From a distance, it looks like an Impressionist painting; houses, churches, trees seen through a haze, their reflections shimmering in the lake. The Macedonian landscape is magnificent. Come closer and you see impressive aristocratic lakeside mansions surrounded by clusters of tall trees,  interspersed by Byzantine churches.

Come closer still, and you’ll see the locals sipping coffee or promenading by the lake, with the fishermen in their flat-bottomed boats offshore and pelicans keeping hopeful watch alongside. Outside town, the old Mavriotissa Monastery and the phantasmagorical Dragon’s Cave await discovery. This is just the beginning of what Kastoria has to offer.

 

Highlights:

  • Kastoria’s lake
  • Ragoutsaria – Carnival celebrations
  • Dispilio, a prehistoric theme park
  • Panagia Koumbelidiki Church
  • Petrified Forest of Nostimo 

Kastoria's Lake

The lake of Kastoria is considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes not only in Greece but also in the whole Balkan Peninsula and has been listed as a Natural Monument of outstanding beauty by the Greek Ministry of Culture. It is estimated that it was formed 10 million years ago. The lake has a surface of 28 km2 and is approximately 9 m deep. You will immediately notice the rich avifauna, with mute swans, wild ducks, herons and Dalmatian pelicans that swim on its waters. Take a walk along the lake, especially early in the afternoon and enjoy a beautiful landscape resembling a moving painting. 

Ragoutsaria – Carnival celebrations

The Ragoutsaria date back from ancient times and were part of Dionysian orgiastic rites. They used to place in the middle of winter after 25 December – the celebration for the birth of the Sun – to honor Nature for regenerating spring. The Ragoutsaria complete the 12-day celebration with unique regional customs of Kastoria which go back to the first inhabitants of the area, the Dorians. They are the rare remains of original Greek carnival. All the residents of Kastoria take part in the celebrations. Each neighborhood forms a group and each group has its own band. Apart from traditional instruments, the bagpipes and the ‘zournades’, since the early 1900’s bands started using more percussion instruments – the ‘takoumia’, and more wind instruments, remnants of military bands that would occasionally stop by the city. The scene is reminiscent of the big brass bands and jazz music of New Orleans.

Dispilio, a prehistoric theme park

At the site Nisi, an artificial island in Lake Orestiada, a Middle Neolithic lake settlement with wooden structures has been excavated, dating back to 5600 to 5000 BC. Near the site, an impressive park has been erected, recreating the lake dwellers’ settlement and providing information about the life of its Neolithic inhabitants.

Panagia Koumbelidiki Church

Built on the highest point of the city, the acropolis of Kastoria, this church is considered as one of the most important monuments of Macedonia. Built during the Ottoman rule, it is a triconch cross-in-square church. Its name derives from the word "Koumbes" which means dome, stating its key feature, since it is the only church in Kastoria that has dome. The depiction of the Trinity is uniquely interesting. 

Petrified Forest of Nostimo   

The Petrified Forest is located in the southernmost point of Kastoria Prefecture, at the settlement of Nostimo. This natural miracle was created and developed 20 million years ago, during the Miocene. Due to the climatic conditions and the geomorphology of that period, forests developed along with active volcanoes. The volcanic materials and dust ejected from the volcanoes covered the plants and the animals causing their fossilization. In 1935, a local man discovered petrified trunks and fossils as he was extracting lignite. The excavations of the forest started about 60 years later and many valuable findings came to the surface. Tropical and subtropical plants, petrified trunks of palm trees, and fossils of the prehistoric fauna and the flora provide information about the climate of that period. The Petrified Forest is considered as a geological monument of nature with great value. Do not forget to visit the Museum of Paleontology and Paleobotany in Nostimo in order to discover more findings of that period. Opening hours: 10:00 - 17:00 (November to March), 10:00 - 14:00 & 17:00 - 20:00 (April to October)

What to expect

  • Kastoria’s lake
  • Ragoutsaria – Carnival celebrations
  • Dispilio, a prehistoric theme park
  • Panagia Koumbelidiki Church
  • Petrified Forest of Nostimo 

Who it's for

Our trips are designed for private and corporate groups looking to explore the beauties of Greece while enjoying a ride.

Itinerary

  • 4 nights accommodation in a traditional guesthouse or 4* hotel, bed & breakfast basis
  • Maps and detailed travel information
  • Transfers from and to the airport
  • All taxes and service charges
  • 24hrs Assistance phone number

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