Kavala the blue city, as many call her, is a located 650km from Athens and 153km from Thessaloniki. If you’re coming by car from Thessaloniki it is about 1 hour and 40 minutes via the Egnatia Odos highway. You can also reach Kavala by plane at the Kavala International Airport “Alexander the Great”. There are direct flights to many European countries, especially in the summer and daily flights to Athens.
You can reach Kavala by boat. The city has a large port, where many big cruise ships make a stop very often. Kavala has its own marina with ample space for passers-by.
Her first inhabitants who founded the city in the late 7th century BC, the Thassian settlers they called it Neapolis.
The city enjoyed great prosperity and economic independence, by maintaining friendly relations with Athens, as a member of the Athenian League back then. Athens was the major power in the region at that time.
The old city where inhabitants lived was on peninsula of Panagia (Virgin Mary), is located in the eastern side of Kavala. The peninsula, took its name from the church of Virgin Mary (Panagia) located in its edge.
In 42 BC the city became Roman civitas. It was a base for Brutus and Cassius, before their defeat in the battle of Philippi. If you love history you can find more about battle of Philippi here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Philippi
In Roman times, city was a major commercial station along the Via Egnatia, as well as the port of Philippi. Part of ancient Via Egnatia is still preserved on the hills above the city. You can take a walk there and admire the astonishing view above the city.
The Byzantine called the city Christopoli because Kavala was the first stop of Paul the Apostle on European territory. Near of the city is the village St. Lydia, where you can visit the modern Greek Orthodox church and outdoor chapel on what is said to be the place where Lydia was baptized. Lydia is a woman mentioned in the New Testament, who is regarded as the first documented convert to Christianity person in Europe by St. Paul. Several Christian denominations have designated her a saint.
The Turks called this city Kavala (from ancient Skavala) because they used the city as the resting point as travellers to rest with their horses. In the year 1391 Kavala was conquered by the Turks and completely destroyed. But In the following centuries (under Turkish rule) the city was developed into a commercial center of east Macedonia because of the convenient location.
The Turks repaired the Castle and ancient walls of Kavala. Around 1550 they constructed the large and imposing aqueduct (Kamares) which has survived in excellent condition. It was the work of Suleiman the Magnificent 1520-1566, built on the traces of the old Byzantine walls, consists of 60 arches of four different sizes and at its highest point stands 52 metres high.
Kavala was the birthplace, in 1769, of the founder of the last Egyptian dynasty, Mehmet Ali. He lived in the city for many years and his home is now a museum. The house is considered to be one of the best examples of Ottoman architecture in Greece.
Museum is dedicated to Mohammed Ali and his multiple heritage, as well as to temporary exhibitions and events. It is open to visitors Wednesday – Sunday: 10:00-14:00. The ticket cost 3.00 €.
There is a beautiful cafe-bar in the museum where you can enjoy your drinks admiring the magnificent view of the city, port and Aegean sea.
You will experience romantic atmosphere and mixture of history and entertainment. Cafe is open from May to September.
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. Imaret is now converted into a luxury hotel.
At the peninsula of Panagia the old town you can enjoy the walk through the cobblestone small ancient streets, pass by colorful old houses.
Flower-filled yards right below the city castle are worth the uphill climb.
There you can see some of the most beautiful preserved mansions of Kavala, some of them are abandoned, but they still standing upright against the times.
There you can take nice pictures of the old houses, doors and windows and charming narrow alleys.
You can walk to the imposing Castle, there is an amazing view from there.
When you walk around here you have a feeling that you are traveling back in time. On your way to castle you pass by many nice taverns and cafe-bars, bakeries and souvenir shops. The fortress is a Byzantine monument, built in 1425. It is still in good condition. You should definitely visit the castle if you are in Kavala. From here you can enjoy a stunning view over the city. Locals call the castle Frourio (Fortress). Inside of the ancient walls there is a tower that you can also visit. Here in the Fortress Culture center of Kavala organizes each summer a lot of events: concerts, performances, folklore festivals, and so on.
If you are kind of tired after exploring the Peninsula of Panagia, then you can go for swimming at the rocky beach. Behind of Panagia church and Mehmet Ali house, there are the stairs from where you can step down to the sea, and take a bath in the crystal clear water of the Aegean Sea. Just watch out for sea urchins.
In the Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922, about 25,000 Greek refugees settled in Kavala. They enriched the city’s culture and bring a new crafts and ways of building in architecture.
At the same time the city was enjoying great economic prosperity as a major center for the processing of tobacco and its sale. Local production was shipped out from the city port to markets around the world.
There are still a lot of tobacco warehouses, rectangular buildings which once housed the tobacco-trading enterprises all around the city.
Some of them are converted in the shopping malls, some in cultural and state institutions, another into an entertainment centers, while many were demolished and replaced by apartment blocks.
