Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Greece is such a unique and totally diverse country! It is a shame that when people think of Greece they only think of Summer holidays by the beach on some island or a cultural and historical immersion to the what is also called as the cradle of Civilization. Best of Greece as one of the leading specialists in holidays to Greece has been trying for years to change this false idea that Greece is a summer only destination! There are so many unique areas to visit! Cultural Sites Mountains and so much more! We have been offering tailor made luxury holidays to Greece since 1973! We are sure that we can build up a dream holiday for you! Just tell us what you are dreaming of and we will do our utmost to make it a reality! The Greek National Tourism Organization wrote this very nice article which we also went through and added some other ideas! We really do hope you enjoy the read and would look forward to answering any requests you might have. Top 6 winter destinations in Greece Mount Pelion Where: Mount Pelion will be an unforgetable experience, Only a few kilometres away from the busy port of Volos in Thessaly stands mythical Mt. Pelion, which according to Greek mythology was the home of the mythical Centaurs, creatures who were half man and half horse. Ancient Greek heroes such as Achilles, Jason and Theseus came to Mount Pelion to master the arts taught by the Centaurs. Mount Pelion is home to 24 beautiful villages. Why: The unique combination of superb natural surroundings, dense greenery, cascading waterfalls and gorges, romantic bays with crystal clear waters and outstanding local architecture make for a “four seasons’ destination” that attracts visitors all year long.
Must visit: Pelion boasts some of the most famous traditional villages in Greece; set against an idyllic backdrop of shimmering olive groves, dense forests and lush fruit orchards, these stone-built villages are the true gems of Pelion. Visit the lovely old village of Tsagaráda –home to a 1,000-year-old plane tree; Makrinitsa, the so-called balcony of Pelion, which affords magnificent views over the Aegean; Portaria, which thanks to its impressive traditional mansions has successfully managed to preserve its traditional colour untouched by time, and Chánia, with its famous ski centre. Activities on offer: Explore this unspoiled world on horseback! The horseback trip starts in Argalasti, an attractive village in the south of the peninsula. From here you can reach beaches on both sides of the peninsula – open sea or calm gulf. The cobblestone trails between villages lead you back through time and are ideal for rides on horseback. The main trails out of Argalasti lead to many interesting locations, such as Kalamos (6 km to the west) and Lefokastro (6 km to the NW). Ski down snowy slopes at the ski resort of Agriolefkes near the village of Chánia or walk along narrow winding cobbled paths known as calderimia. The Chánia-Kissós path is one of the most popular among trekking lovers.
INSIDERS SECRETS: • Discover one of Pelion’s best kept secrets: the tiny, exquisite cove of Fakistra; the highlight is a stream that springs from the mountain and flows into the sea. It is rather difficult to get down to it but it certainly worth it; even in winter the setting is very romantic; pure magic. • Follow a scenic route from the village of train! Take the legendary Pelion stream train, a narrow-gauge rail track built more than a century ago by the father of the surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico, which crosses stone bridges and passes through rugged landscapes; all the stations are of unique architectural interest. • Visit the village of Damouchari, where several scenes from the movie Mamma Mia were filmed! Accommodation: Ancient old mansions of traditional Pelian architecture that used to belong to rich merchants have been turned into cosy guesthouses offering an exquisite atmosphere that is difficult to find anywhere else in Greece. Famous local products: Taste mouth-watering pies and home-made “spoon sweets” (a traditional dessert consisting usually of fruit preserved in syrup) produced by local women’s associations with all kinds of local fresh fruit! Zayorohória villages Where: At the heart of Epirus, nestling among the steep and snowy slopes of the Týmfi mountain range. Why: A complex of 46 picturesque traditional villages built in a magical setting amidst pine and fir trees with one of the most beautiful and diverse ecosystems in Europe. Its unique traditional architecture, impressive stone mansions and undulating, natural forest surroundings are the perfect ingredients for an unparalleled destination, ideal for action-packed holidays!
Must visit: Visit Zayóri’s most picturesque villages; Monodéndri is a restored stone village. Stroll down its narrow streets past the village’s stone courtyards; take the rocky trail starting from the central square that leads you to Vickos Gorge, which is awe-inspiringly deep! From there, admire the Monastery of St. Paraskevi nestling on a rock overlooking the Vickos Gorge. Mikro and Megalo Papigko, Aristi, Kipi and Dilofo are just some of the precious gems of Zayori. Gaze at the beautiful stone bridges which connect the villages. These are architectural masterpieces of superb craftsmanship which are often associated with legends and other local traditions. Activities on offer: Trekking lovers will have the chance to hit a variety of mountain trails in Zayorohória. Cross the Vickos Gorge following the route from Monodéndri north to Vikos- Vikos to Pápigo, and Monodéndri south to Kipi, a traditional small village with old arched stone bridges. The route is quite long (it lasts at least 5 hours), but it is a very rewarding experience! Starting from Pápigo you can take a much easier, three-hour trail; follow the path leading to Astráka refuge and then head for the summits of Astráka and Lápatos. Hit the trails that connect the villages Pápigo and Mikró Pápigo through the Vikos-Aoós National Forest; go for an invigorating swim in the two natural forest lakes. The village of Vovoúsa in eastern Zagori is ideal for bird watching as