At an altitude of 1,350m, Nymfaio is a sight for sore eyes. A Macedonian village located in a stunning natural landscape on the ridge of Mt Vernon (also known as Vitsi), it is like a setting from a fairy tale. An aristocratic, restored traditional settlement (protected by the culture ministry) it is one of the best winter holiday destinations in Greece.
Here, you’ll stay in stately homes furnished with handmade furniture, revel in fine wine and delicious local delicacies, wander the streets of the village and explore the trails in the beech tree forest. You’ll meet the bears that live in the Arcturos environmental protection centre, the only one of its kind in Greece. Just a few kilometres away is Florina, a city with a special ambience and immortalised in the films of the famous Greek director Theo Angelopoulos. Whatever season you choose to visit, this beautiful mountain nymph will charm you.
What to do in Nymfaio
Nymfaio: The rebirth of a famous village
Nymfaio, or Neveska as its founders called it, was once one of the richest and most prosperous Vlach villages in Macedonia. In 1980, a few of their noted descendants began reviving their village, which had become abandoned over the past 30 years. Today, the restored grand mansions, the commanding Nikeios School of 1927, and the old churches and charming streets, are once again open to guests. The village welcomes them like an aristocrat.
Stately guesthouses: a fairy tale stay
A popular winter destination, Nymfaio knows how to create a dreamy, fairy tale setting. Fireplaces, halls with high ceilings, embroidered rugs, dreamy canopy beds, antiques, porcelain dinnerware and elegant furniture: Nymfaio’s guesthouses will remind you of the grand mansions of the 1930s. You’ll enjoy your coffee and breakfast of fresh, local produce, in the stone courtyards overflowing with flowers and in the warm, cosy living rooms by the fire.
Traditional flavours of Macedonia
The old kafenia (traditional coffee shops), have been converted to intimate bistros, perfect for an afternoon coffee, pastry or snack. Traditional stone tavernas serve delicious trahanosoupa (rustic soup), meat, game, pasta and pies. Delicious red wines will accompany your lunch or dinner served by the fireplace, while outside the snowflakes fall, transforming the village’s neighbourhoods into an idyllic Christmas scene.
Arcturos: A bear sanctuary
Former circus bears that couldn’t adjust to their natural habitat, and bears that were living in inhumane conditions, were finally given a refuge in 1993. The Arcturos Environmental Centre created a mountain sanctuary for them above Nymfaio. Get to know the beautiful brown bears up close.
Just a stone’s throw from Nymfaio, you’ll find Florina, another popular winter destination in Macedonia. This city stands out for its atmosphere, its landscape split in two by the Sakouleva River, and the majestic mountains that surround it. It also stands out for its hospitable locals and opulent architecture. The neighbourhood along the river, with its aristocratic homes, was the social and commercial centre of the city until the mid-19th century.
Hidden gems of Nymfaio
Museum of Gold and Silversmithery
Nymfaio was famous for its goldsmiths and silversmiths and, here, collections of their work and tools are on display.
Stroll along the lakes
A few kilometres from Nymfaio you’ll find the beautiful lakes of Zazari and Heimaditida, some of the most beautiful in Macedonia. Some 141 species of birds and 150 plants types have been recorded here.
Trek into the beech tree forest that surrounds Nymfaio and breathe in the mountain air. At Zazari Lake you’ll test your strength with canoeing and kayaking, mountain biking, horseback riding and rock climbing.