Port city Kavala, often used as a gateway to the northeastern Aegean Islands, is hitting its stride as a destination in its own right. Cultural highlights include the aqueduct of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, quality museums of history and industry, and fascinating Ottoman buildings scattered through its pastel-hued old town, Panagia. Sheer relaxation can be found at nearby beaches and bustling harbourfront eateries.
Modern Kavala was once ancient Philippi’s port. More infamously, Ottoman Pasha Mehmet Ali (1769–1849), eventual founder of Egypt’s last royal dynasty, ruled here. This genocidal Ottoman ordered his Egyptian Muslim fleet to slaughter tens of thousands of Christian Greeks on islands such as Kassos and Psara during Greece’s independence struggle. Islanders still commemorate these events annually.
Places to visit:
Panagia’s narrow, tangled streets are lined by pretty pastel houses. A calf-stiffening walk leads up to the castle. Highlights include the restored ruby Halil Bey Mosque and Mehmet Ali House , a superb example of late Ottoman architecture. Enormous 18-domed Imaret (1817), now a hotel, was Ottoman ruler Pasha Mehmet Ali’s hostel for Islamic theology students.
Built on the ruins of a Byzantine acropolis, most of this looming fortress dates to the 15th century. Glistening panoramic views are the reward for climbing the circular tower, but claustrophobic travellers might struggle with the narrow ascent. Keep kids on a short leash; the ruins are overgrown. There’s a small cafe in the grounds.
This surprisingly interesting museum whirls through the history of tobacco cultivation and production in eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Bright murals, old photographs, a curious collection of pipes and a tobacco press enliven plenty of description (in Greek and English). The tang of tobacco and wood in the air adds to the ambience.
On Ethnikis Antistasis’ western end, this museum displays sculpture, jewellery, grave stelae, terracotta figurines and vases from ancient Amfipoli in a well-lit, elegant space. Its new permanent exhibition traces the city’s turbulent transition from ancient Neapolis to Byzantine Christoupolis and finally modern Kavala.
Mehmet Ali House
This restored late-Ottoman house once belonged to Pasha Mehmet Ali.
In the Old Town Square you can find the house that Mehmet Ali, founder and Governor of the last Egyptian dynasty, was born. This beautiful building, based on Macedonian architecture, is considered to be the property of Egypt .
The Imaret, a big edifice of the late Ottoman period, a classic example of Islamic architecture located on the west side of the peninsula of Panagia (old town). Its largest part was built, between 1817-1821 by the founder of the last Egyptian dynasty, Mehmet Ali Pasha. In 2001 it was leased for 50 years to an entrepreneur from Kavala, it was restored and converted into a luxurious and elegant hotel, which maintains something of the ambience of its era.
Kavala’ s City Hall is definitely the most impressive building of the city, with a totally diverse architectural style, that resemples Hungarian castle. On the same street, next to the City Hall, you will find more buildings of the same period, built by foreign merchants or companies, which reflect their personal taste and wealth.
Ammolofoi: Dunes and emerald sea
Although there are quite clean beaches inside the city of Kavala, nothing compares to the emerald sea of Ammolofoi (which means dunes), on the western coastline. The sea deserves each one of the 30 Klm you will have to drive and the surrounding landscape of the dunes is really something special.
Whether you are the adventurous kind of traveler, or you simply enjoy the beauty of nature, don’t miss the chance to visit Nestos river and walk by the meanders, formed as the river flows through the mountains of Rodopi. This area, known as Stena Nestou (narrow pass of Nestos), is located between the prefectures of Kavala and Xanthi and is run by the European trail network E6.
The ancient sight of Philippoi
Philippoi, 15 Kms from Kavala, on direction to Drama, is one of the most important ancient sights of Macedonia, because of findings that indicate continuous human presence from prehistory until Byzantine times. There are signs of organized settlements long before the advent of Macedonian king Philippos the 2nd, who occupied the city in 356 BC and renamed it after himself.
Where to eat
Don’t Miss The Fresh Seafood.
Since 1965 this friendly eastern waterfront taverna has been serving fresh fish dishes and good grills.
Nikiforos has a wide selection of fresh fish and good harbour views.
Seafood and more with a great view at Kavala’s port.
Barbeque and mediterranean cuisine.
For seafood in a great location.
Traditional local dishes.
Marmelo pastry shop
Taste the traditional kourampiedes and more.