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Kavala

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Kavala

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Kavala [1] (Greek Καβάλα) (Population: 80000 (2014 estimated), situated in East Macedonia.

Understand[edit]

Promenade in Kavala

Kavala is mentioned in most guidebooks only marginally, although it is one of the most beautiful and most livable cities in Greece. A wealth of possibilities for excursions in the surrounding area and many interesting, often little occupied beaches, archaeological sites and natural beauty makes it a fun-filled vacation address. It not as crowded as the famous sights in Central and Southern Greece and the climate in Kavala is much milder than e.g. in Athens.


History[edit]

The eventful history of the city began in the 7th century BC. In the year 1391 Kavala was conquered by the Turks and completely destroyed. In the following centuries (under Turkish rule) it developed to a commercial center of east Macedonia because of the convenient location. From the 40th to the 60th of the last century Kavala was a center of tobacco growing and processing. Many of the tobacco storage and processing houses are still a part of the cityscape. In the 70th to 90th, the textile industry was of great importance . The decline took place with the opening of Bulgaria after the fall of the Soviet Union and the shift of sewing industry to there. Since then, the service sector and tourism is economically most important.

Kavala is situated in northern Greece, and is the birthplace of modern Egypt's founder Muhammad Ali. His house still stands and is visitable. Ancient city of Phillipoi, 10 mins from kavala, was founded by Alexander the Great's father, Phillip. Phillipoi is situated next to Pangaio mountain where Ancient Macedonia's gold mines were. The Roman road "Egnatia" which connected Constantinople (modern Istanbul) and Rome, still exists in parts near both Phillipoi and Kavala.

Climate[edit]

Kavala has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and wet cool winters. The swimming season begins in early May and ends in October. From mid-June to late August, there are only very rare precipitations and is the best travel season, but also the hottest. For those who do not like the heat and do not mind occasional rainy days best traveling time is from mid-May to mid June and September to mid-October.

Get in[edit]

By Boat[edit]

Kavala is a major port. it is possible to reach it by ferry from Lemnos, and several other north Aegean islands. With a bit of careful planning, or aimless wandering, it is possible to reach Kavala from almost any Greek island with a ferry via other islands.

By plane[edit]

The "Alexander the Great" airport is located about 30 km east of Kavala near the village of Chrysoupolis. There are direct flights to many European countries, especially in summer and daily flights to Athens. Except with Taxis, the airport is hard to reach by public transport. Car rental at the airport is available.

By regional coach[edit]

Interurban coaches "KTEL" buses are by far the most convenient way to travel around Greece, as well as for intra-regional travelling. Intercity buses drive to all major cities in Greece. The bus station is located in the city center near the harbor (Filikis Eteria Str). There is frequent bus service from Athens Kifisos Station to Kavala, as well as from Thessaloniki bus terminal "Macedonia" to Kavala.

The first bus from Kavala to Thessaloniki departes at 6 am and the last one leaves at 8:40pm. There is one each our (6 am,7am, 8am, 9am..... and so on) The busses at 9am, 1pm and 5pm are scheduled as "Express" so these busses won´t stop on their way to Thessaloniki. The fare for a ticket to Thessaloniki is about 15€ and it will take about 2 and 2 and a half hour until the bus arrives at Thessaloniki.

From Thessaloniki to Kavala you have also every hour one bus from 8am until 10 pm (exept 7am and 9pm)

To Athens there is a bus twice a day: 8:45am and 8:30pm. From Athens to Kavala it´s the same: Two busses each day at 8:45am and 8:30pm

The timetable for busses to Ioannina is 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm

By train[edit]

A train station does not exist. The nearest train station is in Drama.

Get around[edit]

The Center and the Old Town can be traversed on foot. There is a small tourist train from the central square to old town for those who are not so well by foot. The transport of choice to experience all the sights outside the town is certainly by rental car. By public transport many places are hard to reach or only very time consuming.

By bus[edit]

There is an efficient public transport system with lines going around the city (ticket price about 1.5Euro). Tickets are not on sale in the buses, but they must be solved at specialized outlets (often kiosks) in advance. No ticket, no transport! Detailed info in the regional bus terminal (called "Astiko KTEL", Filikis Eteria Str).

