If you are after the off-season discounts, light crowds and a colorful Christmas filled with traditions, then you should visit Greece in December.
Although snow is not common in Athens, the possibility to see some snow flakes still exists. But in general, the weather is quite pleasant. Thessaloniki and the areas around it see more snow however and several winter resorts are located close to the town. The weather on the islands is cold and the winds are quite powerful.
Athens avg high 14C/58F; avg low 8C/47F
Thessaloniki avg high 10C/51F; avg low 37F/2C
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The Cyclades are virtually close during December and there aren’t many hotels which still remain open. The same happens on most of the islands, except for Crete and Rhodes, where it’s mostly sunny and you can still find open hotels.
Things to do
The holiday season starts in early December. The Christmas Tree is lit in Syntagma Square on one o the first days of the month and usually the entire square transforms itself in a magical land with ice rinks and shops and loads of things to do and buy.
The festivities start on December 6, with the feast of St. Nikolaos, when it’s customary to exchange gifts. December 15 marks the start of the Orthodox lent. In Greece, the celebrations are still solemn and moving and the accent is still put on the religious part of Christmas and not the commercial one (although Western influences can be felt each year).
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If you want to spend an active vacation, you can ski in Greece. The ski regions are still not crowded as many Europeans have no idea they can actually ski in Greece. The season kicks off in December (usually depending on when the first snow falls) and ends in March/April. Most of the beautiful and popular resorts are located close to Thessaloniki.
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If you are after the sightseeing it’s important to know that most of the museums will be closed during the holidays although technically they should be closed only on December 25, 26 and January 1. But make sure to check locally before making any plans.
As for the New Year’s Eve, the highlight of the festivities is the concert organized in Athens by the City Hall. It’s free and the music is great.
Think you’ll be bored if you visit Greece in December? No way! You can literally shop till you drop! The prices are quite low compared to the rest of Europe, that’s unless you plan to spend your time in the very elegant stores. Stroll the streets and markets and you are guaranteed to find some very good bargains!
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>>Winter in Greece