Kavala

Kavala (Greek Καβάλα) (Population: ca. 80,000), is in East Macedonia.

Understand

Harbour and Old Town

Kavala is mentioned in most guidebooks only casually, although it is one of the most beautiful smaller cities in Greece offering a wide range of places of interest for tourism. A wealth of possibilities for excursions in the surrounding area, many beautiful not overcrowded beaches, archaeological sites and many places of natural beauty makes it a fun-filled vacation destination.

History

Old town

People of Thassos island established Kavala as a colony in the mid 7th century BC. to secure commercial control of the straits between Thassos and the mainland and to exploit the gold deposit at Mt. Pangaion area. Kavala prospered due to its trade routes and the commercial harbor and got independent from Thasos but for security maintained friendly relations with Athens, the major power in the region, as a member of the Athenian League. In the 4th century BC the city lost its independence and became the port of the neighboring Macedonian city of Philippi. In the times of Roman occupation the city prospered again as a major commercial station along the Via Egnatia, as well as the port of Philippi. During the Byzantine period Kavala became part of the “East Roman Empire”. Remains of the Byzantine fortifications can still be seen at many points on the old town (called Panagia), as-well as the imposing Castle. Kavala was prey to numerous assaults by Slavs, Franks, Venetians and Turks until in 1391 it was captured by the Ottomans. Under the Turkish occupation the Castle and the walls of Kavala were repaired and around 1550 the large aqueduct was constructed under Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566). It consists of 60 arches of four different sizes and at its highest point stands 25 meters high. Kavala was the birthplace of the founder of the last Egyptian dynasty, called Mehmet Ali (1769). He lived in the city for many years and his home is now a museum and coffee house, standing at the top of the old town. Mehmet Ali was a great benefactor to the city, erecting the poorhouse (Imaret) in 1817, which also functioned as a religious school and boarding school. A remarkable example of Islamic architecture, the building now belongs to the Egyptian state and is now being converted into a luxury hotel. After the Turkish-Greek war of 1922 some 25,000 Greek refugees settled in Kavala, increasing the population of the city significantly. At the same time the city was enjoying great economic prosperity as a major center for the processing of tobacco. Many of the tobacco storage and processing houses are still a part of the cityscape. Between the 70th to 90th, the textile industry was of great importance. With the opening of Bulgaria after the fall of the Soviet Union the sewing industry shifted there. Since then, the service sector and tourism is economically most important.

Part of the Old Town

Climate

Kavala has hot dry summers (mid June to mid September) and wet cool winters (November to April). Its not as hot as southern Greece in summer but colder in winter. The swimming season starts in early May and ends mid-October. From mid-June to late August there is hardly any rain and therefore is the best travel season (but also the hottest). For those who don't like the heat of the summer and do not mind occasional rainy days best traveling time is from mid-May to mid June and September to mid-October.

Get in

By boat

Kavala is a major port. It is possible to reach it by ferry from Lemnos, and several other north Aegean islands. With a bit of careful planning, or aimless wandering, it is possible to reach Kavala from almost any Greek island with a ferry via other islands. A modern marina for sailing boats and motor boats is under construction and should be finished summer 2016.

By plane

Alexander the Great Airport is about 30 km from Kavala near the village Chrysopolis. Planes, mostly touristic charters, fly all over Europe and there are daily flights to Athens. Except by Taxis, the airport is hard to reach by public transport. Car rental at the airport is available.

By regional coach

Interurban coaches ("KTEL" buses) are by far the most convenient way to travel around Greece, as well as for intra-regional travelling. There is frequent bus service from Athens Kifisos Station to Kavala, as well as from Thessaloniki bus terminal "Macedonia" to Kavala.

The first bus from Kavala to Thessaloniki departs at 6AM and the last one leaves at 8:40PM. There is one each hour (6AM,7AM, 8AM, 9AM, etc.) The buses at 9AM, 1PM and 5PM are scheduled as "Express" so these busses won´t stop on their way to Thessaloniki. The fare for a ticket to Thessaloniki is €13.50 and it will take about 2 and 2 and a half hour until the bus arrives at Thessaloniki.

From Thessaloniki to Kavala you have also every hour one bus from 8AM until 10PM (except 7AM and 9PM)

To Athens there is a bus twice a day: 8:45AM and 8:30PM. From Athens to Kavala it´s the same: Two buses each day at 8:45AM and 8:30PM

The timetable for buses to Ioannina is 9AM, 11AM, 1PM, 3PM and 5PM

By car

If you are in a hurry and cannot wait for scheduled plane or coach services it could be worthwhile getting a taxi from Thessaloniki, especially if there are 4 travellers when the split price can approximate a bus fare each. Make sure you agree the price before you get in the cab.

