I lately took a street journey by means of Northern Greece. Having traveled everywhere in the Cyclades islands, the Ionian Islands, and Athens, I knew there was extra to see. Particularly the Northern half of Greece is commonly instances regarded over in favor of its extra in style and iconic islands like Mykonos and Santorini.
I spent ten days touring the North of Greece, also referred to as the province of Macedonia. This in fact, is to not be confused with the previous Republic of Macedonia which lately modified their identify to North Macedonia. There’s a ton
The place I went in Northern Greece
In whole, I spent ten days touring by means of the North of Greece.
That is in fact greater than what most individuals may have however I assumed it actually helped me see all of the locations I needed to with out speeding by means of it. I additionally traveled through the instances of Coronavirus and was in a position to work remotely which helped me take the extra time needed.
Don’t fear, I’ll assist craft itineraries when you’ve got one week or two weeks which is in fact the extra widespread route!
If these locations ring a bell and sound just like the locations you wish to go to, that is the right itinerary for you!
Find out how to journey by means of mainland Greece?
In contrast to the Cyclades which is related by a implausible ferry system, Northern Greece is the exact opposite with mountains and lengthy roads. One of the simplest ways to see Northern Greece is to lease a automotive.
Automobile leases from Thessaloniki airport are very low-cost and there are quite a few corporations that do enterprise. I used to be in a position to lease my automotive (guide in fact) for €14 a day which included all insurance coverage. Fuel is on the pricier aspect in Greece in comparison with the remainder of the European Union so be certain that to lease a small automotive.
For automotive leases, I used Golden Hire as my supplier and so they had been pretty much as good as you’d hope for in a rental automotive. They supplied a simple shuttle to their vehicles and so they individuals had been fairly good. In addition they had good evaluations on Google which is rare.
Paying tolls in Greece
There’s a new freeway system in Greece that connects a lot of the large cities to one another. The street is excellent so you’ll be able to drive quick to your locations. There are tolls in place nevertheless preserve that in thoughts to funds round 25 euros or so for the journey.
Tolls in Greece could be paid by money or bank card.
Full Northern Greece Itinerary
This itinerary begins in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest metropolis. Thessaloniki is house to many inter European flights and is a fast flight from Athens. From Thessaloniki, I rented a automotive that I’d use for the remainder of my journey
From Thessaloniki, I drove to Meteora to go to its world well-known monasteries. These monasteries constructed on high of rocky peaks really feel like they’re suspended in air. This place is completely gorgeous and was all the time excessive on my bucket record. I’m glad I acquired to cross it off.
From Meteora, the subsequent a part of the journey is to drive into the Zagori district. Zagori is the identify of a municipality in Northern Greece and is part of the bigger Pindos mountain area. This space is house to completely breathtaking Vikos Gorge Canyon which is the second deepest canyon after the Grand Canyon in america. The little mountain villages listed below are insanely lovely.
From the mountains of Zagora, I then drove to the Ionian Island of Lefkada. The Ionian islands are identified for his or her dramatic turquoise seas and dramatic mountain surroundings. Having been to Kefalonia and Zakynthos, I’d wager that Lefkada has them each beat with regards to seashores. In case you are searching for probably the most lovely seashores in Greece, look no additional.
Day 1-4: Thessaloniki
The itinerary begins in Thessaloniki, Greece’s culinary capital. Having already spent ample quantities of time in Athens, I already knew there was likelihood I would love Thessaloniki.
I used to be not mistaken.
Thessaloniki, like Athens, may not wow you at first sight. Greek cities aren’t probably the most lovely while you evaluate it to their Western European counterparts. Most of Thessaloniki was burned to the bottom within the early twentieth century so what you see now could be largely “new”.
Nonetheless, you don’t come to Thessaloniki to see the historic sights, museums, or the like. You come right here to eat the superb meals, drink scrumptious cocktails, and witness breathtaking sunsets. After all there are historic ruins within the metropolis in addition to fascinating museums, however don’t come to this metropolis with the “typical” European issues in thoughts.
Issues to do in Thessaloniki
There are such a lot of issues to do in Thessaloniki, however listed below are a few highlights you wish to take a look at when you’ve got a while within the metropolis.
- Go to the White Tower of Thessaloniki. Maybe probably the most well-known landmark in Thessaloniki, you’ll be able to go inside from 8:30am-3:30pm day by day. It has seen many makes use of all through its historical past together with being a jail. These days, it’s a museum with an incredible viewpoint of Thessaloniki.
- Arch of Galerius: This Roman model arch is dab smack in the midst of city. It’s positioned close by to the big Rotunda supplying you with a little bit of that historical really feel that I cherished in Athens.
