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The lake Kerkini in Central Macedonia, Northern Greece

Water Paths of Macedonia and Thrace: 7 Day Greece Road Trip

This  northern Greece road trip is a tribute to the beauty and life giving importance of water.
Rent a car with Simplybook and set off  on a journey to explore the North Aegean coast, Nestos and Aggitis rivers, Kerkini lake, a cave carved by water, towns built on river banks, and thermal springs with therapeutic properties.

Enjoy!

Itinerary: Thessaloniki- Philippi-Kavala Nestos Delta – Xanthi – Stavroupoli- Livaditis- Drama- Alistrati-Serres- Kerkini-Thessaloniki

Duration: 6 days – 7 days

Distance: 632 km

 

The promenade of Thessaloniki

Greece Road Trip Day 1. Thessaloniki

Dedicate your first day to explore the city of Thessaloniki. Walk in the city center around the central squares  of Aristotelous and Eleftherias, the Arch of Galerius on Egnatia, to the busy waterfront where locals meet, and to the 15th century White Tower,  the landmark of Thessaloniki.

The neighborhood of Kalamaria  to the east of the city center is known for the tavernas and restaurants where you can enjoy ouzo and local tastes by the sea, whereas the area of Ladadika, closer to the center is a better option for restaurants and bars at nighttime.

Make sure that you visit Ano Poli, the old town of Thessaloniki, with the cobbled streets and the Byzantine walls for panoramic views of Thermaikos Gulf.  The Archaeological museum  and  the Museum of Byzantine Culture will take you through the history of the wider area.

 

The port town and castle of Kavala

Greece Road Trip Day  2. Philippi-Kavala

There is no better way to start the exploration of water wonders of Northern Greece, than a relaxing thermal bath, especially if you are travelling during winter. 42 km west of Thessaloniki, on your way to Kavala, you have the option to enjoy  the therapeutic properties of the Eleftheres thermal springs, reaching 35 ℃.

Next stop is the ancient town of Philippi in the prefecture of Kavala, named after Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great.  In this Unesco World excavations have revealed the walls and acropolis, the 4th century BC theater, the temples and public buildings of Agora and the decorated basilicas.

Continue to the coastal town of Kavala, built amphitheatrically on the slopes of Mt. Symvolo where you can spend the night. Dedicate the rest of your day to walk around and explore the town,  starting from the old district of Panayia, in the peninsula of Kavala, inhabited  since the  7th century BC, and walk up to the ottoman acropolis. Chose the coastal fish tavernas, the busy pedestrian Megalou Alexandrou  Street with the cafes and shops or Eleftherias Square to blend in with the locals and get a taste of the everyday life of the locals.

 

Thessaloniki-Philippi 161km, Philippi-Kavala 18 km 

 

Ancient town of Philippi, Kavala, northern Greece

Greece Road Trip Day 3. Nestos Delta – Xanthi

Get your binoculars, put on your hiking shoes and let’s discover the Delta of Nestos river.  Part of the National Park of East Macedonia-Thrace, extending over 500.000 acres, this group of wetlands,  reed beds, sand dunes, and the riparian forest provide an estuary for numerous bird species.

Start from the Nestos Delta Information Center in the area of Keramoti to learn more about the importance of the Nestos river, valley and delta through audiovisual presentations. Here you can also find all necessary information on hiking trails and bird watching towers which can be your next stop.

We strongly recommend that you dedicate this day to exploring the natural beauty of the Nestos Delta. This is your chance to see herons, flamingos, ibises, storks, cormorants, and, if you are lucky, the rare ring-necked pheasant

It’s time to visit beautiful Xanthi, where you can spend the night.  Spend the evening exploring the old district  with the cobbled streets and enjoy local tastes, incredible sweets and pastries, or a drink in one of the numerous cafes and restaurants. If you are looking for a late night out, Xanthi accustomed to the needs of local University of Thrace  students, is the best place to do this during this road trip.

It is worth waking up there on a Saturday morning when the largest open-air market in all of Greece is held in town.

 

Kavala-Nestos 72 km, Nestos-Xanthi  25 km

 

Nestos river, National Park of East Macedonia-Thrace

 Greece Road Trip Day 4.  Xanthi-Livaditis- Drama

If you feel like having a  morning walk before driving off to the next destination, walk along the river crossing Xanthi  and have your morning coffee there.

Option: If  you want to add an archaeological touch to your road trip, this is your chance: Visit the archaeological site of Avdira, 20 km south of Xanthi, an ancient city said to have been built by Hercules in honor of  his battle partner Avdiros. This is also the home of the great Greek philosopher Democritus. Visit the ruins of the ancient city including the ancient theater and Roman houses as well as the  Archaeological Museum exhibiting finds from the city and the cemeteries, covering a period from the 7th century BC till the 12th century AD.

Today we are heading towards Drama.  But there is a lot to see on your way there. Stop at the old tobacco village of Stavroupoli to rest at the cafes of the central square under the plane tree. Stavroupoli is the ideal place to visit the straits of Nestos, an area protected due to its ecological importance. You can hike, canoe or enjoy the short ride on the tourist train.

If  you prefer to drive  a bit more to the north do not miss the Forest Village of Erymathos at 1350 m.  Here you can ask for directions to the nearby trail that will take you through the oak forest to the impressive waterfall of Leivaditis. It takes around one hour to reach the waterfall and a bit more to come back up to the car.

Spend the night in Drama, a town built at the foot of Mt Falakro. Walk around the old neighborhoods with the neoclassical mansions, the byzantine walls and enjoy your dinner in the park by the springs of Agia Varvara.

Xanthi-Stavroupoli: 32 km,  Stavroupoli – Erimanthos:31 km, Livaditis-Drama: 70 km

 

Walk through the oak forest to the impressive waterfall of Leivaditis, Drama, northern Greece

 Greece Road Trip Day 5. Alistrati-Serres

Before leaving Drama you can visit the archaeological museum with finds from the area, dating from prehistoric until recent years.

Off to the famous Alistrati cave, at the borders of Drama and Serres. Around 6 km from the town of Alistrati, in the area of Petroto, this cave receives thousands of visitors who come here to admire the natural limestone formations, the red stalagmites, and the impressive helictites, a kind of stalactite following irregular shapes.  The  cave of Alistrati is part of the cave network eroded by the water of River Aggitis.

Take the day to explore the natural beauties around Aggitis River before you drive to Serres where you can spend the night.

Drama – Alistrati: 26 km, Alistrati-Serres: 52 km

 Road Trip Day 6. Lake Kerkini-Thessaloniki

Next stop is Lake Kerkini. This artificial reservoir on Strimonas river, created in 1932, is today one of the most important wetlands of northern Greece and the Balkans hosting more than 250 bird species in the area: Eagles, falcons, pelicans, flamingos, a large cormorant colony and even the rare Pygmy  Cormorant species. These riparian forests also host amphibians, reptiles and you can also see a water buffalo population at the river banks. Whether you prefer to hike, drive or canoe, enjoy the natural beauty of lake Kerkini. For more information on Lake Kerkini you can visit the Management Authority Information Centre  in the village of Kerkini.

We recommend that you spend one extra day to make the most of at least one of the destinations of this northern Greece road trip. For those who enjoy bird watching, Kerkini might be the perfect place to spend one extra day before driving back to Thessaloniki.

Serres-Kerkini: 62 km,  Kerkini-Thessaloniki: 98 km