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Kavala: The “Mecca of Tobacco”

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Discover Kavala

Kavala is a beautiful coastal city in Northern Greece, built on a hillside around a large harbour overlooking the Thracian Sea. It can lay claim to 2,500 years of history and a multicultural past, standing as it does at the crossroads of East and West.

A wide variety of experiences await anyone visiting this modern city and major port in Eastern Macedonia: tourist beaches, superb industrial and urban architecture of the 19th century, imposing remnants of the Ottoman period, and archaeological sites of world renown. At the same time, the region has a strong food and wine culture, while it has much to offer the many nature lovers who choose Kavala as a base for exploring the legendary forests of the Pangaion Hills and the lagoons of the Nestos Delta. Cosmopolitan but with an alternative atmosphere, the “Mecca of Tobacco” is sure to surprise you!

4 memorable experiences in Kavala
  1. The iconic Philippi Festival, with exceptional performances of ancient drama.
  2. A trip to Thassos, the dazzling “Emerald Isle” of the Aegean.
  3. If you choose one of the ferry tickets to Kavala, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the breathtaking landscapes of Mount Pangaios and the River Nestos, two excursion spots with countless opportunities for recreation and adventure.
  4. Walking the paved paths in the hinterland of Kavala. One of them, the “Water Route”, connects the city with Palia Kavala via stone bridges, following a channel that once brought water to the aqueduct.
Beaches of Kavala

Kavala’s long coastline is blessed with gorgeous sand and brilliant blue waters, offering visitors an unusually wide range of options. Some of the loveliest stretches of shore are right next to the city itself, and are served by public transport. It is worth discovering:

  • Ammolofi, a striking setting west of the town of Nea Peramos, consisting of three white beaches in a row, and a blue-green sea. They are surrounded by dunes and the middle one has amenities. At weekends, they come alive as young people flock to the bars here, although at the eastern end the atmosphere remains peaceful and family friendly. There is a good bus service from Kavala.
  • Kalamitsa, a well-run municipal beach at the western entrance to the city. There are umbrellas here, as well as changing rooms with showers, sports facilities, cafes, and restaurants, while the emerald green waters and the wide expanse of sand make it a magical place. It is particularly popular with young people and is easily accessible by public transport or by car.
  • Batis, in an alluring turquoise bay to the west of the city. This marvellous beach is located within a well-run campsite. Bathers will find inflatables and other water gear, a restaurant, a bar, and a children’s playground. It has been awarded a Blue Flag and is easy to get to by public transport. Please note that there is a small entry fee.
  • The crystal-clear azure sea and long stretch of sand of Nea Iraklitsa, near the picturesque village of the same name. Situated in a natural harbour, it has very good amenities, including watersports, beach bars, cafes and tavernas. It is suitable for families, as well as for fans of windsurfing, and is easily reached either by bus or car.
  • The cosmopolitan and exotic Ammoglossa, near the village of Keramoti, a strip of golden sand that pokes out from a pine-covered peninsula into the cobalt blue of the Aegean. The calm and relatively shallow sea is especially favoured by families, while there are plenty
  • of facilities, such as umbrellas, refreshments, bars, and well-known fish tavernas. A bus from Kavala stops in Keramoti, just a short walk from the beach.
Postcards from Kavala: 10 things not to miss

Among the most important cities in the Greco-Roman world and a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, ancient Philippi, which dates from 360 BC, takes the breath away with majestic structures such as its iconic theatre.

The Medieval Fortress
Kavala’s early-15th-century citadel, which stands on the highest point of the Panagia Peninsula, is a thrilling sight. Walk around the inner courtyard and climb onto the roof of the main circular tower for a unique view looking down on the city.

The Old Town
Situated on the Panagia Peninsula, old Kavala looks like something out of a fairytale. A stroll through its narrow atmospheric streets lined with pastel-coloured mansions offers a fascinating journey into 2,500 years of history, including some remarkable monuments from its medieval period.

The Imaret
Dating from the early 19th century, this astounding complex of buildings once served as a religious, educational and charitable institution. A great architectural achievement of the Ottoman Baroque, it has been completely restored and converted into a luxury hotel. There are guided tours of its public areas.

The aqueduct
Kavala’s best-known landmark is its extraordinary aqueduct. Made from blocks of granite in the early 16th century, this magnificent 280-metre-long structure has 60 arches and marks a dividing line between the old town and the modern city.

The Baptistry of Saint Lydia
The historic village of Lydia, to the west of Philippi, is where the Apostle Paul first brought Christianity to Europe in 49 AD with his baptism of Lydia of Thyatira. Today, the open-air baptismal pool on the banks of the River Zygaktis is a place of pilgrimage, together with the modern Baptistry, built in 1974.

Halil Bey Mosque
This splendid building in the centre of the Panagia Peninsula, which dates from 1530 and stands on the site of an early Christian church, was once part of a larger complex that also included a seminary. It has now been restored and is used as a cultural space.

Kavala Archaeological Museum
This is among the most important museums of its kind in Greece, with finds from as far back as the Neolithic era. It has two impressive columns from the 5th-century-BC Ionian temple of Athena the Virgin, and an extensive collection of figurines and vases.

The Tobacco Museum
This state-of-the-art industrial museum uses interactive displays to bring to life Kavala’s unique history as a “Mecca of Tobacco” in the mid-19th-century Balkans. Combine your visit with a tour of the city’s historic tobacco warehouses.

Odos Kyprou
This iconic street is a living architectural museum that bears witness to Kavala’s past commercial glory. Come here to admire grand neoclassical edifices of the 19th and 20th century, including public buildings and mansions once lived in by wealthy tobacco merchants.

Tastes of Kavala

The cuisine of Kavala is endlessly diverse, combining local Macedonian recipes with flavours from Asia Minor that were brought to the city by refugees in the early twentieth century. Sample favourite rice pilaf dishes such as sardelopilafo (with sardines) from the Black Sea, or mydopilafo (with mussels), as well as mydosarmades (mussels stuffed with rice, pine nuts and raisins). You will also enjoy mezes such as soutzoukakia (minced meat rissoles in tomato sauce), sparangokeftedakia (asparagus fritters), piperolahana (pickled vegetables with white beans), and rooster with trahanas (dried fermented wheat).

If you choose one of the itineraries to Kavala, don’t miss the city’s world-famous sardines and delicious mussels from Keramoti. It is also worth trying herring (fried saganaki-style), sun-dried mackerel, anchovy wrapped in vine leaves, and steamed mussels. Wine lovers can look forward to discovering the great viticultural tradition of Mount Pangaios through its 99 wine labels and visits to the 23 wineries in the region. For something sweet, head for Nea Karvali to taste its justly renowned kourabiedes cookies.

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