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Northern Greece Beaches and the Ancient City of Philippi

by Tove Cecilie Fasting
(Eleftheres, Greece)

The northern Greece beaches and the ancient city of Philippi are only two of the reasons to visit Macedonia and Thrace on the Greek mainland.

While the country is mainly known for its islands, with cute whitewashed houses, narrow alleys and harbors with colorful fishing boats, not to mention millions of tourists, the true adventure awaits you on mainland Greece, and especially up north.

After all, an island is just a rock in the ocean, while northern Greece is a continent. Here, in East Macedonia and Thrace, are high mountains and deep valleys, rivers, creeks and waterfalls. In the mountains there are wild boars, wolves and even wild horses. Eagles and hawks fly, and in certain areas you can even find flamingos wading along with water buffalo.

The stunning northern Greece beaches and sand dunes stretch along the coast from Thessaloniki – the capital of northern Greece – all the way to the Turkish border.

And it´s unexplored. Even in August it doesn´t take much work to find a sandy bay where you are alone and can swim nude in turquoise, crystal clear waters.

If you move away from the coast, up in the mountains, you can visit villages where life plots along quietly and without the concern of world events, just like it has done for hundreds of years. Try to order your coffee on the local kafeneion coffee shop – I say try, because unless you speak Greek you´ll have to use your imagination to get your order through – and be pleased with what is served. You´re probably the only foreigner there. That month.

For thousands of years, foreigners have traveled through, occupied, settled or got left behind in Macedonia and Thrace – the main road from China, Iran and the Mid East to Europe
went through this part of Greece. The area is a melting pot of different cultures.

A hundred years ago, Thessaloniki was the biggest Jewish city in the world – descendants of Seraphim Jews that were expelled from Spain in the 14th century.

Today, the biggest ethnic group in northern Greece are the Roman people – whom you´ll mainly meet in the outdoor bazaars that are held weekly in every small town in the region.

This is probably also the only place in the world were Muslims and Christians live peacefully side-by-side. In the cities of Komotini and Xanthi you´ll find church towers rising next to Minarets.

My little hotel in the village of Eleftheres is a great starting point for touring this area. It´s a few minutes drive away from the amazing northern Greece beaches. You can also reach the ancient city of Philippi, which is the main archaeological site in this region, in 30 minutes. Here, during summer, you can enjoy concerts or theater plays at the ancient theater built by Phillip the second, the father of Alexander the Great. Thousands of pilgrims visit the ancient city of Philippi every year, following the footsteps of saint Paul.

Our little village is surrounded by vineyards – and one of the things I suggest you do when visiting northern Greece is to taste the local wines. Some of the best Greek wines – many internationally rewarded, are produced here.

Which brings me to the Greek food: Excellent, locally produced vegetables, meat from free ranging animals and fish from the salty Mediterranean sea can even make your journey here a gastronomic experience.

This article is written by Tove Cecilie Fasting, who runs the small hotel Kairos Garden in northern Greece.

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