Category: Skiathos

Greece in white winter glory

 Η χιονισμένη Ακρόπολη από ψηλά (The snowy Acropolis from above), is a 1-minute video filmed for the Eurokinissi news agency. It shows drone views of the Acropolis, the Parthenon and nearby historic sites following a light snowfall in Athens in early January 2017

 

Winter wonders: I previously published a 2-part post containing dozens of photos of winter scenes from Greece — pictures that had been shared on social media after severely harsh northern weather systems brought freezing temperatures and snowfalls to many parts of Greece, including islands, the Peloponnese, and the mainland. Dozens of winter scene videos have been published online, too, and in this post I’m sharing some of the many films that I have enjoyed watching.

On this page you’ll find films showing breathtaking aerial views of snowy Athens, Kastoria, Kavala,  Ioannina and Nafplio.  The videos on page 2 feature stunning storm and après-snowfall scenes from Alonissos, Skiathos, Skopelos, Sparta, Thessaloniki, Volos, Evia, Chios, Crete, Naxos, Lake Plastiras near Karditsa, and more of Athens and Nafplio.

 

 

International news reports about the snow and cold weather that struck Greece and other European countries earlier this month, along with the scores of snow photos and videos shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, have surprised many people around the world who don’t realize that Greece gets winter weather, too.

Many mistakenly believe Greece enjoys balmy temperatures and sunny skies year-round, so some people have been absolutely astounded to see pictures showing snow on beaches, monuments and villages they have visited during summer trips to Greece. (In the various Greece travel forum pages on TripAdvisor, I regularly see  posts from people who are planning Greek island holidays for winter months because they believe it’s a good time to visit for swimming, sunbathing and beach parties. I would love to see the looks on their faces when they see videos like the ones in this post — or actually show up at a Mykonos beach in mid February!)

 

 

While the winter scenery in these videos is amazing to see, it simply confirms that Greece looks marvellous and is well worth visiting even in the off season. The island and mainland landscapes, the historic ruins and monuments, and the cities, towns and villages are breathtaking all year long.

If you can’t make it to Greece in spring, summer or autumn, why not consider a winter trip? You’ll find the scenery is just as lovely as it is in peak travel season, the locals are warm and friendly, and best of all — there are no crowds.

 

Studiotrasias created this superb aerial film of gorgeous winter scenery at Kastoria

 

These drone views of Kavala were filmed by Tetracopterakias after the city endured three consecutive days of snowfalls 

 

Nikos Roussis captures the winter beauty of Ioannina in this 4.5-minute film

 

Captivating aerial views of Nafplio, filmed by Kostas Ko

 

Please click on the link below to view more videos on page 2 of this post.

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Amazing winter wonderland scenes from Greece

Athens Acropolis with snow photographed by Maria Theofanopoulou

Maria Theofanopoulou captured this beautiful photo of the snow-dusted Acropolis in Athens on the morning of Tuesday January 10. She shot the image from a rooftop vantage point at the Electra Metropolis Athens hotel.

 

Surreal snow scenes:  Since the Christmas holiday period, I have been fascinated viewing hundreds of images of stunning winter scenery that people throughout Greece have been sharing on social media. Although the news feed for the MyGreeceTravelBlog Facebook page is usually filled with breathtaking photos of beautiful beaches, stunning seasides, charming villages and historic monuments, I have been surprised to see that familiar places look almost completely different under dark, stormy skies and blankets of crisp white snow.

At times the pictures of snow-covered beaches, ruins and villages in Greece have seemed surreal to me, especially since there is almost no snow anywhere near my home in downtown Toronto.  Scenes of streets knee-deep in fluffy soft snow are something I would expect from most places in Canada this time of year, but not on Greek islands like Skiathos, Skopelos or Evia!

 

 

I find the images particularly impressive because they show how spectacular Greece looks even in extremely severe weather during a season few tourists get to see and experience. 

If, like me, you have only visited Greece during spring, summer or fall, you probably will be pleasantly surprised to see just how striking and amazing various regions looked during the cold snap that has gripped much of the nation since Christmas.

Below are photos of wintry scenes in several popular Greece destinations, followed on page 2 of this post by dozens of photos from Athens, Rhodes, Chios, Evia, Skiathos, Skopelos, Skyros, Sparta, Mystras, Lakonia, Corinth and Ioannina.  Part 2 includes photos from Crete, Nafplio, Epidaurus, Thessaloniki, some of the Cyclades and Ionian islands, plus various locations in the Peloponnese and mainland Greece. With links to scores of additional snow pictures and videos, this two-part feature is one of the most comprehensive collections of Greece winter storm photos you’ll find in one spot.

