Thrace Travel Guide
Nestled in the northeastern part of Greece, this region offers an unparalleled experience where two continents converge, and cultures intertwine amidst breathtaking ecosystems. Join us on an enchanting journey through the cities of Xanthi, Komotini, Alexandroupoli, Orestiada, and Didymoteicho, as we unravel the essence of the East through tantalizing menus, vibrant mosques, and bustling bazaars. Delve into centuries-old Christian and Orthodox communities that coexist peacefully, while immersing yourself in a tapestry of Byzantine and medieval cultural heritage.
Where is Thrace?
Thrace – Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (full name) is the northeastern part of Greece ending at Alexandroupolis on the south and Orestiada almost to the north. This is the part connecting Europe with Asia and the Aegean Sea with the Black Sea. It shares borders with Bulgaria and Turkey, creating a melting pot of influences that shape its unique identity. Thrace is divided into three prefectures: Xanthi, Rhodope, and Evros. Each prefecture boasts its own distinct charm and attractions, making Thrace a diverse and multifaceted region. Life shows its existence since 3000 BC here. The name of this part according to the legend comes from “Thrace” the daughter of Oceanus, sister of Europe, Asia, and Libya, or from the Greek word “trahia” which means a rough area because of the climate and the environment.
Thrace: A Place of Historical Significance
Thrace holds a special place in Greece’s history, and its heritage remains remarkably preserved, untouched by the tourism explosion.
The region was once a vast territory extending from Thessaly to the borders of modern Albania. Thrace was home to the ancient Thracians, and their culture had significant influences from the Greeks and later the Romans. Originating as an Indo-European people, the Thracians diverged from the Dacians of Romania around 1000 BC, carving their own path in history. The Thracians had a unique spiritual tradition, with notable cult centers like Samothraki, attracting pilgrims from various social classes, including kings and emperors. Ancient Greek and Roman historians lauded the ancient Thracians for their prowess as superior fighters, often employing them as mercenaries.
Thrace’s impact on Greek religion and mythology cannot be overstated. The cult of the Cabeiri, ancient “Great Gods,” originated in prehistoric Thrace and held significant sway over Greek religious practices, particularly in cities like Thebes. Thrace’s religious allure persisted well into Roman times, with the cult center at Samothraki attracting pilgrims from all walks of life, including slaves, monarchs, and emperors. Notable figures such as the legendary Bard Orpheus and aspects of the cult of Dionysus are believed to have originated in Thrace. These captivating mythological tales and religious traditions have become integral parts of Greek culture, leaving an enduring legacy that resonates even today. Greek colonization efforts in the 8th and 6th centuries BC resulted in the establishment of numerous cities along the coast and on islands such as Samothraki and Thasos. While some Greek colonies displaced the Thracians from their lands, in other regions, a peaceful coexistence emerged, potentially dating back to the Bronze Age.
Thrace ultimately became a Roman province in 46 AD, following the all-conquering Romans’ conquests.
Tracing Ancient Pathways: The ancient Roman roads of Via Egnatia and Via Pontica bear witness to Thrace’s historical significance as a crucial crossroads between East and West. Via Egnatia, a historic Roman road spanning Albania, North Macedonia, Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey, traversed the Balkans and played a pivotal role in facilitating trade and cultural exchange. Meanwhile, Via Pontica served as an ancient Roman route connecting Byzantium (present-day Istanbul) to the Danube Delta, enabling the flow of ideas, goods, and people.
During the Byzantine Era, the area is close to the capital city Constantinople and once more many monuments bear witness to its prosperity: Didimotiho, with its castle and 23 towers, the fortress of Ioannis Katakouzinos in Pythio and the cavern of Agios Theodoros in Alexandroupolis transformed into a temple wall painted in two phases. Since the 18th century, the Greek element of the area has flourished both economically and intellectually. Traces of this peak can be found in Soufli, the land of silk, Metaxades, and Didimotiho.
The Ottoman Turks conquered parts of Thrace, establishing their first capital in Europe at Didymoteicho and later moving it to Adrianople (Edirne) before taking Constantinople in 1453.
In the 19th century, Thrace played a significant role in tobacco and silk production, with Soufli being a prominent center for silk manufacturing.
