Ultimate Travel Guide to Trikala

Discover our complete travel guide to Trikala, a wonderful destination in central Greece, blending history, natural beauty, and warm Greek hospitality.

A model city for not only Greece but all of Europe – in recent years, Trikala has entered the tourist map and the list of interesting destinations in Central Greece, thanks to its environmentally friendly initiatives.

With a wide network of footpaths and cycle paths, the Litheos River running through the centre of town, endless outdoor activities, and a rich history – Trikala is an ideal winter escape. 

Travel Notes

Perfect place for

Couples, groups of friends, and a leisurely winter weekend away. 

Where to stay

In the center of the city is the best place to stay, as you can get around on foot or rent a bike and visit nearby attractions.

Where to sleep

Αnanti City Resort is a peaceful retreat a few minutes by car from the city of Trikala. (Loggaki, Trikala)

Gallery Art Hotel is a modern, boutique hotel, right in the centre of town. (Ring Road, Trikala)

Τrikala River House is a cozy and modern apartment, also in the center of Trikala. (2 Vyronos)

Vintage Suites Trikala are warm and inviting suites that are ideally located halfway between Trikala and Meteora. (EO Trikalon Ioanninon 254, Trikala)

Must See + Do

Bicycle is the trend…

In Trikala, the straight lines of the plain favored the development of the use of bicycles and many residents use them to get around. The municipality offers the possibility to rent bicycles for free for 3 hours at the Infopoint in the central square of Iroon Polytechniou. Get on the saddle and get to know the city through the 8 kilometers of bike paths.

Stroll along the banks of Lithaios River 

…in the company of swans, ducks and families picnicking under the trees. If we had to single out one of the things that give Trikala the atmosphere of a European city, it would be how integrated its river is in the life of the city. 

Go up to the castle…

One of the most accessible castles in Greece, the Byzantine castle of Trikala was built during the reign of Justinian in the 6th AD. century. It is divided into three parts, with five towers and several small battlements between them. What stands out, however, and steals the show is the Clock Tower, now a symbol of the city of Trikala. The 33-meter tower was built in 1936 on the site of an equally large Ottoman clock, dating from 1648.

Walk around the Manavika neighbourhood at night

Perhaps the coolest neighborhood of the city, here you will find some of the best taverns and bars.

Take a tour of Meteora…

Even if your time is limited, the road leads you all the way up – although the walking route is really worth the effort and time if you can spare it.

Cultural Hotspots

In the centre of town, there is the Kliafa History and Culture Center, an industrial museum which, in addition to the old mechanical equipment of the factory, also exhibits a large collection of bottles, labels and caps from all over the world, correspondence, photographs, paintings and old advertisements. In addition, in a separate room, there is a museum of local history in which the recent history of the city is presented through texts, manuscripts, old photographs, and small objects. Finally, on the walls are posted covers of local newspapers, photos of journalists and printers and various interesting collections. (Homer & Themistocles)

The “Research Center – Vassilis Tsitsanis Museum” is housed in the building of the old Trikala prison and here, through the exhibits, you will get to know the life and work of the great Greek composer and lyricist. Photographs, musical instruments, sheet music and personal items will take you on a journey through the fascinating life of Vassilis Tsitsanis. (1 Venizelou & Karditsis Trikala)

Do not miss visiting the imposing mosque of Osman Shah or Kursum. It is on the edge of the city and was built in the middle of the 16th century by the famous architect Sinan Pasha. Tradition has it that Prince Osman Shah, son of Sultan Suleiman, gave the order to build the mosque when he was cured in Trikala of the illness that afflicted him. It is considered a UNESCO monument and is used as a venue for cultural events. (3 Karditsis, Trikala)

Special Christmas Hotspot

During the festive season, the hottest attraction in Trikala is the Mill of Elves, Greece’s largest Christmas theme park. Every Christmas since 2011, this area has been transformed into a festive toy and confectionery factory, where Santa Claus and his Elves welcome guests from near and far, turning the space into a magical kingdom. There you will also find a huge Fun Park with rides, Christmas stores with lots of ornaments, food stalls with a variety of traditional dishes and delicacies from Trikala and a Candy store with lots of delicious sweets.

Eat + Drink 

Breakfast/Brunch

Bonjour ( Canouta & Vironos, Trikala) A cozy coffee shop that serves a variety of quality coffee types and brunch choices (sweet or sour) to choose from.

Sto Spitaki (Lakmonos & Psaron Trikala 421 00) In the centre of town is the best place to start your day with a cup of coffee and a delicious breakfast.

Vesper (9 Karanassiou, Trikala 421 00) A beautiful old house preserved with a warm atmosphere, friendly staff and a menu for breakfast lunch and light meals all day.

Ivy (Kapodistriou 18A, Trikala 421 00) This cozy cafe has a warm and inviting ambiance, with wooden furniture, dim lights, and relaxing music. 

Lunch/Dinner

To Xani (Pylis 2, Trikala) It is considered one of the oldest buildings in the city, also known for its unique modern-traditional architecture. Xani provides traditional flavours and a wide variety of wines. Must try: Pork shank, Fried leeks

Ιl Cucinotto (Karaiskaki 65,4210 0) is a restaurant with authentic Italian cuisine, a warm atmosphere, and a nice garden. Must try: risotto and buffalina con crudo.

Ladofanaro (Ypsilantou & Trikala) cozy traditional tavern with great flavors and traditional Greek dishes. Must try: any of the mezedes with pork. 

Sweets

Narkissos (Ypsilantou & Kaningos, Trikala) Step inside this pastry store and be blown away by the gorgeous displays of decadent desserts and handmade cakes. Drink hot chocolate, try sweets with fresh cream of butter and milk and select sweets placed in pretty jars that you can take away and enjoy!

Drinks

Retous (Byronos 5, Trikala 421 00) An urban-style all-day bar, it’s one of the most popular spots in town and perfect for an unforgettable night out.

Krypti (Patriarchou Office, Trikala 421 00) Perfect spot to have a drink any time of day.

Pero (Stefanou Sarafi 4, Trikala 421 00) Unique bar playing funky music and serving original cocktails. 

Tankoo (Stefanou Sarafi 6, Trikala) One of the best spots to enjoy an aperitivo– great décor, an impressive cocktail list, and jazz-rock music playing.

Discover 

Best view

Climb up to the Byzantine Castle of Trikala and the Clock, a trademark of the city. The red roofs of the houses will stretch out in front of you and the horizon will not reach to accommodate the flat Thessalian plain.

Ultimate day trip

Meteora

One of the largest monuments in the world, protected by UNESCO and mentioned as a “Preservable and Protected Monument of Humanity”, Meteora is the most important (after Mount Athos) monastic centre in Greece. The first ascetics came here in the 11th century. Meteora, however, flourished as a monastic center between the 13th and 14th centuries as many people living in the nearby areas embraced the monastic lifestyle. Nowadays visitors are enthralled by the natural scenery and the fact that it is a place that offers all kinds of activities: from cultural tours and hikes to river rafting and truffle hunting. What you will remember, however, is the mystical, eerie atmosphere of the area that seems to have come out of a fantasy movie. You must see them for yourself to understand the greatness of this unique place. For even more impressive images, we suggest you observe the rocks and monasteries of Meteora at sunset-golden hour.

Pertouli

Pertouli is the picturesque mountain village of the Trikala prefecture. It is a highly recommended getaway for nature lovers as the area provides you with unique experiences that you will hardly find anywhere else. A wonderful ski resort and hiking trails are some of the many things that will enchant you in the area. Another place you must visit when you arrive in Pertouli is the forest which is the University Forest of Pertouli- here you will have the chance to admire a rare species of deer.

