The region of Kilkis with the homonym capital is located in Nothern Greece, 68 km away from Thessaloniki. This pretty much summed up my knowledge of the area until I got invited to explore it through a familiarisation trip organised by the municipality of Kilkis under the Cross-Border Cooperation Programme “Greece-the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 2007-2013” in November.
Kilkis might not be a popular holiday spot either for people coming from abroad or locals, but I discovered it is a place with natural beauty, long history, tasty food and friendly people, a place that worths a visit.
Here are a few things you can do in Kilkis:
Things to do in Kilkis
Visit Lake Doirani
Just 22 km north of the town of Kilkis you will find lake Doirani, a part of it belongs to Greece and the rest belongs to FYROM. The lake is a place of unique beauty home to many plants and 36 rare bird species. It also supports financially the surrounding area because of the fishing. By the lake, there is the Doirani Lake Museum, which was established to inform the public about the ecosystems that can be found around the wetland and the lake. The area is perfect for a quiet walk, bird watching or for tasting the local gastronomy and especially catfish and carp in one of the lakeside tavernas.
Near the lake, you will also find the Memorials from World War I along with the military cemeteries.
Rejuvenate in Pikrolimni Lake
A few km outside of Kilkis you will meet the Pikrolimni Lake, a salted lake famous for its therapeutic properties since antiquity. The bottom of the lake and its shores have a black mud – clay, rich in sulphates and nitrates that attribute healing properties to the water. By the shores, you will find a clay centre with a hotel unit. The temperature of the water is 38 C, and it is recommended for Rheumatisms, lumbago, spondylitis, myalgia, sciatica, split disc, musculoskeletal conditions, arthritis, skin and gynaecological infections, post-trauma treatment. Also, the lake attracts many migration birds. During the summer months, it is a popular bathing spot for the locals.
Wander in the Balkan Botanical Gardens
Near the village of Pontokerasia and in an area covering 310 acres protected by the Natura 2000 you will find an oasis of oak trees, a collection of endemic plants and more than 6.500 species of protected plants from Greece and the Southern European region. It was created to protect the natural ecosystem. Onsite are cultivated aromatic and therapeutic plants from around the Balkans. There are many paths and natural ponds inside the Botanical Gardens making it a perfect place for a leisurely stroll.
Explore the St. George Cave on St. George’s Hill
Located on St George Hill the cave was discovered in 1925. It consists of 2 levels of more than 1000 sq.m each. Inside the cave, a number of Palaeozoic fauna including the bones of hyenas and other animals were found apart from the stalagmites and stalactites. The temperature of the cave stays between 15 and 17 degrees all year round and also has therapeutic properties, ideal for asthmatic diseases. We were lucky to be guided in the cave by a man that used to play and explore the cave as a child before it was mapped in 1960.
Horseback Riding in Rancho Kilkis
Located on the outskirts of the town of Kilkis, the Rancho Kilkis offers horseback riding lessons for kids and adults, archery, a playground for children and a bar-restaurant. We had a wonderful time there cuddling the horses and doing horseback riding.
Discover the local gastronomy
The area of Kilkis has an amazing cuisine. Here you can taste fresh fish from the lake, incredible meat from the local farms, venison and boar, milk and dairy products, homemade pickles, wine from the many vineyards and much more. During our stay in Kilkis, we had the chance to visit Koukaki, a family run dairy factory, and see how milk and yoghurt are produced.
Where to stay in Kilkis
We stayed at hotel Evridiki a boutique hotel recently renovated at the centre of the city. My room had all the modern amenities including sleepers, toiletries, a flat screen TV, super fast Wi-Fi and the best mattress I have ever slept in. Breakfast was nothing special but good.
If you want to stay outside of the city, I highly recommend the Kroussia Hotel, in Kroussia very close to the botanical gardens. A very charming hotel in the woods with fantastic cuisine.
Kilkis can be a great weekend getaway or the perfect day trip from Thessaloniki. Stay tuned for my next post about the history of Kilkis.
Have you been to Kilkis?
Special thanks to planO2 Συμβουλευτικές Υπηρεσίες ΙΚΕ and Christos for organising this trip, our guide Nick Zacharakis who shared his knowledge with us and answered our numerous questions and to the deputy Mayor of Culture in Kilkis, Mr Dimitris Tsantakis for his hospitality and for showing us around the three days of our trip.