The forced population exchanges between Greece and Turkey in the 1920s resulted in a significant influx of Greek refugees into Thrace.
Alexandroúpoli: A Coastal Gem
Begin your Thrace adventure in the picturesque town of Alexandroúpoli, the region’s main port. Located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. It boasts a beautiful white lighthouse, neoclassical buildings, and archaeological sites. You can visit the Ethnological Museum of Thrace, the Folklore History Museum, and explore the ancient Cyclops’ Cave in the village of Makri. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Museum of Byzantine Art, showcasing rare icons that have found their way to Greece from Asia Minor. Explore lively town squares, marvel at the impressive lighthouse, and immerse yourself in history at the Folklore Museum.
Xanthi: A Glimpse into Ottoman Heritage
Discover the allure of Xanthi, an Ottoman town that exudes an aura of ancient charm. Wander through the historical center’s labyrinth of winding streets, adorned with elegant palaces that once belonged to prosperous merchants. Walk along the cobblestone alleys of this quaint, picturesque urban center, admiring its distinctive architecture, colorful houses, and inviting tavernas serving up mouthwatering traditional treats and local wine. Don’t forget to check out the annual pre-Lent “Xanthi Carnival” (mid-February) when the whole city celebrates in masquerade costumes and music. One can visit Pokamohoria, which are villages dotted all over the Ehinou valley. These villages are examples of a unique cultural and architectural style which can be found nowhere else in Greece.
Komotini Cultural Heritage Trail
In the heart of Thrace lies Komotini, the regional capital and a true cultural gem. Explore this multicultural university city with a Jewish quarter, Roman baths, Byzantine churches, and Ottoman buildings. Visit the Folk Art Museum housed inside a preserved Turkish Bathhouse and enjoy people-watching at the historic “Platia Emmanouela Garden,” ideal for coffee breaks or leisurely conversations.
Venture a short distance from Komotini, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by the enchanting Rodopi mountains. This picturesque area is adorned with mountain lodges and ancient wine presses delicately carved into the rock. The Chaintou forest within these mountains will leave you breathless, as age-old beech trees tower over 30 meters, providing a sanctuary for wildlife, including bears, wolves, and deer. The Chaintou forest, designated as a ‘Monument of Nature’ and a protected area, promises encounters with rare and fascinating species of flora and fauna.
This charming coastal city located in Northern Greece is filled with historic charm, modern amenities, and warm hospitality.Kavala’s beautiful Old Town, built amphitheatrically around the Castle, boasts cobblestone streets, colorful balconies, and quaint cafes.Explore the town’s long history by visiting sites like the Imaret, an Ottoman-era building now converted into a museum; the Roman Aqueduct, still standing tall after centuries; and the Byzantine castle, offering panoramic views of the area.
Often overlooked by travelers flocking to better-known destinations in Greece, this small yet captivating city possesses an undeniable charm that will capture hearts of all types. Drama is a true reflection of Greek diversity and splendor. Its architectural landscape showcases historical influences ranging from classical antiquity to Ottoman rule and beyond, giving the city a distinct identity unlike any other.
How to Get to Thrace
To get to Thrace, Greece, you have several transportation options depending on your starting point. Here are some common methods:
To start your adventure in Thrace, you can fly into Democritus Airport in Alexandroupolis, the capital city of the region. Several airlines operate regular flights to Alexandroupolis from major European cities, making it easily accessible. Alternatively, you can opt for a scenic road trip from other parts of Greece, as Thrace is well-connected via an extensive network of highways.
By Boat : Kavala is a major port. it is possible to reach it by ferry from Lemnos and several other North Aegean islands.
By plane : The nearest international airport to Thrace is the Kavala International Airport “Megas Alexandros” (KVA). You can book a flight to this airport from major cities in Greece or other countries. From the airport, you can hire a taxi or rent a car to reach your destination in Thrace. There are direct flights to many European countries, especially in summer and daily flights to Athens. Except with taxis, the airport (“International Airport of Athens “Eleftherios Venizelos“) is easy to reach by public transport. Car rentals at the airport are also available.
