West Macedonia

4 wonderful winter destinations It’s time to experience a different sort of Greece – one of rivers, mountains and glorious natural landscapes as yet undiscovered by mass tourism. Let's explore some less talked about places in NW Greece this year. Florina - on the edge of the mainland Visit this outstanding natural landscape dotted with six magnificent lakes, picture-perfect lakeside villages, and a beautiful town traversed by river Sakoulevas. Enjoy your time in Florina by visiting the Archaeological Museum housing treasures from the Hellenistic Period. Discover how life used to be like there at two Folk Museums or see interesting exhibits by local artists at the Contemporary Art Museum. Explore its lively social life at the town’s cafés and taste local produce, including its famous sweet red peppers and PDO Prespa beans. Take a tour around Prespa Lakes and Nymfaio, a traditional stone-built village and try the local wine. Plan a hiking trip and enjoy winter sports in the area.  

Kastoria – a tranquil aura Enjoy the peaceful Orestiada lake, part of the EU NATURA 2000 network, with lots of geese, swans and a variety of protected birds. Apart from nice walks, the exquisite tree-lined pathway along the lake allows cycling trips that offer great views of the town and the surrounding Vitsi and Grammos mountains. Visit breathtaking Dragon Cave and Agios Nikolaos Church, and then relax at the cafés and restaurants by the lake. Explore the old neighbourhood of Doltso; its restored traditional mansions and cobble stone alleys are wonderful examples of Macedonian architecture and definitely worth the stroll. Visit more than 60 Byzantine and post-Byzantine Churches, dating back from the 9th to the 19th century and learn more about them at the town's Byzantine Museum. In Dispilio, discover how people used to live in the recently unearthed Prehistoric Lake Settlement. Don't forget to visit the town Aquarium; one of the biggest in the Balkans. There’s even a fossilized forest for those wishing to explore a natural miracle.  

Grevena - the mushroom capital of Greece
The town claims a mushroom museum as the area hosts some 1,300 species growing in thick oak woods. Savour delicious pies, soups, spoon sweets and alcoholic liqueurs made of mushrooms. If you're in town at the end of August, drop in on the annual four-day festival for fungi nirvana. Get your adrenaline flowing by driving off-road towards Portitsa Gorge. Participate in organised jeep tours on the mountain. The rugged mountainscape accentuates local monuments: old monasteries, impressive stone bridges and small waterfalls. Set out on a fascinating journey to Valia Calda National Park, one of the most attractive trekking destinations in Europe. Go skiing at Vassilitsa Snow centre or take part in trekking/rafting activities on Aliakmonas River.  

Kozani - saffron and more Promenade on the main pedestrian street of the town and pass by 18th c. mansions. Find Agios Nikolaos church with its famous belfry. Visit Kovedareios Library & Museum; you will be amazed by the centuries-old library, the second richest in Greece with rare and valuable works. Learn more about Kozani district at the Historical - Folklore and Natural History Museum. Cross the bridge on Lake Polyfytos and visit Servia, a picturesque small town with a long history and enjoy the lovely view from its Byzantine fortress. Take a trip to Velvedo town and hike through Skepasmenou Gorge. Boucharia Geopark is a jaw dropping natural phenomenon that you shouldn’t miss. The area's star product is saffron, or krokos (in Greek). Buy this top quality delicious spice, which is also well-known for its healing properties.

Dimitra Iliadi