Welcome to Serres – the town in northern Greece that’s seen it all and has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of every catastrophe it’s ever faced. What’s its secret? You’ll discover it in the enchanting Lailia Forest, in the shade from the leafy trees at Agi Anargyri. You’ll taste it in its famous sweets and the scent of its ouzo. You’ll recognise it in its people, who fill the nights with fun and games, and in its women who are renowned for their beauty. You’ll find that Serres will keep its promise in giving you a holiday to remember.
What to do in Serres
Travel to the valley of Agi Anargyri
This lovely park infuses Serres with colour and fresh air. With cascades, brooks, spreading plane trees, an artificial lake, restaurants and cafes, it’s perfect for walks and picnics, especially in spring and summer.
This pine-covered hill overlooking town is not just an attractive backdrop, it contains the ruins of a once-mighty Byzantine acropolis. Climb to admire the view and you’ll also see the western tower of the fortress, Orestes’ tower, which was part of the inner wall. An inscribed foundation stone dates it to 1350, during the reign of the Serbian king Stefan Dusan.
The pristine beauty of Lailia
Just 25km north of Serres, you’ll find yourself in the Lailia Forest, 330 hectares of pine and beech forest at an altitude of 1,849m above sea level at its highest peak. The forest (which has the unusual name of Ali Baba) is home to 514 types of plant and has been declared a Natural Monument and a region of particular Natural Beauty. Enough said.
Skiing or après-ski?
If you want to ski, the Serres Ski Centre offers a collection of enjoyable slopes and even greater fun afterwards. In its bars, clubs, cafes, restaurants, ouzeries and the famous souvlaki stands, you’ll join the locals in having a good time. It’s an extension of the vibrant social scene of Serres itself.
In the lap of the speed gods
Serres’ racecourse is the best in Greece. The course meets international standards and can host Formula 3000 events. International rallies take place here and, for a small fee, anyone can test their skills in their own car or on their motorbike.
Hidden gems of Serres
The sweets of Serres
Dusted with sugar, they look like Turkish delight, but they’re quite different. They’re called akanes and what sets them apart is fresh goat’s butter and spring water from Lailia. For the real thing, there are a number of traditional confectionery stores in Serres that will have you drooling in no time.
The Timios Prodromos Monastery
This historic monastery lies 10km northeast of Serres in a ravine on Mt Menikios. The most noteworthy attraction in the district, it was built in the 13th century.
Serres was a melting pot of cultures and religions. The muezzin no longer calls the faithful to prayer but you will find three well-preserved buildings left from the Ottoman occupation, which ended in 1913. Two are mosques – the Tsitsirli and Ahmet Pasha – and the third is the marvellous six-domed Bezesteni market, which now houses the Archaeological Museum.