If a part of the enchantment of visiting a vacation spot is exploring locations that almost all American vacationers miss, then take into account the area of Macedonia—which covers the most important a part of northern Greece. The world is wealthy in pure magnificence with mountains, lakes and rivers; historical past that features Alexander the Nice; and, after all, scrumptious meals together with savory pastries. Plus, since most vacationers gravitate towards the Greek Islands and Athens (and with good cause), you’ll discover spots which might be much less touristy.
A mix of shoreline, mountains and plains, Macedonia’s diversified terrain provides it enchantment all 12 months lengthy—from mountaineering, snowboarding and snowboarding in winter to stress-free on golden sand seashores in the summertime. To get to this space, fly into Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest metropolis, by way of a connecting flight from Athens or elsewhere in Europe.
Learn our information for the highlights to see on this area earlier than the lots catch on.
Begin in Thessaloniki
Named to TIME journal’s “World’s Best Locations” checklist in 2022, Thessaloniki has all of the attributes that include that (assume: arts, purchasing and nightlife). That stated, it doesn’t matter what 12 months it’s, this historic metropolis is price visiting since it has been a middle of tradition and affect for hundreds of years. It is residence to fifteen UNESCO World Heritage Websites, 29 museums and this 12 months celebrates the 64th 12 months of its Worldwide Movie Competition (Nov. 2-12).
Thessaloniki can be a serious metropolis for foodies due to the inflow of Roman, Byzantine, Jewish and French influences over time and is a member of the UNESCO Inventive Cities of Gastronomy community. For a style of what the town gives, enterprise to the Ladadika neighborhood. As soon as a industrial market for merchants from the close by port (particularly olive oil, Ladadika means “with oil”), the realm has been lately restored right into a pedestrian-friendly district with slim cobblestone streets, colourful storefronts and alfresco eating. After a satisfying meal, be sure to discover a store promoting bougatsas, a candy and savory cream-filled pie, and/or Trigona Panoramatos, custard-filled phyllo cones soaked in syrup.
The preferred landmark to see is the White Tower, which stands on the seafront and was constructed as a fort on prime of a Byzantine fortification across the 15th century to strengthen the shoreline defenses. It even served as a communication middle for Allied forces in World Conflict I. As we speak the general public can go to the museum inside it and take a look at the spectacular views from the best degree.
Go east to…
With its photogenic seashores, Halkidiki (or Chalkidiki) is a well-liked resort area throughout the summer season, however fall remains to be a good time for strolling the sand. Halkidiki is a peninsula that’s then divided into three smaller peninsulas: Kassandra, identified for its nightclubs; Sithonia, with its picturesque fishing villages; and Mount Athos, or the Holy Mount, the one place in Greece fully devoted to prayer and worship of God.
Because the oldest monastic republic nonetheless in existence, the Holy Mount is a self-governed a part of the Greek state and guests should submit a replica of their passport to the Mount Athos Pilgrims’ Bureau. Ladies, nonetheless, are usually not allowed at Mount Athos, for 2 causes. One is to make sure celibacy. The opposite is because of Greek Orthodox custom, which believes the Virgin Mary tried to sail to Cyprus and was knocked off track to Mount Athos, a spot she beloved, so she alone is allowed to symbolize girls there.
As soon as the most important tobacco manufacturing middle in Greece, Kavala remains to be an necessary port for the jap Macedonia area’s commerce. It’s additionally a fantastic spot on your abdomen; make sure to stroll alongside the port to strive sardine pilaf or calamari filled with rice at one of many many fish tavernas.
Generally known as the “Blue Metropolis” because of the reflections of the Aegean Sea, Kavala is positioned in a main hillside spot alongside the shoreline and is stuffed with secluded seashores. Different points of interest embody a tobacco museum celebrating the town’s previous, an archaeological museum highlighting prehistoric finds from the realm and a Lighthouse district providing three buildings to discover (it’s additionally identified for its wonderful sunsets.) Try the historical metropolis of Phillippi about 10 miles away. Based by Phillip II of Macedonia, who was Alexander the Nice’s father, this metropolis turned Alexander’s headquarters throughout his conquests.
