Day 1: Kavala.
Welcome to Macedonia! We transfer from Thessaloniki airport to Kavala, a pretty city with a lot of character. It boasts a lively harbor and old relics, including an Ottoman era aqueduct and Byzantine fortress. The old Panagia section is a fascinating neighborhood with pastel colored houses hunched along narrow alleyways. An imaret from Ottoman days (a large building with 18 domes) is now a popular café and restaurant.
Day 2: Paranesti.
We bike in the fertile plains of the Nestos Valley, the foothills of the stately Rodopi Mountains near the Bulgarian border. Sunflower fields brighten the skies, amidst beech, spruce and black pines. The Rodopi Mountain region thrives with natural ecosystems, protected wildlife and extensive flora and fauna. Pedaling the backroads we encounter the pure local culture of this area located in isolated mountain villages. 20 km, 12 miles
Day 3: Paranesti.
Today we bicycle deep into the Rodopi Mountains, almost to the Bulgarian border, on pure and remote dirt roads. We are headed for the aptly named Virgin Forest. This area feels untouched by civilization and abounds with wild raptors, such as eagles, peregrines, buzzards and vultures. We encounter gorgeous cascades and lots of ascents. The Virgin Forest is one of Greece’s most treasured ecological sites, and mountain biking is the best way to approach this natural wilderness area. 50 km, 31 miles
Day 4: Stavropouli.
Tucked in between the Nestos River Delta and the Rodopi Mountains, the Nestos Gorge is simply exquisite biking territory, verdant and flush with flora. If you like birds, be on the look-out for golden orioles, spotted woodpeckers, swallows, sparrowhawks, and collared flycatchers. The villages en route are memorable, including Livera whose defunct train station was cleverly converted into a B&B. We cycle a circular route, returning back to Stavropouli at day’s end. 41 km, 25 miles.
Day 5: Komotini.
We have a short ride to allow for a rest day in picturesque Xanthi, a city of red-tiled roofs famous for its nuts and sweets. The old section has beautifully preserved stately mansions from the 19th century. Many of the buildings are Turkish with the characteristic feature of overhanging wooden enclosed extensions. Even the humbler homes are attractive since they are pastel colored and located in narrow, winding streets. Transfer to Komotini for dinner with live traditional music. 22 km, 13.5 miles
Day 6: Dadia.
Today we bike through a half dozen or so colorful Turkish minority villages dotting our route. Although Greek by legal boundaries, these settlements are pure Turkey in character. Turkish is spoken, Muslim minarets reach skyward and many of the women are covered. The culture you encounter is fascinating and memorable. The route, ascending as it does most of the day, is one of the more challenging rides of the tour. 45 km, 28 miles
Day 7: Alexandroupoli.
The Dadia Forest inside the northern Evros Valley is superb biking territory: great dirt roads amidst a protected wildlife refuge, soon to be a national park. We make our way to an observation post to get a good look at the local vultures. This region is hilly and forested with wild board, deer, wolves, jackals and even some bear. The scenery is intoxicating for any true naturalist, as mountain bikers tend to be. Our day ends in Alexandroupoli where we celebrate our great adventure in a harborside restaurant near the beaming lighthouse. 30 km, 18.5 miles
Day 8: Departure.
Also see tour packages in:
Europe Macedonia Outdoor: Land Rambler Bicycle Touring