“Olive Hill” in the countryside of Kavala is your chance to discover a corner of Greece which despite the proximity of grand sandy beaches and splendid nature, has barely registered on the tourist map. Cake designer Marianthi Kalaitzi (of Marianthi’s Kitchen) moved away from Athens after her daughter was born, to end up in Eleftheres, a small village in the hills of Kavala. While she keeps on enchanting whoever crosses her path with her sugar artistry, she has also become a part-time organic farmer. She bought a small property on the hillside overlooking the village, where she built her home, created vegetable gardens, planted fruit trees, and let chickens roam. The land came with a dilapidated 19th century house, which she restored and turned into two holiday apartments. With new tiled floors and modern windows and doors it has lost some of its original charm, but great care to detail and some artistic touches make up for that. Furnished in a combination of (mostly) new and (some) old pieces, both apartments have a fresh, relaxed feeling. Double beds have superb mattresses and are made up with hand-embroidered linens, and bathrooms, with marble washing basins recovered from an old Turkish bath, are beautiful. If you are into cooking, book the top-floor Almond Suite, which has a top-notch kitchen. The ground-floor Olive Suite is fitted with a smaller kitchenette.
Decoration with charm, but no frills, a super comfy bed to sleep in, a garden with organic fruits and veggies, peace, quiet and views, the kind of place that makes me happy!
There is not much in terms of entertainment in the village, and the nearest beach is seven km away, so unless you don’t feel like moving during your holidays (or if you are a hard-core walker), you need a car.
Two suites (apartments really…): one for up to four persons (the Almond Suite) and one for up to six persons (the Olive Suite), each with a double bedroom and a convertible (double) sofa in the living room. The Olive Suite has an extra single bed (convertible into a double) in the bedroom.
Prices for two persons normally from 90 Euro per night, taxes included, but low season discounts apply. Breakfast (including organic, gluten- and lactose-free options) is optional and not included in the price. For a full overview of room rates, please contact Marianthi.
En-suite bathroom (shower)
Television with DVD/CD player
WiFi and Bluetooth speakers
Kitchen or kitchenette Nespresso machine and capsules
Organic garden (seasonal)
You can ask for a breakfast hamper to start your day with and you will be spoiled with organic homemade products including fresh bread, brioche, free-range eggs, biscuits, jams, preserves, traditional pies and other freshly baked treats. Marianthi is also happy to prepare lunch, snacks and dinner for her guests, but you need to ask her in advance. Otherwise, the suites are self-catering so you can also prepare your own meals.If you feel like doing some serious cooking, ask for the Almond Suite, which has a large, and fully equipped kitchen. The Olive Suite has a more basic kitchenette, where you can prepare a simple meal. You will find complimentary tea, coffee, organic herbs, home-baked sweets and fruits in your suite. For eating out, there is a simple but good quality souvlaki restaurant in the village, and Marianthi can give you recommendations for tavernas and restaurants in the area.
Children are welcome at Olive Hill, which indeed is a nice and relaxed place for family holidays. Your kids will enjoy the garden and the safe environment for playing. Keep in mind that there is separate bedroom for your little ones; there is an extra single bed (convertible into a double) in the bedroom of the Olive Suite and both suites have a (double) foldout sofa bed in the living room. If you are travelling with a baby, you don’t need to worry about a travel cot. Marianthi will provide you with one and its bed linen at a small extra cost per day. (Babysitting can also be arranged.) The area is great for family activities: there are lots of possibilities for beautiful walks; sandy beaches are only a ten-minute drive away, and the town of Kavala, especially the historical quarters, is worth exploring.
Drive only a few km to beautiful sandy beaches, there are many. The Ammolofoi beach, a series of three beaches really, is famous, and for good reason: the combination of dunes, soft sand and crystal-clear shallow waters is spectacular. The western and middle beaches have beach bars, music, loungers & umbrellas, fun if that is your kind of thing, while the eastern beach sticks to the perfect basics of sand & sea, and it is a lot quieter. For water sports (scuba diving, sailing, wind surfing…) head to the beach of Iraklitsa.
The region is famous for its wine production, so why not visit a few wineries? Several estates offer tours of the vineyards, production areas and wine cellars, and will let you taste their wines. A great opportunity to pick up a few bottles to enjoy back at the Olive Hill, and I imagine they can organise to ship wine home for you as well. Two of my favourite labels come from the area: Biblia Chora (near Kokkinichori, 35 km away) and Nico Lazaridi (near Agora, in Drama, 50 km away).
Walking and hiking
Put on your walking shoes and explore the countryside. A network of narrow country lanes, dirt roads and paths take you through hills, mountains and vineyards. I don’t think there are marked walking routes, so ask Marianthi where the walking is best.
The town of Kavala, the “Mecca of tobacco”, is barely half an hour by car. Go for a stroll in the historical quarters and look out for centuries old Macedonian houses, churches, mosques and tobacco houses and go up the acropolis for some stunning views. There are several small museums worth visiting: the Tobacco Museum, the Archaeological Museum of Kavala, Maritime Museum and the House of Muhammad Ali. Also visit the impeccably restored Halil Bey Mosque. Through glass floors, you can see the ruins of the Byzantine church found beneath the foundations of the mosque.
The archaeological site of Philippi
Make an excursion to the ancient city and theatre of Philippi (perhaps in combination with a visit to the winery estate of Nico Lazaridi). In the summer, you can catch a concert or a play. The theatre performances are in Greek but even if you don’t understand the language, if you read up on the play beforehand, to see a classical play performed an ancient theatre is a mesmerising experience.
Olive Hill enjoys a quiet setting on the outskirts of the village of Eleftheres in Kavala in northern Greece. It is a location that in a way offers the best of two worlds. You get the calm and the traditional feel of the Greek countryside – Greece for tourists seems far away – while at the same time the coast is within easy reach (a ten-minute drive) and the nearby beaches are amazing.
From the highway between Thessaloniki and Kavala, take exit 29 (towards Agios Andreas) and turn right in the direction of Eleftheres. Follow the main road through the village. About 100 m after you pass the church on your left, turn right into a narrow lane. Follow it uphill almost to the end. Immediately after a sharp turn to the right, you will see Olive Hill on your left.