Kilkis, in Central Macedonia, is a place where people don’t just honour tradition, they live it in their everyday lives. It’s in the music that accompanies their every joy or sorrow; in the customs of the various cultures that found refuge there through the centuries; in people’s relationship with nature which manifests itself in the celebrations organised at the arrival of each new harvest.
What to do in Kilkis
Goumenissa, the quintessence of living tradition
Goumenissa is a picturesque town at the foot of Paiko, about 40km from the city of Kilkis. It is famed for its wines, so it’s a good opportunity for you to have a glass or two … unless you prefer good ‘tsipouro’, the local white spirit for which it is also famed.
The locals are rightfully proud of their musical traditions, passed from father to son. The brass bands of Goumenissa have taken part in music festivals representing their particular kind of Balkan music all over the world. Since these bands accompany every social event in town, you will likely hear their moving tones during your stay.
And to get to know the area even better, visit the monastery of Panagia Goumenissa which is not only a religious centre but also a historical symbol.
There’s much to do in Lake Doirani, in northern Kilkis. Row, fish, swim or just observe the birds and rich flora. Don’t miss out on visiting the Doirani Museum. There are lakeside fish taverna and a forest (Hilia Dentra) to explore, with oaks and plane trees that have stood for centuries. Cycling enthusiast will enjoy the picturesque twists and turns through the woodland.
Wear comfortable shoes, pack some food and, after you’ve parked the car, walk downhill to see the first waterfalls through the plane trees and feel the nature’s revitalising power. A bit further along you will find Smaragdenia, the emerald lake which took its name from the wonderful colour of its water. There you can enjoy your picnic within enthralling scenery and, if you like a challenge, dare to take a dip in the water which remains cold even in the height of summer. And then carry on hiking through the lush vegetation and discover the 5-6m high waterfalls. There is nothing more invigorating for the body and soul than water falling with the freedom that nature intends. Live it!
Around 22km from the city of Kilkis, you will enjoy a relaxing therapy with clay from the bottom of the lake, rich in therapeutic and cosmetic ingredients.
Hidden gems of Kilkis
Nature gives lessons in life
Paiko is a small mountain range northwest of Thessaloniki which you simply must explore. Walk on its paths, shaded by oak and chestnut trees and look out for rabbits, foxes and deer emerging through the trees. The chestnut grove is open to visitors and, when the season is right, you can pick wild strawberries and cool down in the crystal clear water of the springs, streams and lakes you will come across.
The Balkan Botanical Garden of Kroussia, near Pontokerasia, extends to 310,000 sq m and is home to 1,200 kinds of Greek and hundreds of Balkan plants, so it would be best if you allow enough time in your programme to enjoy its colours and aromas unhurried.
Agios Georgios Cave is amongst the most remarkable caves in Greece, not only for the historic findings discovered there (you can see them in the Paleontological Museum) but also because it is recommended by doctors for the treatment of respiratory diseases. History and speleotherapy in a single visit!
Although this fertile land now offers peace and calm, it was the theatre of historic battles during World War I and there are several Allied Forces monuments that bear witness to the fact. They are well worth a visit so you can find out more about a less-well-known period of Greek and European history.