Although due to its ski resort it is one of the most famous winter destinations in Macedonia, Elatohori is not only ideal for skiing, but also for a festive excursion that allows you to combine the tranquillity of a mountain village with the more cosmopolitan spirit of a resort.


Built at an altitude of 780 metres, at the eastern foothills of the Pieria Mountains, Elatohori is part of the regional unit of Pieria. It is 29 km from Katerini and has 533 inhabitants (according to the 2011 census). However, due to the popularity of the ski resort, in winter it gives the impression of a more densely populated place, as it receives visitors from all over Greece, as well as from the neighbouring Balkan countries.

The roots of the village are lost in the period of the Ottoman occupation, when it seems to have been founded under the name “Skouterna” – deriving from the Greek word “skoutia” (cloth), as there was a textile processing workshop there. In 1928 the Greek authorities renamed it to Elatousa and it finally became Elatohori in 1940. In the 1950s, due to population growth and some dangerous landslides, an expansion took place, which created the current distinction of the settlement into Palio (Old) and Neo (New) Elatohori (the distance between them is about 1 km).

The establishment of a ski resort in 2001 led to the area’s tourist development and gave it international visibility, resulting in 2007 in the selection of Elatohori as one of the four venues for the European Mountain Biking Championships.

Where to stay

Due to its development, the area features several good accommodation options. Located in the old settlement, Atrion Hotel offers beautiful rooms with energy fireplaces and comfortable rooms at attractive prices and, most importantly, in a strategic location in the centre of the village. Nikelli Hotel is a little more expensive, but offers nice views of Mount Olympus and suites with fireplace and hot tub, and boasts an excellent wine cellar. On the other hand, Vaela Pallas Cultural Resort & Spa has been on a steady rise in recent years, as families with young children seem to prefer it (there’s a playground).

Where to eat

Anoi in the central square of Palio Elatohori is a prime destination for meat lovers, as it specialises in pancetta skewers and wild boar sausages. In the same location, Tzivaeri serves more traditional cuisine. During the festive season, it also serves some more sophisticated options, such as leek and celery pork and wild boar with plums. Another popular place for food, coffee or other beverages is Elato Chalet, the ski resort’s two-storey chalet, which overlooks the main piste, as well as the tavern Palio Scholio (Old School), preferred by many for its kontosouvli (slow roasted large chunks of pork on a spit).

5 things to do if you find yourself in Elatohori for the holidays

Elatohori is a place for relaxation, where one can enjoy the tranquillity and stunning beauty of its lush wintry landscape. Yet, if you are looking for something more intense, you can easily reach the ski centre, which is full of visitors, especially during the holiday season.

Stroll around the old village and visit the church of Agios Nikolaos

The old village is quite picturesque and is ideal for a nice walk. In the village’s main square you will find local products made by the Pieria workshop: if you are a jam lover, you must try the chestnut and plum ones. It is also worth buying mountain tea from Olympus, which is collected on the slopes of Elatohori.

Your walk may lead you to the church of Agios Nikolaos with its handmade, carved wooden altarpiece – the only one that survived when the Germans burned the village. This is an old church, built in 1779, about which the locals have many stories to tell you. It is said, for example, that it was built with money that came into the hands of the then inhabitants from Klephts (warlike mountain-folk who lived in the countryside when Greece was a part of the Ottoman Empire) who had demanded a ransom for the release of hostages to the Turks. During the Occupation, it is rumoured that the church was saved from the Germans thanks to its parish priest, Nikolas Topalis, who sat inside and told them that if they wanted to set fire to it, they would have to burn him too.

Visit the ski resort

It is located 8km from Elatohori, at an altitude of 1,450 meters. You can of course visit it even if you don’t ski, for a coffee with a view or to enjoy a little more cosmopolitan festive spirit while taking a break from the tranquillity of the village. Also, thanks to its infrastructure, it is possible to access the Saltapida plateau, at 1,974 metres.

Whether you are a beginner or advanced skier, the centre caters for everyone, with slopes of varying degrees of difficulty. There is even a snowboard slope, which runs through the forest. Particularly at Christmas and New Year, however, very popular – for young and old alike – are the toboggan runs. Ask also about horse riding, climbing or nature hikes in the waterfalls of the Pieria Mountains.

Visit the Folklore Museum

It is only open on Sundays and public holidays, usually for 2.5 hours in the morning. However, you can also visit it by appointment, as it is run by the local Folklore & Cultural Association of Elatochori.

It is divided into thematic sections (household utensils, everyday objects, tools) and has several objects that reflect an older way of life.

Drink water from Agioneri

Near Neo Elatohori there is a characteristic rock with a natural spring. According to the village’s traditions, the water that gushes from that spring is considered miraculous, as it is related to the years Agios Antonios spent in the area, preaching the message of Christianity. The saint is said to have carried there a sick child from a neighbouring village, who was cured when bathed in the spring’s waters.

Kyrialessa, a unique local custom for Epiphany

If you stay in Elatochori until Epiphany, you will witness a very special custom of the area – the so-called “Kyrialessa”. It begins with an auction, during which the young people of the village acquire the icons of the local church (the church of Saints Constantine and Helen). They then carry them to all the springs and waters of the surrounding area, exclaiming “Kyrie Eleisson” (Lord have mercy). When they have finished, they return them to their place.