West Macedonia is a gorgeous region that borders the countries of Albania and North Macedonia. As it’s less frequented by tourists, it offers a truly authentic experience compared to other areas of the country.
I consider this a real hidden gem of Greece.
The scenery in this region is stunningly beautiful, with landscapes ranging from glistening lakes to lush forests. The local cuisine is another huge highlight as there are so many amazing dishes to try, not to mention the wide variety of things to do here.
In this guide, I’m going to cover my favourite places to visit in the West Macedonia region of Greece. I’ll take you through what each one has to offer and include some top tips along the way!
My first recommendation is the beautiful town of Nymfaio. Considered to be one of the most picturesque villages in Greece, Nymaio is incredibly charming, thanks to its stone-built houses and cobblestone streets.
First of all, you’ll want to spend some time walking around the town and taking it all in. During your time here, pay a visit to the folklore and history museum, which is set in one of the old benefactors’ mansions.
If you’re an outdoor lover like me, then there are several hiking trails in the surrounding area too. Horseback riding and mountain biking are also popular activities.
Just outside the centre of town, you’ll find Arcturos Brown Bear Sanctuary. Easily one of my favourite places in West Macedonia, this sanctuary is home to around 22 brown bears who have been rescued from the entertainment industry.
Where to eat in Nymfaio
Restaurant Thomas is my top pick. It’s found in the nearby town of Sklithro and there’s an extensive wine list (not to mention the food is delicious).
Where to stay in Nymfaio
My two recommendations would have to be Argyro Guesthouse and La Moara. Both offer fantastic service, cosy rooms, and are in a great location.
Kastoria is another of the best places to visit in the West Macedonia region of Greece. This town played a pivotal role in the fur and leather industry, but today, it’s a popular spot in terms of tourism.
This is partly due to its beautiful location, set along Lake Kastoria (also known as Lake Orestiada). In my opinion, it’s one of the most scenic lakes in Greece and there’s no better way to appreciate its beauty than by walking along the lakeshore.
I’d also highly recommend driving along Lake Kastoria until you reach the Holy Monastery of the Virgin Mary Mavriotissa.
To make the most of your trip, explore the Doltso neighbourhood too (the Old Town).
A highlight of any trip to Kastoria is this fantastic viewpoint. From here, you’ll be treated to epic vistas of the lake and surrounding landscapes making it a must-visit.
Where to eat in Kastoria
My two favourite dining spots in Kastoria are The House of Parea and Palia and Poli. Here, you can try a variety of tasty traditional Greek dishes.
Where to stay in Kastoria
I’d suggest staying at Enastron View Hotel Kastoria which boasts cosy rooms, many of which offer a private balcony and panoramic views of Kastoria Lake.
Next up is Prespa Lake, another popular place to visit in West Macedonia. It’s spread across three different countries (Albania, Greece, and North Macedonia) and is a superb place to include on your itinerary.
The best way to explore is by heading out on a boat trip from the town of Psarades. I absolutely loved this experience, as it offers a great way to appreciate the area’s beauty.
My favourite part of this boat trip was getting to see the lake’s historic settlements, some of which date back to the 12/13th century. There are also paintings that date back to around this time, and these are extremely well-preserved.
Other popular activities at Prespa Lake include kayaking, hiking, biking, and paragliding so there’s something for everyone.
Within Little Prespa lake is the island of Agios Achilleios. This is a popular bird-watching spot and is known for the Dalmatian pelican migration. Another attraction on this island is the basilica ruins, which were built to house the remains of Saint Achillios.
Where to eat in Prespa Lake
My top pick would have to be the Fish Tavern. This place offers a variety of authentic seafood dishes and there are plenty of tasty options.
West Macedonia is full of charming places to visit but no trip here is complete without heading to Florina. This town is known for its natural beauty as is within easy reach of six different lakes.
Florina runs along the Sakoulevas River and walking along the riverfront offers a great way to appreciate the town’s architecture, as well as its relaxed atmosphere.
Just a 30-minute drive from Florina is Naomidis Pepper Farm. This place was another highlight of my trip as the owner Petros is extremely passionate. On my visit, I got to learn all about the growing process when it comes to Florina Peppers, as well as pick some myself. Better yet, I was able to try some of the peppers and take some home with me.
There’s a lot to do in the area, so I’d highly recommend just taking your time to explore the town and its surroundings.
Where to stay in Florina
I’d suggest The Lynx Mountain Resort as this place offers excellent spa facilities, an on-site restaurant, and a bar with an expensive wine collection.
Pindos National Park
Finally, there’s Pindos National Park. Covering an impressive area of nearly 200,000 hectares, this park boasts a variety of landscapes including lakes, forests, and rivers.
Pindos National Park is very biodiverse too as it’s home to around a third of the country’s flora, as well as plenty of animal species. This includes bears, otters, and chamois.
For the best experience, I’d recommend heading on a 4×4 tour which is what I did. The tour will take you along this road, which is known for its dramatic scenery. Trust me, you won’t even remember that you’re in Greece.
Another popular activity is truffle hunting, which is run by Greek Adventure. During this activity, the guide will use specifically trained dogs to sniff out the mushrooms, which you’ll then enjoy over lunch (the meal will even be cooked by a chef).
If you’re still not convinced, then Greek Adventure also offers a zip-lining activity. There’s even the option to head out whitewater rafting nearby!
Not to mention, there are some great backcountry trails around if you’ve got some extra time. Mt Smolikas is one of the most popular routes. At 2637 metres high, it’s the second-tallest mountain in Greece.
There are so many fascinating places to visit in West Macedonia, but these destinations are my favourites. Each one has something unique to offer, from stunning natural landscapes to incredible architecture, and I can guarantee that you’ll have an amazing time exploring each one!