By taxi[edit]

Taxi in Kavala, as everywhere in Greece are comparably cheap. You should not pay more than € 5 if you hail a cab (white or orange colour) on the road to take you anywhere in the city. Note that taxi meters have two rates - rate 1 applies from 5am till midnight, and rate 2, the double rate, from midnight to 5am. Taxi fare fraud is not widespread but it still happens, so make sure the rate is correct. If you feel you have been overcharged, ask for a receipt (they are obliged to give one) and take the plate number, then phone the tourist police to report the driver on 171. Expect to pay € 1 or € 2 extra if you take a taxi from the bus station, the train station or the port, and a surcharge if you call for a taxi service on demand.

See[edit][add listing]

Walk along the main port in town center with its ferries to Thassos, Limnos, Lesvos and other Aegean islands and picturesque fishing and sailing boats. Following that promenade you reach the archaeological museum. On Saturday morning there is an interesting fruit & clothing market (Bazaar). Sit in one of the many cafeterias along the promenade in summer to enjoy the view over the harbor and old town. Especially in the night its a good place to drink a cold beer and watch people walking along the promenade.

The business district is to the west of the central square (Platia Eleftheria). Its partially a pedestrian area with narrow streets, shops of all kinds and many street cafeterias

A very nice place is the Fishing harbor with restaurants and bars at the east end of Kavala. It is particularly romantic to sit there in one of the many restaurants in the evening watching the small fishing boats and the sea.

Architecture[edit]

Places to see are:

  • The white City Hall (Dimarchio) on Kipos Iroon Park in the town center. In close proximity is the Tobacco Museum (Philippou Odos Str)
  • Ag. Nikolas church with Paul Mosaic ( Kontouriotou Str) . Around the church there is an old, somewhat run-down neighborhood with many great cafeterias, Ouzo drinking places (Ouzerias), restaurants and small shops. Especially in the evening it is very attractive and crowded by young people.

The castle and the old town are at a hill above the center. To get there it will take a 15-20 minutes walk from the harbour.

In the Old Town you should visit:
Old Town
  • The Castle, built in 1425 by the Turks. You will have a wonderful sea view from there and also a great view over the old town, the port and the new parts of the city of Kavala . Occasionally music events are held there.The entrance fee is about 2€. A simple romantic cafeteria invites you to linger.
  • The City walls, the main part of which was build in the 14th century
  • Halil Bey Complex: contains the mosque of Halil Bey dated at the beginning of the 20th century, an older minaret on the side probably of the 16th century and a medresse. The mosque is build over the foundation of an early Christian basilica.
  • House and Museum (built in 1720) and monument of Mohamed Ali. He is the founder of the last Egyptian dynasty
  • The Imaret, a former Koranic school, built in 1718, now a hotel. Although worth seeing, it is unfortunately difficult to get in if you are not a guest of the hotel.
  • The Panagia Church

The circular route around the city wall is a worthwhile walk. Beneath the Mohammed Ali equestrian statue starts a path around the city wall. The path leads down to the sea, around the headland of the the old town and then branches to the port or back uphill to the old town near Panagia Church.

It is worthwhile to go in back alleys in old town to visit the typical Byzantine houses in the narrow streets. Along the main street of the old town (Poulidou) restaurants and bars are lined up. Especially in the evening its a romantic place to sit and enjoy Retsina, Ouzo and Souvlaki.

The Aqueduct. 25m high, built in 1550 to supply the town with drinking water, was restored a few years ago.

Beaches[edit]

The quality of the beaches and the sea water quality increases going from the east to the west in the Kavala area.

Periali Beach

The city beaches on the east end of Kavala (Kara Orman, Periali) and on the western periphery (Kalamiza) are flat and suitable for children. In the summer months, sun loungers, parasols and chairs are available for free but in limited numbers. The beaches are all easily accessible by city buses. Close to the west end of Kavala are the campsite "Batis” and the Bungalow Hotel "Tosca Beach”, offering all comfort for a relaxed day at the beach. They can be reached by public bus from the main bus terminal.

