The amazing landscape of Florina
An ode to the beauty and the power of the wild mountainous nature, the unique snowy landscape and the serenity of the lakes.
Visitors are instantly impressed when arriving at Florina; especially during the winter, when the city is dressed in white, and the dreamy, poetic atmosphere is highlighted by the neoclassical and the traditional Macedonian buildings, all creating a unique allure. No wonder why Theo Angelopoulos, the great director, was so overwhelmed by Florina that he chose it as the main landscape for seven of his films. “I cannot tell if one chooses a setting or vice versa; it’s just like love: you either choose or be chosen”, said Angelopoulos once, in an effort to describe his great love for this city.
Built in a beautiful landscape that is covered with wild chestnut trees, and river Sakouleva passing through it, taking Florina’s charm to an even higher level, the city enjoys every season with inviting colors, smells and tastes, but also a vivid flair that makes one want to explore every corner. Its cultural development began in 1893, when it was connected to Thessaloniki through the railway, and this is evident in the early 20th century eclecticist buildings. We start meeting the city by visiting the Archaeological Museum, next to the Railway Station. As a matter of fact, one of the station’s old buildings houses the Local Painters Gallery. On the left bank of the river you will see the 2nd Elementary School of the city, that used to be the house of Tegos Sapountzis (the first mayor of Florina, 1912), the workshops of two local painters, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Voyatzi Estate, where many scenes of the “Beekeeper” were shot. On the opposite side, the three-storey “Peyo’s Residence”, one of the city’s oldest traditional estates, is a living proof of a glorious past.
Continue your walk towards Dikeosinis Square, with the well-preserved public buildings, the deserted old prison and the Turkish baths, and then head towards the pedestrianized Mela Street with its beautiful cafes and restaurants. After all, Florina is famous for its traditional dishes and great tastes, but the area’s wineries are just as renowned, as they are included in the Wine Roads of Macedonia, well-known for the production of great quality rose and sparkle wines. Make sure to taste the famous local red peppers, ideally served with some sweet tsipouro, and put some in your luggage along with Prespes beans, mountain tea, spoon desserts and, of course, the unique knitted candles of Florina.
For trekking lovers, the Archaeological Site of the Hellenistic City of Florina, on the hill of Aghios Panteleimon, is a good spot to find magnificent routes across the woods. When it comes to accommodation, Florina’s hotel list includes beautiful city hotels and traditional guesthouses that will justify your choice of escaping in Greece’s coldest city!
From Nimfeon to the lakes
Only 45 km west of Florina, the Small and the Great Prespa Lakes are a window to another world. Their banks provide refuge to hundreds of rare animal species, while the flora of the area is just as rich and impressive. Visit the villages of Aghios Ghermanos and Psarades, and step on a “plava” (wooden boat) to float to Aghios Achillios and see its impressive church, along with the rest of the region’s Byzantine monuments. Walking along the stone paved path next to the Small Prespa Lake, you may enjoy a unique birdwatching experience and discover one of the few remaining paradises: The landscape of the other four lakes of the area –Vegoritis, Lake Petron, Zazari and Chimaditis.
The picturesque stone-built settlement of Nimfeon, built on the eastern slope of Mount Vitsi, at 1,346 m., offers another unforgettable experience. Characterized as one of Europe’s ten most beautiful villages and a point of reference for ecologists, Nimfeo also includes Arkturos, an environmental NGO that reserves a bear refuge in a large fenced forest, where abused bears have found a home and a way to readjust to their natural setting. Leaving the majestic landscape of Nimfeon behind us, we arrive at the Vilga – Pissoderi Ski Center (1,650 m.) with its nine downhill ski slopes –including the largest Olympic dimensions slope in Greece- that invites ski lovers to slalom on its snow-covered slopes with a unique view to the Small and the Great Prespa Lakes.
There are daily trains between Athens and Platy, Florina, where you can change to the Thessaloniki - Florina route in order to get to the city. The 2,5 hour ride between Thessaloniki and Florina provides the option of same day return.
Modifications or cancellations may occur to certain routes following government measures for the protection of public health. You may find more information on our website.