Thessaloniki is the second-largest city in Greece and the cultural capital of the country. It is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city that boasts a rich history, a lively nightlife, a delicious cuisine and a stunning waterfront. But Thessaloniki is also a great base for exploring the natural beauty and diversity of its surrounding regions, which offer a variety of landscapes, activities and attractions for every taste and preference. Here are some of the best day trips you can take from Thessaloniki to discover the wonders of northern Greece.
Meteora is one of the most impressive and awe-inspiring sights in Greece, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a complex of monasteries perched on top of towering rock formations, which were formed millions of years ago by erosion and earthquakes. The monasteries date back to the 14th century, when monks sought refuge and isolation from the Ottoman invaders. Today, you can visit six of them and admire their architecture, frescoes, relics and views. You can also hike, bike or rock climb in the area, or join a guided tour to learn more about the history and culture of Meteora.
Halkidiki is a peninsula in the Aegean Sea that consists of three smaller peninsulas: Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos. Each one has its own character and charm, but they all share the same crystal-clear waters, golden beaches, pine forests and olive groves. Halkidiki is a paradise for sun-seekers, water-sports enthusiasts, nature lovers and gastronomes. You can relax on the sandy shores, swim in the turquoise sea, sail around the islands, hike in the mountains, visit ancient sites, taste local delicacies and enjoy the hospitality of the locals. Halkidiki is also home to Mount Athos, a monastic state that is only accessible to male pilgrims.
Vergina is a small town that holds a big secret: it is the site of the ancient city of Aigai, the first capital of the Macedonian kingdom and the burial place of its kings. Among them was Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great, whose tomb was discovered in 1977 by archaeologist Manolis Andronikos. The tomb was found intact and contained priceless treasures, such as gold jewelry, weapons, armor and a golden larnax with Philip’s bones. You can see these artifacts at the Museum of Royal Tombs of Aigai, which is built underground to protect and preserve them. You can also visit the nearby palace, theater and other tombs that testify to the glory and power of ancient Macedonia.
Lake Kerkini is an artificial lake that was created in 1932 by damming the Strymon river. It is one of the most important wetlands in Europe, as it hosts more than 300 species of birds, many of which are rare or endangered. You can observe flamingos, pelicans, herons, storks, eagles and more in their natural habitat, as well as other animals like water buffaloes, wild horses, otters and turtles. You can also enjoy activities such as boating, fishing, cycling or horse riding around the lake, or visit the nearby villages and monasteries that offer a glimpse into the local culture and traditions.
Thessaloniki is a city that has something for everyone, but it is also a gateway to explore the natural beauty and diversity of its surroundings. Whether you are looking for history, culture, nature or adventure, you will find it in the regions around Thessaloniki. So don’t hesitate to book your trip and discover the wonders of northern Greece.