Theopetra Cave

The Cave of Theopetra is a unique archaeological monument. One of the most interesting caves in Greece from a historical point of view, it is located a stone’s throw from Trikala. A rocky limestone mass rises above the village of Theopetra, 3 km from Trikala, on the north-eastern side of which is the cave of the same name. It is the westernmost prehistoric site of the Thessalian plain, located at the foot of the Hasia mountain range, which is also the natural boundary between the geographical division of Thessaly and Epirus. The cave is about 100 meters (about 328.08 ft) altitude from the plain’s surface and 280 meters (about 918.64 ft) from the sea’s surface. In front of the cave flows the river Litheos, a tributary of Pinios.

Make sure you take home: local products such as the tsipouro, spoon sweets, pies, handmade pasta, and dried mushrooms.

Essentials

Getting there: About 3.5 hours drive from Athens.

Best time to gο: Autumn/ Winter 

Ideal time to stay: 2-3 days is perfect.  

Getting around: Rent a bike or walk all around the city. Also, we highly recommend you rent a car for daily trips and a Meteora getaway.

What to pack: Comfortable shoes, warm clothes if you are visiting in Autumn/Winter (it gets quite cold in the cooler months), an umbrella for unexpected rain, and a scarf for windy days! Sporting attire if you are planning cycling, hiking, or any other physical activity!

Main Image Courtesy of Tankoo 

Visiting Fanari, a Magnificent Seaside Village in Rodopi

Seaside villages such as Fanari, in northern Greece are often overlooked by sun-seekers heading to the islands. Barring the classic blue domes of the Aegean and the Italian-influenced architecture of the Ionian islands, travelling to northern Greece is a whole different experience worth one’s time and urge to explore.

Once in Thrace, visitors will come upon rows of seaside hamlets and villages- think of whitewashed harbours, beach taverns and hilltop churches- ready to be ransacked by those who don’t like to leave any stone unturned.

A great example of this is the magnificent Fanari village in Rodopi. 

Fanari, with its postcard-like appearance, is located in the southwest of the prefecture of Rodopi, in the centre of Thrace. The settlement has no more than 700 permanent residents but as it is positioned between the big cities of Xanthi and Komotini, it has fast become a tourist attraction something which is not going to change anytime soon!

TOP THINGS TO DO IN FANARI

1. Visit Lake Vistonida 

Adjacent to the village of Fanari is part of the famous Lake Vistonida, which circumscribes a unique ecosystem with several types of fish, mammals and birds. Driving through the highway from Komotini to Fanari, visitors can spot in Lake Vistonida a flamboyance of pink African flamingos and pelicans flying over from Lake Prespa, making Fanari the ideal destination for wild photography and bird watching, especially in late October when the flocks arrive.

2. Swim at one of Fanari’s beaches

Fanari is famous for its iconic blue flag beaches, a marker for environmental safety, and quality standards. Barakouda beach, the village’s main beach, is the place to go for a refreshing midday swim. Skala, the beach in front of the crowded promenade with the restaurants and cafés, is ideal for families and children playing whereas Ioulia beach, parallel to the main port of Fanari, is ideal for people with reduced mobility as a wheelchair ramp has recently been installed. In total, Fanari has five beaches and a coastline stretch that many Greek islands would be jealous of!

3. Fresh seafood at the port

Fanari has a plentiful of seaside restaurants and traditional taverns to serve you the best of seafood and fish. Whether you choose to sit at one in front of the promenade of the old harbour is totally up to you but our personal favourite is the traditional tavern ‘To Limani‘ (which in Greek literally means ‘The Harbour’). From here you can watch the fishing trawlers coming and going and the cats fighting for the remains of the catch of the day!

4. Sunset spotting

Skala is the best place for sunset spotting in Fanari. The wide, uninterrupted opening to the sea coupled with the changing sky colours reflected on the sea, makes this perfect for a romantic afternoon by the sea.

5. Coffee at the promenade

The best way to end your day in Fanari is to sit for a coffee at one of the promenade cafes. We recommend Daf Cafe for the sea views and Ioulia seaside café bar for the views of the port and the delicious beverages and cocktails. It also gets bonus points as it has access for people with mobility issues. 

Fanari is not the place of glitz and glamour that makes headlines but it is definitely a place that will offer you the most nonchalant time ever!

Need more information about Fanari village? Have a look at the official website offering information on hotels, restaurants and more.

Images By Anastasia Fountouli ©

“Eleftheria” Celebrations in Komotini

On the 14th of May 1920, Komotini was freed after centuries of Ottoman and Bulgarian occupation.

It was one of the last cities that joined the newly established Hellenic Republic after the country’s independence. To commemorate this, every year in May, the people of Komotini celebrate the Freedom of Thrace in a row of festivities called “The Eleftheria”. Starting on the second day of the month, the festivities last for 16 days with several events taking place around the city including traditional dances, exhibitions, feasts and more.

This year an extra special event takes place, the International Conference on the 100 Years of Komotini’s Freedom which was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions for the past two years, consecutively.

Here is the program of anniversary events for the 102 Years of Freedom in detail.

Monday, May 2
8.00 p.m. In the streets of the city starting from the Tobacco Warehouse up to the square, bagpipers of the Laboratory of the House of Tradition and Folklore “Philotechnes” will play music across the city.

Tuesday, 3 May
8.30 p.m. Cultural Movement
Mikros Diakomos presents the play “Minotaur”.
It is a musical performance with elements of performance and dance.

Wednesday, 4 May
6.30 p.m. Read of the book “Deceiving Time” written by Anastasis Vistonitis at the local public library, Tsanakleios School organized by the Directorate of Secondary Education of Rodopi.

8.30 p.m. The Cultural Movement of Rodopi
organises a Jazz Concert with the 14-member Big Band “Allegro” under the direction of Nikos Ieronymos.

Thursday, 5 May
6.30 p.m. A presentation on “Konstantinos Karatheodori in Smyrna on the eve of the Asia Minor Catastrophe”. A history lesson presented by the Karatheodori Museum on the life, work and educational activities of Konstantinos Karatheodori, the famous Greek mathematician of Einstein. The event takes place at Tsanakleios School.

9.00 p.m. Live with the band “Endless Stream” at the city’s Central Square.

Friday, 6 May
10.00 a.m. The first GREEN FEST, a festival underlying the ecological issues are planet is currently facing, organised by The Youth and Volunteering Center “Exagono” of the Municipality of Komotini in collaboration with the Directorate of Primary Education of Rodopi and FOLLOW GREEN takes place. The event includes educational floor games and interactive actions for the environment such as the importance of recycling and the negative effects of sea pollution. The event is mainly for the students of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 8th, 9th and 13th High School of Komotini.
Moreover, vegan food cooked by the students of the Public vocational school of Komotini in collaboration with the Association for the Care of People with Special Needs “Agioi Theodoroi” will be available to the public.

07.00 p.m.
The formal opening of the Conference for the 100 years of Komotini’s Freedom with Konstantinos Hatzopoulos presenting “The entry of the Greek army in Thrace and the integration of the region in Greece”
The conference will take place at the Papanikolaou Foundation, from 6-8 May.

9.00 p.m. A live music concert – Tribute to the great composer Mikis Theodorakis with Giannis Kallaris “In the Dream the Balcony” will take place at the Komotini Summer Theater. The mixed choir of the Association of Evrites of “E.CHO” participates.

Insights Greece - "Eleftheria" Celebrations in Komotini

Saturday, May 7

9.30 a.m. The second day of the Conference for the 100 years of Komotini’s Freedom at Papanikolaou Foundation.

