Kaimaktsalan: Visit the 3rd largest mountain in Greece

Ski Center in Kaimaktsalan

Baths, snow and scenic walks on the slopes of a winter mountain

They say every mountain has its own story, which couldn't be more true for Kaimaktsalan. Also known as Voras, the third largest mountain in Greece after Olympus and Smolika, it has evolved into a dynamic environment that perfectly combines natural beauty with unforgettable travel experiences for every taste and preference.

Starting from the foothills of Kaimaktsalan, one finds the famous Pozar Baths. Also known as the Baths of Aridaia or simply Pozari in the local dialect, the bath is essentially a set of geothermal springs that is about 13 kilometres from the current town of Aridaia and is famous for the benefits  the thermal springs provides for the body.

Loutra Pozar/Photo: Alexandros Avramidis
Loutra Pozar/Photo: Alexandros Avramidis

Having been officially declared thermal baths in the distant 1920, the baths, with an average temperature of 37 degrees, developed very quickly into a promising semi-organised spa town that, from the 80s onwards, became a dynamic pole of attraction for tourists looking for thermal experiences in unknown corners of Greece.

With the medically proven beneficial effect of their waters against various ailments, Loutra Pozar has been officially certified by the Ministry of Tourism while offering several indoor and outdoor pools, private or family, aspiring to be one of Greece's most crucial spa tourism destinations.

Loutra Pozar/Photo: Nikos Kokkas
Loutra Pozar/Photo: Nikos Kokkas

Of course, if you're looking for a little more fun in the snow this time, you only have to head west and uphill to the Ski Center in Kaimaktsalan, a stone's throw from the border with North Macedonia.

The ski resort, at an altitude of 2,524 metres, is one of the most visited and popular ski resorts in Northern Greece, and every time it opens even a little, it is filled with people from the surrounding areas who run to the mountain tops to enjoy endless fun in the snow and the cold.

Remember that starting from Kaimaktsalan, you can organise a mini ski tour to the Three-Five Wells in Naoussa and thus get a good taste of the skiing experience in Northern Greece.

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Photo: Alexandros Avramidis
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Kaimaktsalan Ski Resort

Equally interesting is that at a short distance from the ski slope and after about 30 minutes of careful ascent, there is the Serbian monument to the fall of the First World War.

The small church of Prophet Ilias with the very characteristic pointed domes, the like of which we rarely find in the Greek area, was built in 1916 as a memorial to the fallen dedicated to the soldiers who lost their lives in the bloody battles between Serbia and Bulgaria.

It is worth noting that the church, which even the slightest snowfall makes sure to give it unusual designs and patterns, is actually dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, but it is usually mistakenly considered as the church of the Prophet Elias, since in Greece most mountain chapels are dedicated to him.

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Small church of Prophet Elias in Kaimaktsalan
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The monument to the fallen Serbs, with Prophet Ilias towering over the peak of Vora

Leaving behind the Ski Center in Kaimaktsalan, a stop is also required at Paleo Agios Athanasios, which allows you to enjoy traditional food and hot coffee, while if your time allows, you can stay in one of the village guesthouses.

Having been declared a traditional settlement in 1992, Paleos Agios Athanasios was created sometime in 1800 by evicted Epirotian refugees while it began to be deserted during the 80s due to earthquakes that threatened the stability of the settlement.

Today, the settlement has come back to life thanks to the nearby ski resort and is the ideal solution for a short and pleasant winter getaway.

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Old Agios Athanasios
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Old Agios Athanasios

Of course, it goes without saying that a stop here should definitely include a good taste of the local gastronomy. Hot peppers, fresh meats and local handmade sausages should definitely be at the top of your list and will certainly not leave your culinary demands unsatisfied.

If the cold does not whet your appetite and you prefer something lighter, you can simply enjoy a hot drink next to a lit fireplace, a breath of the frozen village air.

Yianni Koutroudi is a columnist for Travel.

READ MORE: Nymfaio – A Charming Village in Northern Greece That Resembles a Fairy Tale.

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