it is located near the National Park of Valia Kalda, a protected forest populated with rare species of flora and fauna. Hot tips: • Follow the mountain trails to Kípi, an ideal mountain tourism destination: cross its two rivers (Vikákis and Baniótikos) using the Kaloyerikó (or Plakidas), a three arch bridge with a serpentine deck. • Explore the magical “Drakolimni”, one of the three alpine lakes in the Pindus mountain range, which according to local legends used to be inhabited by dragons! • Don’t miss the opportunity to walk the famous Vradeto Stairs at the edge of Vickos Gorge. These stone 1,200 meter stairs connect the villages Vradéto and Kapésovo, and they were the only access to Vradéto village until 1973! • Trekking through the Asprággeli, Dikóryfo, Manassís and Kaloutás villages, you will find the Kaloutás Bridge, which used to connect the village to with the Vissikoú Monastery (dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary).
Accommodation: Traditional stone-built guesthouses offer a warm environment to rest in after your day has come to an end; enjoy a glass of fine wine by the fireplace before going to sleep or a delicious breakfast with fresh local products before starting your day! Famous local products: Experience the true magic of Zayorohória: have a delicious meal in a mezedopoleío (local tavern) and taste the famous local pies accompanied by sweet local wine! Mountainous Arcadia Where: Among the steep slopes of Mt. Mainalo in the Peloponnese nestle the mountain villages of Dimitsána, Stemnítsa and Vytína. Why: Get a deeper insight into Greek history by visiting the places where the Greek Revolution of 1821 against the Turks actually began; a place synonymous with legendary heroes, fierce battles and glorious achievements. Today thanks to its proximity to Athens and its striking beauty Mountainous Arcadia is one of the most popular winter destinations in Greece.
Must visit: The village of Dimitsána; built like an amphitheatre overlooking the Lousios River, Lousios valley and the plains of Megalopoli, Dimitsána is nicely surrounded by snow covered mountain tops and lush pine tree forests. Some of its most famous sights are the six remaining legendary Gunpowder Mills that used to produce gunpowder for the Revolutionary War, the Philosophou and Timiou Prodromou Monasteries; the archaeological site of Gortyna and the houses of heroes of the Revolution. The village of Stemnitsa is a typical traditional Arcadian settlement set amidst ancient plane and fir trees. It boasts grand stone mansions, Byzantine churches, cobblestone paths, a beautiful square and an interesting Folklore Museum. At the heart of Mountainous Arcadia, among the slopes of Mt. Mainalo, lies the most popular tourist destination in Arcadia, Vytina, famous for its unique architecture and blessed with a rugged landscape. Home to a number of legendary heroes of the Revolutionary War, Vytína faced the rage of the Turks many times and the village was burned down on 7 occasions! Vytína used to be an important centre of for the textile industry and woodcraft but today the economy is largely based on tourism. Activities on offer: Go rafting down the Lousios River; if you are a trekking fan hit the mountain trails and take in the breathtaking scenery or glide down snowy mountain slopes at Mainalo ski resort, an ultra modern ski centre with first-class facilities. Hot tips: • Visit the Open Air Water-Power Museum in Dimitsána, the only museum of its kind, which demonstrates basic pre-industrial techniques using water as the main source of energy to produce a variety of goods. • Stroll around the picturesque district of Kastro in Stemnitsa and take in an amazing view of the Margaritsa Gorge sprawling below. • Visit the Folklore Museum, the “Greek School” and the Library of Vytína, where you can admire rare books and manuscripts. Accommodation: Impressive stone mansions turned into cosy family run guesthouses or first-class hotels offer a wide range of facilities and a cosy atmosphere to relax in with your family or to enjoy romantic moments by the fireplace with your other half. Famous local products: Sample sweet-smelling honey, crunchy nuts, fresh dairy products, delicious local cheese or healing herbal infusions; don’t forget to buy local folklore items like wooden sculptures or textiles before you leave. Cruise around the Peloponnese A unique idea which has been created by our preferred small ship cruise line Variety Cruises. On a unique 55 meter mega yacht which has sailed from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic and the India Ocean. An amazing experience which takes you to some of the most beautiful sites around the Peloponnese!
Day 1: Friday- Marina Zea Embarkation 2-3 pm, enjoy a welcome drink and meet the crew and fellow passengers. Sail for Palaia (old) Epidaurus arriving in the evening. Dinner onboard. Day 2: Saturday- Palaia Epidaurus An early morning drive to Ancient Epidaurus which was known throughout Greece as a healing sanctuary. It is reputed to be the birthplace of Apollo’s son and for its 300BC built theater which is still in use. Lunch onboard and then sail to Nafplion. Overnight in port. Day 3: Sunday- Nafplion/Mycenae After a short tour of Nafplion, we will go through the countryside of Argolis for Mycenae. We will visit the Ancient city and the; Lion’s Gate, Palace, Agamemnon Tomb and museum. Lunch onboard, then sail to Monemvassia. Overnight to Gythion. Day 4: Monday- Gythion Early morning arrival in Gythion. Trip to the Mani peninsula, Cape Tenaro and the spectacular Dirou Caves. Ancient Gythion; inhabited from prehistoric times and used by the Spartans as their naval base. We will cross the Mani Peninsula to reach Diros and visit the caves. Then to Areopolis for a stroll through the town. Overnight at sea to Pylos.