12.00 p.m. A presentation on “The 1st POCKET PARK IN KOMOTINI” at the Intersection of Vyronos and Makedonias streets.
The Municipal Council of Youth of Komotini with the Youth and Volunteering Center “Exagono” contribute to the transformation of an abandoned space into a cradle of greenery, a pocket of green! The members of the Municipal Council of Youth of Komotini, volunteers and citizens will meet at the site where the park will be created and will make the first tree and aromatic plants planting.

8.00 p.m.
Folklore dance groups from the area will dance under the music of the local band “Thrakomelo”.

8.30 p.m.
Myrsini Latzouraki Theatrical Workshop “On Stage” presents the play “Flight 1702 08, Kosovo” at DIPETHE Komotinis.

9.00 p.m.
The “Evmolpos” Choir under the direction of Mr. Sakis Vargemetzidis will sing at the Cultural Movement.

Sunday, May 8
9.30 a.m.
Last day of the Conference for the 100 years of Komotini’s Freedom at Papanikolaou Foundation.

9.00 a.m.
The Youth and Volunteering Center “Exagono” in collaboration with the Mountaineering Association of Komotini and the Panhellenic Association of Foresters and Natural Environment Managers, plan educational hiking on the beautiful and picturesque trails in the areas of Nymfaia, Parcharia, Neromuloi. The meeting point where the excursion will start is The Great Heroon (Spathi). During the hike, a representative from the Forest Service will share with the participants their knowledge and useful information regarding the flora of the forest. After the hike, there will be a climbing demonstration at the Symbols. The action is supported by the Greek Red Cross.

11.00 a.m.
The House of Culture, Tradition and Folklore “Philotechnes” celebrates World Dance Day at the courtyard of I.N. Annunciation of the Virgin.

8.30 p.m.
Myrsini Latzouraki Theatrical Workshop “On Stage” presents the play “Flight 1702 08, Kosovo” at DIPETHE Komotinis.

Monday, May 9
6.00 p.m. “Exagon” in collaboration with the Ecological Group of Rodopi, grO2be and the ORGANIZATION EARTH is planning an open dialogue about Nature for those with ecological concerns. The event takes place at Pandrosos Museum of Natural History.

06.00 p.m.
Opening of an exhibition of Thracian artists at Papanikolaou Foundation. The exhibition will last until the 14th of May.

6.30 p.m.
Tribute to the Mayors of Epirus of Komotini at the Tsanakleios School.

Insights Greece - "Eleftheria" Celebrations in Komotini

Tuesday, 10 May
10:00 a.m. At the Vegetable Gardens of Komotini (OAED)
“Exagono” in collaboration with the GI (Earth) Organization, the Spores of Rodopi and the support of environmental organizations of the city, plan the “From the field to the plate in a sustainable way”, an interactive way for people to learn more about food production and waste.

7.30 p.m.
Presentation of the novel “Tracca The Witch of Thrace” by Nagia Dalakoura in collaboration with KLEIDARITHMOS publications and the DIMOKRITIO bookstore at the Byzantine castle of Komotini.
Marika Pournara, a local lawyer, will talk about the book.

8.30 p.m.
Traditional song concert with Theodosis Abatzianis
“With two homelands in the heart,” A journey to the ends of the Universe guided by the song at the central square of Komotini.

Wednesday, 11 May
6.00 p.m.
Annual photo exhibition of the Photographic Group of Komotini at the Tobacco warehouse. The exhibition will last until the 18th of May.

7.00 p.m.
Festive Byzantine Music live concert at the Papanikolaou Foundation in collaboration with the Association of Friends of Byzantine Music of the Metropolis of Maronia.

8.30 p.m. REX
Concert with Zoe Tiganourias and Michalis Sourvinos. The two distinguished soloists masterfully combine the sounds of their musical instruments (accordion & guitar) in a program based on the Nuevo Tango of Argentina (celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of the unique Astor Piazzolla), but also in masterpieces of great composers from Europe and America to their own compositions. Stelios Generalis also participates in percussion.

Insights Greece - "Eleftheria" Celebrations in Komotini

Thursday, 12 May
6.30 p.m.
Book presentation for “The first rains” by Spyros Kiosse at the Tsanakleios School.
Tassos grew up in a popular provincial neighborhood of Komotini in the late ’70s, a transitional period for Greek society. A short story about adulthood, with all the innocence and tragedy that characterizes the most critical period of human life.

7.30 p.m.
“1922 -2022: 100 years since the Asia Minor catastrophe” at the Papanikolaou Foundation. Speech by Mr. Nikolaos Intzesiloglou, Emeritus Professor of History, Philosophy and Sociology of Law.

9.00 p.m.
“Here to stay” is a live concert with the magnificent Eleftheria Arvanitaki at the central square.

Friday, 13 May
10:30 a.m.
Official raising of the historic flag of the city by the Mayor of Komotini, Ioannis Garanis at the Central Heroon (Spathi). Representatives of the Local Government, the authorities of the XXI Armored Brigade and the Honorary Military Procession will be present. A Memorial prayer and laying of wreaths will follow.

07.00 p.m.
Reception of the holy icon of the Mother of God of the holy monastery of Panagia Faneromeni Vathyrryakos.
Reception of the icon and its procession to the Holy Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Theotokos of Komotini, where a vespers with a bread class will be held.

8.00 p.m.
Folklore dance groups will dance under the melody of the band “Orpheus”.

9.00 p.m.
Speech about the Freedom of Thrace by Prof. Angelos Palikidis, Associate Professor of History Teaching, Department of History & Ethnology, Democritus University of Thrace at the Papanikolaou Foundation.

Insights Greece - "Eleftheria" Celebrations in Komotini

Saturday, 14 May
7.00 a.m. Doxology at the Holy Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Virgin. After the eulogy, the solemnity of the day will be recited. Laying of wreaths at the Central Heroon and a parade of The Cultural Organizations, the students, the Armed Forces and the Greek Police will follow.

8.00 a.m.
2nd “Brevert Eleftheria Thrace” 2022 at the Central Square. The event with the international code title “Brevet Eleftheria Thrace” has received an official license to organize events Brevets de Randonneurs Mondiaux (BRM) and has been part of the official international calendar ACP program since September 2020. It concerns the crossing of 210 km through many five local houses and five different municipalities (Municipality of Komotini, Municipality of Arriana, Municipality of Maronia Sapon, Municipality of Vistonida, Municipality of Iasmos) in two Regional Associations of Rodopi and Xanthi.

8.00 p.m.
Dance groups are accompanied by the band “Lalitades of Rodopi” at Central Square.

Sunday, 15 May
11.00 a.m. At the west entrance of Panthrakikos Stadium, the Equestrian Club of Komotini is waiting for the public to show them their four-legged friends.

9.00 p.m.
Concert with Georgia Ntagaki at the Central Square.
With her beautiful melodies, songs and lyre, Georgia Ntagaki travels and enchants the people of Komotini with her band.

Insights Greece - "Eleftheria" Celebrations in Komotini

Monday, 16 May
7.30 p.m.
Since 1977 the International Museum Council has been organizing the International Museum Day at the Folklore Museum of Komotini. The aim of this year’s theme of celebration “The Power of Museums” is to highlight the role of museum spaces in the issue of Mental Health in the difficult times of modern society.

Tuesday, 17 May
9.00 p.m.
Concert with the band “As Old” at the Central Square.

Wednesday, 18 May
7.30 p.m.
Revival of chant in the streets of the city and around the Komotini Club starting from the Central Square.
Organization: Cultural Association of the Byzantine Fortress of Komotini. The “Evmolpos” Choir participates.

The program is presented by journalist Irini Tsakiri.

