Our final stop on our five-week road trip through Europe was Kavala, Greece. Kavala is a lovely city on the coast of northern Greece built on Mount Symvolo, blessed with historic buildings that share the past of great conquerors and medieval battles. With a population of 70,000, Kavala is a charming tourist town.
The people of Kavala are proud of their hillside town overlooking the harbor. Sometimes it is referred to as “The Monaco of Greece” because of its dramatic geography and coastline. The marina offers fantastic vistas, full of fishing boats and ferry boats sailing across the bay.
Explore all the cultural things to do in Kavala, Greece, with this list of must-see spots.
THE BEACHES OF KAVALA
Kavala is popular among tourists because of the fantastic beaches scattered along its shore.
If you like to be on a remote beach, visit Ammolofoi Beach. This Blue Flag beach is located south of the village Nea Peramos in southwest Kavala. Ammolofoi Beach offers a gold sandy beach with shallow crystal-clear waters, which is excellent for families.
Palio Tsifliki Beach
Palio Tsifliki Beach is located 5km southwest of Kavala, offering a 2km stretch of golden shoreline and emerald waters. The beach area offers several beach bars, restaurants, and other amenities.
Kalamitsa Beach has many advantages, and that’s why it is one of the top beaches in the Kavala area.
Kalamitsa Beach offers an incredible 800-meter-long stretch of fine golden sand and pristine waters. It is rated one of the top beaches in Kavala, awarded a Blue Flag, offering loads of amenities for you to spend a whole day in the sun.
If you want to get out of the town, go to Bomo Tosca Beach. If you are a nature lover, this beach will feel like paradise. Here, you will find sunbeds and umbrellas for rent, making it another excellent option for a day at the beach.
Philippi Archaeological Site
Philippi is a UNESCO World Heritage site comprised of several fascinating elements and an on-site museum. The ancient city of Philippi was colonized by the people of Thasos in 360 BC, giving the town the name Krinides. It is here that the Apostle Paul, in 49 AD, first preached the teachings of Christianity in Europe.
- Hours: Monday – Sunday: November – December 8:00 – 17:00, January – March 8:30 – 15:30, Summer months 8:00 – 20:00
- Admission: 6 EURO
Not far from the Philippi Archeological Site is Lydia Baptistery in the town of Krynides. When Saint Paul arrived in Kavala, he spoke to the Jews about Christianity at the banks of the river Zygaktis.
Lydia, a merchant, selling color dyes for fabric, was among the crowd listening to the sermon. She became the first European woman to be baptized as a Christian by the Apostle Paul.
The current church was built in 1974. The inside is decorated with impressive works of art, stained glass windows, and famous masterpieces of mosaics on the wall.
The Kamares Aquaduct
During the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent in 1550, Grand Vizier Ibrahim Pasha built an aqueduct that significantly increased the city’s prosperity. The aqueducts, spanning over 280 meters with 60 arches, are a spectacular feature to visit. Its purpose was to provide fresh water to the castle.
The Castle of Kavala
The Castle of Kavala is perched on top of a 64-meter-high hill of the old town. The walk up the hill was intense but well worth the amazing views of the city and the bay.
The current castle was built on top of the remains of the Byzantine castle during the early 15th century.
For a small admission, it is worth exploring the fortress walls. A small café offering drinks is available to stop and enjoy the view.
- If walking uphill is too difficult, take a taxi!
- Hours: May – September, 8:00 – 21:00; October 8:00 – 18:00; November – March 8:00 – 16:00, and April 8:00 – 20:00
Church of St. Nicholas and the Mosaic of St. Paul
The Church of St. Nicholas was once the Mosque of Ibrahim Pasha, built-in 1530. The mosque was converted into a Christian church in 1926 and was officially dedicated to St Nicholas – patron Saint of sailors – in 1945.
Around the side of the church is an impressive mosaic depicting Saint Paul’s voyage by sea from Troy to set foot on European soil for the first time, which happened here in Kavala.
