A Guide to Xanthi, Greece

Xanthi is the town with the Thousand colors. This is how the locals characterize this beautiful town.

Also called the Lady and the noblewoman of Thrace, it has many exciting attractions for visitors to see. The most beautiful part is the old town. The old town of Xanthi is one of the largest traditional settlements in Greece.

It is amazing how the modern city combines the colorful old town. From the main square of Xanthi, visitors can walk toward the old town and notice the contrasts between the new and old. The narrow cobbled streets have distinctive and prominent architecture combining neoclassicism and Ottoman elements.

The buildings have certain specifications, and owners of houses in the old town have to follow specific construction laws to renovate or alter their homes.

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Visiting the City of Xanthi in Greece

History of Xanthi

Xanthi or Xanthia has been known since 879 AD. In the 13th and 14th centuries, it was the most important city in the area. On the hills surrounding the city are three monasteries, Pammegiston Taxiarchon, Panagia Archaggeliotissa, and Panagia Kalamou, built in the Byzantine era.

In the monasteries, manuscripts from the 12th century were found that were evidence of the oldest monasteries taken by the Bulgarians in 1913-1919. Towards the end of the 14th century, the Ottoman occupation began in Xanthi and southwestern Thrace.

A new center was made, Jenisea and Xanthi, called isketje, which Greek Christians inhabited. The evolution and development of the area in the 17th century were connected with tobacco cultivation.

During the 18th century, Genisea and Xanthi became famous worldwide because of their tobacco. In the 19th century, Porto Lagos was an export center for the rich agricultural production of the Jenisea plain.

In 1829 two large earthquakes destroyed Xanthi, which was rebuilt rapidly. In 1870 Jenisea burned down, and the administrative and commercial center moved to Xanthi. In 1912 it was occupied by the Bulgarians, and in 1913 it was liberated by the Greeks.

However, in 1913 with the Treaty of Bucharest, it was awarded to the Bulgarians. With the end of World War I on 4/10/1919, it was liberated by the Greeks. In World War II, in 1941, it was occupied by the Germans, who they hand it over to the Bulgarians. It was liberated in 1944, and in 1945 the official authorities were installed.

How to get to Xanthi

Xanthi is a 7-hour drive by car from Athens and a 2-hour drive from Thessaloniki. Buses from Athens can take up to 9 hours and from Thessaloniki around 3 hours.

Two airports serve Xanthi. The one is Kavala airport, which is in Chrysoupoli and is a 40 minutes drive. There are 1-2 flights a day from Athens in winter. But during the summer, there are quite a few flights from Germany, Austria, the UK, and other destinations.

Unfortunately, there are no buses that connect Xanthi to the airport. You can get a bus to Kavala and then from Kavala a bus to Xanthi, or you can get a taxi from the airport to Xanthi, which will cost around 35 euros.

The other airport is in Alexandroupoli, which is an hour’s drive. Alexandroupoli has more flights from Athens and during the summer from Crete and other destinations. You can get the local bus from the airport to the center of Alexandroupoli and then get the bus to Xanthi.

Where to Stay in Xanthi

Elisso Hotel is in the old town and offers amazing views and easy access everywhere. Also, it has parking, as it is not very easy to find parking spots during the weekend. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.

Z Palace is at the entrance of the city of Xanthi. It offers amazing rooms, parking, a swimming pool, and easy access everywhere. People usually walk from there to the city center, which is a 20 minutes walk. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.

Things to Do in Xanthi

Old town

As we mentioned above, it is a must to visit the old town. Mansions surround the cobbled streets, and their architecture will take your breath away. It is worth dedicating a whole morning to walking around the old city and having a coffee or brunch in one of the coffee shops.

Folklore and Historical Museum of Xanthi

While being in the old town, you can pay a visit to the Folklore and Historical museum. It is a small museum accommodated in an old traditional mansion. It exhibits local everyday life plus the rooms of the bourgeois family which owned the mansion initially.

Hadjidakis House

Manos Hadjidakis, the famous music composer, was born in Xanthi. The house is where he was born and lived in his early years. His house is now a center of exhibitions, and many concerts are taking place.

The building was built towards the end of the 18th century, and it has neoclassical elements and a bit of baroque. It said that the architect of the house was an Austrian. Another fantastic thing is that this house is located at the beginning of the old town and it could be your start of the tour.

The monasteries in Xanthi

Mountain Monastery of the Holy Trinity

Regarding the monasteries we mentioned before, the architecture and history are unique. Nature is amazing, and you will be able to see the city from above. The monasteries located on the hills surrounding Xanthi are worth a visit. You can hike; it will take around an hour to get there.