Images of Komotini by Anastasia Fountouli ©

The Greek Grand Canyon

Travelling through the lengths of Greece, you will come across the most varied landscape; from lush green hills to black lava cliffs to Grand Canyon-like rock shapes.

Just shy of the martyr city of Servia, about a 30-minute drive from the city of Kozani, lie some Grand Canyon-like formations similar to which are nowhere to be found in Greece!

These unique formations are called “Bouharia”, “Nohtaria” and the ‘Red Night”.

The famous Bouharia of Mikrovalto

These umbrella-like formations have emerged from continuous soil erosions over thousands of years. They consist of sand, clay, cobblestones and adhesive iron and silicon oxides that give this unique red colour. The top of each column is covered by a slate slab that, in the evolution of the formation, went on to give this typical umbrella shape.
In the local dialect “Bouhari” means chimney so for centuries, locals tried to interpret this unique phenomenon by telling stories about “The chimneys of demons” and “The ladies with the umbrellas”- two of the names describing the area that has prevailed up until today.

There are various myths concerning “Bouharia”. It was said that at night these formations turned into demons so it was advised not to cross the area after sunset – a myth that was made up mainly to intimidate young children not to explore the area and play further away from their parents’ supervision. Another story says that 100 years ago some thieves from the village intending to steal wheat from storage, painted their faces, dressed in rags and came out of the “Bouharia” area screaming. The people guarding the storage got scared and started running in the opposite direction allowing the thieves to carry out their plan uninterrupted.

Demon myths aside though, these formations served as a shelter for many locals during the Nazi occupation (1942-1944). Due to the mountainous area, this was the best spot to seek protection but in order for children to follow their mothers in the area the myth was reshaped and in the new version of it, it was said that instead of demons, fairies came out of the bulbs to protect the people.

The geopark of “Bouharia” was built in 2008. There is a parking space for visitors, two well-maintained pathways for visitors to follow and two kiosks. The terrain is hilly and visitors are advised to carry with them water and lunch as there are no facilities or cafeterias in close proximity.

The breathtaking Nohtaria

“Nohtari” has the same meaning as “Bouhari” but without the chimney cap. “Nohtaria” are conical formations, made similarly to bouharia, scattered all the way through the stream of Potamia on the border of the village of Livadero. The formations are 15 meters tall and to reach there visitors must drive down a forest road. Perhaps the most impressive of Nochtaria can be found in Kokkino Nochto, south of Livadero, opposite the village of Elati.

The unique “Red Night” of Livadero

Another impressive geological monument of nature is the ‘Red Night” in the mountainous area of Kamvounia which is at a direct distance of 7.5km from Nochtaria! This vertical red cliff is about 30 meters high and it consists of multiple anthropomorphic geo shapes.

Images by Kostas Haratsaris ©

Exploring the Old Town of Xanthi

When you think of the city of Xanthi, two aspects vividly come to mind, the excessive carnival celebrations and the Old Town. The best way I can describe the latter is encapsulated in one word: nostalgia!

The Old Town of Xanthi is an enchanting settlement in the heart of the city that has remained unaffected by time. It is a magnet for visitors, especially on a warm day, filled with colours and aromas. A concoction of picturesque cobbled streets, buildings with evident features of the Ottoman empire once ruling the city, rows of 19th-century houses with dilapidated balconies and throngs of tourists photographing every corner of it. A mixture of Edinburgh’s Circus Lane and Malta’s Mdina, if you like.

We embarked on a tour of the Old Town of Xanthi early on Sunday morning in an attempt to avoid the crowds. Our tour started on El. Venizelou 17 at Grand Maison, the beautiful house where the famous music composer, Manos Hadjidakis, was born and raised.

Built in 1895 by an Austrian architect, this neoclassical mansion with baroque elements belonged to Isaac Daniel, a rich Jew living in Xanthi, and not the Hadjidakis family as most people think.

The building was recently restored under the guidance of Hadjidaki’s relatives to honour his life and work in the best possible way. Nowadays, it serves as a museum and cultural centre open to the public.

It is said that the Holy Church of St. Vlassios facing Grand Maison has been the inspiration behind the artist’s composition of music mixing Byzantine and ancient Greek elements. The basilica was built in 1838 and in the courtyard lies a school and the priest’s residence. The inward-looking style of the three buildings is a common feature in Ottoman structures found in Turkey and Greece. The church courtyard is elevated three meters from the road level so that people can catch sight of it as houses on El. Venizelou were hiding the building.

The tour continued uphill on Agiou Vlassiou street with the mansion of Dr. Constantine Karabetsis on the corner. Built in 1896 by European architects in neoclassical style with a typically enclosed balcony (sachnisi) in the centre the mansion stands out for its aesthetic and character. The painting on the ceiling of the entrance hall was done by the Maltzi brothers, some famous artists from Aivali in Asia Minor (today Ayvalik, Turkey). Unfortunately, like many other buildings in Xanthi’s Old Town, the building is in deer need of restoration but visitors can still see signs of its former glorious life.

We kept walking on Agiou Vlassiou street and went past many neoclassical mansions until we met the magnificent Residences of the Michaloglou family, a complex of four dwellings built in 1890, built by the Northern Epirus tobacco merchant, Ioannis Michaloglou, for his children.

A bit further away on Botsari street lies Muzaffer Bey’s mansion (konah). The building features both Thracian and Ottoman elements making it one of the most remarkable examples of local architecture. It was built during the 1860s with three floors and two wings in the form of the Greek letter Π. Today the building belongs to the Municipality of Xanthi and it is under construction. Back to El. Venizelou street, we found a beautiful house and store built in 1880 by a group of craftsmen from Epirus. The presence of the blue arched windows is something often seen in commercial buildings of the early 20th-century in Xanthi.

Suddenly, we felt famished so we headed towards Antika square for some coffee and nibbles. This scenic square is a meeting point for many locals as it is surrounded by many well-known bars, traditional tavernas and bars. We sat at Favela Chic Art Bar and enjoyed the views of the little square and the crowds of people passing in search of a place to sit and enjoy the day. On the other side of the square is a round symmetrical building that now hosts one of the most famous cafe bars ‘Bread and Chocolate‘. This impressive building was once the harem of the Ottoman ruler Mehmet Pasha!

It was getting dark when we left so with no more time to explore under the daylight, we went for a quick wander around the square shops.

There is so much to do and see in the Old Town of Xanthi, we promised to be back very soon. Hopefully, this will be the time that we will get the full tour of the Old Town as there are still so many more mansions and historic buildings to discover.

Until next time!

Images by Anastasia Fountouli ©

A Travel Guide to Kavala

As the flawless facade of Kavala city presented itself when we were approaching the city, one of my friends exclaimed “It feels as though we are on a ferry approaching an island, doesn’t it?” We didn’t have to respond to her question as she already knew the answer. Kavala may be on the Greek mainland, but it most certainly has that island vibe!

Once popular for its tobacco trade, Kavala boasts a remarkable collection of buildings scattered around the city, where people used to trade, process, and store tobacco in the 20th century. The city has everything you could want for a weekend getaway: a picturesque facade with colorful houses, a bustling waterfront lined with traditional Greek tavernas and cobbled streets built amphitheatrically around the bay to stroll through in the evenings.

Our travel guide to Kavala will help you get the most out of visiting this beautiful city! 

How to get there and around

Situated Northeast of Thessaloniki, Kavala’s port is a focal point in the region of Eastern Macedonia and the entry to Eastern Greece, rightly known as ‘The Thermopyles of Macedonia’. You can fly directly from Athens, drive to it from the mainland or take the ferry from one of the islands.

Getting there by air: Kavala International Airport “Alexander the Great” (KVA) is located just 30km outside the city. It serves daily flights from Athens and International flights from England, Germany, Italy and other European countries. Flying from Athens takes an hour and costs a bit less than 100€.

