Take a big sniff of the air in Thessaloniki and you’ll have no doubt that you’re in Greece. The city, though the second-biggest in the country, is surrounded by nature: hills and woodlands that pump out unmistakably Greek smells. They come from the hiking trails’ quaint agricultural villages and areas producing Greece’s famous olives, olive oil, honey and wine. Explore the hidden groves and forests in the warm sunshine, marvelling at beehives and beautiful flora and fauna. Take in views of the sprawling city and beautiful Thermaikos Bay below. Here’s our round-up of the best places to go hiking in Thessaloniki. Some are set, timed routes, others let you wander more freely. However you do it, it’s time to earn those mezze dishes and cold sunset beers!
Get started with this easy but exciting route. It leads from the beach in Elia in Halkidiki to the church of Agios Pavlos (St Paul) and onto breathtaking views of the peninsula from high Petros rock. The path snakes through luscious woodland, beside turquoise coastal waters and into a classic Greek field of olive trees. You can enjoy some history too, as it’s believed St Paul passed through the town on his way to Rome and blessed the church’s spring.
Known as Thessaoliniki‘s “lungs of the city”, this garden forest makes for a lovely scenic wander. Start 15 minutes outside of the city centre in the village of Agios Pavlos (not to be confused with the church of the same name) and head into sun-dappled woodlands for a splash of nature. There’s no specific route so it’s fun to explore the path, meadows and expanses of trees, until you’re ready to head easily back to the nearby hustle and bustle.
This hike isn’t for the faint-hearted, but we assure you it’s worth the trek. The trail begins on the middle finger of the Halkidiki peninsula, in the old hilltop village of Parthenonas – a lovely place you can enjoy before your walk. Work your way down with spectacular views of the village and sea, passing olive fields, woodlands and an old water mill. You can also follow the river down the mountain, for a shorter, although rougher, trail.
Starting beside the school in Nikiti, a few miles up the coast from Neos Marmaras, this circular route takes you inland through hills and woodlands to the pretty little village of Agios Nikolaos and a lovely church of the same name. On the way you can enjoy those most Greek of aromas, olives and honey, as you make your way through olive trees and forest beehives. Pick this one if you want to see lots of nature in one afternoon.
The most coastal route of the bunch, head to Porto Carras and back via Ampelones for unrivalled views of that beautifully blue Aegean sea. It’s great to spot the coves and beaches as you amble through the high hills in the sunshine. There’s a vineyard or two plus more magical woodlands to enjoy. It takes a long five hours but its peaceful, untouched nature at its best.
It’s worth the one hour drive out of Thessaloniki city to reach this area steeped in Greek history and legend. Mount Olympus is a national park with 46 impressive peaks reaching 200m high. We recommend the Prionia Trail which starts in Litochoro, a town ensconced within the mountains. Head to the Enipeas Canyon and onto the Prionia Trailhead through lakes, valleys and ancient monasteries. You’ll reach the highest peak Mytikas, presenting stunning views of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and that beloved Med in the distance. It’s a Greece-lover’s dream.