By Train: Greece has an extensive railway network, and there are train connections to Thrace. The main train station in Thrace is in Alexandroupolis, which is the largest city in the region. You can take a train from Athens or Thessaloniki to Alexandroupolis. Train travel in Greece is comfortable and scenic, offering a chance to enjoy the countryside during your journey.
By Bus: The KTEL bus network in Greece provides intercity bus services to Thrace. From Athens or Thessaloniki, you can find direct buses to Alexandroupolis and other cities in Thrace. The journey duration may vary depending on the distance and traffic conditions. 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 Enchanting Geography of Thrace
Occupying the northeastern corner of Greece, Thrace boasts a diverse and captivating geography. To the north, the majestic Rodopi mountain range rises, its foothills gradually giving way to fertile plains in the south. This geographical diversity creates a mesmerizing tapestry of landscapes, from rugged peaks to lush valleys, and picturesque coastlines to tranquil lakes and wetlands.
Lakes and wetlands are of utmost ecological importance and rank among the most significant in Europe. Thrace’s natural wonders provide a sanctuary for over three hundred protected species of birds, making it a paradise for birdwatchers. During the winter months, more than 200,000 wild water birds flock to Thrace, adding to its awe-inspiring biodiversity. The region’s remarkable flora has also garnered the attention of ecologists, further emphasizing its ecological significance.
Natural Beauty and Landscapes
Thrace is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty that will leave you awe-inspired. Prepare to be captivated by Thrace’s pristine natural wonders, where every corner unveils a masterpiece crafted by Mother Nature herself. Thrace beckons with fertile valleys, dense forests, and endless stretches of pristine white sandy beaches. As you explore the region, you’ll encounter the rivers Evros, Nestos, and Ardas, meandering gracefully through the landscape. Lakes Vistonida and Ismarida glisten like jewels, inviting visitors to soak in their tranquility. Dadia forest and the Evros River Delta boast internationally acclaimed wetlands, creating an oasis for diverse flora and fauna.
Hiking in the Rhodope Mountains
The Rhodope Mountains dominate the landscape of Thrace, offering breathtaking views and countless outdoor activities. Inhaling fresh mountain air and indulging in breathtaking scenery by foot or bike – whether gentle strolls, moderate hikes, or extreme climbs – is your preference! The unspoiled Rodopi Regional Forestry Unit offers well-marked trails accessible from Kastaneri, Lakkoma, Sospiro, Vasso Korifi, and Asprovalta village entrances. On sunny days, the reflections dancing on Lake Kerkini (right next to Mandra Reserve entrance) may also tempt you into paddling excursions, swimming, or fishing endeavors!
The Rodopi Mountains, also known as the Rhodope Mountains, stretch across Bulgaria and Greece, covering an area of approximately 14,000 square kilometers. These ancient mountains are believed to be over 200 million years old, making them one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world.
Evros River Delta: A Biodiversity Hotspot
Stretching across Greece and Turkey, the Evros River, also known as the Maritsa River, forms a significant portion of the border between the two countries. For nature enthusiasts, the Evros Delta is a must-visit destination. This unique ecosystem is a haven for birdwatchers, as it serves as a major migratory route for various species. Take a boat tour and witness the awe-inspiring sight of flocks of birds gracefully flying overhead. The Evros Delta is a paradise for wildlife lovers and photographers alike.
Birdwatching at Evros Delta
A true paradise for nature lovers, this protected wetland hosts numerous species of birds, wildlife, and flora. Look out for rare and endemic species such as the Dalmatian pelican, glossy ibis, black-winged pratincole, and great reed warbler. Take a guided boat ride or go kayaking during the spring/fall migration seasons (March to May & August to October).
Nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes of Thrace, the Nestos River is a true gem for nature lovers. The river originates from the Rila Mountains of Bulgaria, flowing into the Thracian Sea, where its delta serves as an important wetland for plants, birds, and wildlife. To embark on your exploration of the Nestos River, start in the charming town of Chrysoupolis, located just southwest of Xanthi, and situated only a kilometer away from the river.