Day 5: Tuesday- Pylos A picture-perfect seaside town in the southwest of the Peloponnese. It is the site of one of the most important naval battles that led to the independence of Greece. We will visit Nestor’s Palace with well-preserved royal apartments decorated with frescoes and a central courtyard. We will then go to the town and visit its museum. Overnight sailing to Katakolon. Day 6: Wednesday- Katakolon/Olympia Arrive early morning in Katakolon, disembark around 7:00 a.m., then on a bus to Olympia; the birthplace of the Olympic Games. We will visit the Archaeological Museum and explore the Temples of Hera and Zeus. Lunch in the town of Olympia and then visit the museum of the History of the Olympic Games of Antiquity. We will travel by land to re-board in Patras, where we depart for Itea in the Gulf of Corinth. Overnight in Itea. Day 7: Thursday- Itea/Delphi Morning excursion to Delphi, one of the most revered sites of the ancient world. We will disembark early morning. Delphi is built on the side of a mountain with stunning views. We will spend half a day exploring the ruins and the museum. Then return to the ship and cross the Corinth Canal heading for Marina Zea. Overnight in Marina Zea Day 8: Friday- Marina Zea Disembarkation after breakfast. Arahova Where: Aráhova is a mountainous village nestling picturesquely at the foot of Mt. Parnassós in Viotia, Southern Greece Why: Because it is the most cosmopolitan winter destination in Greece, a great favourite for passionate ski lovers and celebrities, or just first-time visitors who wish to relax in a dreamy mountainous setting with modern tourism facilities. Its modern ski resort, its close proximity to Athens, and its breathtaking mountainous landscape are the strongest reason why. Apart from the mountain activities, Aráhova is also famous for its bustling nightlife! Must visit: The Byzantine churches of the village with their well preserved frescos. Activities on offer: Get involved in outdoor activities such as hiking or ski down the slopes of Mt. Parnassós at the biggest downhill ski resort in Greece. The mountain’s high altitude offers ski lovers long-lasting snow cover at the peaks. Hot tips: • Discover the traditional character of the village by taking leisurely walks through its narrow cobblestone streets. Enjoy hot and sweet or soft and fruity drinks in cafés, or traditional kafeneia (coffee shops). • Stay up all night and enjoy the village’s bustling nightlife. There are a plethora of bars and clubs up and down the streets of Aráhova. • Visit the nearby archaeological site of Delphi. Accommodation: Various elegant first-class hotels or traditional guest houses offer luxurious accommodation. Famous local products: Aráhova offers a memorable gourmet experience; taste local specialties: kontosoúvli (big hunks of pork skewered and put on a rotisserie with onions, tomatoes, peppers and seasoned with salt and pepper, garlic and oregano), kokorétsi (the intestines of the lamb stuffed with offal), sarmádes (stuffed grape leaves), traditional pies, handmade trahanás (pasta soup, can be sweet or sour), and hilopites (egg noodles made in linguine-sized strips, cut into small pieces). Aráhova also produces the famous cheese “formaéla”, a sweet smelling hard rind cheese of with a relatively mild flavour that you should definitely taste! Have a sip of the divine Parnassós local wine, the red “Mavroudi”, which achieved Protected Designation of Origin status in 2006. The “Black Aráhova vine” is a full-bodied prolific variety that produces wines of a deep red hue with a high alcohol content. Complete your meal with traditional “spoon-sweets”, or even better, try yogurt with honey, a dessert served compliments of the house. Before you leave Aráhova, pick up some hand-made beautifully coloured woven carpets (flocati rugs) and textiles to take with you as a going-away present. Karpenissi Where: A mountain village situated in Evritania, Greece. Why: Towering snow capped mountains; deep ravines; fast-flowing rivers and lakes; impressive gorges; Byzantine monasteries and tiny mountain villages make out an form an alpine landscape that promises to offer the ultimate winter experience! Must visit: The most popular sights of Karpenissi: The Byzantine Church of Agia Triada in Karpenissi, the Church of Panagia in Fousiana, Agia Paraskevi in Vraggiana and Proussos Monastery, the Library and the picturesque squares of Markos Botsaris and Katsantonis, both famous heroes of the Revolution. Activities: Trekking along winding mountain paths; canoe-kayaking in Kremaston Lake; kayaking and rafting down the Aheloos, Tavropos and Trikeriotis rivers; horse riding; canoeing through the gorges of Viniani and Vothonas; jeep safari and skiing at the modern ski resort of Karpenissi, one of the biggest and most popular in Greece. Follow scenic routes and admire the undulating natural surroundings. Two suggested routes are: Karpenissi - Gorgianades - Korishades - Klausi - Voutiro - Nostimo - Megalo Horio - Mikro Horio - Palio Mikro Horio – Proussos and Karpenissi - Viniani - Kerasohori - Marathos - Monastiraki - Epiniana - Agrafa - Tridendro - Trovato - Vraggiana – Agrafa. Hot tip: Visit the beautifully preserved district of Korishades and tour its fascinating museums such as the National Resistance Museum; visit restored manor houses, Byzantine churches, schools transformed into museums and the arched bridges of the area, wonderful examples of local architecture. Accommodation: Choose from among family run pensions, welcoming guesthouses or luxurious hotels! Famous local products: Taste fried trout and mushrooms (morchella) in red sauce. Other exquisite local products on offer include Katiki, which is a Euritanian goat cheese, feta cheese, yoghurt and butter, local meat, beans, noodles, pasta, chestnuts and walnuts, berries, black cherries, crab apples, figs and kumquats, honey and superb “spoon sweets” as well as wine, tsipouro and liqueurs. Don’t forget to buy folk art products, like handmade rugs and woven fabrics of exceptional quality. At best of Greece we pride ourselves of excellence in every detail! A client who has booked with us is sure to receive the best specialist services for an unforgettable holiday in Greece. Whether you are looking for a 5 star luxury hotel with spa and every other treatment you can imagine or just a beautiful traditional little hotel in an unknown and unspoilt part of Greece we can give you the best possible advice! Just ask and find out what our tailor made services are all about