The mosaic near the St. Nicholas Church depicts Apostle Paul during a tour in Asia, where he saw a vision of a Macedonian man standing and begging Apostle Paul to come to help him. This was Apostle Paul’s reason to preach Christianity in Europe.
Panagia Church(Holy Church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary)
During the Turkish occupation, most of the residents were Greek Orthodox Christians. Due to their deep faith in Christianity, there was a monastery at the exact location as the Panagia Church today. St. Philotheos of Kavala, a monk, resided.
However, in 1957, it was rebuilt due to the poor conditions. Inside the church are two chapels, one dedicated to St. Phanourious and the other to St. Philotheos of Kavala.
Wander through the Alleyways of Old Town – “Panagia”
While visiting the Holy Church of Dormition of the Virgin Mary, make sure to stroll through the streets of the Old Town of Panagia. The narrow, tranquil alleys of the old town are full of surprises. As you wander the streets, you’ll come upon charming houses with gardens of fruit trees, flowers, and decorative doors to appreciate.
As you walk Theodorou Poulidou St., you will come to the Imaret, a remarkable monument and classic display of Islamic architecture. Built in 1817 by Mohamed Ali Pasha, the last of the Egyptian Dynasties, he wanted to give something back to his birthplace, so he offered this education institution which operated as a seminary, orphanage, and soup kitchen for the poor.
Today it operates as a luxury hotel with breathtaking views of the Kavala seaside.
Stroll Along the Waterfront
Kavala’s waterfront has a delightful seaside charm. It’s lined with cafes and tavernas and amusements for children. A lovely way to spend a leisure evening dining at a restaurant or take a break from all the sightseeing while overlooking the marina.
Archaeological Museum of Kavala
The Archaeological Museum of Kavala is an experience of history with magnificent artifacts to observe. It is one the most important archaeological museum in Eastern Macedonia, boasting prehistoric finds from all over the region of Kavala, including excavations at Neapolis, Amphipolis, and other parts of Eastern Macedonia.
- Hours: 8:30 – 15:30, closed on Tuesday.
- Admission: Winter season: November – March, 2 EURO, Summer season: April – October, 4 EURO
Halil Bey Mosque
As you walk your way to the Castle of Kavala, you may come upon Halil Bey Mosque. This colorful building is believed to have been built at the beginning of the 16th century.
During the excavation by the 12th Ephorate of Byzantine uncovered, the first Christian house of worship in the walled city at this spot. In the early centuries of Ottoman rule, it was common practice for a mosque to be built on the site of churches. It is one of the most significant landmarks of the remains of the ancient church of Agia Paraskevi, which you can see through the glass floor inside the mosque.
Walk to the Lighthouse
On the rocky shores at the foot of the castle is the Kavala Lighthouse. Depending on the time of day you visit, you can get spectacular views of the sunrise or sunset over the bay.
Tobacco and Maritime Museum
If you are curious to learn more about Kavala’s economics and social history and get a true understanding of tobacco processing, visit the Tobacco Museum of Kavala. The museum is filled with the scent of tobacco, giving you a true sense of the cultivation and processing of tobacco.
- Hours: Monday – Friday: October – May, 8:00 – 16:00, Tuesday – Saturday: June – September 9:00 – 17:00
- Admission: 2 EURO
DAY TRIPS FROM KAVALA
Island Of Thassos
Jump on a ferry to visit the island of Thassos, which takes about 1.5 hours from the port of Kavala. Known as the Green Island, it is covered in lush vegetation with magnificent beaches and historical sites to visit.
Near Kavala is the town of Halkidiki, offering a combination of unspoiled landscapes, picturesque beaches, and unique archeological sites, along with world-renowned Christian monuments.
One of Kavala’s neighboring towns, Drama, is known for its valleys and mountains filled with fertile lands as well as spectacular ski slopes and resorts. It is also known for producing high-quality wine for more than 6,500 years. Drama is a great day trip to enjoy nature, wine sampling, or historical sightseeing.