West of Kavala are the localities Palio (10km) , Irakliza (15km) and Nea Peramos (20km), all with nice beaches and beach bars. The latter two are typical holiday places with a lot of beach bars, restaurants, cafeterias, etc. Especially younger people prefer the beaches of Amolofos (at the west side of Nea Peramos). At the beach bars there parking, sun loungers, parasols, chairs and loud music are available for free. Of course a drink must be taken from the bar. The crystal clear waters and fine sand provides a relaxed holiday atmosphere for those who love more action than repose. The further you drive from Nea Permaos along the expressway towards Saloniki, the more "lonely" the beaches get, with crystal clear water and beautiful surroundings. The best known beaches there are “Sarakina” (near Hotel Ocean View) and the Pirgos beach (at the ancient tower 50 km from Kavala) . Further to the west, about 2 km after the turn of “Loutra Elefteron” (hot springs) is the only nudist beach (unofficially, www.capnbarefoot.info/mainland:macedonia).

East of Kavala, in the Nestos Delta area of Chrysoupolis, near the villages of Eratino and Agiasma there are spacious shallow beaches where a lot of camping is done (although wild camping is banned there, but so far tolerated). These beaches are often not so clean with a lot of algae. Especially recommended are the clean and superb beaches at Keramoti which belong to the best of the area.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Visit old town of Kavala at "Panagia" peninsula where you'll find a great historical hotel, several Greek taverns and a road full of traditional houses up to the city's castle.
  • At summer visit "Ammolofoi" beach, some 12 kilometers outside the city of Kavala. There are plenty both crowded and relaxing beach bars there.
  • Nestos river on the road to Xanthi.
  • Ancient Phillipi (see "Get out" section)
  • Limestone caves of Maras and Alistrati
  • Pangeon Mountain
  • Island Thasos

Drink[edit][add listing]

All year round[edit]

Winter bars, pubs and clubs, usually close down during summer. Most of them have a different facility for the summer, usually by the sea.

Winter[edit]

Most bars, pubs and restaurants that are open in winter are located along the harbor and the promenade.

Summer[edit]

Bars and cafeterias where you can sit outside are favored in summer and are located along the harbor, the promenade, in the quarter at Ag. Nicolas Church and in the street to old town (Poulidou Str.)

On the east side of Kavala (called Periali) is a little fishing Barbour (called Sfagio) with bars and restaurants (Thasou Str.) lined along the water front. Its a very nice place in the evening.

On the way to the west side of Kavala next to the new court is a bar which is located on a pier and is built into the sea with a great view over Kavala.

Buy[edit][add listing]

The main shopping area is around the central square "Platia Eleftheria" and in its side streets. Typical Greek souvenirs you can get on the street side of the harbor and on the way to the Old Town (Poulidou Str). Big food supermarkets are at the east end of the city near the stadium.

Eat[edit][add listing]

The choices for eating are Taverns (Ταβέρνα) where mostly meat dishes are served, Restaurants (Εστιατόριο) where Greek dishes can be found, Psistaries (Ψησταριά) (Grill houses) where the main dish is grilled meat, Fast Food choices are local Souvlatzidika (Οβελιστήριο or Σουβλατζίδικο) where souvlaki is served, and typical fast food chains such as Goody's and Everest.

People in Greece usually eat late in the evening (21:00 - 24:00), so during the day most Taverns, Psistaries and Restaurants are closed. However, Tsipouradika and Fast Food restaurants are open all day long.

Most restaurants with Greek dishes are near the harbor, in the district around the Ag. Nikolas Church (Kontouriotou Str), up in the street to the old town and at the fishing port at the east end of Kavala (Sfagio / Thasou Str). In terms of price, the places differ only slightly. Allow about 15 euros per person inluding drink. Fish dishes can be much more expensive. Throughout the city there are gyros stands for small appetites (2.5 euros), sandwich and pizza service. International restaurants are not present, except a German restaurant in Nea Peramos.

Restaurants (Εστιατόριο) and Taverns (Ταβέρνα)[edit]

Budget[edit]

  • Tsardakas (Τσαρδακάς) (Tavern), Kiprou str (Κύπρου).  edit

Mid range[edit]

"To Kastro tou Germanou", a German restaurant in Nea Peramos

Splurge[edit]

Psistaries (Ψησταριά) (Grill houses)[edit]

Psistaries serve mostly meat, salads and french fries. The meat usually is ordered by weight, and the price is per kilo also. One portion is 330gr of grilled meat.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

There are many hotels in Kavala. Most are in center near the sea. Car parking could be hard to find in the center of Kavala. Even in the high season Kavala city never shows a "resort" atmosphere, but the bustle of a city, where life is not determined by tourism. It may therefore be better for most travelers to find accommodation in the suburbs, such as Palio, Nea Irakliza, Nea Peramos. Especially in the popular resort of Nea Peramos this atmosphere is present. At the beaches of Amolofos regularly beach parties take place and make Nea Peramos one of the best places to stay. Alternatively Keramoti in Nestos Delta is very popular too.