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Best of Greece is the top specialist for tailor-made holidays to Greece! Find out more under Our devotion to Greece as a country and the Greek way of living is now helping you become a true Greek fan yourselves! We have found a great recipe of how to make Mousaka! One of the most known Greek delicacies! We hope you enjoy the recipe and look forward to hearing how it finally tasted ! We found this recipe on and the person who wrote it was Elise! Thank you Elise for this great recipe!
Moussaka is to the Eastern Mediterranean what lasagna is to Italy: A very rich, special casserole that is perfect for Sunday dinners or potluck gatherings. The recipe takes some time to put together, but like a good lasagna, it’s worth it. This version is Greek, although every country in the region makes its own version of moussaka. Even the Greek versions have endless variety, from different ingredients in the meat sauce, choices of meat, amount of béchamel, how they cut and cook the eggplants, whether to use potatoes, etc. The best way to make moussaka is in steps. Start with the meat sauce, and while that is simmering, prep the potatoes and eggplant. Make the béchamel last because it is not a sauce that holds very well. Don't be intimidated by the number of steps, we've just detailed the process carefully to make it easier to follow. Do you have a favorite way of preparing moussaka? Please let us know about it. Also check out the links to more moussaka approaches from other food bloggers in the link list below the recipe. Moussaka Recipe A word on the cheese: All sorts of cheese can be used here, and to be most authentic, use kefalotyri. We used mizithra, which is becoming increasingly available in supermarkets. No need to search the globe for these cheeses, however, as a pecorino or any hard grating cheese will work fine. INGREDIENTS Meat sauce 2 pounds ground lamb or beef 2 Tbsp olive oil 1 chopped onion 4 chopped garlic cloves 1 teaspoon allspice 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon black pepper 1 Tbsp dried oregano 2 Tbsp tomato paste 1/2 cup red wine Zest of a lemon 2 Tbsp or more of lemon juice Salt to taste Bechamel sauce 1 stick unsalted butter 1/2 cup flour 1 teaspoon salt 4 cups whole milk 4 egg yolks 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg The moussaka 3 large globe eggplants 1/2 cup salt 8 cups water 2-3 Yukon gold or other yellow potatoes 1 cup grated mizithra cheese (or pecorino or Parmesan) Olive oil METHOD Prepare the meat sauce 1 Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and brown the ground meat. By the way, the meat will brown best if you don't stir it. Add the onions about halfway into the browning process. Sprinkle salt over the meat and onions. 2 Once the meat is browned and the onions have softened, add the garlic, allspice, cinnamon, black pepper, oregano and tomato paste. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes.
3 Add the red wine and mix well. Bring the sauce to a simmer, reduce the heat and continue to simmer gently, uncovered for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Add the lemon zest and the lemon juice. Mix well and taste. If the sauce needs more acidity, add more lemon juice. Set the sauce aside. Prepare the potatoes and eggplants 4 Mix the 1/2 cup salt with the 8 cups of water in a large pot or container. This will be the brine for the eggplants.
5 Slice the top and bottom off the eggplants. Cut thick strips of the skin off the eggplants to give them a striped appearance. A little skin on the eggplant is good for texture, but leaving it all on makes the moussaka hard to cut later, and can add bitterness, which you don’t want. (Some moussaka recipes leave the skin on and have you slice the eggplants lengthwise, which is an option if you prefer.) Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds and drop them into the brine. 6 Let the eggplants sit in the brine 15-20 minutes, then remove them to a series of paper towels to dry. Place a paper towel down on the counter, layer some eggplant on it, then cover with another sheet of paper towel and repeat. 7 As the eggplants are brining, peel and slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch rounds. Boil them in salted water for 5-8 minutes – you want them undercooked, but no longer crunchy. Drain and set aside.
8 To cook the eggplant, broil or grill the rounds. You could also fry the eggplant rounds but they tend to absorb a lot of oil that way. To grill the eggplant rounds, get a grill very hot and close the lid. Paint one side of the eggplant rounds with olive oil and grill 2-3 minutes. When they are done on one side, paint the other side with oil and flip. When the eggplants are nicely grilled, set aside. To broil, line a broiling pan or roasting pan with aluminum foil. Paint with olive oil. Place the eggplant rounds on the foil and brush with olive oil. Broil for 3-4 minutes until lightly browned on one side, then flip them over and broil for a few minutes more. Set aside. Prepare the béchamel 9 Heat milk in a pot on medium heat until steamy (about 160 degrees). Do not let simmer. 10 Heat the butter in a small pot over medium heat. When the butter has completely melted, slowly whisk in the flour. Let this roux simmer over medium-low heat for a few minutes. Do not let it get too dark. 11 Little by little, pour in the steamy milk, stirring constantly. It will set up and thicken dramatically at first, but keep adding milk and stirring, the sauce will loosen. Return the heat to medium. Add about a teaspoon of salt and the nutmeg. Stir well.
12 Put the egg yolks in a bowl and whisk to combine. Temper the eggs so they don’t scramble when you put them into the sauce. Using two hands, one with a whisk, the other with a ladle, slowly pour in a couple ladle’s worth of the hot béchamel into the eggs, whisking all the time. Slowly pour the egg mixture back into the béchamel while whisking the mixture. Keep the sauce on very low heat, do not let simmer or boil. Finish the moussaka
13 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Layer a casserole with the potatoes, overlapping slightly. Top the layer of potatoes with a layer of eggplant slices (use just half of the slices).
14 Cover the eggplant slices with the meat sauce. Then layer remaining eggplant slices on top of the meat.
15 Sprinkle half the cheese on top. Ladle the béchamel over everything in an even layer. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. 16 Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned. Let the moussaka cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Yield: Serves 8. I hope you find this recipe interesting and helpful! We do look forward to hearing your feedback from it! Your holiday specialist to Greece Best of Greece