Getting around by car: Hire a car and make the 150km journey from Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece. The journey takes about 2 hours and the ride is quite pleasant as you get to see more of the Aegean and Chalkidiki’s seaside.

Getting around by public transport: Macedonia bus station in Thessaloniki runs bus routes from Thessaloniki to Kavala about 10 times per day. The ticket costs 16€ and the ride duration is 2 hours and 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can take the ferry boat from Thassos and/or Limnos island.

A few ways to ways to soak up Kavala

Ouzo & seafood at the seafront. 

The promenade along the waterfront is a lovely place to start exploring Kavala; the air is laden with the aroma of freshly grilled fish and seafood, and people at the ouzeries linger around tables, toasting their glasses and saying ‘Opa’ every now and then. We recommend Apiko, an old-school traditional restaurant with views of the port and the main street.

Get a Greek island feel on the mainland!

Walk around the 16th-century Aquaduct

 A walk through the ‘Kamares’ (meaning Arches in Greek) will convince you that Kavala was once a prime city! The Aquaduct is the most characteristic monument in the city, the grandiose arches are 25m tall and have a length of 270 m stretching along the Old City.

Visit the Castle

Enjoy the panoramic views from the top of The Castle of Kavala! Built to protect the city from pirate attacks, the castle of Kavala is one of the city’s most popular destinations to visit. To get there you need to walk through narrow, uphill alleyways, passing old houses and exchanging pleasantries with some of the locals feeding the stray cats. Tip: pack some lunch with you, find a spot to sit and enjoy the views of the city and the port.

Wander through Panagia (Old City)

Wandering through the narrow streets of Panagia will take you a few centuries back as the old tobacco buildings in the area give you the feeling of having instantly travelled in the past. The majority of these beautiful buildings once belonged to tobacco traders – the legacy of the days when exporting tobacco fueled Kavala’s prosperity. Here, you will also find Muhhamed Ali’s house and the Imaret, a Muslim seminary built in 1821 to educate the less fortunate of the city regardless of their religion that has now been converted into a hotel. 

Explore the Tobacco Museum

With artefacts and archived material relating to the cultivation and production of tobacco, this museum uniquely presents the history of technology and economy in Kavala and the region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace.

Visit the City Hall

Resembling a miniature Hungarian tower, Kavala’s City Hall is most definitely one of the prettiest buildings in Greece. This Gothic revival building belonged to Hungarian tobacco trader Pierre Herzog, who used it as his residence and place of business. The building was purchased by the Municipality of Kavala in 1937 and since then it houses the City Hall.

Swim at Kalamitsa

Kalamitsa is the nearest beach to Kavala, it has a long sandy stretch and clean, shallow waters that make it ideal to visit with young children. There is a free car park just opposite the beach, plenty of changing rooms to use and cafes to have a nibble if you feel like doing so. There is also Batis beach next to Kalamitsa but the beach opening to the sea is much smaller and often too crowded to find a spot. 

All Images by Anastasia Fountouli ©

Komotini Like a Local

Born and raised in Servia, a small town set between a lake and the mountains in the region of Kozani, Anastasia Fountouli was drawn to nature, gardening and her family’s vegetable patch. So, it comes as no surprise she went on to study Agricultural Sciences at the University of Thessaly in Volos.

“Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of this experience was that through meeting people from different countries, I was inspired to travel abroad and immerse myself in different civilisations,” says Anastasia who continued her studies in England and later on moved to Scotland for her PhD all while travelling around Europe.

“What began as a fun, one-year adventure, resulted in a life in the UK for a little over a decade. After all this time, I now consider Scotland as my second home,” says Anastasia. 

Once the uncertainty of the pandemic hit, she began to re-evaluate her life, and, “it soon became clear to me that I had to return back to Greece. Once the travel restrictions were lifted, I quit my job, flew to Volos and I found myself in my old flat contemplating what my next step should be. Then, totally unexpectedly and on a night I didn’t even want to go out, I met my now-husband.

 “Our attraction was instant, and our chemistry was so strong we both knew we were made for each other. Saying ‘yes’ to his proposal was the easiest decision I ever made in my life. Once I got pregnant, we decided to move to his city, Komotini and the rest is history. If there is one thing I have learned so far is to take the risk, it’s worth it!”

Since 2007, Anastasia has also been a popular lifestyle blogger, sharing travel, restaurant, and fashion tips with her loyal followers who are inspired by her beautiful images and recommendations. Over the last year, she has shared a lot of stunning photography, footage and information about her new hometown, which she has fallen in love with, and is keen to share with the rest of the world.

We recently had a chat with Anastasia about her new life in Komotini, as well as where to go, what to see and the best places to eat when visiting this pretty town in eastern Thrace.

Firstly, please tell us when you started blogging and more about Natbee’s travels.

Natbee’s is an extension of my childhood habit of journal writing but with a modern twist! It started in 2007 as a way to keep in touch with family and friends and flourished while living abroad. I write about my travels, hotel and restaurant recommendations and, so far, people enjoy following along! Essentially, I am the brand, I photograph everything myself, I write and edit the articles and I come up with the creative side, too. It is a one-woman band but I love it! The blog has constantly evolved as my life was evolving and it was nominated for the ‘Best Newcoming Blog’ award in the 2012 Cosmopolitan Blog Awards, for the ‘Best Fashion Blog’ award in the 2013 Company Magazine Blog Awards and got a spot in the Top 10 Scottish Blogs list. At the same time, I was a travel contributor to The Gaudie newspaper and Trend Aberdeen magazine which persuaded my love for travel writing and photography even more. 

How would you describe your new hometown to those who have never heard of this charming city?

A hub successfully mixing Western and Eastern civilisation; from mosques to Christian churches, tell-tale signs of modern Greece and the Ottoman Empire are all over the city making Komotini’s cityscape and architecture exceptionally unique. Much like London, in Komotini people come from different backgrounds and religions and they live here harmoniously, tasting each other’s cultures through friendship, food, and trade -a thing that I love the most about living here. 

What are the must-see monuments and historical sites of Komotini?

In no particular order, if visiting Komotini, you must visit the Tsanakleios School (that’s the pink building you often see on my Instagram), the Yeni Mosque with its Clock Tower, Ermou Street and the surrounding cobbled streets where the traditional shops belonging to the Greek Muslim minority are tucked away, the ruins of the 4th-century Byzantine wall, the Byzantine fortress of Komotini, the Old Temenos (also known as Eksi Mosque) and last but not least the central square with the adjacent park that features The Central Heroon, Spathi, a monument dedicated to the fallen WWII heroes.

What would you recommend for cultural and leisurely experiences in Komotini?

Komotini is known for its large number of museums making the city a meeting point for history aficionados. The Constantine Carathéodory Museum tells the life story of the man who is known as Einstein’s mathematician, the Archaeological Museum exhibits pieces from the Neolithic to the Byzantine period and reveals much about the prehistory and history of the Aegean Thrace and Komotini; and the Folklore Museum displays a collection of ecclesiastic items, traditional dresses and various materials. There is something for everyone’s taste really! If, however, escaping the crowds is your thing, there are also beaches with fine sand to visit in less than half an hour’s drive away. Located just outside the city, Mesi Beach and Fanari are two of my favourites. The stretch of sand of Mesi beach would make many Greek islands jealous: it goes for a mile and on a sunny day, the azure waters make it impossible to resist a swim. Fanari Beach runs down from the port of Fanari village up to the nearby village of Arogi. In summer it is a top tourist attraction and it has a handful of bars and restaurants to sit and relax when the heat gets too much.

