The natural beauty of the wider area of Thessaloniki has has created the ideal conditions for the creation of more nature related tourist destinations. A kind of tourism that promotes nature itself as the center while providing the chance to everyone to explore the beautiful landscapes around the wider region of Thessaloniki and further evolve and deepen our relationship with the environment!
Ecotourism is gradually evolving and further developing in areas like the Lakes of Volvi, Agios Vasilios in Axios river delta, Aliakmonas and Loudias rivers, Lefkohori village and of course, Petralona.
All these destinations are natural reserves for thousands of plants, flowers and birds while offering a wide range of interesting activities related to Agrotourism and Naturalism! In addition, several ecotourism options are also available for the visitors!
The well-known nearby Lake of Koroneia is located in the geological basin of Mygdonia, in Lagadas, near Thessaloniki. It is also known as Lake of Agios Vasilios having taken its name by the homonymous nearby village. It can be found just a few kilometers outside Thessaloniki heading East through the Egnatia highway system.
Unfortunately over the last decade the Lake faces severe lack of water resources that led to a significant drop on its water levels. Before the appearance of these draught related issues Lake Koroneia was Greece’s fifth largest Lake having a surface area of more than 42,5 sq. kilometers!
Less than a century ago Koroneia Lake was forming a larger water system as it was being connected with Volvi. However, after many years its surface gradually reduced thus increasing the distance between them, eventually leading to their current surface area. A quite remarkable fact is that during the 1950’s the Lake was first in fish production in Greece!
Lake Volvi is located in the same geological basin like Koroneia close to Rentina and Tempi to the East of the Lake. It has a surface of 70 sq. kilometers and more than 20m of depth being the second largest Lake in Greece today!
Lake Volvi also has a tradition that will travel us back to the ancient years as Volvi was Hercule’s bride. Together they had a child whose name was Olynthos!
The Lake has more than 24 different species of fish including “Liparia” which is unique worldwide as it is one of the endemic species of the Lake! Volvi is protected by the Ramsar Convention along with ten more precious waterlands of great ecological importance.
Horse riding or a nice bike ride around Koroneia would be a really nice activity for both kids and adults! It would give you the chance to spend some quality time and relax while enjoying the unique landscape and wildlife of the Lake and the National Park!
Lake Volvi on the other hand offers several entertaining sports activities like bike riding, wind surfing, canoe – kayak and arching! Bird watching of the aquatic birds of the lake is definitely something not to be missed while small seminars are being organized from time to time for all those who wish to learn more about the world and beauty of Ecotourism.
South of Aliakmonas River lays the village of Nea Agathoupoli, a place where salt marshes are formed in a river delta along with pastures and sweet water swamps. The entire area is home to many rare species of birds like the Kentish, the purple heron, the glossy ibis, the Varvara and the Silver pelican while you’ll also see pairs of Sea eagles!
You can start your exploration from the bird watching observatory from which you’ll have the chance to enjoy the wonderful breathtaking view of the Thermaic Gulf and the Aliakmonas river delta!
The short list of the wider Thessaloniki area includes many locations that will pleasantly surprise most nature observers like the National Park of Axios river delta – Aliakmonas River – Loudias River.
Despite the fact that even the locals are not aware of some of these locations, it is an ecological paradise where you’ll have the chance to find and taste quality local organic products and spend time relaxing while horse riding or biking!
Following Egnatia highway you’ll discover another beautiful traditional village that really deserves to be our next destination, Lefkohori. It features some intense agrotourism characteristics and various activities related to agrotourism and sports like hiking, canoe – kayak, horse riding and something most visitors definitely won’t expect….an authentic saloon!
In Lefkohori, anyone who wishes can experience the true, authentic agricultural way of life….
Lefkohori offers an impressively wide range of quality local products, from the traditional “komposta” to the surprisingly fun wine making experience in the vineyards and wine fields outside the village!
Furthermore, you’ll have the chance to go biking in the forest, or enjoy horse riding, canoe – kayak in an artificial lake, arching, or if you prefer something different, ride a four wheeled motorcycle!
The peninsula of Halkidiki is full of dreamy beaches and small traditional villages that impress most visitors!
Petralona is one of them… The village is located in the Katsika mountain something that will offer you a breathtaking view of the entire Halkidiki peninsula while only 50 km away from Thessaloniki! It became famous after Aris Poulianos the well-known anthropologist discovered the existence of the Archanthopous, a 700,000 years old finding in one of his excavations.
Of course, a visit to the Petralona Cave is number one in the “To do list”, as the entire underground area is impressive having rich geological formation while being full of rare stalagmites and stalactites! It is the exact location where speleologists discovered the precious skull and many bones from hyenas, rhinos, bears and giraffes! A small museum has been created for the exhibits while a small train is also available for a quick tour!
Ecotourism and Agrotourism have great potential for further development in Greece, especially in Central Macedonia and around the city of Thessaloniki.
The natural beauties of these rich in life, breathtaking landscapes deserve a much broader recognition as they can bring everyone closer to nature thus creating a close relationship while improving the living standards of the local populations.
All these alternative types of tourism eventually create a viable economic alternative to environmental exploitation…in other words, a better tomorrow for the future generations…