For some of us, winter brings to mind fantasy notions of roaring fires, wooden cabins, brightly embroidered folk art, and slow-roasted meats. Winter in real life, however, is more like cursing the heavens as you crawl out of bed in the freezing morning, and binging Netflix on days you just can’t face going out in the damp. Thankfully, there are some places where a dream-like winter still exists (and no, it isn’t only the Alps or Lapland). In fact, a country oft-associated with summer getaways has been *gasp* hiding a winter wonderland of its own: Arahova, a small town perched on the side of Mount Parnassos in Greece.
Arahova is located in the region of Viotia, a two-hour drive from Athens on the Greek National Road. Viotia is a spellbinding place, rich in wild nature and tiny historical villages. Mt. Parnassos itself is a towering, limestone beauty marked by precariously winding roads. It feels like the kind of place time doesn’t reach, where the air is really fresh and flute-playing centaurs seem to be hiding around every corner. In fact, the mountain is home to the huge Corycian Cave, an ancient sight of worship for the god Pan, and the Delphi archaeological site, a complex of ancient buildings that include the sanctuary of the Delphic Oracle. One of the best seasons to visit this mountain is, obviously, winter, when the snow-covered hills seem to be straight out of Heidi and the athletic among us can enjoy the Parnassos ski resort. Another lovely alternative, however, is to go in February or March, when the tourist crowds thin out and the mountain reveals an ethereal landscape of Mediterranean greenery dotted with blossoming trees.
Arahova is a stone-and-wood town where Greeks from all walks of life (including celebs) love to stop by for a dose of ski and city life without the bad city vibes. One favorite fix on the nightlife scene is Isidora Gallery, a wine bar where you can sample twenty labels of Greek wine while perusing the art and design pieces in the gallery space. Or head to Sehre for cocktails in a chalet-styled space, complete with a fireplace. You can even return the next morning for Greek coffee and brunch with croissants, sweets, and fresh breads. To taste the wintery side of Greek cuisine, head to Panagiota, a classic Arahovan taverna dishing up meaty delights, including wild boar, lamb fricasse, and a legendary fillet. Another beloved taverna is To Arhontiko, which serves up classic Greek dishes, including homemade pies, alongside nightly performances of artsy Greek music.
For rooms right in town, head to the Alexandros Guesthouse and book a cozy room featuring stone walls, private fireplaces, and décor seeped in rustic elegance. For those who prefer a bit of natural seclusion, head to Nefeles, a guesthouse within walking distance of Arahova and surrounded by serene nature. Pieces from the family’s art collection dot the pastel-colored rooms and dining room. The latter is bedecked in wooden beams and doily tablecloths, with breathtaking panorama of the mountain and descending valley. Centaur sightings not guaranteed—but we’ll keep our eyes peeled anyway.