The special winter destination at the foothills of Kaimaktsalan that resembles… the Alps

The special winter destination at the foothills of Kaimaktsalan that resembles… the Alps

Old Agios Athanasios is built at an altitude of 1,200 metres at the foot of Kaimaktsalan. It has been classified as a traditional settlement and has been turned into a winter tourist destination for the last twenty years or so, with those who visit it testifying that it reminds them of their counterparts in the Alps!

It is located 30 km from the city of Edessa and close to the ski resort of Voras. Its history dates back to the end of the 16th century.

In later years, it was an active farming community, but in the 1970s, due to several consecutive earthquakes in the area, it was abandoned by the inhabitants and by 1995, only two families had remained.

The situation changed with the construction of the ski resort in 1995. Today, it is emerging as an impressive tourist community, with traditional buildings and interesting Macedonian architecture that blends harmoniously with the natural environment. Here, there is a plethora of activities: skiing, jogging, horse riding, archery and much more, offering a rich experience in nature.

It looks a lot like the tourist villages of Germany or Austria that are surrounded by ski resorts. The stone structures, the uniformity and the care of the environment with flowers and trees are obvious.
A notable landmark is the church of the Annunciation, built in the late 1700s. The village offers a rich variety of food, coffee, drink and entertainment.

In the neighbouring village of Panagitsa, you will find an equally good tourist infrastructure. Tourist life here is lively almost all year round, with a plethora of activities such as mountain tours, horse riding, archery and various sports.

The Kaimaktsalan Ski Centre is one of the most popular in the country, with a long snow season from November to May. Its slopes are wide and suitable for all levels of skiers, and there are various activities such as airboard trails. Even outside the snow season, the resort is worth a visit for the great views and the chalet-hotel atmosphere.

The facilities start at 2,050 m, where the main shelter, ski and snowboard schools, parking, beginners’ slopes and equipment rental shops are located, and end at 2,480 m and the arrival station of the Kremasi lift, the highest in Greece. Even when there’s no snow, it’s worth having a coffee in the refuge’s luxury chalet-hotel with its large windows and awesome views, or eating in the traditional restaurant.

Mount Voras, with its peak Kaimaktsalan, is the natural border between Greece and FYROM. The forest of Voras is protected by the Natura 2000 network, offering wonderful trails organized by the nature and mountaineering clubs, with the route that reaches the Flora Stream standing out.

How to get there

By road from Athens in the direction of Edessa via the Athens-Thessaloniki highway (approximately 6 hours). From there the settlement of Ag. Athanasios is 33 km (about 40 minutes) away. From Thessaloniki it is only 27 km, i.e. 30 minutes by car.