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The northern region of Macedonia, in Greece, is a fascinating kaleidoscope of landscapes. While the capital, Thessaloniki, has everything to offer from entertainment and culture to shopping and water fun, it is close to the paradise known as Halkidiki, a three-peninsula region where beaches, mountains, and history reign.
Macedonia also includes a collection of villages known for their unique culture, traditions, and experiences, such as bird-watching, wine tasting, rafting and a selection of extreme sports. Here are the top places and cities to visit in the region of Macedonia, Greece.
Kastoria, nestled between the Grammo and Vitsi mountains, is a charming city on the banks of Lake Orestiada. The town, known for its fur trade, is home to around 60 Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches, dating from the 9th to the 19th century. The churches of Taxiarchon and Agion Anargyron, in the picturesque Doltso district, are of particular interest, alongside the monastery of Panagia Mavriotissa, home to fascinating murals. The district of Apozari will surprise you with its traditional Macedonian architecture and churches to visit. End your exploration with a walk by the lake.
Lying at 850 meters (2,788 feet) above sea level, the lakes of Prespa offer a breathtaking vision of natural beauty. Forming part of the borders that Greece shares with Albania and Bulgaria, these beauties are ideal for bird-watching, taking bike rides in nature or simply strolling alongside the water. The little island of Agios Achilios, with its small churches, its herds of goats and water buffalos and its lonely main street, offers an idyllic hideaway from the world, while the surrounding villages in the nearby mountains are ideal spots to admire the lakes from above.
With over 550 kilometers (341 miles) of coastline and incredible landscape, the region of Halkidiki, with its three peninsulas, will welcome you with open arms, golden shores, and high-end resorts, along with tranquil villages, monasteries, and churches. Those travelers on a spiritual journey will enjoy a visit to Mount Athos, where women and female animals are strictly forbidden, while families, friends, and couples can revel in the beauty of the beaches of Sithonia and Kassandra.
Macedonia is also home to some unique archaeological sites, telling the rich history of the region. A visit to Vergina, also known as Aigai, takes you through the dynasty of Macedonian kings, while the ancient city of Philippi in Eastern Macedonia allows a glimpse into a distant past. You can also visit ancient Dion where sanctuaries dating from the Hellenistic and Roman periods will show you its oldest secrets. The lesser-known archaeological site of Aiani, near Kozani, reveals the presence of an organized city dating back to the 6th century, giving you insight into life in Macedonia in ancient times.
Edessa, the capital of the region of Pella, is home to stunning and breathtaking waterfalls. As such, the city is filled with small bridges where the river giving birth to these cascading waters, Edessaios, lies. Walking around town, you will constantly hear the rushing sounds of the falls, especially in the northeastern section where you will be able to admire the Karanos waterfall, the tallest in Greece. Don’t miss out on the chance to visit one of the oldest districts in town called Varosi.
Once you reach Litochoro, the small village at the foot of the majestic Mount Olympus, you will understand why ancient Greeks thought it was the home of the gods. This impressive mountain, which towers 2,917 meters (9,570 feet) above sea level, is a magnificent sight to behold. No need to climb it to the top as the mountain is perfect for day hikes ending with a picnic, thanks to the extensive network of trails.
The green city of Serres is known to have been a melting pot of culture and history, and while its natural beauty shines, we recommend that you visit its racing circuit, which regularly hosts Formula 3000 events. If you pay the fee, you will be able to test your skills in your car or on your motorbikes before ending the day at one of the many bars, clubs, and ouzeries in town.
The gateway to Thassos island, Kavala is a humble seaside town in eastern Macedonia. Of course, there are quite a few sights to see, but take advantage of the proximity to the island, less than an hour away by boat. You will be rewarded by untouched beauty, sandy shores, and a green inland.
If you are a wine lover, then take advantage of the several wine routes located in Macedonia. The region of Naousa, Pella-Igoumenitsa, Halkidiki and the wider Thessaloniki area are only a few of the many options from which to choose. Explore the stunning Macedonian countryside at your own pace and stop at the age-old wineries to try their products. You are in for a treat!
Second to the National Library of Athens, the Kovadareios library, in Kozani, holds an impressive collection of old and rare volumes, relics, and codices, recollecting the country’s rich history for over 400 years now. Spend hours in the reading rooms browsing through its books before exploring the historic heart of the city, which boasts some impressive houses and mansions, as well as cafés and restaurants.