Athens just put in a pretty strong bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics. A huge dip in the jet stream has allowed polar air to plunge into the normally temperate Mediterranean, dumping snow in Greece’s capital and beach resort towns.
On Tuesday, otherworldly scenes emerged across the country as snow caked iconic tourist attractions like the Acropolis and bent olive and cypress trees’ branches. Tourists and locals alike stopped to gawk at the ethereal sites and snap photos.
Athens was far from the only locale to see snow. That coastal resort town of Thessaloniki in northeast Greece was buffeted by snow. Drone footage shows the incongruous scenes of snow on the Mediterranean beaches that are normally a tourist hot spot (at least a few locals still decided to take a polar bear plunge).
The snow was more than a photo op, though. It also stranded motorists and led to disrupted rail service. At least one inbound flight was re-routed from Thessaloniki due to poor visibility, according to France24.
And the flakes also came with a blast of polar air, which France24 reports has claimed at least three lives. Reuters reports that the northern Greek city of Florina recorded an all-time low of minus-9 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-23 degrees Celsius). Meanwhile much of the country has seen temperatures dip 20 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) below normal for this time of year.
The pattern befalling Greece has brought wild weather to the rest of Europe as well. Ski resorts in the Alps have seen up to 100 inches of snow fall, creating deadly avalanche conditions. Winter storms have also battered northern Europe with winds and coastal flooding, including some of the worst flooding in decades in Denmark. But it’s the Greek snow that’s been a real show stopper.