Many foreign tobacco merchants settled in the city, building homes and warehouses. One of fine examples of the houses they built is the residence of the Hungarian tobacco merchant Baron Pierre Ertzoch, dating from 1890, where is the City Hall now.
So a nice route in the city is from Plateia Kapnoergati ( Square of Tobacco worker) towards the paved road of Cyprus.
You will pass in front of the City Hall, with the beautiful neoclassical buildings that exist since the tobacco era and end up in the municipal garden.
The commercial area in the center is full of different kind of shops, from Eleftheria Square, the city’s main square, to Omonia Street, the heart of the shopping district.
I suggest when you finish with exploring the peninsula of Panagia, and city center is to come down town true the aqueduct (Kamares) to the other eastern side of Kavala to the shipyard (Karnagio).
There you can see how they repair and fix the boats.
As I said that after the Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922, about 25,000 of refugees come to Kavala. A lot of them made houses around the Karnagio and they worked at the shipyard.
A man called Dimitris was the one of the refugees. He opened a coffee shop there in 1922. The workers from the shipyard were resting there, but also men of the local community and fishermen to discuss their business and town news.
Mr. Dimitris kept his coffee shop until he was very old, then he sold it to the young couple Theony and Makis 1986.
The couple restored the coffee shop to a tavern and they fixed it it a bit but they didn’t make big changes, they tried to keep it as it was originally, with some personal touch of Theony.
It is the must place to visit in Kavala as it is one of the oldest historic places that still work from 1922 until today.
The name of the tavern is Kafe-ouzeri Karnagio.
It is a truly unforgettable experience to visit this place. You can eat and drink there. They serve really fresh sea food and also meat dishes. They also make very tasty salads with fresh ingredients. The prices are reasonable for lunch or dinner.
But you can also just enjoy your coffee, and astonishing view over the shipyard and the experience from vicinity how workers and technicians repair and paint the boats. It is just few steps from the Aegean sea, so you can listen the waves and smell the salt in the air. Colors and scents are just magic and unforgettable.
The shop is small but warm and owners Theony and Makis are very friendly people. There you can experience a family atmosphere, great service and you got a feeling like you visit a dear friend at his small house by the sea.
In general because of the excellent location of the city, Kavala was claimed, conquered, demolished and rebuilt by many different conquers through the ages. All of them who pass by were trying to destroy the work from the previous ones, all of them took something away by leaving, but they left much more than they took away.
That’s because there are many interesting buildings in the city worth visiting and seeing. Also a lot of museums and beautiful churches.
I can suggest you to visit: Tobacco Museum, Archaeological Museum of Kavala, Maritime Museum of Kavala and Municipal Tobacco Warehouse. There you will definitely experience a journey to the past and they are worth visiting.
If you wish to have a dinner you can find a lot of charming small taverns behind the St. Nicolaus church. Some of them they have live Greek music in the evenings.
They serve sea food but also meat dishes. Please try the spread salads that are called ”alifes” here in Kavala. The most famous spread salads are: tzatziki, tirosalata, taramosalata, melitzanosalata, taramosalata and so on. Always accompanied with homemade breadcrumbs made on grill with olive oil, oregano and black olives.
In the summer time you will find the shade at the small streets behind the St Nicolaus church monument.
Nice route for walk is also from the port of Kavala to the Sailing club NOK. On the way you pass by many cafes and restaurants, fishing boats and you can enjoy the city atmosphere from street benches under the huge old palm trees.
Kavala also have nice and clean beaches even in the center of the city.
Rapsani is practically in the center. The beach is awarded with the “blue flag” every year since 2009.
It can be reached from the center by city buses number: 1, 4, 5, 8, and 10. There is not any entrance fee.
Kalamitsa is organised beach on the west entrance of the city, also with the “blue flag”. There you can find taverns and bars on the beach.
It can be reached from the center by city buses number: 4, 5 and 8. There is not any entrance fee.
Perigiali is on the eastern entrance of the city, 2 kilometres from the city centre. This beach also has the “blue flag”.
It can be reached from the center by city buses number: 2 and 3. There is not any entrance fee. In various parts of the beach you can find nice fish taverns.
There are also a lot of nice beaches outside of the city such as : Batis and Tosca they are camping places, with organized facilities.
They are also awarded with the “blue flag”.
There is an entrance fee to enter and use the facilities of Tosca and Batis.
The camping Batis has 125 parking places for caravans, campers and tends. The camping provide to visitors all the washing facilities, chemical toilets and hot water on a daily basis.
This camping has a lot of trees most of them are Canadian poplars that provide a natural shading. It is very pleasant place to stay and also to visit for swimming or lunch or dinner or just a drink.
