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Kavala at a glance

It’s a bastion of authentic Greek beauty, but Kavala is a modern city that combines old and new in exciting ways.

Stunning white houses clamber up a hill behind a picturesque harbour. Gorgeous little houses cling to steep paths in the historic “old quarter”. There are sandy beaches, stately squares, chic shops and great walks.

This vibrant city has two crowning glories. A majestic 15th century castle dominates the hilltop and a huge, arched aqueduct built for a sultan 500 years ago still slices through the streets.

These magnificent landmarks light up like beacons at night when restaurants and bars come to life in Kavala and tourists stroll around in the footsteps of history. The city can be traced back 2,700 years, when it was called Neapolis, or New Port, and Alexander the Great ruled. The Romans landed there and won a huge battle.

The Apostle Paul was an early visitor, conducting the first Christian baptism there in 49AD and becoming the city’s patron saint.  Venetians and Ottoman Turks invaded.

The city wears with pride the many monuments of its amazing history - but it isn’t all about the past.  Locals call it “the Blue City” in tribute to the Aegean Sea that fills the Bay of Kavala. There are several lovely sandy beaches, including four with Blue Flag awards.

The cobblestoned port, lined with cafes and palm trees, is busy with everything from traditional fishing boats to contemporary cruise liners.

Stylish streets lead from the main square of Platia Elefterias. Discover smart modern shops, small atmospheric ones and a huge shopping mall once a warehouse when tobacco was the big local industry.

Stroll uphill through Kavala’s atmospheric lanes to Panagia, the lovely old quarter, where colourful boutiques and cafes squeeze into the old houses. It’s on the way to the castle, known as Kavala’s Acropolis, where the views are fantastic.

There are mountains, forests, rivers, waterfalls, even healing mud baths in the countryside nearby. But you can’t get away from history. Philippi, a remarkable world heritage ancient site from almost 3,000 years, is only a few kilometres away.

Best Time to Visit Kavala

There’s a lot going on in Kavala throughout the summer. And the weather makes sure people can get out and enjoy the events.

In the last part of June the town enjoys “Freedom” with numerous cultural events held to celebrate its liberation in the 1913 Balkan War.  The highlight is on June 29 in honour of the Apostle Paul, Kalamata’s patron saint.

There’s also a Wood Water Wild Festival of music, climbing, bike races, archery, handicrafts and lots more activities along a two-mile “environmental” path and stream in Old Kavala.

Average temperature in June is just over 20 degrees Centigrade. On most days the sun will be out for about 12 hours.  The sea will be warm enough for a dip, at an average temperature of about 20 degrees.

An international festival that celebrates everything from culture to cuisine from other countries spices up Kavala for four days in July. There’s a street bazaar, music, dancing, cinema, plays, children’s events and street theatre.

July is one of the driest and hottest months of the year. There is likely to be more than 300 sunshine hours in the month and the thermometer will sometimes climb close to 30 degrees Centigrade.  The sea is very pleasant 25 degrees and there is very little wind.

Weather conditions are more or less the same for August when the Philippi cultural festival of Kavala, one of the largest events of its kind in Greece, is well under way.  Productions which include all types of concerts, plays, dancing, poetry and art start in July and continue through August.

Events are staged in different venues in the town but the main focus is at the ancient theatre in the Philippi archaeological site, once the home of the king of Macedonia who was Alexander the Great’s father.   

In September Kavala’s beaches are still busy and the sea temperature will still be about 24 degrees. The sun should shine for nine or 10 hours a day and it’s one of the driest months.

Weather

The best time to go to Kavala

Max_temp  Max Temp C Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
Kavala 21 23 27 29 29 27 24
London 13 16 20 22 21 19 13
Sun Sunshine Hours Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
Kavala 7 10 12 12 11 9 6
London 5 6 7 6 6 5 3

Transport advice for Kavala

Ancient Kavala can be traced back almost 3,000 years but today’s city is a transport hub for the modern world with good road, air and ferry links. The town has a population of 54,000, which is about the size of Chania in Crete and Kalamata in the Peloponnese.

Buses: The blue and white “Astiko” buses provide a good (and cheap) city service, very convenient if you want to avoid some of the local hills. The inter-city bus station, near the harbour, is where the regional KTEL buses can be found. It’s a two-hour journey to Thessaloniki but closer destinations include Kavala International Airport, Philippi, the site of famous ancient ruins, and Drama, the regional capital. Both city and regional buses stop close to the beaches west of Kavala.

Vehicle hire: Go it alone and explore the sights of Macedonian at your own pace. There are numerous businesses renting cars, motor bikes, scooters and bicycles in the city and at Kavana Airport. A full UK licence will be required when appropriate. Car drivers must be at least 21 and have had a licence for a year or more. There’s an Olympic Holidays car hire link at the bottom of this page.

Land train: Kavala doesn’t have a railway station – the closest is 22 miles away in Drama – but there is a cute miniature train that takes passenger around the town.  Climb aboard the “trainaki” (or Little Train) near the tourist information centre in Eleftherias Square and ride to the old town of Panagia. It’s free.

Taxis: There are about 130 taxis – either orange or white – and lots of taxi ranks. Eleftherias Square has four ranks. Cabs can be flagged down if the light on the roof is lit or booked by phone. Fares are lower than in the UK if a journey is within the city limits. The cabs are metered and fares go up after midnight.

Ferries:  Ferries to the North Aegean islands and much further afield leave from Kavala Port. There are ferries to the nearby island of Thassos, making it an interesting day-trip option. Excursion boats explore the coastline and call at some of the best beaches.     

Make the most of your trip Things to see & do

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does Kavala have an aqueduct?

It’s a magnificent monument – a long row of 60 arches almost 100ft high in places. An expensive restoration project a few years ago stripped the years away and some people believe it to be comparatively new. Yet it was built in the 1520s by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent during the Ottoman occupation of Kavala. It enabled water to flow into the city from mountainside rivers a few kilometres away and was in use until the 20th century. Its name, Kamares, means arches.

Does Kavala really have a tobacco museum?

Yes, because the climate was right for growing tobacco. Cultivating and processing the leaves began in the 1860s and became a massive industry employing thousands of people. It continued for about a century and there are still many buildings in the city, from warehouses to neo-classical houses, that date back to that prosperous period. The museum in Palaiologou St shows how the tobacco business was linked with the development of Kavala.

Do the shops shut for a siesta?

Lots do during the summer. Cafes, bars and other businesses serving tourists tend to stay open but more traditional businesses are likely to close in the afternoon. Some of them will open again for the evening. However, banks close at 2pm and don’t re-open.

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