Get around

By bus

There is an efficient public transport system with lines going around the city (ticket price about €1.50). Detailed info in the regional bus terminal (called "Astiko KTEL") in "Filikas Etarias" Street near the harbour.

By taxi

Taxis in Kavala, as elsewhere in Greece, are comparably cheap. You should not pay more than €5 if you hail a cab (orange or white colour) on the road to take you anywhere in the city. Note that taxi meters have two rates - rate 1 applies from 5AM till midnight, and rate 2, the double rate, from midnight to 5AM. Taxi fare fraud is not widespread but it still happens, so make sure the rate is correct. If you feel you have been overcharged, ask for a receipt (they are obliged to give one) and take the plate number, then phone the tourist police to report the driver on 171. Expect to pay €1 or €2 extra if you take a taxi from the bus station, the train station or the port, and a surcharge if you call for a taxi service on demand.

Trainaki ("The Little Train")

There is a free bus from the main square (11) to the old town which looks like a tourist train. The station is in front of the National Bank. Schedules are written on the "train cars".

See

Kavala aqueduct
The Arsenal - Kavala castle
Mohammed Ali House
Halil Bey Mosque
Imaret
Promenade at night

Do

Eat

Promenade

The choices for eating are Taverns (Ταβέρνα) where mostly meat dishes are served, Restaurants (Εστιατόριο) where Greek dishes can be found (there are Italian restaurants also), Psistaries (Ψησταριά) (Grill houses) where the main dish is grilled meat, Fast Food choices are local Souvlatzidika (Οβελιστήριο or Σουβλατζίδικο) where souvlaki is served, and typical fast food chains such as Goody's and Everest. Psistaries serve mostly meat, salads and french fries. People in Greece usually eat late in the evening (21:00 - 24:00), so during the day some Taverns, Psistaries and Restaurants might be closed. However, Tsipouradika and fast food restaurants are open all day long. The best restaurants are on Panagia, which is a street going from port to Muhammad Ali's house and at the old district next to Panagia Church (7). You may not want to eat near the port as prices are high and quality is not necessarily good. A good choice is the romantic fishing harbour "Sfagia" (19) at the east end of Kavala. There are several good restaurants directly at the sea front. In general calculate 15 Euro per person for meal plus drinks in Kavala. It is difficult to recommend some restaurants because the food quality often varies greatly, and hardly any restaurant provides consistently good quality.

Drink

Nea Peramos

Most bars, cafeterias and restaurants are located along the promenade, at the port, in the quarter around Ag.Nikolas church and in the street that leads to the old town. Another destination is the little fishing harbor called “Sfagio” at the east end of Kavala. There are very nice restaurants and bars directly at the waterfront. Summer bars can be found also further away from the center of Kavala in Palio, Irakliza and Nea Peramos. These are typical tourist villages. During high season they offer musical events, beach parties, etc.

Sleep

There are many hotels in Kavala. Most are in center near the sea. Car parking could be hard to find in the center of Kavala. For camping best place is "Batis" at the west end of Kavala. To the east is "Camping Alexandros" in Nea Karvali.

Go next

Beaches

Perigialli Beach

The city beaches Kara Orman,   Perigiali (east end of Kavala) and   Kalamitza (west end) are flat and suitable for children. In the summer months, some chairs and parasols are available for free. The beaches are all easily accessible by city buses. The water quality is acceptable for beaches within the town.

Close to the west end of Kavala are the campsite   Batis Multiplex and the Bungalow Hotel   Tosca Beach. They offer all comfort for a relaxed day at the beach with pool, sun loungers, parasols, chairs, entertainment for kids, beach bar, toilets, changing room, etc.. They can be reached by public bus from the main bus terminal.

Nudist Beach

Towards the west of Kavala are the tourist places   Palio (10km),   Nea Iraklitza (15km) and   Nea Peramos (20km), all with nice beaches and beach bars. The latter two are typical holiday places with a lot of beach bars, restaurants, cafeterias, etc. Especially younger people prefer the beaches of Amolofos (Nea Peramos). Parking, sun loungers, parasols, chairs and loud music are available there for free if you take a drink from the bar. The crystal clear shallow water and fine sand provides a relaxed holiday atmosphere for those who love more action than repose.

Eratino Beach

The further one moves from Nea Peramos along the expressway towards Thessaloniki, the more "lonely" are the beaches with crystal clear water and beautiful surroundings. The best known are   Sarakina (after the Hotel Ocean View) and Piros beach (at the tower). Further to the west, about 2 km after the turn of   Loutra Elefteron (hot springs) is the only nudist beach.

East of Kavala, in the Nestos Delta, near the localities Eratino and Agiasma there are vast flat beaches. Especially recommended are the beaches of   Keramoti.

Other points of interest

Philippi
Nestos Gorge
Approaching Thasos


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