(Please note that I have done my best to credit the original photographers for each image. However, it wasn’t always possible to trace back all sources. if you notice an incorrect attribution for any of the pictures, please let me know and I’ll be happy to correct the photo credits.)

So bundle up and enjoy a photo tour of winter wonderlands in Greece! 

 

Constantinos Mg photo of snow in Kymi village on Evia

Evia island (also spelled Evvoia and Euboea) was one of the places hardest-hit by snowfalls, with some regions receiving nearly 2 meters of white stuff. Constantinos Mg photographed this snow-filled street in Kymi.

 

Snow on Mandraki beach on Skiathos

It looks like a scene from the Arctic, but this actually is Mandraki beach on Skiathos, photographed by Nikos Mavropoulos 

 

Snow at Parga Greece

Parga looks pretty all dressed in white. This image of the popular seaside resort in northwestern Greece was shared on the Meteo Gr Facebook page

. snow on Skiathos

This photo of snow on Skopelos island has been widely shared on social media, including the Meteo Gr page on Facebook

 

Snow at Myrtos beachon Kefalonia

Myrtos beach on Kefalonia after a snowfall. The image appeared on the Amazing Greece / Incroyable Grèce Facebook page.

 

Snow at Knossos Palace on Crete

Snow blankets the Palace of Knossos near Heraklion, seen in a photo from the My Crete Guide page on Facebook

 

Snow on Charaki beach on Rhodes

A Christmas Eve view of Charaki beach on Rhodes, seen in an image shared by the Rhodes Through My Eyes page on Facebook

 

Snow at Chania Crete

Léandrou Simeonidis captured this breathtaking scene as stormclouds filled the sky above the city of Chania on Crete

 

Lagada village on Chios island

It looks like a scene from a Christmas card, but it’s a photo by George Zournas showing Lagada village on Chios island after a snowfall

 

Snow at Nafplio

The Bourtzi sea castle at Nafplio is surrounded by snowy mountains and  white landscapes in this image by Σεραφείμ Ζίου 

 

Snow at Thessaloniki Greece

Αλέξανδρου Παπαδόπουλου took this photo of the Thessaloniki waterfront during a snowstorm

 

Snow at Mystras Greece

Sunshine illuminates one of the churches at Mystras, a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Sparta. The image appears in a collection of Mystras snow photos published on the Evrotas blog of landscape photography from the Sparta region. 

 

Please click on the link below to view more photos on page 2 of this post.

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Skiathos holiday inspiration videos … and a new photo book to take home from the island

This five and a half-minute Skyframe film features aerial views of Skiathos Town and some of the island’s stunning beaches and coastal scenery. 

 

YouTube contributor Navi says this 24-minute video, Skiathos 2016, offers “a taste of what to expect when visiting the island of Skiathos” 
this summer

 

In Skiathos 2015, Alexandre Ingels takes viewers on an 11-minute aerial tour of the island’s lush landscapes and beautiful beaches

 

Inspiration & souvenirs: Going to Skiathos this summer? If you haven’t been to the island before, take a look at the videos I posted above — they’re bound to make you feel even more eager and excited to get there for your upcoming holiday. 

If you’re one of the many lucky people who have already been to Skiathos, even for multiple return visits, the films are certain to evoke many fond memories of the time you spent on the island.

(The videos actually made me quite anxious to see Skiathos even though I’m not able to include it on the itinerary for my own upcoming trip to Greece.)

And while you’re on Skiathos, keep an eye out for the newly-published photo book, Kosmos Skiathos, by Dieter Seidel.  With 120 photos of the island and descriptive text in German, Greek and English, it’s an ideal souvenir that will let you continue enjoying Skiathos long after you return home from your holiday.

 

Kosmos Skiathos book by Dieter Seidel

Kosmos Skiathos – Κόσμος Σκιάθος – Cosmos Skiathos is a newly published 128-page photo book by Dr Dieter Seidel

 

“You can approach Skiathos in three ways: by plane, by boat – and with your heart,” says Seidel, who describes his book as a “confession of love” for the island.

“To me, Skiathos is the island of my dreams, my world. Nowhere have I felt as happy as I do here. I hope that my photographs of this wonderful island attest
to that feeling,” he says.

 

 

 

The 128-page hardcover edition is published by Griechenland Zeitung and can be purchased at various locations on Skiathos and elsewhere in Greece. Look for Kosmos Skiathos at shops that carry the German-language Griechenland Zeitung newspaper and magazine, as well as at newsstands that sell foreign press publications.