Nestos Adventure Park: Outdoor Thrills in the Gorge
Don’t let the name fool you—Nestos Adventure Park is not just about adrenaline-pumping activities. Located near the village of Galani, the park offers a plethora of outdoor adventures set amidst the breathtaking Nestos River Gorge. The journey begins at Galani Canteen, where the road ends and the path begins. If you’re not up for walking, Galani Beach awaits nearby—a unique beach situated on the sandy bank of the Nestos River.
The Path of Life: A Scenic Trail in Xanthi
For those seeking a serene and picturesque experience, the Path of Life in Xanthi is a must-visit. Starting from the city of Xanthi, this trail follows the Kosinthos River north, leading you to a man-made waterfall and dam. The trail will guide you to the church of To Panagia Archangeliotissa, an ideal spot for families to visit. If you’re an avid climber or hiker, you can venture further along the river banks, reaching the impressive 3-arched Hamidiye Bridge or exploring the forest trails northeast of the city. The Hamidiye Bridge, a stone bridge built during the Ottoman period, is steeped in history, with one end of the bridge now in ruins.
Dadia Forest: A Natural Haven
For nature enthusiasts, a visit to the Dadia forest reserve in the town of Didymotiho is an absolute must. Step into a world of pristine beauty, where lush pine and oak trees create a captivating tapestry. This protected natural area is a haven for hikers, nature photographers, and birdwatchers alike. Traverse the forest trails and be enchanted by the melodies of migratory birds embarking on their epic journey from Africa to Russia.
Ancient Theater of Maroneia
One of the must-visit sites is the Ancient Theater of Maroneia, an impressive amphitheater that once hosted theatrical performances and remains an architectural marvel to this day. History enthusiasts should not miss the opportunity to explore the Ancient City of Abdera, where remnants of ancient walls, temples, and public buildings can be admired.
Mount Athos: A Spiritual Haven in Greece
Mount Athos is a captivating destination that has drawn pilgrims and nature enthusiasts for centuries. With its unique status as an autonomous state, it has preserved its traditions and secluded way of life for over a millennium. The monasteries, some of which date back to the Byzantine era, house countless invaluable religious artifacts and manuscripts.
Samothraki Island: A Natural Wonder
Immerse yourself in the island’s lush nature, hike through dense forests, and marvel at the awe-inspiring Samothraki waterfalls. Explore the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, the most renowned archaeological site on Samothrace Island. Marvel at the remnants of the grand temples, mysterious altars, and intricate statues that have survived the test of time.
For nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers, a hike to the summit of Mount Saos is an absolute must. With its rugged trails and breathtaking vistas, this majestic mountain offers a thrilling experience for hikers of all levels. Explore the ruins of Palaiopolis, the ancient capital of Samothrace Island. Unearth the remnants of a bygone era, including ancient walls, Roman baths, and the remnants of ancient homes.
In addition to the historical sites, Samothrace Island has many cultural events throughout the year, such as traditional music festivals and religious celebrations.
Uncover the Timeless Beauty of Thassos Island
Think of a perfect destination where ancient ruins, sparkling turquoise waters, golden sandy shores, and lush green mountains converge – welcome to the enchanting island of Thassos, nestled in the northern reaches of the Aegean Sea. Discover millennia-old history engraved upon every stone of Thassos’ rugged terrain. From ancient temples and agoras to towering fortresses, each structure tells stories that have echoed through generations.
Shopping and Souvenirs
No trip is complete without some retail therapy and souvenir hunting. Thrace offers a unique shopping experience, with bustling local markets, boutique shops, and artisan workshops. Explore the markets of Xanthi and Komotini, where you can find traditional crafts, handmade textiles, and local delicacies. Don’t forget to bring back a bottle of Thrace’s fine wine or some aromatic spices to savor the flavors of your journey long after you’ve returned home.
Safety and Travel Tips
Thrace’s warm hospitality and friendly locals contribute to a safe and welcoming environment for travelers. However, it’s always wise to exercise general safety precautions and be mindful of your belongings. Respect local customs and traditions, dress modestly when visiting religious sites, and familiarize yourself with any cultural norms specific to the region. It is advisable to have travel insurance and stay updated on any travel advisories or guidelines issued by the authorities.
More to See...
