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Why Should I Visit Kavala?

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Kavala at a glance

Built on a hillside around a large harbour overlooking the Thracian Sea, Kavala is a city with a long history and a cultural crossroads between East and West.

Blessed with stunning beaches, monuments of world cultural heritage, architectural treasures, a strong gastronomic tradition, and an old town of picture-postcard beauty, the ‘blue city’ of northern Greece offers visitors an inexhaustible range of attractions.

Combining the vibrancy of a modern urban centre with the relaxing mood of a tourist resort, and a cosmopolitan atmosphere with a traditional way of life, this jewel on the coast of Eastern Macedonia promises every traveller a unique experience. For lovers of nature tourism, Kavala is an ideal gateway to the islands of the North-Eastern Aegean, the forests and vineyards of the mythical Pangaion Hills, the magical lagoons of the Nestos Delta, and the ancient cobbled footpaths of the Via Egnatia. Visit it by choosing one of the itineraries for Kavala.

10 reasons to visit Kavala
  1. To visit the iconic archaeological site of Philippi, one of the major landmarks of the Greco-Roman world and a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
  2. To explore Kavala’s imposing medieval fortress, built in the 15th century at the highest point of the Panagia peninsula. Be sure to go up onto the roof of the round central tower to enjoy the view of the city below.
  3. To wander the narrow picturesque streets of the Old Town, strolling between pastel-coloured mansions with covered wooden balconies and fragrant courtyards.
  4. To admire the fairy-tale Imaret, an exceptional monument of Islamic architecture and a jewel of the Ottoman baroque. Built in the early 19th century by Mehmet Ali, the governor of Egypt, this former religious school and poorhouse has now been restored as a luxury hotel.
  5. To take a selfie in front of the impressive medieval aqueduct, Kavala’s most famous landmark. Built of granite and brick, the 280-metre-long structure standing between the old town and the modern city has 60 arches.
  6. To follow in the footsteps of Saint Paul by visiting Philippi, where the Apostle first brought Christianity to Europe in the year 49 AD and baptised the first European Christian, Lydia of Thyatira. Make a stop at the open-air baptismal pool on the banks of the River Zygaktis and at the modern Baptistry of Saint Lydia.
  7. To organise an excursion to the Pangaion Hills and the River Nestos, for activities and exploration in two enchanting natural idylls.
  8. To visit the Archaeological Museum of Kavala for a unique journey into the history of the city through its monuments. Among the fascinating exhibits are two enormous marble columns from the 5th-century-BC Ionic temple of Athena the Virgin, and an extensive collection of figurines and vases.
  9. To discover the fascinating history of the Balkan ‘Mecca of Tobacco’, as brought to life in the excellent Tobacco Museum, and to see the historic warehouses that still stand in the centre of the city.
  10. To go to the Philippi Festival, where ancient drama is performed every summer in a theatre whose history goes back 24 centuries.
The top 5 beaches

Ammolofi: One of the most exotic beaches in Greece, with fine white sand and refreshing emerald waters, west of the town of Nea Peramos. It is essentially a long stretch of coast with three successive beaches separated by rocks and surrounded by soft sand dunes. The middle one has the most amenities, with umbrellas, sun loungers, showers, and changing rooms, as well as opportunities for water sports. Every weekend it swarms with young people who party at the beach bars until late into the evening. For families and those seeking relative tranquillity, the eastern end is the best option. During the summer, there is a bus from Kavala that stops right by the beach.

Kalamitsa: A favourite beach of locals and especially young people, with coarse sand and dark green waters. It is very well run by the Municipality of Kavala, and has a number of amenities such as umbrellas, showers, changing rooms and sports facilities, while there are also bars, cafes and restaurants there. It is easy to get to either by car or public transport. It is well worth visiting if you choose one of the itineraries for Kavala.

Batis: A beautiful sandy beach stretching around a picturesque bay with blue-green waters, just 4 km west of Kavala. Part of an independent tourist resort with a campsite, it has good facilities, including inflatables and other water gear, a restaurant, beach and pool bars, and a children’s playground. There is a small charge to visit the beach, which is easy to get to, especially during the summer, when there is a bus service.

