Entering Greece from Asia, Alexandroupoli is your first stop. Situated as it is at the crossroads of Asia, Europe, the Mediterranean Sea and the Balkan peninsula, everyone who passes through stops here, and so will you. The streets are atmospheric and the waterfront is lined with tavernas, seafood restaurants, bars and hotels. Alexandroupoli is a holiday destination that caters to so many needs. Outside town, visitors of the feathered variety make use of the facilities provided by the impossibly beautiful Evros Delta.
What to do in Alexandroupoli
Alexandroupoli’s emblematic lighthouse stands 27m tall, with six storeys of stone steps, and its light can be seen 37km away. It’s hard not to notice the city’s main and most luminous attraction, which has stood in the port since 1880. Tirelessly guiding seafarers, it is still listed with the town’s old name, Dede-Agats, on nautical maps.
The Evros Delta
When it comes to artistic flair, nature is the true master in these parts. The Evros Delta is a nature lover’s dream. Freshwater mixes with the sea to create a rich wetland habitat and vital sanctuary for large numbers of water birds. Of Greece’s 400 species, 300 pass through here, while the river itself boasts 46 kinds of fish, 7 amphibian, 21 reptile and more than 40 mammal species.
The Dadia Forest Reserve
Sixty kilometres outside of town, the amazing Dadia Forest is another magnet for bird watchers and nature lovers travelling to Alexandroupoli. The hiking and birdwatching trails within the hundreds of thousands of acres in the reserve will bring you close to eagles, hawks, vultures and dozens of other majestic birds.
Panagia Kosmosotira, a church on the frontier
At Feres, next to the bridge crossing the border between Greece and Turkey, is the church of Panagia Kosmosotira, important both ecclesiastically and architecturally. The religious complex and the monastery it was part of were built in the mid-12th century, and are among the most significant sights in the area.
Hidden gems of Alexandroupoli
The thermal springs of Evros
Whether you are in need of bodily or spiritual renewal or just craving a hot bath, take a pause at Trajanopolis. The brick-domed hostel for world-weary travellers was reputed for the healing powers of the springs even back in the 14th century. Take note of the piping in the walls, an object lesson in central heating.
A trip to the Cyclops' cave
You can visit one of the numerous caves of the Cyclops at the modern small port of Makri.
Air conditioning in antiquity
In Evros, in the ancient coastal town of Mesembria-Zone (7th century BC), the inhabitants buried amphorae under their living rooms to combat the humidity, a sort of ancient air conditioning.