Cultural tourism (archaeological museums of Drama, Philippi, Kavala, Port of Thassos, Abdaron, Komotini, archaeological sites of Philippi, Avdira, Maroneia, Doxipara, Samothrace, Agia Varvara Drama, Imaret Kavala).
Religious tourism (Monastery of Agios Apostolos Silas Monastery, Agia Lydia Monastery, Monasteries of Panagia Archangeliotissa, Panagia Kalamou, Taxiarchon and Agios Nikolaos Porto Lagos, Byzantine Mount Papikion, to the border of the Dadia Monastery and the Cosmos).
Conference and exhibition tourism (Lydia Conference Center, N. Karvalis Exhibition Center, Komotini Exhibition Center, Thracian Art & Tradition Foundation, and hotels in each city have the infrastructure for hosting events).
Ecotourism (Forests of Elati, Frakto, mountainous Rodopi, Delta of Nestos and Evros rivers, Pomakochoria, beautiful shores of the Thracian Sea, imposing mountains and forests, Maara caverns and rocks of Petrousa in Drama, Vistonida, Mitroikos, Ismarida, biotope of exceptional beauty and unique ecosystems with impressive landscapes).
Therapeutic – Thermal Tourism (Lasopotouras Krinidon, Thermal and Thermal Baths of Xanthi, Samothraki, Traianoupoli).
Agrotourism (in recent years remarkable agrotourist accommodation has been created in all prefectures).
Got a Question?
It is now considered part of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, which is one of the 13 administrative regions of Greece known as peripheries (Greek: περιφέρεια [periféria], plural: περιφÉρειες [perifÉries]) consisting of 74 regional units – they were officially created on 8 December 1980.
The region includes several regional units, headed by Regional Govs.
Regions that have no legal status but are used for deconcentration of power; to decentralize the executive government from Athens; and to facilitate coordination between the central government and local authorities, including towns and villages.
Therefore: Thrace is today part of “Eastern Macedonia & Thrace”, one of 13 peripheries in Greece.
Inside each perimeter there are multiple regional units; so Thrace can be found within these two “regional units” which may include municipalities and other areas like mountains etc!
The best way to get to Thrace is to fly into Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece. From there, you can take a bus or train to any of the cities in Thrace, including Alexandroupolis, Komotini, and Xanthi.
To get to Thrace, Greece, you have several transportation options depending on your starting point and preferences.
Here are some common ways to reach Thrace: By Air: The closest major international airport to Thrace is Athens International Airport (ATH).
From there, you can take a domestic flight to either Alexandroupoli “Dimokritos” Airport (AXD) or Kavala “Alexander the Great” Airport (KVA), which are the main airports serving the region.
By Train: Greece has an extensive railway network, and you can take a train to reach Thrace.
From Athens, you can board a train to Alexandroupoli or Drama, which are two major cities in Thrace.
The journey time and availability of direct trains may vary, so it’s recommended to check the train schedules in advance.
By Bus: Greece has an efficient intercity bus network operated by KTEL.
You can take a bus from Athens or other major cities to various destinations in Thrace, including Alexandroupoli, Komotini, or Xanthi.
The duration of the bus ride will depend on the starting point and the specific destination within Thrace.
By Car: If you prefer a more flexible mode of transportation, you can rent a car and drive to Thrace.
From Athens, you can take the E75 National Road, which connects Athens to Alexandroupoli.
Mount Athos – A third peninsula of Halkidiki and UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring 20 monasteries and numerous medieval buildings.
Philippi Archaeological Park – An extensive archaeological site containing preserved ruins from several eras including the Roman period.
Pangaion Hill – Considered sacred by the ancient Greeks, this scenic hill features interesting geology as well as historic sites such as Dimokastro.
Kavala Castle – A centuries-old Byzantine castle overlooking the sea in the picturesque city of Kavala.
Melnik – A charming town famous for its wine production and traditional architecture.
Xanthi – Known for its historic center filled with colorful old mansions, museums, and vibrant cultural life.
Dadia Forest and Vai Palm Beach Nature Reserve – Protected areas home to unique flora and fauna.”
You can also attend lively festivals and cultural events taking place during the summer months.
Autumn (September to November): Autumn in Thrace offers pleasant temperatures and milder weather.