Click here to see the Kosmos Skiathos listing from the publisher’s online shop.

Below are images, provided by Griechenland Zeitung, that show the book’s front cover as well as some of its inside pages.

Kosmos Skiathos book

The table of contents page for Kosmos Skiathos

 

Cosmos Skiathos book

The book features 120 gorgeous photos of the island

 

Cosmos Skiathos book

Sample pages from the chapter on Skiathos shores and bays

 

If you’d like to see more videos of Skiathos, check out my February 25 blog post Revisiting summer on Skiathos, and my January 23 post Set your sights on Skiathos!

Revisiting summer on Skiathos

Alexandru Don’s Skiathos Trip in 4k will make you feel like you’re on Skiathos yourself, strolling sandy beaches and admiring gorgeous scenery

 

Bikini weather: Readers really seemed to enjoy my late January post Set your sights on Skiathos,  which shared two videos of summer scenes from the Sporades island group’s most popular destination. I’m sure it’s because people were trying to take their minds off winter, either fondly recalling their Greek holidays from 2015, or dreaming about vacations that won’t come soon enough this summer.

If you enjoyed watching those videos, you’ll love another one I discovered this week– it, too, will briefly distract you from the fact it’s still the dead of winter.

Skiathos Trip in 4k features luscious overhead and ground-level views of the island’s heavenly scenery, including some of its enticing golden sand beaches, picturesque rugged coastlines, and the charming harbourfront and streets of Skiathos Town. 

 

I thought much of the video was filmed with a drone, but in descriptive notes for the film, creator Alexandru Don said he used a GoPro Hero 4 Black camera mounted on a gimbal atop a 5-meter extension pole. His technique certainly made for a very engaging video — while watching, I felt like I was accompanying his bikini-clad model as she strode along beautiful beaches, took a dip in the inviting turquoise sea, and surveyed the breathtaking sea and coastal scenery from various different vantage points on the island.

Give it a watch to see if it has the same effect on you. At the very least, its three captivating minutes of summer moments on Skiathos will be a refreshing break from winter. 

Set your sights on Skiathos!

André Eckhardt shot Skiathos — Eyes wide open (2015) during a week-long visit to the island and its neighbours, Skopelos and Alonissos

 

Island beauty: I’ve been in a Skiathos state of mind today. I haven’t been to the island yet, but hearing some of the soundtrack for the 2008 hit movie Mamma Mia!, which was partly filmed there, got me daydreaming about it this morning. Then I logged onto my blog’s Facebook page, where my news feed was filled with photos and videoclips showing streets, trees, fields, houses and beaches blanketed in snow (flurries fell on Skiathos today during a storm that left parts of the island without electricity for over six hours). You can see some of those pictures in my Mamma Mia! Here it snows again post below.

A link in a Facebook post subsequently led me to the André Eckhardt video of Skiathos that I posted above, and a quick peak on YouTube took me to a few more travel films of the island, one of which I’ve posted below.

Happily, the videos show Skiathos in sunny, summery conditions, so I’m sharing them here in case you’re in the throes of  gloomy winter weather wherever you might be — the sight of some gorgeous Greek island scenery is bound to boost your spirits. Only 149 more days until summer!

[Editor’s update: If you enjoy these videos, click here to see another enticing film that I shared on February 25 2016.]

 

 Skyframe.gr isn’t kidding when it describes its short video Skiathos Summer 2015 volume 2 as “a small teaser of aerial footage for Skiathos Island.” Teaser indeed! It will certainly leave you wanting to see more.

 

Mamma Mia! Here it snows again … on Skiathos

snow on Skiathos photo from the Skiathos Facebook page

The Skiathos Facebook page posted this photo of a little girl poised to toss a snowball on one of the island’s golden sand beaches, now covered in a blanket of white after a snowfall on Saturday January 23

 

Snow day: Barely five days after light flurries dusted it with snow, Skiathos was struck by an even stronger storm  that turned the island’s red-tiled rooftops white and left some areas without power for several hours on January 23.

Island residents quickly took to social media to share photos and videos of their suddenly white winter wonderland, and my Facebook page news feed filled with dozens of images of snow-laden trees, beaches, roads and buildings.

I have collected a few of the pictures that appeared on Facebook to show the aftermath of the exceptional winter storm — one of several that have struck different regions of Greecem, including islands, since the beginning of 2016.

Click on the link under the next two pictures to turn to page 2 of this post and view more Skiathos snow photos.

You can view additional images, along with several videos, on the Skiathos Facebook page and on the Skiathos Life community page on Facebook.

If you would prefer to see beautiful summer scenes from the island instead, check out the three videos in my Set your sights on Skiathos! post from January 23.

