In our quest to find the world’s tucked-away treasures, we’ve fallen head over heels for northern Greece, in contrast to the country’s beautiful beaches and idyllic isles – and a glorious getaway in its own right. Here, a rich and ancient history intrigues curious minds, spectacular wildlife unfolds before you and tiny picture-perfect villages capture your heart. Even for locals, northern Greece is a hidden jewel.
Might we suggest a delicious start to your days of discovery with a bougatsa – an indulgent crispy, crème-filled pie, garnished with iced sugar and cinnamon and always served warm – before a stroll down Nike Avenue in Thessaloniki as the sunrise cuts its way through a dramatic morning fog.
Then it’s westward to Naoussa, one of Greece’s preeminent viticulture regions and also well known for its jam and fruit orchards. We’ll arrange for a private tour of a historic cellar followed by a wine tasting and samples of traditional delicacies, and perhaps stop into some of the whitewashed chapels and ouzeries as you wind your way along the village’s labyrinthian stone streets.
Everywhere you go, you’ll find yourself invited to participate in local feasts and Greek folklore dances about the fire. Be prepared to clink glasses and shout, “Yammas!” when offered the local tsipouro, made from distilled grapes. Taste cheese and spinach pies, each with their own unique twist depending on which village you’re in. Mingle with locals while savoring an authentic Greek coffee – just don’t drink the grinds at the bottom of your cup!
Outdoor adventure abounds. Pay a visit to the well-known Balkan environmental center of Arcturos, a nature reserve dedicated to the shelter of local bears and wolves. Follow the river of Voidomatis on a relaxing rafting descent into the heart of the Vikos-Aoos national forest. Feel the serenity of a magical sunset as you face the majestic towers of Astraka Mountain, awash in hues of scarlet at sundown. Hunt for mushrooms. Hike the stunning Vikos gorge, one of the world’s deepest. And visit – as many as possible – the Zagorochoria villages, with their unique architecture, defined by stone and wood.
We promise, you’ll soon be lost in the legends and mystery that emanate from every corner of northern Greece, from the depths of the Lake of Ioannina to the heights of the Pindus Mountains. For those yearning for variety and impeccable beauty, allow us to introduce you to this most stunning and mythical region of Greece.