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Mostly known as a summer destination, Athens lures hordes of travelers from May until the end of August. However, few know that the Greek capital is equally charming in the wintertime offering plenty of choices for things to do. In fact, if you want to see the city without the tourist crowds, the perfect time of the year to visit Athens is from November until the end of March.
Here are what you should know about visiting Athens in the winter and a few ideas to add to your to-do list.
Athens Weather in the Winter
Even though temperatures are significantly lower in winter than during the summer months, the weather in Athens is still quite pleasant.
January and February are the coldest months of the year with temperatures ranging between 13 and 5 degrees celsius.
However, days start getting chiller already since November. Rainfalls aren’t uncommon during these months but usually, they don’t last long.
Chances are that you’ll get your vitamin D dose even if you’re visiting the Greek capital in the heart of winter. If you like to know more about what is the best season to visit Athens, please read our detailed guide here.
What clothes you’ll need for your trip to Athens in the winter
Now, that you have an idea of what’s the weather like in Athens in winter, you know that you have to leave your flip flops and shorts back home.
Don’t worry though, you don’t need to master the art of layering to survive cold in Athens. A sweater and a jacket will be more than enough for keeping warm while visiting the Greek capital.
Especially, if you’re coming from a northern European country you’ll probably cope with the weather quite easily.
Why Visit Athens During Wintertime
Book a flight and a hotel room at a lower price
As winter is the off-peak travel season in Athens, prices drop. From November until the beginning of March you can find low-cost flights from several European cities. Moreover, accommodation in Athens is much cheaper compared to summer. Hotel rooms and Airbnbs can be found at lower prices even in the center of Athens. Plus, in many landmarks, prices are reduced during the winter months. For example, the Acropolis entrance fee is €20 from the 1st of April to the 31st of October and €10 from the 1st of November to the 31st of March.
Pleasant weather for outdoor activities
In the summer, temperatures often hit 40 degrees Celsius in the daytime. Walking around the city or doing one of the numerous outdoor activities Athens offers can become very difficult under the heat of the sun. In winter though, especially in December, the weather allows you to explore the great outdoors. On a sunny winter day, you can, for example, easily walk on top of Mt Lycabettus, or go hiking at Philopappos Hill.
One of the best things about visiting Athens in the winter is that there are significantly fewer tourists. Not only you’ll see the authentic side of the city but you’ll also avoid the long queues at the city’s archeological sites and museums.
Things To Do in Athens in the Winter
Visit the city’s markets
Even though markets take place all year round, in the winter there are more options as during the summertime many vendors go on holiday.
Food markets like the Athens Central Market, antique markets, and fashionable markets pop up all around the city center. Most of them are held on the weekends or on Sundays attracting locals and tourists.
There isn’t a better way to warm up on a winter day than a traditional hammam experience. Hammam Baths in Thissio features traditional hammam rooms ideal for some moments of pure relaxation. Moreover, the luxurious and cozy space offers massage services as well as manicure, pedicure and body hair removal, and facial cleansing services.
Go Ice Skating
Even though it rarely snows in Athens, there are some ice rinks around the city that will set you in a wintery mood. Ice n skate close to Eleonas Metro station, the 1,000-square-meters ice rink close to the department store Athens Heart Mall and Ice Arena at Athens Concert Hall (Megaron) are the best places for honing your ice-skating skills.
Savor the traditional Greek coffee
Snuggle up in one of the numerous cozy cafés you’ll find around the center of Athens and savor a traditional Greek coffee. Originally from Turkey, Greek coffee has also become part of Greek culture and is usually accompanied by a lokum. However, as it is a hot beverage, it isn’t common to drink it in the summertime.
Taste the winter delicacies
Aside from Greek coffee, there are many savory dishes and sweets that are traditional winter delicacies. For example, the Greek bean soup (Fasolada), the chicken soup with egg-lemon sauce, and the stuffed cabbage leaves. It’s a tradition for locals to cook these authentic Greek recipes in the wintertime because they help them keep warm and they are made with seasonal ingredients. There are also several Greek desserts that it’s a custom to make in the winter and as Christmas approaches you can find them everywhere. The butter cookies topped with powdered sugar widely known as kourambiedes and the honey cookies called melomakarona are the most popular sweet winter delicacies in Greece.
Winter Events in Athens
The festival season officially kicks off at the beginning of summer, that doesn’t mean though, that Athens’ agenda isn’t full of events during the winter months too.
Music concerts at Athens Music Hall (Megaron), plays in theaters all over the city, workshops, and seminars at Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center are some of the things you’ll find in the Greek capital.
Athens is a great city for a short getaway in the heart of the winter. This guide aims to introduce you to the wintery side of the Greek capital and present you with the most important things to keep in mind before start looking for hotels and booking your tickets.
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