Florina: The Gold Standard of Winter Vacations

If this week, and indeed this year, are anything to go by, we’re fairly certain you’ll want to follow our lead and get yourself acquainted with Greece’s lovely winter towns. And there are many. Especially up in the north of Greece. And if you ask us, Florina would be one of our top picks.

Sitting pretty on the crossroads of a magnificent fertile plain that is made up of 6 lakes, Florina is a veritable gem. Lakes Zazari, Vegoritida, Cheimaditida, Petron as well as Little and Big Prespa are an incredible sight to behold in their own right. These wetlands are a haven for migratory birds and are in fact designated Natura 2000 ecosystem with a protected status. The area is absolutely teeming with life. Two types of pelicans set up shop there, while the endangered pygmy cormorant also calls this place home. Several other types of avian life can be seen (bird spotting paradise is what we’ll call this, with 4 observatories in the area) as can brown bears and wolves.

In addition to all the wonderful animals that live there, the shores of the lakes are dotted with medieval churches and monasteries built by monks who craved a more serene way of life.

As well as having the opportunity to bird watch, canoe and paddle the lakes and all the accompanying activities that go with it such as hiking and biking, the real kicker is the Vigla ski center. With 10 ski slopes and all the necessary amenities, this would be reason enough to visit these parts. But chuck in the sum of its parts and you’d probably start thinking about buying a house.

The town itself is gorgeous. Like something out of a Hans Kristiansen novel, the grand neo classical mansions with stone cobbled streets and canal bridges transport you back to a simpler time. The city is small but cozy, fed by the river Sakoulevas. The architecture reflects the cultures that inhabited this place since it was first founded in 168 BC. Byzantines, Ottomans, Goths, Slavs and even Jews have left their mark here. But it was the rail service that really put Florina in the map towards the end of the 19th century and made it into the hub it is today.

Today, Florina is a thriving student town (with the best Art department in Greece) with character, a past and a future. It’s as pretty as it is interesting. With so many outdoor activities, this is the ideal winter getaway.

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