Favourite restaurants and cafes?

Visiting Komotini is like going on a gastronomical pilgrimage! Visitors can enjoy Greek coffee at cafes hosted in old buildings, ‘Varosi Art Cafe’, ‘Gecko’ and ‘Lou.Ki’ are just a few of them. As for food, try the local cuisine at ‘Kapsouli’ and ‘Elia kai Duosmos’. Then for dessert, there is ‘Nedim’, possibly the most famous patisserie in the city that has a sterling reputation for its Turkish desserts.

Any local dishes or delicacies visitors should try?

I’d definitely go for Bougatsa at ‘Takis’, Lahmacun at ‘King Food’ and Kazandibi at ‘Nedim’.

Your favourite day trip(s) from Komotini?

Situated between the beautiful cities of Xanthi and Alexandroupoli, the sandy beaches on the south and the mountain of Nymfaia just a short drive away, we are spoiled for choice! My favourite day trip would include a drive to the city of Xanthi for a wander around the Old City and a spot of shopping. Then, on my way back I would go through Porto Lagos, have a quick stop at the Monastery of Saint Nicholas and end up at Fanari village for a cocktail at the beach just before the sunset.

What do you love most about living here?

The friendly people and its long cycle lane going through the city centre. It makes mobility for a new mum with a buggy so much easier. 

A few of your overall favourite destinations in Greece?

The magical land of Crete has to be on the very top of my list -the history, the people and the food make this island irresistibly attractive. Santorini and Corfu are next. Santorini for its magical sunsets, white-washed houses with blue-painted doors and abundance of wineries, and Corfu for its Venetian vibes, colourful cobbled streets and luxury hotels. But Greece is not all about the islands as the mainland has, too, so much to offer and even more. I have a soft spot for Macedonia as it has a strong history and a lavishness of things to do and places to visit comprising of mountains, lakes and beaches. It is no surprise that the saying ‘like Halkidiki nowhere’ has been posted all over Instagram over the past decade as the crystal-clear waters and evergreen beaches of this part of Macedonia make this place unmissable.

You recently became a mum. Are there any places you can’t wait to visit with your baby girl? 

My list is never-ending! Be it the travel restrictions, or my new, tiring role, there hasn’t been a time that I have dreamed of travelling more than now. This pent-up wanderlust has created that compulsion to write meticulous travel itineraries which I am hoping we will go on the soonest as possible. One of them includes a Balkan road trip where we will be visiting Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro. Fingers crossed we make it happen.

Discover more about Natbee’s travels and Komotini here.

Images by Anastasia Fountouli ©

7 Idyllic Winter Getaways in Greece

Greece is filled with dreamy coastlines, lush mountainous landscapes, fairy-tale villages from a different era, ancient sites and sacred spots.

For the full-monty experience, all you have to do is find the right place and the best time of year to discover them. Winter travel in Greece offers a completely different picture of a country too commonly associated with beaches and infinity pools.

We encourage you to book your winter escape to get to know traditional villages and their inhabitants, ski jaw-droppingly scenic slopes, try the warming, hearty and mouth-watering winter rendition of Greek cuisine and explore traditional culture beyond the tourism façade. Above all, to celebrate Greece’s deep winter season in a magnificently memorable way! 

Arachova

A winter Mykonos of sorts, Arachova is where the cosmopolitan crowd gathers to sip frothy cappuccinos and sexy cocktails in between skiing, shopping at designer concept stores and local delis and pampering themselves at spa hotels. Also, only 15 minutes drive from the stunning and sacred ancient site of Delphi, this alpine village is both traditionally charming and glamorous.

Elati

Elati or Tyrna is an alpine village in the Prefecture of Trikala, located in the southern part of the Pindos mountain range. Close to the Petrouli ski center, it has been modernised and developed into a tourist destination considerably over the years but hasn’t lost its natural beauty. Surrounded by the fir trees (elata) it’s named after and at an altitude of 950m on the slopes of Koziakas, you can enjoy sweeping views and traditional experiences as well as skiing.

Nafplio

So close to Athens you can even pop over for the day, Nafplio town in the Peloponnese is romantically beautiful year-round, and particularly festive at Christmastime with its twinkling lights and cozy hangouts. Neoclassical buildings, pretty shops, cobblestone walkways, museums and historical sites like the Ottoman Bourtzi old prison and Venetian Palamidi castle, all add to the incredible allure of this must-visit place.

Zagorochoria

Choose among Zagori’s 48 traditional villages in Epirus and travel back in time, enjoying the brilliant combination of traditional slate-roof architecture, magnificent natural areas like the Vikos gorge, rivers for rafting and (Pindos’) mountains for hiking, combined with warm village hospitality. The most famous villages are Mikro and Megalo Papigo, Ano Pedina, Monodendri, Aristi, Dilofo, Tsepelovo and Vovousa. ‘re planning a romantic Christmas getaway or an excursion with family/friends, book yourself into a boutique hotel and spend your days exploring the area inside out!

Elatochori

Elatochori is a mountainous settlement in the prefecture of Pieria, known for its ski resorts, the artificial Velvento lake, eight slopes at a total length of 9 km, 6 lifts, a buzzy ski society and snow bars. At over 1900m altitude, the village, once named Skouterna, is in the mountains of Pieria, 8 km west of Katerini. Stay in a cosy chalet with a spa and spend the day skiing and exploring the fabulous hiking trails, with jaw-dropping views, lush forest paths and waterfalls.

 

Kastoria

Built amphitheatrically on a peninsula, Kastoria in northern Greece in the region of Western Macedonia. Wear your warmest coat and walk along the icy Lake Orestiada. Explore picturesque districts such as Dolch with its majestic mansions, Byzantine churches in Apozari and the prehistoric settlement of Dispilio, a few kilometers outside the southern entrance of Kastoria. If you’re going after Christmas…Annually, from January 6-8 the town celebrates Ragoutsaria, a local carnival originating in pagan Dionysian ceremonies, with live orchestras, dancing and wine.

Monemvasia

Created during the Byzantines Empire during the sixth century, Monemvasia is a fairytale-like group of castles and houses joined by medieval cobblestone roads with breathtaking sea views.  Explore this mystical stone-built settlement, nestled at the edge of a big rock by the sea, and immerse yourself in a uniquely mystical and romantic atmosphere. During the Christmas/New Year holidays, this is an idyllic getaway especially if you can afford to stay within Monemvasia’s medieval town at an old mansion with a fireplace. Enjoy scenic spots, pretty shops and all sorts of restaurants/bars. 

Main image of Elati 

Greece to Open All Year Round for Tourists

After being named Europe’s top destination for 2021 at the World Travel Awards, Greece has announced it will not only focus on the peak summer season but will also be ready and willing to welcome international visitors all year round. 

Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias made the announcement in a recent interview with CNN, during his time at the international tourism trade fair at the World Travel Market (WTM), in London.

According to the Minister, Greece’s tourism board is working hard to “win over” every traveller, offering a new tourist experience, and at the same time promoting new destinations including more untouched islands, both small and large, the mainland, and city breaks.

Insights Greece - Greece to Open All Year Round for Tourists
Greece proves it’s more than just a summer destination

Minister Kikilias said, “Tourism is the locomotive of the Greek economy, something that proves again this year, in the midst of a pandemic, and brings new jobs that we aspire to be of better quality and better paid, enable through the 320 million euros of the RRF of the Ministry of Tourism for infrastructure, ports, marinas, upgrading of hotel units, for digitization, green development, and a sustainable system of the sustainable tourism product.”

The Minister stressed there is more to Greece than just a few popular islands. “It doesn’t always have to be to the two or three branded places that people discovered in the 50s and the 60s,” he said, adding that Greece has many beautiful destinations that he believes will appeal to tourists from the UK, the US, France and beyond.