- Go contained in the Hagia Sophia of Thessaloniki. Modeled after the unique in present-day Istanbul, this church was lastly restored within the final 1900’s after a fireplace.
- Stroll alongside the waterfront: The waterfront is what units Thessaloniki other than Athens. It’s an attractive avenue with ample sidewalk area. There are additionally loads of fashionable bars and eating places right here. Be certain to cease on the Vogatsikou 3 cocktail bar for a drink. It’s one of many high cocktail bars in Greece.
- Go to Kapani Market: That is the native bazaar model market of Thessaloniki. Come right here to see all of the native items together with meats, seafood, fruits, and different items.
- Latomos Monastery – Church of Hosios David: Situated within the Higher city of Thessaloniki, this church is taken into account one of many oldest church buildings on the planet. Commissioned again within the fifth century AD, the mosaic right here is sort of lovely.
Day 4-6: Meteora
From Thessaloniki, the subsequent step is the monasteries of Meteora. You will have seen images of those “floating” monasteries hovering over the clouds perched on their respective mountains.
It’s simply probably the most well-known and most well-known attraction you’ll discover in Northern Greece. For good motive. This place will take your breath away.
Settlements within the Meteora space return to the darkish ages and the monasteries you see right here started development within the twelfth century. These are very historic items of Orthodox structure!
The secret right here is to easily drive to the quite a few scenic look out spots, and to go to the six monasteries within the space. Every monastery prices €3 to go to so a go to to all monasteries prices €18.
I spent two nights right here and I believe that could be a enough quantity to see all of the monasteries. You would in concept energy by means of all six of them in a day however I needed to provide myself a while to take pleasure in all of them particularly within the scorching summer time warmth.
I’ll summarize the monasteries beneath however be certain that to learn my extra detailed information to journey Meteora earlier than your journey!
Which Monasteries to go to in Meteora?
There are six monasteries in whole. All of them are open to the general public however every monastery closes on someday of the week. Weekends are the very best time to go to if you wish to do all of them in a day as they’re all open.
- Nice Meteoron (Closed Tuesdays) – Largest monastery. Tons to discover, together with three distinct museums, an artwork gallery, and far more.
- Holy Trinity (Closed Thursdays) – A great deal of stairs to get to the highest, however you’ll be rewarded with an incredible lookout level. You’ll be able to climb on the rocks for some neat images.
- Varlaam (Closed Fridays) – Second largest monastery, thought-about one of many nicest. An amazing place to start out your journey, because it has a museum concerning the historical past of Meteora. Wonderful bogs.
- Roussanou (Closed Wednesdays) – Truly a nunnery. Very fairly to go to and has some good gardens. Much less visited than a number of the different monasteries.
- St. Stephen’s (Closed Mondays) – Additionally a nunnery. Very busy, particularly as you don’t have to climb any stairs such as you to do with the others.
- St. Nicholas Anapfsas (Closed Fridays) – The smallest monastery and maybe the least spectacular, however price visiting in case you’re a completionist!
Day 6-9: Zagori Mountains
Final however definitely not least, what long run journey by means of the Cyclades is full with out a go to to the mom of all of them in Santorini. Santorini is probably the most well-known and most visited island in all of Greece, and perhaps even the world.
Cease within the city of Metsovo
I really found Metsovo utterly on accident. I had no thought what this city needed to provide however somewhat I simply wanted a lunch cease between Meteora and the Zagori Mountains. Metsovo was considerably within the center and Google Maps listed many eating places within the space.
Seems, Metsovo is likely one of the most picturesque little villages in northern Greece. Metsovo has stubbornly preserved its conventional model in structure and common heritage, which is widely known and guarded by the locals as a lot as its pure magnificence is. Consequently, Metsovo has managed to utterly preserve the best way it regarded in its peak of economic energy within the 17th and 18th centuries, when it exported its well-known textiles and woven items in all of the Balkans and even throughout the Mediterranean.
You don’t want far more than an hour to stroll round and see the sights of Metsovo.
After Metsovo, it’s one other two hours to the Zagori mountains
Staying in Papigo Village
This space of Greece is understood for its quite a few mountain villages. Every village is charming and cute in its personal approach. I made a decision to remain in Papigo because it was the most important and most vibrant of the villages. It was nonetheless sufficiently small the place you felt such as you had been distant from all the things however large enough the place it had a couple of eating places and cafes to maintain you entertained at evening.
As you drive in the direction of the village, you’ll discover the unimaginable mountain surroundings. The rocks and peaks remind me of the Italian Dolomites which I believe are probably the most lovely mountains on the planet. Other than the surroundings, the village itself has a outstanding magnificence as properly. Proper after getting into, the customer comes throughout the central cobblestone sq.. Alongside the stoned alleys, there are a lot of nice exponents of the Zagorian structure, additionally fabricated from stone.
