© Tasos Triatafyllou via Flickr

December 20, 2015

Escape to Nymfaio
A fairytale escape to Nymfaio in Florina

Nymfaio is a traditional settlement of Mount Vernon (Vitsi ) at an altitude of 1.350 m. It has been singled out as one of the ten most picturesque villages of Europe, according to UNESCO. This fascinating village with stone built houses and cobblestone paths, surrounded by a breathtaking beech forest, looks like it just came out of a fairytale book. Nymfaio is a year round charming destination as it combines remarkable beauty of nature, a distinctive glorious past, unique traditional guesthouses and numerous cafes and restaurants.

An introduction to history & traditions

Nymfaio will satisfy your thirst for history and introduce you to several interesting traditions. Vlach nomads got installed here in the early 1300, formerly known as Niviesta or Nevesta until 1929. Starting from the late 17th century, the town was one of the largest silversmithing centres in the Balkan area and remained in this dominating position for almost three centuries. These glorious days are reflected in the impressive stone built mansions located in the settlement. Although Nymfaio was affected by the migratory movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s, today it has been revived by the people who have returned to their roots.

During your stay make a point in visiting the area’s benefactors mansions such as the Neveska Chrisikos House which was recently renovated and now operates as the Gold and Silver-smithery, Folklore and History Museum. It is a replica of the old mansion where you’ll see wall paintings, wooden Macedonian sculpted ceilings and unique pieces of furniture. A truly outstanding architectural masterpiece is Nikeios School which operates today as a conference Hall of Thessaloniki’s Aristotelian University.

Activities in nature

If you are looking for some adventure, then Nymfaio is the place for you; go ahead and discover the hiking trails in the woods, enjoy mountain biking and horseback riding. Explore Northern Greece with its unparalleled natural scenery. Come across two remarkable wetlands that belong to the Natura 2000 network, the Zarari and Cheimaditida Lakes. Bask in the amazing view of Zarari Lake, indulge your passion for bird watching, take a walk, bike or horse ride along the shore, entertain yourself with a jeep tour or try your skills in archery or canoeing. Cheimaditida Lake is considered as the most important breeding site of the ferruginous duck (a species threatened by extinction).

ARCTUROS Environmental Sanctuary

The sanctuary is located in a beautiful beech forest at 1,5 km from Nymfaio. Ex-captive bears live in a 5 acres fenced area imitating a natural habitat. Find out more about these wonderful creatures and how hard it is to reintegrate them in their natural environment as they were removed from their mother before having the chance to learn basic survival skills.

Four seasons in Nymfaio

Nymfaio will thrill you any season of the year. In winter the temperature drops and the whimsical snowy scenes create a fairytale atmosphere. You’ll know when spring is around as the bears at the Arcturos Sanctuary wake up after hibernating. If you prefer mild summers then Nymfaio will offer you a great mountain holiday. Have a laid back boat ride on the lakes or get an adrenaline high with the numerous activities you can do in the wider area. In Autumn Nymfaio looks like a painting; fallen leaves in a large variety of brown and yellow shades, some rainy, foggy days by the lit fireplaces and the bears getting ready for their winter sleep are some final touches to this depiction.

Local delicacies

During your stay at Nymfaio taste all the delicious local dishes in the various tavernas. Savour the neveska dish which is made with layers of potatoes, finely chopped pork and melted cheese. Don’t miss the locals’ favourite fish called grivadi, from the nearby lakes, cooked in a number of ways. The Macedonian wine and tsipouro will excellently accompany any recipe of the area you will choose to taste.

How to get there

You’ll need to cover 541 km from Athens to get to Nymfaio which you’ll reach after a 7 hours drive. You can either choose the route through Larissa, Kozani and Ptolemaida or Trikala, Grevena and Kozani. From Thessaloniki take Egnatia Motorway to Nymfaio, pass by Veroia and follow the signs towards Florina and Amyntaio, after 180 km you will have reached your destination.

Image Source: Tasos Triatafyllou via Flickr
Text Source: http://www.visitgreece.gr

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