Kavala : The Greek Monte-Carlo
January 1, 1970
by Evgenia Kemeli
The Prefecture of Kavala: Location
The city of Kavala could be described only as a diamond. The county of Kavala, it is nested in the northeastern part of Greece, in the province of Eastern Macedonia. 180 kilometers east of the sub-capital of Greece, Thessaloniki, it constitutes the border between two greek provinces: Macedonia and Thrace. The county of Kavala is divided into four smaller districts: Kavala district – with the capital city of Kavala, Paggaion district – with the capital town of Eleftheroupoli, Nestos district – with the capital town of Chrysoupoli (Nestos district took its name from the river Nestos which is located in the area) and Thassos district – with the capital town of Limenas (which is actually referred to Thassos island)
A mix of cultures.
Actually, if I have to describe the city of Kavala with one phrase, it would be “Hidden Gem”. I was born in this city, and although I traveled a lot in my life, I could never imagine a city that combines so many things: Quietness, crystal clear blue waters, clean beaches, traditional taverns offering delicious specialties in good prices, the Old Town with the fortress and the walls, picturesque scenic view from the most parts of the city and nightlife. All these gifts, combined with tourism and a mix of different cultures that passed from Kavala through the centuries – many leftovers of the Ottoman Empire, combined with the fine blend of the Balkans and the rich aroma of Ancient Macedonia – this is Kavala.
What it is like, to live there: A short-trip in History
I can ensure you for one thing: It is unique. It is like you live in Greece, but you also live in an ancient medieval town, also like you live on an island in the middle of the Aegean Sea, as well like you live in a city affected by the Balkan culture and also like you live in a city that passed through the centuries almost “untouched” from the affection of the Ottoman Empire. It takes like 2 kilometers walking at a steady pace from my home to the city center, and I feel somehow like I cross three or four different cities. There are so many differences between the neighborhoods in Kavala. They are like borders between completely different countries. It is like someday centuries ago, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, some French, Roman, and Slavic influences – decided to give birth to a single child – and this is Kavala. A unique characteristic of the city: many tobacco-warehouses. Whenever you ‘ll go in the city of Kavala, you will meet one common thing: Tobacco warehouses. They are everywhere – although they stopped from working since the 1930s. But you can still smell the tobacco aroma in the air, even if the warehouses are closed. It is a unique fragrance made of sandalwood, tobacco leaves – well-conserved through the time, sea salt, fresh morning – baked bread from the bakeries and rust from the old ships in the shipyard.
A day in Kavala – Summer either Winter
During the summer: Summer season in Greece starts from April until the end of September. During these months you can simply enjoy any kind of vacations because yes, summer is our season! In Greece, summer means sea, swimming, sunny days, islands and traditional Greek taverns. But what does summer means in Kavala?
Palio, Iraklitsa, Ammolofi – All crystal-water beaches near the city
Let’s think you ‘re about to visit Kavala this summer and you only have a day to see everything. Practically, that’s impossible because there are hundreds of activities you can do here. But let’s make a plan of what are you going to do if you only had a day: Firstly, you should take the bus from the terminal station which is in the heart of the city center and you should visit a beach in the suburbs of Kavala, either a bit farther, like 30 kilometers away. Some crystal clean beaches I can suggest are on the western side, on the way to Thessaloniki. There you can find Palio, Iraklitsa, and Ammolofi. There are up to 10 different organized or not, beaches with crystal blue waters. Typically, there is everywhere some kind of beach bars, that provide coffee, fresh juices, salads and ice cream. But if the beach is unorganized you have to bring your own equipment – fresh water, food, umbrella for the sun, towels etc
Old Town: The Fortress, medieval walls, & outstanding panoramic view.
Back to our plan: After the beach, you should return back to the city by bus – either your car and take an afternoon walk in the Old Town. During the summer, there are many festivals and other events that they take place up there. If you ‘re an active person and you can walk a bit more, you should definitely go up to the Kavala’s Castle which is called “Frourio – Fortress” from the locals. It is worthy to see – there’s a magnificent view from up there, you will take outstanding photos, plus there are a cafe and a mini-open theatre – in the Castle.
The City Center: A Hungarian-made City Hall, traditional taverns & Nightlife
Downtown, it is worthy to see the City Hall, its architecture reminds Hungarian castle – it was actually the home of a Hungarian Tobacco Dealer – back in the 1890s. It has strong gothic elements – medieval style arches and windows. It is a real diamond in the heart of the city. Down of the City Hall, you ‘ll see the majesty of the Municipal Garden. A green lung, nested in the center of the urban zone. There are bakeries around this area, shopping stores, and a shopping mall. By night, you should end up in a seaside tavern – there are plenty of them if you take the southern avenue – by the seaside.
During the winter: Kavala during the winter is also a diamond. Sometimes snow falls during the months of January and March. Weather typically during this period, is harsh and cold. There’s a Christmas market if you visit the city near the Christmas period (from the beginning of December till the mid-January). Nightlife is increased during the winter season: there are many wine bars, brasseries, cafes, pubs and clubs you can visit and try a variety of traditional wines or snacks. You can also visit the museums of the city, plenty of them aren’t far from the city center – there’s a Tobacco Museum as well.
In Conclusion: The diamond of the North.
Kavala is one of the most picturesque and most beautiful cities in Greece. It is very close to the Greek-Bulgarian borders, so it has many Bulgarian, Romanian and Serbian tourists. The majority of tourists, however, are Turkish. It has an airport that connects Kavala with many destinations abroad, and a harbor that connects it mostly with islands of the Northern Aegean Sea but also with Pireaus – the biggest harbor in Greece. During the summer, the harbor receives cruises from all around Europe. I’m sure that if I could, I would write about Kavala all night long. It is a scenic, magnificent city – you ‘ll feel like you ‘re inside a postal card. Hot during the summer – with velvet-sandy beaches and crystal blue bays, and cold but worthy to see even in the winter, it is a trip you should definitely – strongly recommended – do.