I’ve just returned from the Western Macedonia Region of Greece with the Greek National Tourism Organisation.
Despite visiting Greece many times in the past ten years, I have never explored this hidden gem of a region on the mainland and was pleasantly surprised by the history, culture and diverse landscape.
From exploring historic churches and monasteries to white water rafting. From tasting wine at a multi-award-winning winery to hiking in one of Europe’s most beautiful national parks. It’s safe to say this region has it all.
Start By Taking a Tour Around The City of Kastoria
The city of Kastoria is a great starting point for exploring the towns and villages in the Western Macedonia Region of Greece. However, don’t leave the city too quickly.
Surrounded by limestone mountains, Kastoria’s history is as diverse as its landscape. The city saw several empires, including the Byzantines, Romans, and Ottomans. All of whom left behind an incredible cultural and architectural legacy.
Some of the most notable are the remaining 54 Byzantine-era churches adorned with intricate frescoes (a type of wall painting). If you have the time, visit the Byzantine Museum and the Folklore Museum to learn more about the region’s history.
Explore One of the Oldest Freshwater Lakes in Europe
Prespa National Park is one of Greece’s most important natural and cultural areas. Bordering Albania and North Macedonia, the park is recognised for its biodiversity and historical significance.
Prespa National Park encompasses Prespa Lakes, Mikri “Little” Prespa Lake and Megali “Great” Prespa Lake. These lakes are among the oldest freshwater lakes in Europe and are home to several fish species native to this region.
Unsurprisingly, the wetlands, reed beds and forest also make Prespa National Park a haven for bird watchers. More than 260 bird species, including the endangered Dalmatian pelican, are found here.
Aside from Prespa National Park’s biodiversity, the area is also known for its historical significance. Little Prespa Lake is home to historical highlights such as the Byzantine ruins and a basilica from the 10th century.
Meanwhile, the Hermit Caves around Megali “Great” Prespa Lake were used by monks during the Byzantine era.
While you can explore Prespa National Park independently, a guided tour of the area can be more valuable. During my trip to this region of Western Macedonia, I used a guide from Greek Adventure.
Enjoy an Award-Winning Spa Treatment
The Lynx Mountain Resort is a luxury five-star hotel boasting an incredible casino and spa.
The Lynx Mountain Resort’s spa, known as The White Mist Spa, is situated on the top floor of the hotel and includes:
- Traditional spa rooms.
- Treatment rooms.
- A sauna.
- An outdoor jacuzzi.
- A hair salon.
- A fully equipped gym.
The White Mist Spa offers spa treatments like massages, facials, and body treatments. A skilled therapist provides these treatments in a calm and beautiful environment.
If you’re looking for a way to relax after a long hike or a weekend of skiing during the winter months, this is undoubtedly the place to do so.
Go Wine Tasting at the Alpha Estate
There are several wineries to explore in the Western Macedonia Region of Greece. However, my personal favourite is the Alpha Estate, which is situated in the heart of the viticultural zone of Amyndeon.
Makis Mavridis and Angelos Iatridis started the 220-hectare Alpha Estate in 1997. Today, the Alpha Estate uses eco-friendly methods throughout the grape growing and wine-making process to create 16 wines, including red, white, rose, and dessert.
Tours of the Alpha Estate occur daily (including weekends) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. However, they must be reserved online in advance.
Wander The Streets of Traditional Greek Villages
The Western Macedonia Region of Greece is known for its authenticity, reflected in the area’s towns and villages. However, nowhere quite epitomises this like the traditional Greek village of Nymfaio.
This village is located on the slopes of Mount Vernon, 1,350 meters above sea level, surrounded by dense forest. Nymfaio has many beautifully preserved stone houses, cobbled streets, and traditional mansions.
The dense forests in this area are home to many animals, like brown bears, wolves, and deer. If you want to learn more about bears and see them up close, you can visit the Arcturos Bear Sanctuary. It’s a well-respected sanctuary that helps protect and conserve these amazing creatures.