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Crowded Market in Athens, Greece

Best Places to Visit in Greece for Christmas Cheer

By Betsy Burlingame

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Summary: Plan a day trip or weekend getaway to get some holiday cheer. This article highlights the best places to visit in Greece for Christmas cheer.

As the festive season approaches, Greece transforms into a winter wonderland, offering expats and digital nomads a unique blend of traditional and modern holiday experiences. From the mainland to the islands, the country is adorned with twinkling lights, Christmas markets, and joyous events. Whether you're looking to indulge in seasonal treats, shop for handcrafted gifts, or simply soak up the holiday atmosphere, these destinations are sure to fill your December with cheer.

Athens - Syntagma Square

The heart of Athens pulses with festive energy during December, especially around Syntagma Square. The city's central square becomes a hub of holiday activity, featuring a grand Christmas tree and a charming market. Visitors can browse through a variety of stalls selling everything from handmade crafts to local delicacies. The annual Christmas Factory at Technopolis is a must-visit, transforming the industrial museum into a magical holiday village with workshops, rides, and plenty of entertainment. Events typically kick off in early December and run throughout the month.

We Recommend: Don't miss the chance to try the Greek Christmas cookies, melomakarona and kourabiedes, which are a staple at the holiday market. These sweet treats are perfect for getting into the festive spirit.

Thessaloniki - Aristotelous Square

Thessaloniki's Aristotelous Square is another epicenter of Christmas celebrations in Greece. The city's main square is beautifully decorated and often features a large Christmas tree and a nativity scene. The Thessaloniki Christmas Market is a highlight, offering a variety of festive goods, from ornaments to traditional sweets. The market is usually accompanied by a rich program of events, including concerts and dance performances, typically starting in early December.

We Recommend: Be sure to enjoy a warm cup of salepi, a traditional hot beverage made from orchid tubers, which is popular at the market and perfect for keeping cozy on a chilly evening.

Patras - Georgiou I Square

In Patras, the holiday spirit is alive at Georgiou I Square, where the Christmas decorations create a whimsical setting. The Patras Christmas Market is a festive attraction, with vendors selling holiday crafts, gifts, and plenty of Greek Christmas treats. The city often hosts various events, including carol singing and live performances, which bring the community together in celebration. These festivities usually begin in early December and continue until the New Year.

We Recommend: Try the local version of hot chocolate, which is typically thicker and richer than what you might be used to. It's a decadent way to warm up while exploring the market.

Corfu - Old Town

Corfu's Old Town, with its Venetian architecture, provides a picturesque backdrop for the holiday season. The Liston promenade and Spianada Square are adorned with lights and decorations, creating a fairy-tale atmosphere. The Christmas market in Corfu features artisanal products and seasonal treats, including the island's renowned kumquat liqueur. The festive mood is enhanced by the sound of the Philharmonic orchestras playing Christmas carols, a tradition that dates back many years. The celebrations usually start in early December and last until Christmas.

We Recommend: Sample the kumquat liqueur, a local specialty, which can be found at the Christmas market. Its unique, sweet citrus flavor is a festive treat not to be missed.

Chania - Old Town

Chania, on the island of Crete, offers a charming holiday experience in its Old Town. The narrow streets are illuminated with festive lights, and the harbor area becomes a focal point for celebrations. The Christmas market here is known for its Cretan products, including local honey, olive oil, and raki. The municipality often organizes events such as concerts and children's activities, making it a family-friendly destination. These festivities typically start in early December and continue through the holiday season.

We Recommend: Indulge in the local spirit, raki, often served with honey as "rakomelo." It's a warming drink that's especially popular during the winter months.

Kastoria - Ragoutsaria Festival

Kastoria celebrates the holiday season with a unique twist through the Ragoutsaria Festival, which takes place from January 6th to 8th. This traditional event features locals dressed in colorful costumes and masks, parading through the streets with music and dancing. It's a lively and somewhat unconventional way to extend the holiday festivities into the New Year. The atmosphere is electric, and the town is filled with the sounds of brass bands and revelry.

We Recommend: Join in the fun of the Ragoutsaria Festival by sampling the local wines and traditional dishes offered by street vendors, immersing yourself in the region's festive customs.

Nafplio - Old Town

Nafplio's Old Town is a romantic setting for Christmas, with its neoclassical buildings and cobbled streets. The town's Christmas market is a quaint affair, offering handcrafted items and local products. The Palamidi Castle, overlooking the town, is often lit up, adding to the magical ambiance. Nafplio's holiday events include choirs, street performers, and a Santa Claus village, typically starting in early December.

We Recommend: For a sweet treat, try the "diples," a traditional Greek dessert made of thin dough rolled into spirals, fried, and drizzled with honey and nuts, commonly found at the market.

Volos - Argonauts' Avenue

The seaside city of Volos gets into the holiday spirit along Argonauts' Avenue, where the Christmas market takes place. The market is known for its festive atmosphere, with stalls selling holiday crafts, local products, and plenty of food and drink. The city also features a Christmas theme park, "Volos Christmas Land," which offers entertainment for all ages. The celebrations in Volos usually begin in early December and last until after Christmas.

We Recommend: Don't leave without trying "tsipouro," a pomace brandy from the region, often enjoyed with meze. It's a local favorite during the festive season.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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Crowded Market in Athens, Greece

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