It’s a great time to explore the region’s natural beauty, as the landscapes transition into beautiful autumn colors.
You can enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, and visiting wineries.
September and October are also harvest seasons, providing an opportunity to taste fresh local produce and participate in wine-related events.
Winter (December to February): Winter in Thrace is relatively mild, with temperatures ranging from cool to cold.
It’s a quieter season with fewer tourists, making it ideal for those seeking a more peaceful and authentic experience.
While coastal areas may be quieter, you can still enjoy cultural and historical attractions, indulge in local cuisine, and explore the region’s charming towns and villages.
Ultimately, the best time to visit Thrace depends on your preferences for weather, crowd levels, and the specific activities you wish to engage in.
Thrace boasts a rich culinary heritage that combines Greek, Ottoman, and Balkan influences. Indulge in the following culinary delights during your visit: Pies and Pastries: Thrace is renowned for its savory and sweet pies, such as “Zarkadian” pie filled with local cheeses, greens, or meat.
Try “Karithopita,” a walnut cake soaked in syrup, or “Kourampiedes,” buttery almond cookies often enjoyed during festive occasions.
Local Cheese: Sample the region’s delicious cheeses, including “Feta Thrakis,” made from sheep’s milk, and “Graviera Xanthis,” a hard cheese with a distinct flavor.
Pair them with local wines for an authentic taste of Thrace.
Seafood Delicacies: Being close to the Aegean Sea, Thrace offers an abundance of fresh seafood.
Taste dishes like grilled octopus, fried calamari, or “Psarosoupa,” a flavorful fish soup.
Don’t miss the opportunity to savor the famous “Midia,” delicious mussels harvested from the region.
Local Wines and Spirits: Thrace has a thriving wine industry, known for producing high-quality wines. Try the local varieties, such as “Maronia,” “Mavroudi,” and “Limnio.” Additionally, taste the traditional “Tsipouro,” a strong spirit distilled from grape pomace, often enjoyed as an aperitif or paired with meze (appetizers).
There are many ways to enjoy the breathtaking natural scenery in Thrace, Greece while exploring the region.
Some suggestions include: Hiking: Discover the mountainous terrain on foot.
Popular trails include those leading to the peaks of Pangaio Mountain, Sini Vigla (Blue Tree) summit in Kerkini Lake area, and Grammos Massif near the Greek-Albanian border.
You may even spot rare bird species along the way.
Birdwatching: Thanks to various ecosystems ranging from dense forests to wetlands and coastal habitats, observing avifauna could become one of the most memorable experiences of your trip to Thrace.
Highly recommended destinations encompass Dadia Forest National Park where you might come across griffon vultures and Egyptian vultures; Ismarida Wetland Complex and Porto Lagos Lagoon, which attract large flocks of migratory birds every year; and Nestos River Valley & Delta, another haven for aquatic birdlife.
Horseback Riding: This leisurely mode of transportation allows travelers to immerse themselves deeper into nature without disturbance.
In particular, trekking through the rolling hills and lush forests around Gallipoli Historical Peninsula and experiencing the serene landscape of Agios Nikolaos Lakeshore may offer unparalleled pleasures.
Water Sports/Recreational Activities: With many rivers running through Thrace like Evros River and Nestos River plus several lakes and reservoirs such as Kerkini Lake, Lake Doirani, and Sidirokastro Dam Lake, opportunities abound for kayakers, rafters, fishermen, sailors, windsurfers, beachgoers, picnickers, water skiers, paragliders, scuba divers, rock climbers, etc.
Yes, there are several famous archaeological sites in Thrace, Greece.
Here are a few notable archaeological sites in Thrace, Greece: Ancient Abdera: Located near the modern town of Avdira, Ancient Abdera was an important Greek colony founded in the 7th century BCE.
The archaeological site includes remains of fortifications, a theater, a necropolis, and various other structures.
Ancient Maroneia: Situated near the modern town of Komotini, Ancient Maroneia was an ancient Greek city known for its wine production.
The site features ruins of a theater, a marketplace (agora), temples, and a necropolis.
Zone Archaeological Park: Located in the city of Komotini, the Zone Archaeological Park is an extensive site that includes remains from various periods, including the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine eras.