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Best of Greece is the leading specialist in Tailor-Made Luxury Holidays to Greece since 1973! In our effort to bring forward new city breaks to Greece we have been one of the first tour operators to include the wonderful city of Thessaloniki! Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece and is also called the city which never sleeps! It is city full of culture, history and happy faces! We are sure that a holiday to Thessaloniki and the surrounding areas will be a holiday you will forever cherish! Find out more about this fascinating city We found this very interesting article written on the Telegraph by Robin Gauldie! We hope you enjoy it!
I like to start a visit to Thessaloniki with an early morning stroll through the market district and perhaps a wee ouzo in one of its back-alley cafés. Then a tour of the fish hall, among stalls heaped with eels, carp, crabs, lobster, octopus, squid, bream, sardines, mackerel and other less familiar fruits of the sea and rivers of northern Greece – so fresh that many still wriggle. The markets – the flower stalls of the old Ottoman Bedesten, the Modano with its piles of oranges and melons, barrels overflowing with olives and dried fruits and herbs and spices and tiny shops selling icons, good-luck charms and slender beeswax church candles – have survived a century of upheavals. "Salonika of the late 19th century was a combination of smart seafront mansions, shops selling European luxuries, modern transport, old-fashioned Oriental alleys and markets, frescoed churches and shady Muslim graveyards," writes Bruce Clark, author of Twice a Stranger: How Mass Expulsion Forged Modern Greece and Turkey. But in the following century, war, foreign occupation, fire, the great "exchange of populations", genocide and earthquakes changed the face of the city. Once a place where Muslims, Jews and Greeks lived side by side, it is now almost wholly Greek. There are surprisingly few traces of almost 500 years of Ottoman rule – the White Tower, a handful of Koranic inscriptions, the domes of a Turkish hammam or two and a few minarets.
The Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki tells the story of the Sephardic community which dominated much of the city's cultural and economic life from the late 15th century until the early 20th century.
Relics of an earlier era abound either side of Egnatia Odos, the road along which the legions once marched from Constantinople, and which is still the city's main thoroughfare. The second-century Roman forum is being excavated, but half a dozen grandiose Byzantine churches are scattered along the road's length and the triumphal Arch of Galerius is a classic piece of Roman vainglory, with its friezes of fleeing Persians and victorious legions. Just north stands the circular Agios Georgios (St George), also commissioned by the Emperor Galerius (around AD300) and one of the world's oldest Christian churches, with superb mosaics.
Saving the best till last, the highlight of the Archaeological Museum is the Gold of Macedon collection, with its silver-guilt ceremonial wreaths, jewellery and splendid wine vessels. Across the street, the Museum of Byzantine Culture exhibits mosaics, frescoes and wonderful icons that give you some idea of Thessaloniki in its pre-Ottoman golden age. These are the parts of the city's history that its present inhabitants prefer to remember. Its more recent histories, it seems, most feel should remain in the past.
You can find a selection of the best hotels in Thessaloniki as well as beautiful ideas of what to while you are there at We look forward to arrangin a memorable holiday in Greece for you! Best of Greece

