Drive (or take the bus) north from Athens on the main highway until you reach the Thebes turn off. The secondary road to the historic town of Thebes (today called Thiva) bypasses the town and continues on to Livadia. Bypass this town, too, as soon you’re climbing the eastern foothills of the mighty Mount Parnassos, a skiers’ paradise.
After a two-hour or so drive from Athens, the winding, breathtakingly scenic road brings you to Arahova, an old town seemingly built entirely of grey-brown limestone, clinging to a spur of the mountain. The main street is thread-narrow, and has to be negotiated with infinite care as buses and lorries swish past in the opposite direction – you’ll be lucky if you don’t get a mirror clipped.
Apart from that, though, Arahova is a rough gem of a town. It has good hotels that are packed with skiers in the snowy seasons from late December through to late March. The Mount Parnassos Ski Centre is Greece’s largest and oldest, with 17 pistes (totalling some 20 miles) at between 4,000 and 7,000 feet. The pistes can accommodate everyone from beginners to pros, and those who live on adrenalin can go off-piste for some really deep snow.
The Parnassos Centre has two chalet cafeterias, a restaurant, and skiing and snowboarding classes, even a children’s playground with minders. There’s also medical and insurance coverage for mishaps on the slopes.
Arahova is the most popular winter destination in Greece and its name amasses all the luster and myth of the country’s top winter resort. It is also one of the most cosmopolitan mountain villages in Greece. There is a wide variety in accommodation and lodgings: luxury winter resorts and spa in Arahova, boutique wintry chalets near the ski centre, traditional pensions in the centre of Arachova, traditional houses, hotels in Arahova, small hostels and country clubs.
Of course no visitor would want to miss a visit the ancient site and museum of Delphi which is right next door.
Mt. Parnassos: The Perfect Ski Holiday
The Ski Centre on Parnassos is situated at an altitude of about 1.600-2.300m and it is the biggest and best-organised ski-centre in Greece.
The construction works at the Ski-Centre on Parnassos started in 1975 and were completed in 1976 just when facilities in Fterolaca started operating. It was in 1981 that construction works in Kellaria were completed whereas Hermes, the connection lift between Fterolaca and Kellaria was inaugurated in 1987-1988.
So far Parnassos has been Number one preference by the Athenians (since it is actually 180 kms far) as well as for other skiers and snowboarders who warm its tracks on weekdays but particularly during the weekend.
Here are some of the ski runs you could chose to enter and cross, depending on your chosen level of difficulty:
Downhill ski runs at Kellária:
(a) Aphrodite (no 1): A blue, 1,500m long ski trail that leads to the chalet.
(b) Odysseus (no 8): A challenging 800m red run, maybe black at some points. The most difficult piste of the area that experienced skiers really love to cross.
(c) Hermes (no 11): A definitely blue run 700m in length.
(d) Run (no 16): Starting from the Zeus lift at Fterólakka, this run ends at the starting point of the chair lift Hermes at Kellária. It is actually a blue snow trail 1,400m in length.
(e) The runs Telemachus (no 3) and Pericles (no 15) are ideal for an early-in-the-morning warm-up.
(f) If you are just interested in taking up skiing lessons, experienced ski instructors waiting to show you the ropes at the two baby runs (120m & 50m in length) of the ski resort.
Share these slopes at Fterólakka with other skiers:
(a) Hera (no 7) & Pan (no 10): Two of the blue runs which are perfect for the beginners.
(b) Run no 7a: A really difficult red 850m long run. One of the most beautiful runs winding through the heart of a dense spruce forest.
(c) Charioteer (no 6): A red run widely known for its high degree of difficulty, and a great favourite for Greek skiers (1,000m in length). Together with the run “Bacchus (no 2a)” they are both approved by the International Ski Federation.
(d) Pythia (no 14): If you have completed the beginner’s level, this blue run is the most suitable for you.
(e) Sahara (no 22): On Mt. Parnassos, this run brings to mind the biggest desert in the world! In fact, it has been described as the best red run at the ski resort. This 1,000m long piste links Kellária with Fterólakka, and can also be reached by the Zeus lift.
Bus Service from Athens: (+30) 210 8317173
Ski resort on Mount Parnassos: (+30) 2340 22693
Municipality of Arahova: (+30) 2670 31318
Police in Arahova: (+30) 2670 31333
Doctor’s surgery: (+30) 2670 31300
Taxi hire in Arachova: (+30) 2670 31566
Sources: arachova.gr, skiing-europe.net, visitgreece.gr