Skiathos Life Facebook page photo of snow on Skiathos

Stormclouds linger above snow-dusted rooftops in this photo shared by the Skiathos Life Facebook page

 

Skiathos Life Facebook page photo of snow on Skiathos

Also from the Skiathos Life Facebook page, this photo shows a crew working to restore power. Heavy snow and falling trees caused power cuts to parts of the island, including the area around Profitis Ilias.

 

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Christmas greetings with a special touch of Greece

Hellenic Seaways Christmas greeting 2015

The Hellenic Seaways ferry company extended holiday greetings on social media with this shiny red Christmas tree ornament decorated with a golden satellite view-image of Greece

 

Scenes of the season: My social media news feeds have been filled with hundreds of holiday greetings this week, but the ones that inspire me the most are Christmas wishes that include a photo or image of a place in Greece that I’ve either been to or hope to see someday. 

Just for fun, I have collected some of my favourites to share here on the blog.

Please click on the link below to turn to page 2 and see some of the Christmas greetings that have been spreading joy to me and many other Greece fans this festive season.

 

 

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Enticing air & ground tours of Koukounaries beach on Skiathos

Click on the white arrow to view a fun aerial tour of Koukounaries beach. It was produced by Skiathos Air, a company that provide aerophotography and aerofilming services

 

I haven’t been to Skiathos yet, but I’ve heard endless good comments about its dozens of fabulous beaches, especially Koukounaries, which is one of the largest on the island and apparently the most famous.  After watching the two videos I’ve posted here, I understand why people love it so much — and I wish I could see it for myself this summer!

The first clip is an aerial video filmed with drone technology by Skiathos Air, while the one below was shot from ground level and posted online two years ago by Goran Tosic.

Koukounaries is a beautiful golden sand beach that curls along the edge of a verdant pine forest. (In Greek it’s called Chrisi Ammos, which means “golden sand,” while “koukounaries” means pine cones.) Organized with sunbeds, bars, restaurants and water sports, I’m told  it’s great beach destination for families but also a place where adults can have a blast, too.

It’s now on my bucket list for a future holiday!

 

Click the arrow to view Goran Tosic’s 6-minute video of Koukounaries

 

5 Greek Island gems

Guest post by Katrina Hinrichsen

Depending on how you judge the minimum size of an island, there are between 1,200 to 6,000 individual Greek islands. Together they make up one of the most stunning and popular destinations in the entire world. They are frequented by everyone from casual travellers to celebrities to perhaps, even, the gods as well! With so many islands to choose from, how will you decide which ones are the best to visit?

I have selected a handful of Greek island gems that will promise an amazing and unique range of views and activities for you to  to discover and enjoy.

 

Gaios, Paxos Island

Gaios Town on Paxos island

 Harbour view of Gaios Town on Paxos. This photo, by Bogdan Giuşcă, appears on the Wikipedia entry for the Paxi group of islands in the Ionian Sea

 

If you’re on the hunt for a truly relaxing holiday, Paxos is one of your best bets! The island has a charming collection of small bays, lush green hills and lovely beaches. The star attraction, however may be the port area near the capital town Gaios, as it is one of the best looking settings in the whole of Greece! Why not hire a boat ride and sunbathe on the deck or take in the sights of the handsome town? You could travel from the port to Gaios and visit the Water Planet dive centre, where an experienced instructor will help you learn how to scuba dive and explore some of the island’s underwater caves. The centre has an excellent rating; you can have a look at the positive reviews here.

Paxos is also home to a number of cultural traditions, including its annual summer ‘Water and Oil’ festival which celebrates folk music. In addition to tapping your toes to some music, people attending the festival will also get to enjoy the custom dishes of potatoes, olives, onions, water and wine. If you like the sound of wine, (and who doesn’t!) then we recommend a visit to the island Antipaxos, Paxos’ neighbour. There you will be able to sample some of the best local wine, all in front of beautiful scenery and the glimmering blue sea.

Interesting fact: Paxos Island was said to be a love sanctuary for the god of the Sea, Poseidon, and his lover, Nereid Amphitrite. Sounds like the perfect place to go for a romantic holiday!

 

Chios Island

Pyrgi village on Chios

A street in Pyrgi village on Chios island is captured in this image by Flickr member Pétille. You can view 37 more excellent photos of the island in Pétille’s Île de Chios album on Flickr.