Concerning infrastructure in specific popular destinations including Santorini, Mykonos, and Rhodes to name a few, Kikilias said that Greece has 320 million euros from the Recovery and Resiliance Fund (RRF) to improve its infrastructure and build new infrastructure where it’s needed.

During his time at WTM London Minister Kikilas also met with a range of international tour operators, travel agents, and airline companies from Great Britain, the USA, and France and signed a number of new deals for 2022.  

And although the country will be open to tourists all year round, the official tourist season in Greece will commence in early spring (March-April). And with high volumes of bookings already taking place, 2022 is expected to be a very successful year for Greece’s tourism industry.

20 Best Things to do in Patras

Located on the northern side of the Peloponnese, Patras is Greece’s third-largest city. A place with a long, rich history etched in the various archaeological sites and museums, it’s also a vibrant city with lively spaces, cafes, and restaurants. 

Wander in the beautiful old town, explore the squares, sidewalks, and the bustling port, linking Greece with Italy- there are so many glorious spots waiting to be discovered. 

Here we share 20 of the Best Things to See and Do in Patras 

Insights Greece - 20 Best Things to do in Patras
Apollon Theatre in Patras

Medieval Castle

Located on a hill above the town, the Castle of Patras dates from Medieval times and offers great views of the town and the port. In summer, cultural events are also organised here. 

Apollon Theatre 

This architectural masterpiece was built in 1972 by famous German architect Ernst Ziller and it is located on the east side of King George I Square, one of the most popular squares in the town. 

Folk Art Museum 

Insights Greece - 20 Best Things to do in Patras
Archaeological Museum of Patras

Opened in 1977 by the Cultural Organisation of Patras, the museum’s aim is to collect and exhibit photos, clothes,  furniture, and other artifacts that date from a few centuries ago- highlighting the rich folk history of the town. Presently, the rooms of the museum are divided into sections including agricultural tools, home furniture, traditional musical instruments, and dance costumes.

Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological Museum of Patras is the second biggest museum in Greece. Although the plans for its construction started in the late 1980s, the museum actually opened in July 2009 and it features a charming garden with a pool.

Historic Churches

Insights Greece - 20 Best Things to do in Patras
Agios Andreas Cathedral

The magnificent chapel of the Patron Saint of Patras, Agios Andreas (St Andrew) was built in the Byzantine style, and it’s said that the church has been built on the site where Saint Andrew, the student of Jesus Christ, was killed by the Romans in 66 AD. Close to the church, there is the “Spring of Agios Andreas”, which pours out holy water. Also, the church of Agia Varvara (Saint Barbara) is impressive and has also been built in the Byzantine style. Inside, you will find holy icons and beautiful frescoes depicting saints and archangels. Also make sure you climb the 193 steps up to the Church of Agios Nikolaos (Saint Nicholas), which was initially built in the 14th century, however, the present chapel was constructed in 1885 because the former building was destroyed. 

Stroll around the grounds of the theatre 

The Ancient Roman Odeon of Patras was accidentally discovered in 1889 by workers and since then it has been renovated. Since being rebuilt, the amphitheater now hosts summer events, musical concerts, and theatrical performances year-round. 

Explore the Upper Town

One of the highlights to Patras is walking through this picturesque part of town, with its narrow streets, archways, attractions, and unique architecture. Here you’ll see the castle, the ancient conservatory, the Pantokratoras church, built in the 19th century, the Roman Amphitheatre, and the Old Municipal Hospital built in 1857. Originally designed by the Danish architect Theophil Hansen, it’s been turned into an exhibition space and cultural centre.

Insights Greece - 20 Best Things to do in Patras
Views from up high

Visit the Town Squares 

Patras has so many lively town squares and that all are filled with locals and visitors enjoying a coffee and a catch-up. Start at Psila Alonia, buzzing with tavernas and bars- the views from here are great! At the centre you will come across Agios Giorgios Square (where the Carnival’s opening ceremony takes place), here you will find the famous Apollon Theatre (mentioned above),  at Olgas Square- make sure you sit for a coffee and then head to the Archaeological Museum. 

The Lighthouse of Patras

Insights Greece - 20 Best Things to do in Patras
Lighthouse of Patras

The lighthouse was originally built at Agios Nikolaos harbour, where it remained until 1972 when it was demolished. A model of the lighthouse was built in 1999, near the church of Agios Andreas. 

Take a bath at the Old Hammam 

The Turkish baths in Patras, also known as hammams, have been open since the 15th century AD and are a wonderful place to relax and rejuvenate. Built by the Venetians, they are the only Turkish baths still in operation in Greece today.

Visit one of Greece’s oldest wineries

Sip a small glass of the famous Mavrodaphne wine at the Achaia Clauss winery, one of the oldest and most famous wineries in all of Greece. For Patras, this is a historical winery as it contributed to the financial development of the town in the middle 19th century. Founded in 1861, the winery is known to produce the best mavrodaphne (a sweet and strong wine.) 

Slowly sip on Tentura

Speaking of drinks, don’t leave Patras without trying its famous Tentura, the nectar of Patras, a local liqueur produced here since the 15th century.

Visit the House of one of Greece’ most Famous Poets

Insights Greece - 20 Best Things to do in Patras
Famous poet’s home

Kostis Palamas is one of Greece’s most renowned poets and the artist who wrote the lyrics to the Olympic Anthem, which is sung today in the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics. His 19th-century neoclassical house has become a museum. Here you can see where he was born and the environment in which he was raised.

Get lost in the Street Art

Patras is a city filled with joyful students from university, and it has a cool urban vibe, which includes plenty of street art that is displayed pretty much on every second corner of town. 

Enjoy the Festivities 

Patras’ annual Carnival is a huge event and is the second biggest carnival in all of Europe; and the third biggest in the world. The carnival festivities take place each year between mid-January to mid-February (dates vary) and if you are here during this time, you are in for a good time. This modern event that first started in 1829 (with a high-class masquerade ball in a rich merchant’s mansion) has evolved into a huge extensive event that nowadays includes floats, colourful festivities, dancing, floats, masqueraders, and the famous treasure hunt. 

Insights Greece - 20 Best Things to do in Patras
Crossing the modern bridge

Cross the modern bridge

The Rio-Antirrio bridge is a bold and modern landmark. It is one of the world’s longest multi-span cable-stayed bridges and the longest of the fully suspended type. It crosses the Gulf of Corinth near Patras, linking the town of Rio on the Peloponnese peninsula to Antirrio on mainland Greece. 

Admire neoclassical buildings

Discover the neoclassical landmarks of the city, built from the 1830s onward, during the time of King Otto, and throughout the remainder of the 19th century. Some of the stand-out features include marble staircases, ornate railings, impressive doors, and intricate murals.

Eat & Drink your way around Patra 

The most popular restaurants and taverns in town are found at the port promenade, offering delicious dishes and nice views of the sea.

Insights Greece - 20 Best Things to do in Patras
Divani Restaurant

Many cafes and bars are located in the city centre, mostly at the square of King George and along the main avenues of Patras. Seafood taverns are also found in seaside villages close to the city, such as Vrachneika and Rio. For brunch or coffee head to Cuccuvayia, Bodegas, and Big Ben.

For food in the centre of the town make your way to Ifaistou. At the port, there are many cafes to pick from if you are looking for a place to grab breakfast, coffee, dessert, or just a drink- look out for Theatraki and Yayaz. Also, 10 minutes drive from the centre along the coastal road there are plenty of places to try- standouts are Distinto, which is a great all-day restaurant and Naftiko– ideal for dinner.