Budget[edit]

  • Avra hotel.  edit

Mid range[edit]

Splurge[edit]

Stay safe[edit]

Get out[edit]

  • Waterfall and footpath at Palea Kavala. Coming from Kavala going direction of Drama, you have to turn right in Amigdalonas towards Zigos. After Neo Zigos take the road to Palea Kavala. After about 300 m turn right into a dirt road and follow it up to the quarry. From there, a scenically beautiful walk leads up the hill to Palea Kavala. After about 30 minutes you come to a remarkable waterfall. In summer its a nice place to rest and to take a bath in cold water. After a further 30 min walk uphill in a shady romantic mountain valley with tall trees along a stream you reach the village Palea Kavala. Its a nice place to relax from the walk in one of the restaurants. To go back to the starting point you either follow the same way or walk along the road downhill.
  • Ancient city and theatre of Phillipi. About 15 km from Kavala direction Drama is the ancient site of Philippi. It was founded around 360 BC and is known by the letters of the Apostle Paul, 49 AD, who taught the Christian religion and who baptized the first European Christian here, named Lydia. You can explore the well-preserved amphitheater (with stunning views is on the plain of Drama and the Pangeon mountain), the Ancient Market, the prison of the Apostle Paul and the ruins of a church from the early Christian period. Also worthwhile is a visit to the Museum and the ascent to the castle above Philippi. About 1 km away from Philippi, in Lydia is the baptism church with a baptismal font on a creek. From here you have access to a few km away healing "mud-bath" (Lasponera) that helps against painful joints.
  • Apo Kefalari. Going from Philippi approx. 5 km towards Drama is the place Apo Kefalari. Along a brook cafeterias and restaurants (specialty trout) are lined. Especially on hot summer evenings it is here cool and romantic atmosphere. A detour from there to the higher-lying mountain is highly recommended. From there one has an impressive view of Philippi and the level of Drama.
  • Stalactite cave of Maras. The cave is located near the village of Aggitis, about 25 km northwest of Drama. It is characterized by the special nature of an underground river course, which is why only stalactites, but none can stalagmites be found here. See: www.showcaves.com/english/gr/showcaves/Maara.html
  • Limestone Cave of Alistrati. One of the most beautiful limestone caves of northern Greece near the village of Alistrati, about 30 km from Drama direction Seres. See: www.alistraticave.gr/index.cfm?lang=en
  • Around the Pangeon massif. The mountain of Pangeon with nearly 2000 m is the highest mountain near Kavala, with picturesque mountain villages, a large number of monasteries and stunning vegetation. This begins with the typical Mediterranean maccia (low, stunted sclerophyllous plants) at the foot of the mountain, then slowly, with increasing height, it changes over to dense deciduous forest. Higher up coniferous forest is found, and then reached the tree line with grasses and herbaceous plants, where among other things, the well-known Greek mountain tea growing. In Elefteropolis (17 km from Kavala) the road splits into a northern and a southern bypass of Pangeon. Following the road north, one comes to the mountain village Nikissiani. Above the village, where the paved road ends, there are restaurants with impressive view of the Pangeon. Because of the altitude it is here in summer refreshingly cool. A well-known tourist attraction on the north side of the Pangeon is the monastery Ikosifinissa, about 15 km from Nikissiani. It is well signposted and is approached from a variety of coaches. A coffee shop next to the monastery offers refreshments and a cool place to stay. The monastery Ikosifinissa is one of the oldest monasteries and centers of Orthodoxy in the Balkans. Above the monastery leads a high road 6km back to Nikissiani, passing other, also worth seeing, monasteries. Another attraction in this area is the little-known Aggitis Canyon. From Nikissiani, you drive through the village of Nea Mpafra on the main road towards Drama. Approx. 800 m after the village are grain silos. Here, turn left and follow the road for about 3 km until you reach a large parking lot on the edge of the canyon. As the branch is not signposted, it is recommended to look at the route on Google Earth before. There, the turn and the car park is clearly visible. Footpaths lead from the parking lot along the canyon and one on the opposite side to the cave of Alistrati with a cafeteria.
