If you thought Greece was all about beaches and sun, marble statues and centuries-old temples, think again. This Mediterranean nation is also home to high mountains and luckily, ski resorts, where ski and snowboarding aficionados can enjoy some snow fun. One of these resorts is Vasilitsa, located in Northern Greece.
Situated in the heart of the Pindus (Pindos) mountain range, roughly 40 kilometres (24.8 miles) from Grevena, in the western part of the Greek region of Macedonia, Vasilitsa Ski Resort saw its first lift built in 1975. Located on the slopes of the Lingos peak, at 2,113 metres (6,932 feet) above sea level, the ski resort is open 350 days per year and receives approximately 60,000 visitors annually. This impressive number – remember, this is Greece, not the Alps – is explained by the presence of the mountain bike park, which opens in the warmer months and is where visitors can enjoy some downhill bike races and activities.
As one of Greece’s most favourite ski centres, Vasilitsa extends into four slopes and comprises a set of 18 ski slopes for those who are advanced and just beginning, along with seven lifts and some off-piste opportunities. The area is also adequately equipped to welcome snowboarding enthusiasts, but if you have never tried it before, expert teachers will take you by the hand and teach you the best moves.
Surrounded by black pine tree forests, Vasilitsa Ski Resort is one of the most popular ski centres in the country, boasting advanced facilities and equipment, a snowboard track, ski schools, two chalets and a guesthouse. Furthermore, the whole region is ideal for adventure activities such as kayaking, rafting, climbing and hiking, all of which contribute to putting the area on the map. Nearby attractions include the Vikos Gorge, the Pindos National Park, the Tymfi Dragon Lake, the picture-perfect village of Metsovo and its delicious smoked cheese and traditional gastronomy, as well as the winery Katogi, where you should definitely make a stop.
Vasilitsa Ski Resort is a 30-minute drive away from the regional capital Grevena and 250 kilometres (155 miles) from Thessaloniki and 417 kilometres (259 miles) from Athens. The drive is known to be one of the most idyllic and scenic; you will get to drive through picturesque tall pine forests along the way.
From Athens, your best bet is to rent a car and drive through Lamia and then Karditsa. Follow through the scenic Kalambaka until Grevena, before reaching Vasilitsa. The whole journey should take about 5.5 hours.
From the Thessaloniki airport, the journey takes a bit over 2.5 hours. Take Egnatia Odos through Veroia and Kozani to Grevena, before finally arriving at Vasilitsa.
There are many villages near Vasilitsa Ski Resort that offer accommodation for visitors. The most obvious option is Grevena, but you can certainly find a wide selection of getaways hidden in the mountains. From small, family-run guesthouses to modern hotels and B&Bs, you will find something to suit your needs.
In the nearby village of Panorama, the picturesque Vasilitsa Spa Resort offers excellent accommodation and relaxing options after a day of skiing. The resort includes an indoor pool and spa services. Amadryades Boutique Hotel, located in the vicinity of the lovely village of Alatopetra, is also an excellent option. With its stone buildings, warm wooden accents and welcoming atmosphere, it offers boutique-style lodging to families, couples or groups of friends. Closer to the ski centre, the village of Smixi is home to Valia Nostra, a perfect mountain escape. You will enjoy not only the comfortable rooms but also the bright lounge room, which is an ideal place to end your day out in the snow cosied up by the fire, complete with a glass of wine.
Everyone knows that a good ski day ends with a hearty and satisfying meal. And it doesn’t hurt if you get to try some local delicacies, right? While you will easily find cafés and restaurants at the foot of the resort, Theocharis Grill (+30 2462 085230), a little grill house on the square of the tiny village of Smixi, near the ski resort, is an excellent option and comes highly recommended. Get ready to enjoy some delicious food casseroles, grilled and marinated meat, delicious pies and end the day like a king. Alternatively, you can try Perdika (+30 2462 082234), located in the village of Spileon (Cave), near Grevena. This eatery has been enjoying a hardcore following, and once you’ve eaten there, you will understand why. Perdika serves traditional fare but has a varied selection, which demanding eaters should enjoy. The house wine is perfect to wash it all down, but take it easy if you are driving.