Escapist State of Mind
Weekend Escapes
Nymfaio
An authentic village with a fairytale atmosphere

In a stunning natural landscape, Nymfaio impresses with its Macedonian nobility. Such a fairytale atmosphere. Characterized as one of the most beautiful villages of Greece, Nymfaio is a lovely village spreading in a breathtaking alpine landscape at an altitude of 1,350 meters. It was designated as a preserved traditional settlement due to its cultural heritage and architectural identity in 1978. World-appraised travel experts have presented it as one of the ten most beautiful villages of Europe while it entered the global competition of UNESCO claiming the Melina Mercouri Prize for the excellent cultural heritage management and natural environment. What is more, Nymfaio was honored with the European Award of Renaissance Village from the European Union in 2000. Surrounded from dense forests and green nature, Nymfaio will astonish you instantly! Imposing mansions, cobblestone alleys, and spectacular natural sceneries create an exquisite setting. The scenery is just fabulous. Firstly inhabited from the Vlachs, this superb village flourished as a premier silversmith center while its residents remained in history as famous tobacco and cotton merchants. Although the village experienced its decline in 1930s due to social and economical changes, by expelling most of the local people in the diaspora, the significant contribution of people descended from the village, such as the winemaker Yannis Boutaris and the chairman of the village, Nicolaos Mertzos, rescued the village from the abandonment. Whichever season you choose to visit Nymfaio, this alpine village will enchant you! As Europeans said in the 19th century, Nymfaio has nothing to envy from other European capitals. It is certain that Nymfaio will leave you speechless from its impeccable beauty.

NEED A REASON TO TRAVEL

If you are looking for a mountainous destination where you can enjoy the tranquility of nature, Nymfaio has it for you! History and cultural heritage blend with sceneries of alpine nature, and create an impressive village, this is one of the top reasons you should travel to this destination. What’s more, genuine travellers and authentic explorers will fall in love with Nymfaio since it is one of the most beautiful destinations of Macedonia, if not Greece. Nymfaio offer a genuine getaway with a true spirit of authenticity away from the hustle and bustle of the cities. The natural monuments compete with the remarkable sceneries that try to imprint your mind with the most beautiful memories. You can imagine how magical this place can be! Whatever your reason for travelling, Nymfaio are an amazing escape out of the ordinary!

TOP THINGS TO DO

First of all, you should visit the Nikeos School (1928), an architectural marvel donated from the great tobacco merchant Jean Nikos, which stands imperious between the stone houses of the entrance of Nymfaio. Today, Nikeos School houses the Congress Center of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, while several spaces have a permanent exhibition of the history of Nymfaio. However, one of the most important monuments is the Folklore, History & Silvermithing Museum with a rich collection of handicrafts, old silversmith works, traditional costumes and historical archives. The church of Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of Nymfaio, is a must visit; the church distinguishes for its inimitable bells, built in 1856 and 1862 respectively, from Istanbul and Odessa. If you are visiting Nymfaio, do not miss the ARCTUROS Bear Sanctuary that can be reached from a lovely stone path, such a romantic trail! Arcturos Envrionmental Center was established in 1992 in order to protect the wildlife and the natural environment of Greece. More specifically, the occasion of its foundation was the need to find immediate solution to the need to growing problem of captive bears and wolves. Arcturos Bear Sanctuary provides shelter to captive bears, as one of the main objectives of Arcturos is to end the illegal captivity of bears. There are ten bears in the bear sanctuary, who were either former dancing bears, captive bears from zoos or orphaned cubs. The Bear Sanctuary operates all year round, every day except Wednesday, from 10 am to 5 pm. Bear in mind that you can actually observe the bears aware until January, the time when their hibernation period starts. Arcturos has also created the Wolf Sanctuary in Agrapidies village, a total area of seventy hectares in a special fenced natural forest, which was created in order to stop the illegal occupation of wolves.Birdwatching lovers can visit the wonderful lakes of Zazari and Heimatitida, two of the most beautiful lakes in Macedonia, which serve as a major shelter for native and migratory bird species. On the banks of Limnochori village, the sole lakeside settlement of the area, there is also an extensive network of forest roads. In fact, more than 140 bird species have been recorded here! Hiking enthusiasts can follow the forest paths of the Wildlife Park! There, they will have the opportunity to experience all the sensations of the unique alpine scenery! At last but not least, it is a must to enjoy a stroll in the picture-perfect village of Nymfaio. Just loose your way in the cobblestone alleys to discover your favorite spot!

