traditional architecture of Gortynia.
The guest house “Archontiko Anifanti” (27950-29202) is housed in such a Gortynian mansion from 1840, offering a charming accommodation proposal.
Sit down for a coffee or a drink in the traditional cafe “To Steki tou Mikis Theodorakis” – where the great composer frequented during his years of exile in Zatouna – and arrange to eat in the traditional “Margarita” tavern, where they cook with locally produced ingredients (some, in fact, they are theirs) or at the “U Blexis” tavern, where they serve wild boar roasted with honey and orange.
Reflecting its name, Polydrossos is an idyllic village of mountainous Fokida, built at an altitude of 380 metres, amidst the lush green nature and abundant running waters of the northeastern side of Parnassos.
A reference point for locals and visitors is the cobbled central square with the plane trees and the triple stone fountain, but it is also worth walking 2 kilometres outside the village, on a beautiful route that will bring you to the Byzantine Church of Palaiopanagia (or Mavromandila): it has been standing there since 560 AD.
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Good suggestions for accommodation are the hotel “Polydrosos” (22340-51216 and 51749), which has a lounge with a fireplace and balconies with a view, as well as the guest house “Dryas” (22340-51358) with traditionally furnished rooms.
Gently developed at an altitude of 800 metres, in the forested foothills of the Thessalian Tsioukas, Kastania is a village of the Agrafos that has taken advantage of its proximity to Lake Plastira – but also the wonderful view it has of its wider area.
In fact, if the atmosphere is clear, the eye can see as far as Olympus, they say.
Arriving in Kastania, you will find a village in the idyllic fir forest that surrounds it.
Here, in fact, you can visit a special attraction, the traditional footwear workshop of the Koya family: it has existed since 1910 and is one of the few crafts in Greece that still produces tsarouchias and similar footwear. Call 24410-97111 to schedule.
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