It consists of a theater, a gymnasium, a Roman villa, and other structures.
Traianoupolis: Traianoupolis was a Roman city founded by Emperor Trajan in the 2nd century CE.
The archaeological site, situated near the modern town of Alexandroupoli, includes ruins of a theater, a necropolis, and a Roman bath complex.
Philippi is an important archaeological site known for its Roman and early Christian remains, including a theater, a forum, and the reputed location of the prison where the Apostle Paul was held.
Here are a few options to consider:
- Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Thraki (Alexandroupoli): This upscale hotel offers comfortable rooms, a spa, a fitness center, multiple dining options, and beautiful sea views.
Grand Hotel Egnatia (Komotini): Located in the heart of Komotini, this hotel features modern rooms, a rooftop pool, a restaurant, and easy access to the city’s attractions.
Porto Palio Hotel (Porto Lagos): Situated near Lake Vistonida, this hotel offers cozy rooms, a swimming pool, a restaurant serving Greek cuisine, and proximity to nature.
Alexander Beach Hotel & Spa (Kavala): This beachfront hotel provides luxurious accommodations, a private beach, an outdoor pool, a spa, and stunning views of the Aegean Sea.
Grecotel Astir Alexandroupolis: Boasting an indoor pool, an outdoor pool and magnificent sea views, Grecotel Astir Alexandroupolis is located right on the seafront of the scenic Alexandroupoli.
Thrace, Greece offers various outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy.
Here are some popular options: Hiking and Nature Exploration: Thrace is blessed with beautiful landscapes, including mountains, forests, and national parks.
You can embark on hiking trails, such as Mount Pangeon near Kavala or the Dadia Forest in the Evros region, to immerse yourself in nature and discover the region’s flora and fauna.
Beaches and Water Sports: Thrace is home to stunning coastal areas along the Aegean Sea and the Thracian Sea.
Birdwatching: The Evros Delta, located in the northeastern part of Thrace, is a significant wetland area and a haven for birdwatchers.
Visitors can explore the delta on guided tours or observation points to observe the rich birdlife.
Cycling: Thrace offers scenic routes that are ideal for cycling enthusiasts.
You can rent bicycles and explore the countryside, coastal paths, or even the city centers.
Kavala, Alexandroupoli, and Komotini are some cities where you can find bike rental services.
Wine Tourism: Thrace has a rich tradition of winemaking, and you can embark on wine tours to visit vineyards and wineries.
Places like the Avdira region are known for their vineyards and offer wine-tasting experiences where you can sample local wines and learn about the winemaking process.
Archaeological Site Visits: Thrace is home to several archaeological sites, such as Ancient Abdera and Philippi, which provide opportunities to explore ancient ruins, learn about the region’s history, and appreciate its cultural heritage.
Here are a few notable festivals and events that have traditionally taken place in Thrace: River Nestos Festival: This festival celebrates the natural beauty of the Nestos River, which flows through Thrace.
It usually includes various cultural events, music performances, traditional dances, and outdoor activities like canoeing and hiking.
Komotini Carnival: Komotini, the capital city of the Xanthi regional unit in Thrace, hosts a lively carnival each year.
The carnival features colorful parades, masquerades, music, dance, and street performances.
It is a festive celebration that attracts locals and visitors alike.
Didymoteicho Wine Festival: Didymoteicho, a town in the Evros regional unit, is famous for its vineyards and winemaking tradition.
The Didymoteicho Wine Festival takes place annually and offers wine tastings, traditional music, dancing, and cultural exhibitions.
Alexandroupoli Events: Alexandroupoli, the largest city in Thrace, organizes various cultural events and festivals throughout the year.
These include music concerts, theater performances, art exhibitions, and local celebrations.
It can be helpful to consult with local tourism offices or seek advice from experienced travelers or travel forums for more specific and up-to-date information regarding the safety of traveling to Thrace or any other destination in Greece.
Thrace is a safe region of Greece!
The cities in Thrace are all very safe, and there’s no risk of civil unrest or political instability.
Thrace is also quite remote, so it’s not a common tourist destination.
This means that it’s a great place to explore if you’re looking for something off the beaten path.