Insights Greece - 20 Best Things to do in Patras
Naftiko for a drink

If you are after a picturesque seaside dining experience, head to Vraxneika. Come here for brunch, late lunch, or a casual dinner. If you are after some traditional Greek meat platters head to Xeiropoihto, for good seafood there is Meltemi and for great all-round Greek dishes make your way to I Oura Tou Kokora. And for a cocktail or glass of wine, add Divani and Omega to your list- they also serve great food. Also check out Abbey Kitchen Bar, Baraki, and for wine bars head to Salumerio and Carousello

Stay in style

If you are looking for a beautiful place to stay, look no further than The Bold Type Hotel. Located in the historic district of Ano Polis, near the Medieval Castle and Roman Odeon- two historical monuments of Greece, this new hotel opened in 2020. 

Insights Greece - 20 Best Things to do in Patras
Bold Type Hotel by © Pygmalion Karatzas

Set in a stunning classical building, the luxury 5-star hotel features a fourth floor with a Roof View, offering a prime position facing the Fortress, the Ancient Roman Conservatory, as well as the Gulf of Patras. At the back of the hotel, you will find a magnificent courtyard, which has been transformed into a fine dining restaurant. Run by talented chef Giannis Skentzos, it’s also an ideal spot for brunch, late lunch or dinner.

Visit nearby places

Patras is referred to as the “Gateway to the West”, as you can take a ferry to Bari, Italy, or hop over to the Ionian islands of Lefkada, Kefalonia, Corfu, Zakynthos, Ithaca, Paxoi, and Kythera. Patras really is a central location and ideal for road trips to Olympia, Nafpaktos, Messolongi, and Delphi.

How do I get to Patras? 

There are many ways to get to Patras from Athens and the most convenient way is to drive.  The trip is just over two hours long by car and you can also get to Patras by bus; otherwise, you can take the suburban railway from Athens to Patras. 

Visiting Koroni and Methoni

Only two hours’ drive from Athens, Messinia is known for its lush landscapes, endless olive groves, gorges, coves, and beaches. It’s also home to some of Greece’s most impressive landmarks, including the Venetian castles of Methoni and Koroni. 

A drive through the picturesque seaside towns of Koroni and Methoni allows visitors to explore the region’s rich history, as well as its unique architecture, charming beaches, cafes and taverns. 

Methoni 

Located 12 km from Pylos, Methoni is a very popular spot amongst locals; and is slowly becoming a favourite with international visitors too. Most known for its beautiful fortress, it’s surrounded by wonderful vineyards- and you will no doubt be tempted by some good local wines. 

Insights Greece - Visiting Koroni and Methoni
Bridge leading to the Castle

Must see: The histоriсаl Cаstlе οf Mеthоni- built by thе Vеnеtiаns in the 13 Cеnturу; it’s located by thе sеа and as soon as you reach the stone bridge (with its 14 arches) you’ll be greeted by the imposing castle and its striking gate. Although little remains inside the fortress itself, around the traditional settlement you will find the Church of the Transfiguration of the Saviour (Metamorphosis tou Sotiros), the Turkish Baths (dating to the 19th century), the house of Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt and the Bourtzi, which was built in 1500 and is connected to the Sea Gate of the castle with a paved tiny road.

Must do: Eat at one of the many seaside cafes, tаvеrnаs, and rеstаurаnts аrоund thе саstlе, which all offer great views of the fortress. Also visit one of thе small nearby villаgеs, where you’ll be greeted by the friendly locals. 

Swim at:  Mеthоni bеасh, located nеxt tο thе саstlе; it features а lоng strip οf finе sоft sаnd аnd shаllοw wаtеr and has won several awards for its eco-sensitivity. Hеаding tо Kοrоni, just οutside thе villаgе yοu will find thе bеасhеs оf Kritika, Lambes and Kokkinia. Thеrе is also аnоthеr smаll but bеаutiful bеасh οn thе uninhаbitеd islеt оf Sаpiеntzа in thе bаy οf Mеthоni.  

Don’t leave until: You try a traditional dish from Taverna Klimataria where the talented chef offers a range of fresh, authentic Greek dishes made with local produce. 

Koroni 

Insights Greece - Visiting Koroni and Methoni
Historic castle of Messinia

Amphitheatrically built on a low-lying hill, Koroni is filled with stone-paved alleyways, charming homes, gardens featuring blossoming flowers and many churches. In the warmer months, the coastal road overflows with coffee shops, tavernas and people, while all around, you’ll find beautiful beaches. 

Must see: Visit the manor of chieftain Karapavlos and the traditional central square where you will find the Church of Agios Dimitrios. The top of the hill is occupied by the large Venetian Castle of the 13th century (it was built around the same time as the castle of Methoni) under the Ottoman rule and was considered the best-fortified castle in Messinia.  Inside the castle is the Monastery of Agios Ioannis. Below the castle, you will find the church of Panagia Eleistra, which offers stunning views of the town. Also check out the Historical and Archaeological collection with the region’s excavated findings, housed in a small building on the site of the grove.

Insights Greece - Visiting Koroni and Methoni
Seaside dining

Must do: Sit by the waterfront and enjoy the great restaurants, picturesque fish taverns, bakeries, ouzerias and cafes that serve tasty and fresh delicacies by the sea. 

Swim at: Koroni has beaches with fine golden sand and some with pebbles. We recommend visiting Kolonides, Paroulia, Gargarou, the beach by the Castle of Koroni, as well as Zaga, Memi, Kalamaki, Agia Triada, and Agios Ioannis. 

Don’t miss: The Venetian islet opposite cape Akrita; with a wonderful sea bed for diving and fishing.

Highlights of Metsovo

Nestled within the Pindos mountain range at an altitude of 1,200m, the charming town of Metsovo is set at the ‘crossroads’ of Epirus, Thessaly, and Western Macedonia.

Built like an amphitheatre, it boasts a collection of traditional houses with tile roofs and wooden porches, as well as grand mansions that are nestled between lush greenery. The town flourished in the 18th and 19th Centuries and ever since was supported by a local
benefactor and politician Evangelos Averoff, who created a foundation to fund local crafts, cheesemaking, and winemaking. Indeed, Metsovo is known as a capital place to find excellent cheese in all varieties, the most famed of all from the region being the smoky, toffee-coloured PDO Metsovone.

Insights Greece - Highlights of Metsovo

Top Things To Do

-Explore the town – stroll along cobblestone streets and sip coffee in Agia Paraskevi square, admire the traditional architecture and visit the Averoff Museum, Aghios Nikolaos Monastery, and the Folk Art Museum.

-In early spring or late Autumn especially visit the man-made Aoos Springs Lake.

-Southeast of that is the high Katara Pass (5km northeast of Metsovo) where you can challenge yourself in a climb or hike and admire stunning vistas.

Insights Greece - Highlights of Metsovo

Best Places To Eat

-Visit Galaxias, which serves good regional cuisine and is located in the main square of Metsovo. We recommend you try the homemade pites (pies), traditional kontosouvli, as well as handmade local pasta.

To Koutouki Tou Nikola serves simple yet delicious local fare, from meats and mezedes to grilled saganaki cheeses and hand-cut chips in a cozy ambiance.

-No-frills in terms of its appearance, Aspasia’s (20 minutes from Metsovo) honey cuisine has character and packs a punch in flavour. Local meats, cheeses, and wines are served up in well-sized and affordable portions.

Don’t leave Metsovo without trying: Agiorgitiko wine at the Averoff Winery and Hotel, and cheeses such as gyalotyri, Metsovone, graviera, and goat’s cheese. Hard cheeses travel well and can be bought at I Pygi or the Tositsa Foundation Cheese Factory.