Avgo Mountain

Augo means egg in Greek, and locals call it this as it has an egg shape. If you love hiking and visiting Xanthi, you can hike to the Avgo mountain. The hike can take 2-3 hours; during the summer season, ensure you hike early in the morning as it will be too hot. When you reach the top, you will see the city from above.

Try local desserts

Kataifi - famous greek dessert

Of course, while in Xanthi, you must try the local desserts. Locals call them syrupy sweets, which come in different forms and stuffings. For example, you can try baklava, kataifi, seker pare, and many more.

Most of them have nuts inside, so make sure to ask before trying in case of any allergies. You can find them in all the patisseries in Xanthi, but the most traditional one is in the main square and is called Nea Hellas.

Try Karioka from Papaparaskeva

Karioka is a well-known dessert in Greece, but only a few know that it was first found in Xanthi from Papaparaskeva patisserie. Karioka is made from chocolate and walnuts; again, if you have any allergies better not to try it.


You can spend a day visiting Pomakoxoria, the mountain surrounding Xanthi. It takes around 45 minutes to 2 hours. Pomakoxoria is a complex of mountain villages with different names, but they are called this as Pomaks live there. Pomaks are descendants of native Orthodox Bulgarians and Paulicians.

They started to become Muslims from the Ottoman occupation. The language they speak is a combination of Bulgarian and Turkish. If you visit these villages, make sure you try traditional coffee and, of course, local food. They are friendly and welcoming tourists with many delicacies.

Livaditis Waterfall

This waterfall is a 1-hour drive from Xanthi and an hour’s hike. It is worth visiting all seasons, especially in cold winter. You will see the frozen waterfall, which is a unique and fantastic attraction.


Stavroupoli village is half an hour away from Xanthi. It is a traditional village, but the most fantastic thing is that in the middle of nature, you will see a train wagon, a coffee shop, and horses surrounding it. You can learn horse riding by the river, enjoy a cup of coffee in nature and let the kids play in the offered large garden.


Pilima is a Pomak village only 15 minutes away from Xanthi. To get there, you cross an old stone bridge over the river, which is unique. Pilima has an excellent tavern where you can try traditional Turkish food in magnificent nature and mountains.


Avdira was founded in 656 BC by Minor Asia refugees and then re-founded by the Persians in 500 BC. It is of archaeological importance as many ruins were found. You can visit the archaeological site and the museum to learn the history of this amazing city.


Mirodato Beach

If you visit Xanthi during the summer, you can take advantage of the beaches nearby. You can visit Agios Giannis beach, Mirodato Beach, Maggana Beach, Mandra Beach and Avdira Beach. Almost all of them have facilities with sunbeds, canteens, and many more. The distance is between 20-40 minutes drive.

Nestos River

Nestos River

Nestos River is 20 minutes away from Xanthi and is located in the villages of Galani and Toxotes. You can do activities such as canoe, kayak, zip line, and many more. There is a canteen where you can grab a coffee or later in the evening you can order a pizza and drink. Also, you can camp there for the night and experience this place’s quietness.

Old Town Festival

In the first week of September, locals organize a big festival in the Old Town where people can order food, and drink, dance to traditional Greek music, and listen to famous Greek singers’ concerts. This is a way to celebrate the end of the summer season and welcome autumn. Traditional food is served, and the Old Town is full of people until late at night.


Xanthi’s Carnival is one of the biggest in Greece. It takes place the Sunday before Clean Monday, so it has no regular date. For around two weeks lots of concerts are taking place with many people becoming masqueraders.

The last weekend before Clean Monday is the largest masquerade parade. The one is on a Saturday night and the other on Sunday. Thousands of people are visiting Xanthi for this festival, and of course, you cannot move by car.

Everybody dances and walks around the streets, even if the weather is unpleasant. If you want to experience a big three days party, the Carnival season is the best to come and visit Xanthi.

Saturday Pazari

Saturday Pazari in Xanthi is the biggest one in Thrace. It is an attraction as you can find all sorts of fruits and vegetables, clothes, shoes, house decorations and anything else you can imagine. Also, you can get local delicacies such as pickles, olives, desserts, and many more.

Agion Nikolaos Monastery

Agion Nikolaos Monastery

The monastery of Agios Nikolaos is a member of the Vatopedi monastery of Mount Athos. It is built on two small islands in the lagoon of Porto Lagos, while it is connected to the mainland by a wooden bridge and has a small guest house. It attracts many visitors annually who can witness the fantastic views of the Thracian Sea. Also, this place during the spring season is full of pink flamingos.

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