HISTORICAL FACTS

Nymfaio was firstly inhabited from the Vlachs, indigenous Macedonians, in 1835, who guarded the neighboring Egnatia Odos and were forced to flee to the inaccessible mountain of Vitsi following the fierce battles with the Ottomans. The talented Vlachs, although they were subordinated to the mother of Sultan and paid taxes, remained armed and self-gorvening in the village, and by the 17th century, they lived by raids on estates of the valley. Around 1630, the local people started to engage in silversmithing, and the art remained buoyant for at least three centuries, transforming Nymfaio in a famous silversmith center across Macedonia. Nymfaio flourished from its international tobacco and cotton merchants while the village served as a base for every national struggles, home to many benefactors, fighters and scientists. Through this era, Nymfaio experienced its golden era. However, its decline started from 1930 onwards due to economic, social and technological changes that led to the disruption of the local market while dramatic wars left the village almost deserted, expelling most of the local people in the diaspora. The significant contribution of people descended from the village, such as the winemaker Yannis Boutaris and the chairman of the village, Nicolaos Mertzos, rescued the village from the abandonment that existed until 1980. The great cultural heritage of Nymfaio and the distinctive natural environment were the foundations on which houses and cobblestone alleys were built and renovated with traditional stone.

BOUTIQUE HOTELS & ELEGANT SUITES

Whether you are looking for a boutique hotel to stay with your family or you desire to find an traditional guesthouse, we have drafted a list with the best accommodation choices in the village of Nymfaio! Nymfes Hotel is a traditional guesthouse ideal for romantic getaways for couples and relaxing vacations for families and solo travellers. The stone-built guest house following the traditional architecture of the Nymfaio houses was built in 1923 and has recently been renovated in order to become the ideal place that can offer a unique experience to its guests. NIVES Traditional Guesthouse is another great accomodation choice located in the heart of Nymfaio village. It is a beautiful stone building of the traditional architecture with high aesthetic design and decorative elements. Built in 1996, La Galba is also a wonderful traditional guesthouse with impressive hospitable spaces and exceptional paintings, samples of the traditional house of Nymfaion. At last but not least, Enterne Guesthouse is a lovely guesthouse housed in the 1898 central village café.

COFFEE CORNERS & COCKTAIL INSPIRATIONS

Enjoy delicious pastries at the Urban Cooperative Store of Nymfaio Women, “I Nymphi”! There, you will have the opportunity to fill your suitcase with local goods such as jams, fruit preserves, noobles, liquors, and frumentry! It is also a must to stop by at “O Navarhos”, one of the oldest traditional cafeterias of Nymfaio that has been operating since 1950. Enjoy a traditional Greek coffee along with a spoon sweet! At last but not least, Enterne is the ideal place for enjoying hotel chocolate and tea by the fireplace!

TRADITIONAL TAVERNS AND CLASSY RESTAURANTS

Platia (Nymfaio, 0030.6947.153.604) is a lovely tavern that distinguishes for its traditional dishes, its handmade pies and its fresh meats. In the cold days of the winter, it also serves soups, prok with cabbage and sometimes wild boar. You’ll find mostrly grilled and spit-roasted meat!What’s more, O Thomas (Sklithro, 0030.23860.31206) is a traditional tavern with local Macedonian recipes. Based on the carefully selected ingredients, the tavern has a consistent quality with a great variety. Try the pork in a pot, the wild boar in wine sauce and smoked pork chops.To Steki (Lechovo, 0030.23860.71150) is yet another tavern that specializes in traditional cuisine and grilled local meats. Don’t miss the traditional bean soup!

MYSTERIOUS GREECE TIP

The Urban Cooperative Store of the Nymfaio Women “I Nimphi” will tempt you to fill your suitcase with local goodies! From jams, traditional sweets, frumentry, noodles and liquors to woodworks and handicrafts from Nymfaio and the wider region, it is worth visiting it! It is located on the main street of the village!

TRAVEL INFO

Nymfaio is located at 541 km from Athens at the southern end of the prefecture of Florina. The village can be accesed either via Larissa, Kozani and Ptolemaida or via Trikala, Grevena and Kozani. Nymfaio is situated 180 km from Thessaloniki. The easiest driving route is via the Egnatia Motorway towards Florina and Amynteo.

Photo Credits

A Traditional House: Alexandrer Baxevanis via Flickr

Arcturos Bear Sanctuary: Spiros Vathis via Flickr

Autumn Leaves: Maria via Flickr

Blue Detail: Leon47 via Panoramio

Brown Bear 2: Arcturos.gr

Brown Bear: Arcturos.gr

Greek Shepherd Dog: Charalambos Konstantinidis via Flickr

Mind the Bears: Spiros Vathis via Flickr

Nikion School View: Georgios Kostikidis via Panoramio

Nikios School: Spiros Vathis via Flickr

Nostalgic View: StefanosT via Flickr

Nymfaio Square: Tasos Triantafyllou via Flickr

Nymfaio Village: Aimilios Petrou via Panoramio

Panoramic View: Dimitris Kolokousis via Panoramio

Roofs: George via Flickr

Scenery in Nymfaio: Pantelis B. via Panoramio

Snow in Nymfaio: Apostolos Pougaridis via Flickr

Stone Houses: Nikos Georgakopoulos via Panoramio

Traditional Architecture: Remos Tselentis via Panoramio

View to Nymfaio: Georgios Kostikidis via Panoramio