Be certain to go to Astra restaurant for dinner beneath the mountains and the cafe/bar subsequent door, Κουκουνάρι Πάπιγκο.
Be certain to additionally go to Mikro Papigo which is a 3km drive (or stroll) away from Papigo. Mikro, as you’ll be able to think about simply means small Papigo. It’s positioned increased up on the mountain and simply gives a distinct perspective of the gorgeous Tymfi mountain vary.
Day 9-12: Lefkada Island
From Zagori, the subsequent cease is to move to the land of solar and seaside. From Zagori, it’s a three hour drive to the island of Lefkada.
Lefkada is likely one of the solely islands that’s accessible by mainland Greece with out a ferry. There’s a lengthy bridge that connects the mainland to the island of Lefkada making it simple and reasonably priced to go to. Having been to the opposite Ionian islands of Kefalonia, Zakynthos, and Ithaki, I knew I needed to go to Lefkada as properly.
Seems, Lefkada is probably the most lovely with regards to seashores. Having seen seashores throughout Greece, I’ve to say that those in Lefkada are probably the most gorgeous.
The seashores of Porto Katsiki and Egremni alone will go away you blown away. Actually, the entire west coast of the island is adorned with lengthy stretches of white pebbly seashores and a dramatic rock facade.
There’s not a lot else to do on this island moreover visiting its unimaginable seashores. The villages of Lefkada aren’t so lovely like in Kefalonia however you’ll quickly neglect all of this anyhow.
Be certain to learn my Lefkada Journey Information for particulars on all the very best seashores and eating places within the space.
Day 9-12: Halkidiki Peninsula (Different possibility)
If you don’t want to drive to Lefkada after visiting the Zagori mountain vary, contemplate driving again in the direction of Thessaloniki and visiting the Halkidiki peninsula. This is named the realm the place Greeks trip as you’ll additionally discover vibrant blue waters and fewer packed seashores.
Folks from Thessaloniki rave about Halkidiki and each particular person beneficial me going. It’s Thessaloniki’s reply to the Athenians who can hop on a ferry and be within the Cyclades in a couple of hours.
I ended up spending a day in Halkidiki close to the tip of my journey simply to see what all of the fuss is about. The Thessalonikians are proper. It’s completely lovely right here with a fraction of the vacationers that different Greek islands have.
The seashores in Halkidiki are very totally different than those in Lefkada. The world is much less mountainous so you have got extra “conventional” trying seashores with lengthy stretches of sand in a comparatively flat panorama. The water could be very clear, and hotter than that in Lefkada. Nevertheless, in the long run, I don’t assume it could actually evaluate to pure and “wild” great thing about the seashores in Lefkada. The Ionian sea homes Greece’s finest seashores and I’m sticking with my story!
The three fingers of the Halkidiki Peninsula: Kassandra, Sithonia, Athos
Halkidiki consists of three so known as “fingers” as you’ll be able to see on a map: Kassandra, Sithonia, and Athos. The primary two fingers are open to vacationers and locals alike, whereas the final finger, Athos, is the place the male solely monasteries are positioned. These are literally all male monasteries in contrast to those in Meteora that are an enormous vacationer attraction so they’re open to everybody. The seashores in Athos are additionally male solely. Not even simply male solely, you have to apply months prematurely to go. They solely enable a specific amount of non-Orthodox males to the seashores. Lengthy story brief, you in all probability received’t be going to Athos.
So this leaves Kassandra and Sithonia. How to decide on between the 2?
Easy, if you’d like a hopping nightlife scene, then Kassandra is your spot. In any other case Sithonia is extra laid again with extra household pleasant choices. Each areas have implausible seashores so you’ll be able to’t go mistaken with any choices.
Day by Day breakdown of my Northern Greece Itinerary
Here’s a day-to-day breakdown of the Greek island itinerary. It’s fairly concerned every day so completely be happy to unfold it out over extra days when you’ve got the time!
Day 1: Land in Thessaloniki, discover the cit
Day 2: Full day in Thessaloniki
Day 3: Half day in Thessaloniki, drive to Meteora
Day 4: Full day in Meteora
Day 5: Drive to the Epirus area of Greece (Zagori, Vikos Gorge and many others.)
Day 6: Full day within the Epirus area
Day 7: Full day in Epirus
Day 8: Drive to Lefkada
Day 9: Full day in Lefkada
Day 10: Full day in Lefkada
Day 11: Full day in Lefkada
Day 12: Lefkada to Thessaloniki
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