Kavala is a port town in northern Greece, in Macedonia province, about 150km east of Thessaloniki. While you’ll probably get to Kavala only for a ferry connection to either Thassos or Lemnos island, let me introduce you to the top things to do if you have a few hours in Kavala, Greece.
Kavala Greece – Some Context
Kavala has a very long history. The Thassian settlement thrived during the Roman Era, being right on Via Egnatia (the Roman road leading to Byzantium). Later, it was part of the Ottoman Empire for more than 500 years, until 1912. The Ottoman legacy is still very visible in the old part of Kavala.
Now, Kavala is one of the main port cities in northern Greece. It sits in the middle of the Macedonian coastline, between Thessaloniki and Alexandroupoli, and very close to Thassos island.
My first impression is that Kavala is in pretty bad shape.
However, I selected some great things to do if you have a few hours in Kavala.
Top 7 Things to do in Kavala Greece
The main attractions in Kavala are close together so you need to leave your car in one of the parking lots. You can find convenient parking in the harbor, and also in the center at Damianou Street 15. Both are very convenient for walking everywhere you need to go in Kavala.
So, I selected 7 things you must see in Kavala before heading to your ferry or to your next destination.
1. The Aqueduct (a.k.a. Kamares)
The Aqueduct is the symbol of Kavala. Of course, it was originally a Roman aqueduct but the structure visible today was built during the Ottoman occupation.
Still, it’s a great place for a few photos. It’s very unusual to see an aqueduct through the center of a city.
Panagia – The Old Town
The Old Town of Kavala is built on a peninsula. It’s a small area, but there are plenty of narrow, winding streets to wander. Most of them are uphill, and some of them pretty steep so wear some comfortable shoes. You will find some wonderful old Ottoman houses, souvenir shops, and some other attractions listed below.
Also, this is a great area to have lunch or to stop for a drink.
3. The Fort of Kavala, Greece
The main attraction in Kavala is the fort overlooking the Old Town and the port. Since ancient times, the old city of Christoupolis (the old name of Kavala) was protected by a defensive wall. The Acropolis of Christoupolis watched over the commercial route, Via Egnatia.
Today, you can visit the old fortress of Kavala for the best views over the city and the harbor. The admission is a mere 2.50€ and during the summer (May to September), the fort is open for visitors every day from 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM.
You can climb to the circular tower and enjoy the 360 degrees from the roof platform, descend to the gunpowder room and walk on the old Ottoman walls.
Inside the fortress walls, there’s an open-air theater that hosts music events and theater performances during the summer evenings. There are also facilities available, as well as a cafeteria to satisfy your thirst after the uphill walk to Kavala fort.
All in all, a visit to Kavala Fortress is the best way to get your bearings, see the city from above, and learn about its history at the same time.
4. The Imaret of Kavala
The Imaret is one of the most interesting building complexes in the Old Town of Kavala. You will pass by it as you ascend on the main road through Panagia.
During the Ottoman Empire, the Imarets were a place of charity. The kitchens distributed free food for the poor and the travelers and there was also a school in the complex.
Today, the Imaret of Kavala hosts an exclusive hotel. You can book your stay in a unique setting and treat yourself to some luxury and past times atmosphere.
Another option is to tour the Imaret with one of the guided tours of MOHA Center. Click on the link for the schedule and prices.
5. Halil Bey Mosque
Another attraction of the Old Town of Kavala is the Halil Bey Mosque. It’s on your way up to the fortress. You’ll notice the colorful mosque with its dome and also the traditional blue building next to it.
The Mosque dates from the 16th century and before that, there was a Christian church. You can still see its remains through the glass floors inside the mosque. The blue building used to be a ‘madrasa‘ – a seminary with rooms for students.
For a few years in the 20th century, Halil Bay Mosque hosted Kavala’s Orchestra, so it was stuck with another name, Palia Mousiki (Old Music).
6. Mehmet Ali’s House
You will notice some signs towards Mohammed Ali’s house in the Old Town of Kavala, Greece. Just to be clear, there’s no connection to the boxer. Kavala’s Mehmet Ali (or Mohammed Ali) Pasha was a general, and the founder of an Egyptian dynasty.
His house in the Panagia of Kavala is one of the most beautiful Ottoman residences surviving in Greece. You can still visit the characteristic house, with its men’s section and the harem, the hammam, and the reception areas. Admire the architecture, as well as the decorations and the gardens of this oasis.
Mohammed Ali’s House is open for visitors from Thursday to Monday, 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM and the entrance costs 5€.
7. A walk on the promenade
When you finish exploring the Old Town, head down to the harbor. Kavala is, after all, a sea town so a walk on the promenade is the thing to do on a sunny afternoon. You can choose one of the outside cafes or just take a few steps along the water and enjoy the sea breeze.
Where to stay in Kavala
If you’re in Kavala for more than a few hours, and the Imaret Boutique Hotel is out of your price range, book your accommodation in The Anthemion House, close to the Aqueduct, and well..everything else.
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