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Best of Greece is the leading specialist for luxury tailor made holidays to Greece since 1973.

Formerly the co-capital of the Byzantine Empire, Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece. It is located in Northern Greece and is surrounded by low hills and facing the Thermaikos Gulf. It has a busy port that is complimented by a beautiful waterfront promenade.

This city has beautiful parks, many museums and even though it that has maintained a continuous history of 3,000 years, it has become a very modern city known for its nightlife, it’s shopping, its food and deserts as well as its ancient monuments. It is also home to many a Greek poet, writer, musician and philosopher.

With the combination of ancient ruins and the modern buildings this cosmopolitan city is said to be more attractive than the actual capital of Greece. Sometimes referred to as the Jewel of the North, Thessaloniki does not have many high rise buildings which is great for the city’s visitors and residents as there are sea vies from all over town. Thessaloniki has a lively café culture and many of the cafes and restaurants are found in the two main squares that sit on the waterfront.

Thessaloniki is famous for its White Tower, if you have seen photographs of Thessaloniki this is the tower you will have seen. It was built as part of the city’s walls and now stands alone on the waterfront. It has become the city’s most famous landmark.

This great city is provides it visitors with all the necessary facilities, copious accommodation options, sea views, beautiful old buildings, landmarks, Byzantine churches and much much more.


Thessaloniki was built in the area where ancient Therme stood. It was founded by King Kassandros in 315 BC. He named the city after his wife, who was a relation of Alexander the Great. By the 2nd century BC the city had become a protected city with walls built around it.

Like most of Greece Thessaloniki has been home to many a different civilization, because of its strategic position and its port that provides access to the Aegean and the Eastern Markets. There are cultural influences from the Turkish, the Jewish, the Serbians but also from the Ottoman, Byzantine and Roman Empire.

