A Macedonian village located in a beautiful natural landscape below Mt Vernon (also known as Vitsi), Nymfaio is a setting straight out of a fairy tale. An aristocratic, restored traditional settlement built at an altitude of 1,350m, it is one of the best winter holiday destinations in Greece.
You’ll find stately homes furnished with handmade furniture, enjoy excellent wine and delicious local delicacies, wander the streets of the village and explore the trails in the beech tree forest. Nearby is the Arcturos Environmental Reserve, the only one of its kind in Greece, which protects bears and wolves. And just a few kilometres away is Florina, a city with a special ambience and immortalised in the films of the famous Greek director Theo Angelopoulos. Whatever season you choose to visit, this beautiful mountain nymph will captivate you.
What to do in Nymfaio
The rebirth of a famous village
Nymfaio, or Neveska as its founders called it, was once one of the richest and most prosperous Vlach villages in Macedonia. In 1980, a few noted descendants began reviving their village, which had become virtually abandoned over the past 30 years. Today, the restored grand mansions, the commanding Nikeios School built in 1927, and the old churches and charming streets once again extend an aristocratic welcome to its guests.
A popular winter destination, Nymfaio knows how to create a fairy tale setting. Fireplaces, halls with high ceilings, embroidered rugs, four-poster beds, antiques, porcelain dinnerware and elegant furniture… Nymfaio’s guesthouses will remind you of the grand mansions of the 1930s. You’ll enjoy your coffee and breakfast of fresh, local produce and the stone courtyards overflowing with flowers.
Traditional flavours of Macedonia
Old kafenia (traditional coffee shops) have been converted to intimate bistros, perfect for an afternoon coffee, pastry or snack, while traditional stone tavernas serve delicious trahanosoupa (a grain-based, rustic soup), meat, game, pasta and pies. And don’t forget the delicious local red wines to accompany your lunch or dinner.
The bear sanctuary
Former circus bears unable to be rehabilitated into their natural habitat, and other injured or mistreated bears were finally given a refuge in 1993. So no stay in Nymfaio is complete without visiting the Arcturos Environmental Centre, which also houses a population of previously injured wolves, just above the town.
Close to Nymfaio is Florina, another popular winter destination. This city stands out for its atmosphere, its landscape split in two by the Sakouleva River, and the mountains that surround it. It also stands out for its hospitable locals and grand architecture. The neighbourhood along the river, with its aristocratic homes, was the social and commercial centre of the city until the mid-19th century.
Hidden gems of Nymfaio
Museum of Gold and Silversmiths
Nymfaio was famous for its goldsmiths and silversmiths and, here, collections of their work and tools are on display.
A stroll around the lakes
A few kilometres from Nymfaio, you’ll find the picturesque lakes of Zazari and Heimaditida, some of the most beautiful in Macedonia. Some 141 species of birds and 150 plants types have been recorded here.
Trek into the beech tree forest that surrounds Nymfaio and breathe in the mountain air. At Zazari Lake, you’ll test your strength with canoeing and kayaking, mountain biking, horseback riding and rock climbing.