Nea Iraklitsa: A large, sandy beach with crystal-clear azure waters and good amenities including showers, changing rooms, and water sports, as well as beach bars, cafes and tavernas. It is especially popular with families, owing to its many facilities, but also because it is easy to get to (by car or the Nea Peramos bus). The breezes that keep the area cool also make it an ideal spot for windsurfing.

Ammoglossa: A popular beach with golden sand and exotic scenery, next to the village of Keramoti. Its name, which means ‘sand tongue’, comes from its unusual location on a strip of land poking out from a small pine forest into the deep blue sea. The beach has umbrellas, sunbeds, cafes, and bars, while the tavernas here are renowned for their seafood. It is especially popular with families, owing to its calm waters and ease of access.

Don’t leave Kavala without…
  • Watching the sunset from the enchanting rocks below the lighthouse on the Panagia peninsula. When the skies are clear, there are superb views of the island of Thassos, Mount Athos, and Keramoti Beach.
  • Walking along Odos Kyprou, a paved street lined with grand public buildings and tobacco merchants’ mansions. These splendid examples of 19th- and 20th-century neoclassical architecture bear witness to the wealth brought to the city by tobacco.
  • Making a trip to the verdant island of Thassos, the emerald of the Aegean, with its golden sands and crystalline waters.
  • Experiencing the rare and revitalising mud and hydrotherapy treatment offered at the Krinides Mudbaths, one of the world’s most unusual natural spas. The thermal springs lie 17 km from Kavala in beautiful green surroundings.
  • Visiting the mansion of Mehmet Ali in the Old Town, a superb example of 18th-century Ottoman architecture. Today, the building is a museum and research centre.
  • Enjoying the nightlife in the picturesque harbour of Sfageia, with its famous tavernas and bustling cafes.
  • Going for a morning stroll along the seafront past the fishing boats and small yachts. As you breathe in the sea air and hear the lapping of the waves you could be forgiven for imagining yourself on an island.
  • Discovering the natural beauty of this part of the world through scenic trails and centuries-old paved footpaths. Hike along the wonderful ‘Water Route’ between Kavala and Palia Kavala, crossing five superbly built stone bridges and following a winding covered channel which, during the period of Ottoman rule, carried water to the aqueduct to supply the Old Town.
Tasty experiences
  • By choosing a ferry ticket to Kavala, you will have the opportunity to discover the gastronomic riches of the city, a creative blend of local Macedonian cuisine and flavours brought here by refugees from Asia Minor, the Black Sea and Cappadocia.
  • Kavala is one of the biggest centres of fishing in Greece, and a paradise for connoisseurs of seafood. From the internationally renowned Kavala sardines to delicious Keramoti mussels, the list of fish-based delicacies is almost endless. Enjoy sun-dried mackerel, herring (fried saganaki-style), anchovy wrapped in vine leaves, stuffed sardines, and steamed mussels, as well as octopus, lobster, and shrimp.
  • Try unique rice pilaf dishes such as sardelopilafo (with sardines) from the Black Sea and the classic mydopilafo (with mussels), or mydosarmades (mussels with rice, pine nuts and raisins) from Asia Minor.
  • Enjoy sparangokeftedakia (asparagus fritters), piperolahana (pickled vegetables with white beans), soutzoukakia (minced meat rissoles in tomato sauce), rooster with trahanas (fermented wheat), and fried courgettes with yoghurt.
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth with the famous kourabiedes of Nea Karvali (half-moon shortbread cookies made with whole almonds and dusted with icing sugar), loukoumades (doughnuts) drenched in syrup and served with chocolate sauce or ice-cream, and ‘spoon sweet’ preserves (flavours include walnut, fig, chestnut and olive).
  • Be sure to sample the excellent local tsipouro, with the seal of quality of Kavala’s small distilleries.
  • Head for the Pangaion Hills to discover a tradition of wine-production that dates back to antiquity. Oenophiles will be sure to enjoy a vintage experience in a place that boasts 23 wineries and 99 labels that have won international recognition and top awards.

From the mid-19th century to the 1950s, Kavala was the largest centre for the processing and exporting of tobacco in the whole of the Balkans. Between 1924 and 1930, there were more than 60 major tobacco companies operating here, as a result of which the city became known as the ‘Mecca of Tobacco’.​

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