The Romans took over in 168 BC when the Kingdom of Macedon fell. The Romans took advantage of the position of the city and used it to connect the trading routes between Turkey and Albania as well as facilitating trade with Asia. They built a harbour (the famous “Burrowed Harbour”) that accommodated all the trade, up until the 18th century.

In 379, during the Byzantine Era, Thessaloniki became second only to Constantinople. During the Byzantine Era the city was subjected to a lot of violence. This included the invasion of by the Slavs and the Barbarians, which led to the slaughter of slaves and citizens. The city was only restored during the gradual recovery of the Byzantine power during the 10th, 11th and 12th Century. Due to its past, a strong Jewish community re-established itself in the 12th Century.

Thessaloniki moved into the hands of the Latin Empire in 1204 after flourishing financially as well as culturally under the Byzantine rule.

The city then changed hands between the Latin Empire, the Greeks, the Bulgarians and then back to the Byzantine Empire all between 1204 and 1246. The swapping of hands did not effect the growth of the city instead the city obtained a great intellectual and artistic reputation.

Thessaloniki was not left alone for long and it eventually was ruled by the Zealot Social Movement, who introduced progressive social ideas during their short rule.

The Byzantine Empire finally let go of the city in 1423 when they sold it to the Venetians, who lost the city after 7 years to the Ottoman Empire after a siege of 3 days. During the Empire’s rule the Muslims in the City eventually outnumbered the Greeks in the City. The Jewish community also grew significantly during their rule. Thessaloniki again was used because of its strategic position and became one of the most important cities within the Empire.

During the early 1900s a lot of Bulgarians moved into Thessaloniki and it became a hub for their political and cultural activity. The Ottoman Empire eventually gave into the Greek army in 1912 during the first Balkan War. In 1913 after the 2nd Balkan War Thessaloniki was named an integral city of Greece after the signing of the Treaty of Bucharest.

In 1917 Thessaloniki was set ablaze in what is now known as the “Great Thessaloniki Fire”. This single fire set alight thousands of homes, leaving in total 72,000 people homeless. Many Greeks then returned to the city for refuge from Asia Minor.

Thessaloniki also suffered largely from the bombings during the Second World War. However, the city recovered and was rebuilt quickly, leading it to eventually become the wonderful city that it is today.

You can see evidence of all the people that came through this area in the Modern city that stands today.


The White Tower

As we have already described above the White Tower is the city’s most famous landmark, so you will appreciate that this is something you have got to see. You can see it by walking along the waterfront but we would suggest that you go up to their rooftop café. From up there you can sip on a coffee or cocktail whilst enjoying a panoramic view of the city. You can also wonder into the Museum within the Tower housing artefacts from 300 AD to 1500 AB.

The Arch of Galerius & The Rotanda

The Arch is located in the Historical part of Thessaloniki. It was built in 305 AD to celebrate the defeat of the Persians. Unfortunately only a part of the monument still stands. It used to be an eight pillared gateway and now only two archways remain.

The Rotanda is located just a 100 metres or so from the Arch. This is a circular Church that was built approx 306 AD. It was originally built as a mausoleum for the Emperor Galerius but was then used as a Church and was embellished with lovely mosaics.

The Roman Forum

Originally a Greek Marketplace (Agora) which became a Roman Forum, this archaeological site is located close to the Diaksterion Square. It has an incredibly well preserved theatre which is still used for the occasional summer production.

Ano Poli

Take the time to go up and visit the “Ano Poli” (upper town) or Old Town. It is a vantage point for magnificent views and as it was not destroyed by the famous fire in 1917 it is the Heritage listed area of Thessaloniki. It has cobble stone streets, old squares, lovely little tavernas, old Greek and Ottoman Houses and is surrounded by the city’s remaining walls. You can also access the Seich Sou Forest National Park from there. Wander up to the top of this city’s Acropolis and enjoy some time in Old Thessaloniki with endless views of the Gulf and if you are lucky views of Mount Olympus.


This city has numerous wonderful churches, both big and small and that were constructed during many different Eras. Many of the Churches are found in the ‘Ano Poli”. Some of the most important Churches around are the following:
“Agia Sofia” which is a copy of the “Agia Sophia” in Istanbul, it was built in the 8th Century AD.
The Church of Apostoli is rich in Byzantine decorations and dates back to the 14th century.
“Agios Nikolaos Orfanos” was also built in the 14th century and has beautiful frescoes.