You can also rent a ready modern bungalows here and enjoy your stay in the nature by the sea.
Touristic town Palio is 6 kilometres from Kavala.
The next town is Nea Iraklitsa. With a beautiful sand beach, several kilometers long.
Iraklitsa has her own marina with plenty of spaces.
The next small town is Nea Peramos with a huge sand beach.
There are a lot of pretty cafes and taverns for all tastes, right next to the sea. Like this one ”Ta tria pitharia” ( The three jars). Right in the center of the town, just on the beach next to the waves.
Also very nice tavern is I mikri gonia (The small corner) almost on the end of the beach across the little island that the locals calls Fidonisi ( The snake island).
It is on the beach just like previous one, only is kind of cheaper, not because of quality but because is practically on the edge on the town beach it is not in the center. The staff is great and friendly and portions are very big. After lunch they will serve you the local desserts for free.
The beach itself is sandy and several kilometers long.
The water is crystal clear, but for several degrees colder than in Kavala because this beach is on the open sea.
And the most astonishing beach in the district, with exotic landscape Ammolofoi, 18 kilometres from Kavala. There is a large number of beach bars and entrance is free. Instead of pictures as usual I am going to share with you this amazing video by Theo Porlidis. It is kind of long almost 9 minutes, but The Amolofoi beach is huge, it would not be possible to make a shorter video. I am sure you will enjoy watching it.
Kavala also have a lot of hotels, and apartments for rental.
The best hotel in the city is Airotel Galaxy Kavala, recently renovated, located in the center just above the port and marina.
The Airotel Galaxy Kavala restaurant offers Greek and international specialties and lovely roof garden on the top of the hotel with astonishing view over the city.
On the roof garden guests can enjoy their evening drink in the hotel’s cozy lounge bar and enjoy live music.
A buffet breakfast is served daily.
Hotel have modern aesthetics and wonderful view of the sea. It is 4 stars, and the prices are reasonable.
Hotel Oceanis Kavala is near to the city bus station.
This hotel is also located in the center of the city and every room has it own small balcony.
The Lucy hotel is built at the unique location on the western side of the city, on the edge of the Kalamitsa beach.
This is 5 stars hotel. It is located 2 km from the center and the port of Kavala. Prices are reasonable. You can choose from standard room to suites.
Egnatia Hotel is located at the top of the hill of Kavala. 10 minutes driving from the center of the city. If you wish to book this hotel please press the link on Booking.com website to check the price, availability, reviews, pictures and the rest of the details.
The hotel’s Essential Spa is equipped with an indoor pool, hydromassage, gym, 2 saunas, and Turkish bath hamam.
You can relax here by selecting one of the rejuvenation packages, massage, facial or body treatments and so on.
On the hill above city there is also Hotel Philoxenia. Surrounded by a pine forest covered area. It has great views of the sea, the mountain and the city of Kavala.
There are also few smaller hotels located near of Rapsani beach.
Esperia hotel recently renovated.
Also Nefeli Hotel Kavala it is kind of old fashion hotel but is just across a street, few steps from Rapsani beach.
The Imaret is luxurious, 5 stars hotel. Please check the link on Booking.com website, it will take you directly to this property without searching. There you can see the price, availability, photos and reviews.
It is located within the homonymous historical monument on the peninsula of Panagia the old town. It is built in 1817. The monument is a masterpiece of late Ottoman architecture.
If you ever have a chance to visit this amazing hotel you will experience a journey to the ancient times as you are in a time machine.
The owners have renovated and decorated the monument with a great respect to the history and its origin.
Very unique, atmospheric and elegant place worth visiting. It is the first and only monumental hotel in Greece.
This place has great history and it deserves his own article, so I will publish this interesting story in the near future. The only thing I have to emphasize is that the regulations of the property prohibit the stay of young children up to 10 years old, for safety reasons, since the monument has dangerous points.
All the places I suggested you to visit in Kavala are not the only options.. There are so many hotels, shops, bars and restaurants to discover in the beautiful city of Kavala. I couldn’t possibly mentioned all of them. I just mentioned few that are my favorite.
I hope that through this article at least somehow I managed to present the great history and atmosphere of this beautiful, blue city of Kavala. The fragrances, tastes and atmosphere of the city it’s hard to present just by the pictures and words. If you would like to feel that, then you have to visit Kavala yourself. Believe me you won’t regret.
Also I hope you enjoyed reading this article in the same way I enjoyed writing it. Dear readers do not hesitate to contact me if you need any additional information about Kavala. For the end I wish you good night from the beautiful city of Kavala.
Thanks for an interesting article. Thinking of buying an apartment in Kavala. Like Panagia, is it a good idea?
Hi Dan it is fabulous idea! Just have in mind that the streets are quite narrow in the old part of the city (Panagia).