 

The kidney-shaped island of Chios is special because it is the only setting in the whole world where mastic trees grow! The trees are used for their fragrant ivory-coloured resin, which is used as a spice. Pyrgi is the biggest village on the island, and was built way back in the Middle Ages. The architecture in the village is worth noting – the surfaces of the buildings have geometric patterns artistically scratched onto them by plasterers. In Mesta, a village close to Pyrgi, the stone buildings are positioned so near each other that it is challenging to walk around them, and in fact the locals say that the easiest way to travel about is to climb over the roofs!

Chios Island is a fantastic destination for photographers, journalists, or just interested vacationers to discover somewhere unique among the Greek Islands and wider area. Plus, the inhabitants of the island are warm and personable, so if you’re lucky you could be treated to the local wine, created with grapes and distilled figs.

Interesting fact: Although it is now prized for growing mastic, in Antiquity it was known as Ophioussa (‘snake island’) and Pityoussa (‘pine-tree’ island).

 

Faliraki, Rhodes Island

Anthony Quinn Bay

Anthony Quinn Bay near Falraki on Rhodes. This photo, by Karelj, originally appeared in the article 5 places to see before they disappear on the Italian-language travel blog JOHO Journey Horizons

 

Some people may already be familiar with Faliraki, as it can be found on one of the biggest Dodecanese Islands: Rhodes. It is renowned for its long stretch of award-winning sandy beaches. What you may not know, however, is that Faliraki also hosts Europe’s largest water park! This attraction will get the children (and the children at heart) very excited! The fantastic water park has many exhilarating slides and pools for the whole family to enjoy. Can you imagine a lovelier way to cool off from the scorching sun? The tickets cost just over 20 euros for an adult, so your wallet will feel pretty chilled too. If you want to avoid climbing a steep hill to get to the park, I recommend taking a bus or taxi there.

If you are looking for a water activity that is a bit more relaxing, then Anthony Quinn bay in Faliraki is the place for you. It promises exquisite views and beautiful scenery, with pristine waters and charming fish to swim around with. It is a fantastic place to go snorkelling, as the seawater should be warm too.

If you would prefer to stick to dry land from time to time, then Faliraki is also unique among the Greek Islands in what it has to offer. Visitors will be able to appreciate astonishing views of the sparkling seas and stars at its Hipparchos Oservatory and Astronomy Café-bar. This is really one not to miss! Click here to look up where you can stay in the village.

Interesting fact: Anthony Quinn bay was once the backdrop for a number of shots from the movie Guns of Navarone in 1961. Definitely a place that film fans will want to visit!

 

Skiathos Island

Skiathos sunrise

Panoramio member Drosoula P captured this beautiful sunrise from a vantage point at Vasilias beach on Skiathos

 

Skiathos is home to over 60 of the most gorgeous beaches within the Mediterranean, yet it is still not particularly well-known out of the throng of Greek Islands. This just means that you fortunate travellers will be able to enjoy more of Skiathos to yourself! Mandraki Elias beach is a true utopia, cherished dually as one of the most stunning yet serene beaches of the region. If you fancy kicking back with a cocktail or two, you will be happy to hear that this beach has one of the best bars on the island, and is surrounded by magnificent cliffs of orange sandstone. To get there you can also take a wander through the delightful pine woods.

Another superb, though admittedly more crowded beach is Koukonaries. It is very popular with families as it offers an amazing array of water sports activities. Our favourite sailing trips are with the company Sail the Day as they deliver an enchanting experience on the waters, with expert captains that have a good sense of humour! The exotic island also offers horse-riding, parasailing, trekking and mountain-biking for all you adrenalin junkies!

Interesting fact: In winter the population is around 4,000 people, but in the summer it can amount to 70,000!

 

Chora, Patmos Island

Holy Monastery of Saint John a

The imposing Holy Monastery of Saint John the Theologian towers above the mansions of Chora village on Patmos

 

Patmos Island proposes a different experience to the others in Greece as it is much more of a spiritual haven. The Greek Parliament has called it a ‘Holy Island’ as it is said to be where Saint John composed the Book of Revelation. In the capital Chora you can stopover at the historical museums, churches and monastery to learn more.

The sacred village of Chora is a divine setting for happy snapping, as it has maze-like alleys and charismatic whitewash buildings. Plus, because the village sits at the tallest peak of Patmos, you will be able to admire unbelievable views of the surrounds. As the island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it also has a wonderfully tranquil air. Nature fans will appreciate the volcanic soils, clean beaches and sheer cliffs too.

Interesting fact: Patmos Island used to be used by the Romans as a destination of exile because of its steep landscape.

 

Katrina Hinrichsen is passionate about travel and writing about her experiences. In the last two years she has been to at least 12 European countries, and has spent a lot of time in the past in Asia. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and contributes to professional and personal blogs on Travel, the Arts, Lifestyle and more.

