Prefecture of East Macedonia and Thrace: Tourism-Modern Life
The Prefecture of East Macedonia and Thrace is in the north-eastern end of Greece and it comprises the Macedonian prefectures of Drama and Kavala and the Thracian prefectures of Xanthi, Rhodope and Evros. It borders Bulgaria and Turkey to the north, the prefecture of Serres to the west and the Thracian Sea to the south. The Region covers 14.157 sq. km corresponding to 10,7% of the total area of Greece. The population of the Region of East Macedonia and Thrace is 561.838 inhabitants (1998), which equals to the 5,3% of national population.
The leading touristic attractions include archaeological sites, historical and architectural monuments and biotopes of natural beauty (wetlands of international importance, forests, beaches and islands). The local folklore traditions and customs, as well as the religious monuments, are also poles of attraction for many visitors. The region offers almost all types of touristic activities:
- cultural tourism (Archaeological Museum of Drama, Archaeological Museum of Philippi, Archaeological Museum of Kavala, Archaeological Museum of Limenas in Thassos, Archaeological Museum of Abdera, Archaeological Museum of Komotini, the archaeological sites of Philippi, Abdera, Maronia, Doxipara, Samothrace, the district of Agia Varvara at Drama, the Imaret at Kavala, the traditional town of Xanthi)
- religious tourism (the monastery of Ikosifinissa at Mount Pangaion, the monastery of Agios Syllas, the Baptistery of Agia Lydia, the Taxiarches Monastery, the Panagia Kalamous Monastery, the Archageliotissa Monastery in Xanthi, the Agios Nikolaos Monastery on Porto Lagos, the Byzantine Mt Papikion on Rhodope Mountains, the Monastery of Dadia and Kosmosotira)
- conference and exhibition tourism (Conference centre at Lydia, Exhibition Centre Nea Karvali, Exhibition Centre in Komotini, Foundation of Thracian Art and Tradition, whereas hotels in every city provide facilities for organising various events)
- ecotourism ( the Elati forest, the Frakto forest, the Rhodope mountain range, the Nestos Delta, the Evros Delta, the Pomak villages, beautiful beaches on the coastline, impressive mountains and forests, the Maara cave, the Petroussa gorge in Drama, the lakes Vistonida, Mitrikou and Ismarida, rivers, magnificent biotopes and unique natural reserves of impressive landscapes)
- therapeutic tourism (mud baths at Krinides, spa at Thermae and Potamia in Xanthi, in Samothrace and at Traianoupolis)
- agrotourism (numerous agrotouristic farms and guest houses have developed recently in all the prefectures of the region)
The main road network in the Region of East Macedonia and Thrace consists of the Egnatia Highway, which extends on the route Igoumenitsa-Gefyra Kipon-Evros, and a dense network of provincial roads. In addition, a road network connects the region with Bulgaria. The rail network of the region operates in four prefectures, with the exception of Kavala prefecture, with 34 train stations and 36 stops, covering a total of 400 km from the boundaries of Serres and Drama prefectures (Photolivos) to Ormenios station on the borders with Bulgaria. Daily buses run among the capitals of the prefecture, to Athens and to Thessaloniki. Moreover, there is daily connection with Istanbul. There are two airports in East Macedonia and Thrace, 'Alexander the Great' at Chrysoupoli in Kavala, which serves the prefectures of Drama and Xanthi, and 'Democritus' in Alexandroupolis, which serves the prefectures of Evros and Rhodope. Flights link the area with Athens and Iraklion (from Alexandroupolis), whereas during the summer months there are connections to European countries. East Macedonia and Thrace has 8 ports, of national importance (Alexandroupolis and Kavala) or of local importance, 2 on the mainland (Keramoti, Porto Lagos), 3 in the island of Thassos and one in Samothrace.
The touristic development of the region comprises big hotels in the capitals of the prefectures, on the islands of Thassos and Samothrace, and smaller accommodation units in the entire periphery.