With a reputation like Drama, this vacation spot isn’t going to be boring. Sitting on the foot of Falakro Mountain, one of many largest mountains in Greece, Drama gives a base for out of doors actions like snowboarding, snowboarding, mountaineering, climbing, mountain bike using and paragliding. The principle function of the town middle is the abundance of water, flowing from the Agia Varvara springs; picnic alongside it or take a leisurely stroll alongside the paths and cease at eating places and bars alongside the best way.
Go to the close by Aggitis cave, on the south aspect of the Falakro Mountain, which is residence to the one river collapse Greece. Open all 12 months lengthy, the cave is stuffed with spectacular rocky buildings and in addition supplied numerous prehistoric fossils for the native museum.
There are six wineries within the area which might be open to the general public. Whereas many worldwide grape varieties are grown right here, the preferred native wine is asyrtiko, a white wine just like Sauvignon Blanc.
A university city within the mountains, Serres not solely has a vibrant nightlife and busy ski middle, but additionally a wealth of pure points of interest like forests and rivers. Good for tenting, mountaineering or mountain biking, Lailia Forest, consists primarily of pine and beech timber and covers an space of about 81,500 acres. It’s residence to greater than 500 kinds of vegetation in addition to animals like fox, badger, deer and wild boar.
Check your mettle on the Serres Racing Circuit, the most important racetrack in Greece, the place you possibly can lease a race automobile or bike and drive the monitor. Worldwide rallies happen on this 1.98-mile monitor, and there’s a pit, eating places and viewing areas.
Go west to…
Situated on the banks of Orestiada Lake, Kastoria is nestled in between the mountains of Grammos and Vitsi. Take a tour of the lake, both by boat or by strolling alongside the promenade, to see the village mirrored on its floor.
One of many first belongings you’ll discover listed below are the greater than 60 Byzantine and post-Byzantine church buildings, relationship from the 9th to the 19th century. Artifacts reminiscent of sculptures, murals and icons from the interval could be discovered within the Byzantine Artwork Museum.
Enterprise about 5 miles outdoors city to see the oldest Neolithic settlement in Europe, the settlement of Dispilio, which dates again to about 6000 BC. The positioning was solely found in 1932 when Lake Kastoria ranges dropped and picket stakes have been revealed. Now reconstructed, right here you possibly can see eight life-sized huts fabricated from tree trunks, branches and twine, plastered along with mud with a roof of straw. Go to the museum within the village, which shows all of the findings, together with a flute fabricated from bones and an inscription displaying the unique type of written speech.
With the slogan “Sorry…no seashores,” Naoussa units itself other than Naousa within the Cyclades and makes it clear that this isn’t your typical Greek trip. Oenophiles might flock to the luxurious greenery discovered right here as Naoussa is surrounded by orchards and vineyards.
Pink wine right here is made out of Macedonia’s flagship grape, Xinomavro, and is finest paired with dishes like taramasalata (which mixes mashed potatoes or bread with lemon juice, olive oil and fish roe), kokkinisto (meats braised in tomato sauce) or bougatsa pie.
Located on a steep plateau, Edessa is most well-known for its 12 waterfalls. Previously known as Vodena, or Metropolis of Waters, Edessa’s connection to water is so necessary that there’s even an Open-air Water Museum right here. (Inside this complicated, there’s even the one Greek aquarium with freshwater fish.)
Along with the waterfalls, there may be the close by Loutraki Aridaia Baths, often known as the Pozar Thermal Springs, which has 48 particular person baths open all 12 months.
About one hour west of Thessaloniki is Vergina, which was the primary capital of the traditional kingdom of Macedonia and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Website. That is the place King Philip II of Macedon lived and died and the place his son, Alexander the Nice, was topped earlier than setting off on his quest. In 1977, Philip II’s tomb was found, unlooted and just about intact, and you may go to the royal burial chamber in the present day.