Wild winter weather wallops Greece

Skopelos Greece after snowfall

Photographer Costas Andreou captured this photo of Skopelos after a winter storm left the island covered in a blanket of white. On December 30, snow fell on Skopelos and the neighbouring islands of Skiathos and Alonissos.

 

Winter wonderlands: I was envious when a friend in Athens told me it was sunny and 17 degrees Celsius there on Christmas Day. But I didn’t feel jealous just a few days later when I logged into Facebook to find my news feed filled with reports and photos of wild winter at places all over Greece — including several islands.

Beginning this past Monday (December 29),  storm systems blasted many parts of Greece with a wide mix of severe weather conditions that included icy cold temperatures, gale-force winds, rain, sleet, and snow.

On Tuesday (December 30), friends in Athens posted pictures of snow-dusted mountains near the city, while numerous individuals and Facebook groups like Amazing Greece/Incroyable Grèce posted links to websites and Instagram pages featuring photos of snowy scenes on the islands of Skopelos and Crete, and such mainland locations as Attiki, Kastoria, Meteora, Florina, Tripoli and Arachova.

Online videos showed gale-force winds pummelling island coastlines and harbours with relentless tall waves, while photos showed pretty Christmas card scenes of snow-covered mountain villages in Crete.

 Tripoli Greece

This photo shows the city of Tripoli (in the Arcadia region of the Peloponnese) following a snowfall on December 28. It was posted on the Amazing Greece/Incroyable Grèce Facebook page.

 

 Ancient Theater of Epidaurus

This pic of snow at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus was circulated on numerous Facebook profiles and pages, including Amazing Greece/Incroyable Grèce 

 

A January 1 report on the Newsbomb website said fierce winds caused power outages at such diverse locations as the cities of Chania on Crete, Mytilini on the Northeast Aegean island of Lesvos, and Ioannina on the western Greece mainland. Heavy snow caused power failures and road closures at numerous spots on the mainland and in northern Greece, where temperatures plummeted to -10 Celsius and colder. A January 1 report on Protothema News also described how the New Year got off to a frigid and snowy start in many parts of Greece.

Some of the most-shared items on social media were reports and photos of snow and brutal winds at Skopelos, Skiathos and Alonissos in the Sporades island group. Many people seemed surprised that it snowed on Skopelos and Skiathos, which they’re familiar with from the hit movie Mamma Mia!, where many scenes were filmed.

 

Achliades beach on Skiatho

A dog plays on snow-dusted Achliades beach on Skiathos in a photo posted on the theseus.aegean Instagram feed.

 

Alonissos island

Another widely shared image was this shot of snow-covered fishing boats in a harbour at Alonissos island

 

 However, it’s not unusual for snow to fall in the Sporades, or for the mercury to plummet to bone-chilling temperatures on other Greek islands, too. This fact often comes as news to many people, like someone in the United States whose December 30 post on the TripAdvisor Santorini forum asked why the Bahamas are more popular in winter months than Greek Islands like Mykonos and Santorini. After several people explained that Greece doesn’t have a tropical climate, the poster replied: “I guess I got the wrong feeling from looking at the postcards and watching the History Channel as I had the impression that the “eternal summer” is the norm in the islands!!”

They aren’t alone in thinking that way — as I noted in my December 15 2013 post, Greece gets winter, too!, many friends and acquaintances of mine in North America think Greece is a balmy beach destination all year round, too.

Although winter is off-season for travel to many parts of Greece, especially smaller islands, the cities of Athens and Thessaloniki are year-round tourist destinations, as are many locations on the Greece mainland. And as a December 29 2014 CNN Travel article pointed out, winter is an excellent time to visit Greece for “romantic escapes,” “city breaks,” “dramatic scenery” and more.  “Falling temperatures sprinkle new magic on stone-built villages lost in deep forests and medieval castles built into that beautiful Greek coastline,” the CNN feature story says.

 

Ippokrateios Politeia in Attiki

The Amazing Greece Facebook page posted this photo showing a dog in the snow at Ippokrateios Politeia in Attiki on December 31 2014

 

sheep in snow on Crete

Michael Kokkinos posted this Facebook image of a long line of sheep trudging through deep snow near Psiloriti on Crete

 

 Should you be interested in taking an off-season holiday to Greece, be sure to read the article Top 5 winter destinations on VisitGreece, the official website of the Greek National Tourism Organisation. It provides information about visiting Mount Pelion, the Zagorochoria villages, Arcadia, Arachova and Karpenissi.