Archaelogical Museum: Rumoured to be one of the best museums in Europe, this museum houses a huge collection of artefacts and incredible treasures. You will even get to see the Tomb of Alexander the Great’s Father. The collection includes exquisite mosaics, the only fully intact papyrus in Greece form the 3rd Century and various other great items.

Museum of Byzantine Culture: This museum has a permanent collection of items that give a visitor of the museum a good look at what the culture and art was like during the Byzantine Era. They also hold temporary exhibitions.

Museum of Contemporary Art: a very newly established Museum (est. in 1997), this Museum has a permanent exhibition of the George Costakis collection which consists mainly of Russian Avant-Grade Art Works. The Museum also houses Temporary exhibitions and provides educational programs.

Municipal Art Gallery of Thessaloniki: the exhibition is housed in a beautiful Edectic Style House and it includes 1,000 or so Art Works and they also regularly have other exhibitions. The Museum is located in a wonderful part of Thessaloniki with old buildings which is worth walking around.


Little Trips

Mount Athos: We are afraid only men can visit this Sanctuary. It is approx. 130 km from Thessaloniki but if you would like to take a step back in time and stay in one of the most scenic places in Europe this is the place to visit. The Monastaries resemble castles in their enormity and structure. They have libraries, gorgeous frescoes and mosaics, amazing seashore and incredible gardens.

Mount Olympus: 77 km from Thessaloniki Mount Olympus, the tallest in Greece standing at close to 3000 metres, towers up into the sky. If you are up for a long walk and a viewing of very rich tree and plant life, you should visit Mount Olympus and at least have a glimpse of it. If you are feeling adventurous you can climb the whole way up, keep in mind it takes approx. two days.

Vergina: this small cluster of archaeological sites, includes a palace, a theatre and hundreds of burial mounds. The area in which they lie connects to the life of Phillip (Alexander the Great’s father). He built the palace and the theatre and was assassinated there.


There are no beaches that are in walking distance from Thessaloniki’s city centre. You will need to hire a car or jump on bus heading in the right direction. The coastline that runs along Thessaloniki and neighbouring areas is stunning and provides a number of options for people who want to have a swim.

Agia Triada- 26 km from Thessaloniki, this is a wonderful beach that has been awarded a Blue Flag. It is long and can get quite crowded in the summer.
Angelochori Beach- 30 km from Thessaloniki, here you can enjoy a nice swim or get active by doing some water sports such as Kite surfing.
Aretsou Beach- located very close to Thessaloniki this stretch of sand has cafes, restaurants etc.
Nei Epivates Beach- approx 24 km from Thessaloniki, this is a beach resort with 200 metres of sand to lie on.

There are number of other beaches you may want to visit but most are a bit further out from the city’s centre.


Being the second largest city in Greece the shopping here is how it is in most cities. There are a number of Shopping Malls, boutique shops, street shops, souvenir shops etc. There are places you can find pretty much anything. The city isn’t very large but there are great markets and local shops.
If you are looking for a few souvenirs and some nibbles start in the local food market and then for whatever else you are looking for we would suggest you start your search on Agia Sophia Street, Mitropoleos Street or in Aristotelous Square. You should also check out Tsimiski Street and the Proxenou and Koromilia Shopping Areas.


This city is known for its nightlife! Your nights out here will remain unforgettable. The options of where to go, what to listen to and what type of bar/club are numerous. As you are aware the clubs open around 11 and stay open until the early hours of the morning. You can find traditional Greek music in Bars or you could even visit the Bouzoukia, you can find house, rock, soul, jazz, and pretty much anything else. The liveliest areas for going out are Ladadika, Mylos, Nea Krini and Aretsou, you will find everything from clubs and bars to ouzeris and restaurants.

If you are in the mood for gambling there is also a casino you can visit which is about an hour’s drive form the centre out toward the airport.


The options of where to eat in Thessaloniki are also numerous. You can choose to eat down by the waterfront, in town or up by the castle walls in “Ano Poli”. It all depends what you are looking for. The area of town that accommodates more for the younger crowd is around Aristotelous square, the square has various cafes and restaurants. If you are looking for ouzeris and meze you should wander down to Ionos Dragoumi.

The food in Thessaloniki in general is of good value and of a good quality. You should try the Bougatsa’s with cheese, potatoes etc and their large souvlakia. The cuisine in this city is largely influenced by the East due to the occupation of the Ottoman Empire.
Thessaloniki is famous for a number of sweets and pastries so don’t miss the chance to try them. You have to try their traditional sweet Bougatsa (cream pie), Trigona panoramas (pastry filled with chocolate or vanilla cream) and Tsoureki (sweet bread).

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