Roadtrip Ideas: Chapter Greece
Translated by Elisavet Kechagia
Based on the original article in Greek by Στέλιος Αμπατζίδης
We might find ourselves on the highway as the famous AC/DC song says, but there is one great difference: our destination is not hell, but some of Greece’s most heavenly destinations. Let’s find out our first stop.
Our first destination is the historical and picturesque Thessaloniki, guaranteed to mesmerize all visitors. Some of its famous districts include Ano Poli, meaning Upper Town, and Kastra where the Heptapyrgion, the city’s main fortress is located. Wanderers can also see the so called “old” and “new” waterfront area near the city centre, ideal for countless walks within sight of the White Tower, as well as visit the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Byzantine Culture. Another intriguing choice is visiting Kamara, or else the Arch of Galerius, built in celebration of Galerius’ victory over the Persians upon his return to Thessaloniki, and Rotunda, also known as Mausoleum, a temple intended to Zeus that was later on turned into an Orthodox church.
Of course, we are yet to run out of destinations and Kavala and Xanthi await! Kavala is famous for its Old City, the Archaeological Museum and the ancient city of Filippoi, strewn with remnants of the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Paleochristianic period alike.
Xanthi is famous for its Carnival, Nestos River, the surrounding villages (Stavroupoli, Toxotis), as well as for the dreamy walks along the banks of Kosynthos River. Nature lovers can also visit Nestos’ delta, Livaditis Waterfall, the Drymos Forest (or Haidou), Lake Vistonida and the dams of Paranesti, and wrap up their visit with Pomakohoria, clusters of unique traditional Pomak villages along the Rodopi mountain range, within view of Sminthi and its minarets.
Another travel route begins at the city of Grevena and leads to Veroia. The city of Grevena is famous for the National History Museum of Milia with its exquisite display of palaeontological findings, alongside with bridges such as Aziz Aga bridge, Spanos bridge and Portitsa. Another worth visiting destination is the Valia Calda National Park with its vast forestall expanses and wide range of wild animals such as roes, wolves and chamois, as well as the Vasilitsa ski resort and the mountainous regions of Pindos (Alatopetra, Samarina, Distrato villages).
Near Grevena is a city surrounded by Lake Orestiada with its rich fauna, and home of the mysterious Cave of the Dragon: the city of Kastoria. For more information, visitors can turn to the Folklore, Byzantine and Costume Museums alike.
After these beautiful stops, the route finally winds up at Veroia, home of the ancient city of Vergina with its Archaeological Museum, the traditional Jewish quarter of Barbouta, and the Christian quarter of Kyriotissa. It is no wonder then that Veroia is a city of churches, monuments (Twin Hamam, Hünkar Mosque), and museums (Byzantine and Archaeological) filled with exquisite mosaics that bring forward its Roman and Byzantine past. Last but not least is the Neolithic settlement of Nea Nikomedeia, the oldest Neolithic organised village in all Europe and within short distance from Veroia city, Aliakmonas dam.
Naturally a trip to Greece’s sunny beaches or busy Athens is a must, but there exists such history in its vast mountainous regions run by clear rivers, that one simply cannot resist the call of the wild. Well, can you? Hop on and discover alternative Greece!