After many years of island hopping in Greece, enjoying the pleasures of sun, sea and far too much ouzo, it might be interesting to consider a few alternatives that are waiting to be discovered in this diverse country, particularly later in the year, after the heat of the summer. Greece really is still warm until early November, with cooler, refreshing evenings and even December can be very mild.
This is a fabulous city for culture, restaurants and a vibrant nightlife. It is undoubtedly the second city of Greece and the most important city in the south east of the country. It has been the location of a settlement since 315BC, and thus is packed with buildings from antiquity onwards. Not surprisingly, it has 15 UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Byzantine and Ottoman treasures. The city’s famous fire in 1917 has also given rise to fantastic 20th century town planning and architecture. More recently the centennial celebrations of joining the Greek nation, have led Thessaloniki to re-vamp its waterfront into a stylish area with bars and restaurants. This is certainly a great for a visit out of the summer heat, with a great range of accommodation on offer as well as concerts, art and shopping.
- Read about Jacqueline Jeynes’s trip to this city
- Read about Jennie Carr’s visit here
Mountainous Halkidiki and Mount Athos area
Just 120 kms from Thessaloniki, is the very special Mount Athos region. It has religious connections going back to the time of St Paul, and still is home to over 2000 monks today, with many churches and shrines still in existence, all of local importance. The natural beauty of the region make it a real attraction for walkers, cyclists and sailors too, once the high summer temperatures have passed. There is no denying that the beaches here in the wider Halkidiki region, are absolutely fabulous and worthy of the many idyllic photographs taken there.
The vineyards of Northern Greece are at their busiest in the Autumn and places of great interest for the visitors. Recently various wine routes have been created bringing together some memorable journeys, such as the central wine route of Naoussa, with archaeological places of interest including Vergina, the Macedonian Kings’ Tombs, Veroia (Byzantine and Later Byzantine Temples, Archaeological Museum) and The Macedonian Tombs of Leykades on the way. It’s easy to take in the natural beauty and views on a tour of the wineries.
The National Park of Lake Kerkini provides a wonderful site for birding. The Park comprises 83,100 hectares and is thelake is the result of the damming of the River Stymonas, initially in 1932. The lake is surrounded by two beautiful mountains, Mount Kerkini and Mavrovouni.
- Read about the wonderful time Jennie had at the lake
About 100km from Thessaloniki, Lake Kerkini enjoys wide biodiversity and is marvellous for bird watching, though little known outside research communities. One of its great success stories is that of the Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus) whose numbers have increased due to the support and vigilance of the Park’s positive interventions. There are also more than 300 recorded bird species in the Park, as well as water buffalo, and a whole host of reptiles and amphibians.
To find out more about Northern Greece, visit www.visitgreece.gr/en