Macedonia and Thrace

Macedonia is the largest prefecture in Greece and not surprisingly has a wide variety of attractions to appeal to the visitor. These include Greece’s second city, Thessaloniki, a lively waterfront city with a wealth of history that can only be rivalled by Athens, and the major seaport of Kavala

The harbour at Kavala in GreeceKavala Harbour

Beaches

Some of the best beaches are on the Halkidiki peninsula, to the south-east of Thessaloniki. To find out more, read our Halkidiki page.

Wolves and Bears

In contrast to the modern metropolis of Thessaloniki and the beaches of Halkidiki, the west of Macedonia is a remote and rugged region bordered by the Pindus Mountains where a few wolves and bears still roam the forests. Here too are the magnificent and beautiful Prespa Lakes, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, and nearby the beautiful lakeside town of Kastoria.

Lovers of the natural world can also visit Mount Olympus, the home of the Greek Gods, which provides some challenging walking and an opportunity to climb to the highest point in the country.

Lights reflecting in the harbour in Thessaloniki in GreeceThessaloniki

Historical Sites

Historians will be more than satisfied with such sites as ancient Pella, which has some of the best mosaics in the country, the hauntingly atmospheric ancient city of Dion, The site at Philippi where the apostle Paul was imprisoned, and Vergína, where the one-time Macedonian kings once had their Royal Palace and which has produced some of the finest archaeological finds in Greece in the last hundred years. Macedonia is also the region which produced one of the greatest Greeks who ever lived: Alexander the Great.

Hardly seeming to belong to the 21st century is the peninsula of Mount Athos, known as the Monks’ Republic, where the contemplative life goes on as it has done for the last thousand years. There could be no greater contrast than the busy beaches and modern nightlife on the other two peninsulas of three-pronged Halkidikí, which juts into the Aegean Sea.

Mount Olympus in GreeceMount Olympus

Thrace

East of Macedonia is the long, thin prefecture of Thrace, which leads the visitor towards Turkey and where the Turkish influences are more notable the closer you get to the border. Towns like Xanthi and Komotini show definite touches of the Middle East, while the nearest city to Turkey is Alexandroupoli.

Thrace also contains some of the most unspoilt and unvisited parts of Greece, where few foreign visitors venture but those that do are rewarded with unforgettable natural beauty. The beach and ancient archaeological site of Avdira are typical of these.

In the northern part of Thrace are the Rodópi Mountains, separating Greece from its Balkan neighbour, Bulgaria. In the extreme east of the region are the Evros Delta and the Dadia Forest, where wildlife flourishes. There may be no wolves and bears at the eastern extremity of this region of Greece, but there are eagles soaring in the sky, and a definite awareness of being somewhere on the very edge of the country.

The River Nestos in Thrace in GreeceThe River Nestos in Thrace

Driving in Greece
For a drive from Kastoria to the Prespa Lakes, see
Scenic Drives in Northern Greece.

Some other Macedonia pages

  • Thessaloniki

    The capital of Macedonia and Greece’s second city, Thessaloníki has a lovely situation by the water, a wealth of history, many good museums, and good food.

  • The Churches of Thessaloniki

    The churches of Thessaloniki are remarkable and include UNESCO World Heritage Monuments, Byzantine masterpieces, and a church dating from the 5th century.

  • Museums of Thessaloniki

    The Greek city of Thessaloniki in Macedonia has an array of wonderful museums and art galleries, and here's twelve of the best.

  • The Royal Tombs and Archaeological Site of Vergina in Macedonia

    The archaeological site of Vergina in Macedonia is famous for the royal tombs which were the burial place of King Philip II, father of Alexander the Great.

  • The Prespa Lakes in Northern Greece

    The Prespa Lakes in northwest Greece is one of the most beautiful parts of Greece with abundant wildlife and also many ancient churches.

  • Scenic Drives in Northern Greece

    Scenic Drives in Northern Greece, Ioannina, Meteora, Kastoria, Prespa Lakes

  • Philippi

    Philippi is an ancient archaeological site near Kavala in East Macedonia and Thrace and is famous for being the place where the apostle St Paul was imprisoned.

  • Kavala

    The city of Kavala in eastern Macedonia is the area's major seaport and the base for ferries to the islands of the North East Aegean, including Thasos.

  • The Site of Ancient Pella in Macedonia, Greece

    Pella in Macedonia is famous for its mosaics and was also the birthplace of both King Philip II and his son, Alexander the Great.

  • Northern Greece Guide

    The Bradt Guide to Northern Greece is a detailed guide to Thessaloniki, Halkidiki, Macedonia, Thrace, The Pelion, The Sporades and the rest of Northern Greece.

  • Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece

    Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece and is in the Mount Olympus National Park in Macedonia, with Litochoro being the best base.

  • Mount Athos

    Visiting Mount Athos in Greece requires a permit, but you can see the monasteries on a boat trip around the peninsula, known as the Monks' Republic.

  • Mount Athos Boat Trips

    Mount Athos boat trips are very popular with visitors to Halkidiki in Greece, as they are the only way most people get to see these spectacular monasteries.

  • Kastoria

    Kastoria is a lakeside town in West Macedonia which prospered with the fur trade and today has some handsome mansions, museums and many Byzantine churches.

  • Halkidikí

    Halkidiki is a three-pronged peninsula near Thessaloniki in Macedonia which comprises Mount Athos and the holiday resorts on Kassandra and Sithonia.

  • Dion

    Dion is a rather wonderful archaeological site in Macedonia, not far from Thessaloniki, with an archaeological museum nearby in the town of Dion.

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