For information about skiing and snowboarding, the Discover Greece website offers advice on where to enjoy mountain ski holidays.

If you’d rather just view winter scenes in Greece, you can see more photos of snow on Skopelos on the Potami House photo blog and on the Skopelosnews blog, as well as on the Facebook page for photographer Costas Andreou. On Instagram, check out the theseus.aegean page to see several pictures of snow falling on Achladies beach on Skiathos. There’s a few photos and a couple of video clips of storm scenes elsewhere in Greece in a December 31 post on the Protothema News website, too. And for those of you who use Facebook, don’t miss the excellent photos in the album White…snowy vineyards all over Greece!, posted by New Wines of Greece.

Below is a Winter in Greece videoclip from VisitGreece.

Keep warm and enjoy!

 

 

Summer hotel prices skyrocket on Mykonos as rates rise less sharply or drop on other islands

Little Venice

The Little Venice seafront at Mykonos Town is a must-see attraction for hundreds of thousands of people who visit the island each year

 

Rising rates: Survey data from Trivago, the international hotel comparison website, has confirmed something I have been noticing for months — accommodation prices on Mykonos have risen sharply since last year.

In fact, the average nightly price for a Mykonos hotel room this month has climbed to a stunning €322 compared to €200 per night in July 2013 — a whopping 61% increase, Trivago’s research data indicates.

This news comes on the heels of a separate Trivago survey result released several days ago that ranked Mykonos as the 7th most expensive destination in the world in terms of hotel prices.

Many Mykonos hotels had frozen or even reduced their rates during the economic crisis that has devastated Greece for more than five years, with some properties losing money or barely breaking even each year as owners waited for the economy to improve. With Greek tourist traffic soaring to record levels this summer, it appears that hotels may be taking advantage of the increased demand for accommodation to try to recoup some of the losses they sustained.

 Parikia on Paros

Parikia is the biggest town and port on Paros.  Average hotel prices for Parikia have increased 10% this month from the same time last year.

 

Hotel prices rise at 16 other destinations

But Mykonos isn’t the only popular destination in Greece where hotel prices have increased since last year.

The Trivago survey shows that rates have climbed anywhere from 3% to 38% in 16 other island and mainland locations.

Places posting single-digit price increases include Corfu (+3%), Agios Nikolaos, Andros and Hydra (each +5%), plus Iraklio, Naxos and Rethymnon (up 8% each).

Locations with double-digit increases include Parikia (+10%), Rhodes (+15%), Chania (+16%), Hersonissos and Kos (each up 17%), Elounda (+18%), Ios (+19%), Zakynthos (+21%) and Lefkada (+38%).

 

Rates dropped on 11 islands

 Ermoupoli Syros

Trivago says room rates have dropped 13% at Ermoupoli on Syros

 Higher prices are not a trend throughout Greece, however, since nightly room rates actually have dropped significantly on some islands or, in the case of Rhodes, at one of its most popular tourist destinations (Lindos), Trivago data indicates.

On Folegandros, for example, the average price for a hotel room this month is €97, down a startling 27% from the €133 average rate in July 2013. Sharp price cuts also occurred at Koukounaries on Skiathos (-24%), Spetses (-23%), Argostoli (-15%), Astipalea (-14%), Ermoupoli on Syros (-13%), Lindos on Rhodes (-10%). Lower reductions were noted on Koufonissi and Tinos (both -4%)  and at Molyvos and Apollonia (both -3%).

Curiously, the Trivago survey didn’t mention prices on Santorini which, like Mykonos, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece.

 Folegandros chora

Chora village on Folegandros. Average hotel room rates on this charming island dropped by 27% this month compared to July 2013, Trivago says.

 

Mykonos among Top 10 most expensive global destinations

Mykonos achieved notoriety for pricey hotel rooms on another Trivago report that made the news a few days ago. In a survey of summer 2014 trends for travellers from the United Kingdom, Trivago examined searches conducted between January 1 and June 15 for travel to take place during this month and August. (Trivago’s system compares rates from more than 700,000 hotels on more than 150 different booking sites around the world.)

The data showed that the average online price for a hotel in Mykonos Town was €244 Euros. This gave Mykonos the #7 spot on Trivago’s list of the Top 10 Most Expensive Global Destinations, behind #1 Velden, Austria; #2 Belek, Turkey, #3 Ascona, Switzerland, #4 Porto Vecchio, Corsica, #5 Montreux, Switzerland, and #6, Boston, USA.  Rounding out the top 10 behind Mykonos were #8 New York, USA, #9 Locarno, Switzerland, and #10 Lugano, Switzerland.