  • Nature reserve Nestos. The river course of the Nestos is divided into the Nestos Gorge near Toxotes (40km east of Kavala) and the Nestos Delta in Chrysoupolis (35km east of Kavala). Both are areas with high levels of bird species and unique natural beauty. The Nestos Delta is one of the most important breeding sites in Greece for rare birds, a stopover for migratory, wintering and songbirds and raptors. In the delta of Nestos about 254 bird species have been described, including rare and endangered species (see also "birding-tours", "Nestos"). Also for non-ornithologists it is worth to visit the floodplain forests of the delta. As a starting point the "Nestos Cafe" at Chysoupolis recommends (in the center of Chrysoupolis follow the signboards). In the riverside simple restaurant you can enjoy "a glass of ouzo" on the terrace enjoying the nature or take walks along the dam or in the river itself. The Nestos Delta area is flat and the river can be easily forded in most places. By several years ago the Nestos Dam in the Rhodope mountains was build for a hydro power plant. Since than the water flow is regulated and there are no more winter floods, as in old times. This leads to an increasing bush encroachment and growth of trees in the river. Especially in summer, it is a pleasure to wade in the cool water or to take a bath in the river. The water quality is good. If you drive along the causeway you arrive in the estuary on dirt roads. Since no signs are present, it is advisable to look at Google Earth for the course of the path. 4WD is not necessary but better. Of particular beauty is the nature in the Nestos Gorge at Toxotes (40km east of Kavala). It is one of the "must-see" attractions near Kavala. Here the river breaks through limestone mountains and forms a landscape of unique beauty. Along the canyon you can walk on a 10km long trail with towering cliffs and a wonderful view of the meandering river. To get to the starting point of the trail, you pass through the village “Toxotes” and follow the touristic signboards. It takes a few kilometers from Toxotes to get to the end of the road to a car park. Here are panels with precise directions about the trail. Most visitors walk only 1-2 km the along path and return to the parking lot. In summer you should enjoy a bath in the icy water of the river here. The water is not deep but has strong currents. Even just lingering at the large sandbank of the Nestos and enjoying the fantastic view is very relaxing. Some companies offer canyon canoe day tours which are highly recommended if you want to see the whole gorge but cannot walk the trail (see "Riverland", "Nestos"). From Galani, a small village inbetween Toxotes and the parking area previously described, is a road to a hilltop with wonderful views of the Nestos Gorge. The road is signposted as "Scenic road". This tour is highly recommended.
  • Island Thasos: Thasos is a green island with high mountains and wonderful beaches. You can visit the island on a day trip but its definitively worth to spent more days. There is a ferry boat from Kavala harbor to Scala Prinos which takes about 1.5 h. In Scala Prinos there are many rental car or rental motorbike dealers if you want to make a tour around the island (ca. 100km). Alternatively there is a bus going around the island and to Thasos Town (Limenas).
  • Rhodope Mountains National Park: it can be reached from from the village Paranesti (60 km north of Kavala) or the village Sidironero (80km from Kavala, north of Drama). It is a huge sparsely populated mountain area with fantastic landscapes, lakes, waterfalls and remarkable flora and fauna. The best information about this area, in which only a few tourists get lost, are unfortunately in Greek and only few in English (www.fdor.gr/index.php, partetavouna.blogspot.gr). Most attractions can be reached only by dirt roads, which in the summer are also accessible with a normal car if you drive carefully.
  • Mount Athos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This peninsula houses over 1,700 monks in 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries. The visit is strictly controlled and only male visitors are allowed. Tourist require a visa. But there are also sightseeing boats that offer tours around the peninsula (without landing). These do not require permits and are the only option for women who want to see Mount Athos. You can make the "Sightseeing Tour" as a day trip from Kavala, if you break up early (2 h drive). The boat tours start in Ouranopolis from about 10 o' clock.
  • Falakro: a gorgeous mountain landscape 80km north of Kavala that should not be missed (see: Drama)



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