However, you might want to be mindful of pickpockets, just as you would in any tourist destination.
The distance from Athens to Thrace varies depending on which city you’re visiting in Thrace.
For example, Alexandroupoli is about 300 kilometers from Athens, while Xanthi is about 400 kilometers from Athens.
If you’re traveling by car or bus, the journey will take about 4-6 hours.
If you’re traveling by train, the journey can take up to 7 hours.
Thrace is definitely a bit of a trek from Athens, but it’s worth it to see the stunning countryside and small, traditional villages.
Thrace is one of the most important wine regions in Greece. There are several wineries and vineyards in Thrace, especially around the city of Xanthi. The red and white wines from Thrace are known for their complexity and unique character. If you’re a wine lover, Thrace is definitely worth a visit! There are also some great Greek restaurants and tavernas in Thrace, so you can enjoy the local wines with traditional Greek food.
The public transportation network in Thrace is well-connected, affordable, and offers good frequency. The majority of towns in the area have an intercity bus stop serviced regularly, often connecting further into neighboring cities and towns. The bus infrastructure is highly developed in this region making travel very convenient, especially since many attractions are located close together. Rentals and taxis can be picked up from major cities, though finding them outside of town can prove difficult. Taxis provide convenience as they offer door-to-door services but their availability cannot be guaranteed. Car rentals are another popular form of transportation especially suited for longer trips when flexibility is preferred over fixed schedules set by Public Transportation systems. Given the vastness of the rural areas here, self-driving presents greater freedom for visitors to explore independently, making it a strong recommendation once here. Due to budget constraints, buses can still be an affordable alternative as fares tend to stay lower than those of larger cities worldwide. All-in-all, traveling inside the region should pose little challenge irrespective of your mode of choice.
Thrace is home to numerous scenic hiking and trekking trails waiting to be discovered. From stunning coastal paths to steep mountain ascents, there’s something for every level of hiker. Be sure to bring appropriate gear and wear suitable clothing, including sturdy shoes, sunscreen, and plenty of water. Some notable hiking areas in Thrace include Mount Pangaon (also known as Peramos), Maroneia Nature Reserve, and Mount Rodophi. Additionally, many villages and towns throughout the region feature marked paths leading to nearby historical sites or breathtaking vistas. Don’t forget to check local maps, obtain necessary permits (if required), and let someone know about your planned route before setting out. Happy trails!
The culture of Thrace is very distinct and unique, even within Greece.
In terms of culture and tradition, Thrace, Greece is quite diverse, influenced by its location at the crossroads of several civilizations over time.
Here are some distinct cultural elements of Thrace: Music: Local traditional music incorporates both Balkan and Greek influences, featuring instruments like bouzouki, bagpipes, clarinet, lute, and tabor drum.
Many festivals showcase this rich musical heritage.
Folk Dances: Traditional dances like Makedoniko Hasapiko, Kaval Sviri, and Chasapi are performed during celebrations, weddings, and community events.
Language: The local dialect, called “Thráïko” or “Northern Greek,” is closely related to Aromanian and Bulgarian.
It’s widely spoken in the region, although modern Greek is used in government, education, and mass media.
Religion: Orthodox Christianity is dominant, with several important monasteries dotting the landscape, such as Agios Athanasios in Ardas and Metamorphosis tou Sotiros in Angistro.
Muslim populations also reside in certain parts of the region.
Food Culture: Thracian cuisine features meat, dairy products, fresh vegetables, and seasonal fruits.
Must-try dishes include börek pastry, stuffed peppers, bean soup with smoked pork, grilled meats, yogurt and cheese, and fruit preserves.
Wine production has ancient roots in the area, particularly around the areas of Alexandroupolis, Didymoteicho, and Soufli.
Customs: Locals observe various religious and cultural festivals throughout the year, such as Easter Week, Pentecost, Saint George’s Day (Agios Georgios), and Assumption Day (Panagia).
Wedding rituals combine old customs and modern practices.
Hospitality remains integral to daily life, where guests are treated warmly and offered food and drink upon arrival.
Architecture: A mix of styles reflects past conquerors and settlers.
Medieval castles and fortifications stand tall, like the ones at Feres and Lavara.