The results of the two Trivago surveys will cement Mykonos’s reputation as one of the most expensive places to visit in Greece — something that shouldn’t really come as a surprise, considering that the island was put on the map by the jet set in the first place, and remains a popular getaway destination for the world’s rich and famous.

Still, a 61% increase in prices is startling, even for a place frequented by affluent travellers.

 Mykonos Town

Rooftops on buildings in Mykonos Town. Hotel rates on the island are practically going through the roof this year, rising 61% over prices for July 2013.

 

Complaints raised in emails seeking hotel advice

I noticed that Mykonos hotel prices were on the rise early this year when I was checking hotel rates to answer accommodation questions posted in the Mykonos travel forum on TripAdvisor.com. Prices seemed marginally higher than I remembered them being in 2013. As winter moved into spring, I received numerous private messages on TripAdvisor, and emails to my blog, from people seeking suggestions for cheaper accommodation because they were finding summer prices too high.

Many of the people complaining about high hotel rates were travellers from the United Kingdom who wanted to stay on Mykonos only one night. They were flying to Mykonos on EasyJet or British Airways direct flights, but immediately transferring to another island — usually Naxos, Paros or somewhere in the Small Cyclades. Because of awkward ferry schedules, many of these travellers would have to spend a night on Mykonos in order to catch their return flights home. Many were astounded not only by the high room rates on Mykonos, but also by the fact many hotels impose a minimum stay requirement of 3 nights or longer during peak travel season, which limited their accommodation options even further.

My advice for travellers seeking summer bargains is to shop around on Trivago and other online sites, and to compare prices found there to rates listed on hotel websites. Booking directly with a hotel can sometimes achieve either significant price savings or extras like complimentary shuttle service to and from the Mykonos ferry ports or airports.

If you still find Mykonos hotels too expensive for your budget, consider visiting nearby islands like Naxos or Syros instead, or one of the places where the Trivago survey showed that prices have dropped this year. There are many other islands where budget-minded tourists will get more bang for their buck. But if you’re looking for glitz, glamour and glitter, there’s only one Mykonos — and going there this summer could put a bigger dent in your wallet than you’re anticipating.

 Kos Town harbour

Tour boats in the harbour at Kos Town. Trivago found that average hotel rates for Kos have gone up 17% for this month compared to the same time last year.

 

Sudden storm soaks Skiathos on Sunday

This video showing a Skiathos Town street flooded by yesterday’s thunderstorm was posted on YouTube by the tsak Bpam crêperie. It reminded me of television newsclips reporting on flooding from monsoons in southeast Asia. This wasn’t a scene I would expect to see on a Greek island in June!

 

 

Stormy interlude: I keep a small travel-size umbrella in my luggage just in case we encounter some rainy weather while travelling in Greece, and we have had to use it a few times. If we manage to schedule a trip to Skiathos in the near future, news about some wild weather on the island yesterday may make me consider packing some rubber boots, too.

Only two weeks ago, in my June 4 post Greek islands take spring weather woes in stride, I reported about thunderstorms that brought several days of heavy rain and strong wind to many parts of Greece at the beginning of this month.

This past Sunday afternoon, Skiathos got thoroughly drenched by a sudden deluge that dumped over an inch of rain on parts of the island in less than an hour.

 

Torrential rain, power cuts and street flooding reported

News about the latest bout of bad weather broke on the TripAdvisor.com Skiathos forum where SkiathosLover1, a TripAdvisor destination expert for the island, started a conversation thread entitled “Violent Storms … affecting the island this afternoon,” and described “torrential rain,” thunder and lightning, power dips, and “reports of flooding in Papadamatis street.” SkiathosLover1 also included a link to the YouTube video which I posted above.

Numerous people quickly posted replies expressing concern and hopes that all residents and visitors to the island were safe and minimally affected by the tempest.

This morning TA member ShaunWin chided them for “getting so worked up about yesterday’s storm.” It lasted only an hour and “was fun to watch,” he wrote, but “that was it. It’s glorious again today, with not a cloud in the sky.”

“If you’ve got friends or fans out here and are worrying about them: Don’t! They’ll be on the beach or on the beers today and not worrying about you!!” ShaunWin observed.

However, while the storm may have been fun for some to watch, SkiathosLover1 pointed out that it did cause considerable damage bringing down trees, and did frighten passengers returning to the island on tour boats.

A description of the storm’s highlights can be read a June 15 post on The Skiathan blog.

 

Skiathos street flooding

Nikos Paschalis  posted this photo on Facebook, showing stormwater rushing down Papadamatis street in Skiathos Town during the late afternoon downpour.