We have mentioned several times that the journey to Thassos and Kavala is faster and better through Bulgaria. You can enter Greece from Bulgaria through several border crossings, and we have written about them in our previous articles, which we have listed at the end of this text.

In this article, we want to present to you a route that is suitable for those who love nature and want to see something new, who are not in a hurry and want to enjoy every segment of the journey. In fact, one of the options for the return from Thassos that you can try is to return through Bulgaria and the border crossing of Promahonas/Kulata, but then shortly after entering Bulgaria, go to the Zlatarevo (Petrich)/Novo Selo border crossing and re-enter North Macedonia.

Why would you take this route?

This route is shorter in terms of mileage (Keramoti to Tabanovce via Novo Selo is 385 km, compared to Keramoti to Tabanovce via Gevgelija, which is 422 km), but in practice, it takes longer to drive because it involves driving on highways through Bulgaria and partially through North Macedonia. So, the time it takes to enter Serbia from Keramoti is longer, due to slower driving, by about 35 minutes. From Keramoti to Tabanovce via Gevgelija, it takes 4 hours and 37 minutes, while via Promahonas and Novo Selo to Tabanovce, it takes 5 hours and 12 minutes.

Every trip to Greece and back can be very interesting because you can see interesting places in Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Serbia. But if you are bored with the standard route and driving only on the highway, here is an interesting suggestion for you.

Interesting places to visit on the way back from Thassos

So, you are returning from Thassos and heading to the Promahonas/Kulata border crossing.
On the way to the border, you can take a break in the town of Serres, which is quite large and affordable, and refresh yourself. Near Serres, there is a beautiful monastery called the Holy Monastery of Saint John the Forerunner, situated above a canyon and surrounded by incredibly beautiful nature. To reach this monastery (there are several monasteries in the vicinity of Serres), you can search for “Holy Monastery of Saint John the Forerunner at Serres” or in Greek, “Ιερά Μονή Τιμίου Προδρόμου Σερρών” on Google. Although the monastery is only about 10 kilometers away from the town, the road to it is winding (and beautiful), so it takes about 20 minutes. Also, note that the monastery is open from 8 am to 2 pm, and then again from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Just to be sure, you can call and check the opening hours on the day of your trip at +302321074544.

One place we always visit for lunch is the Oasi restaurant in the village of Neo Petritsi, and we highly recommend you to stop by as well. This village is very close to the highway and has several excellent restaurants. The Oasi restaurant is located by a small river, in a dense forest and thick shade. The restaurant has great food and a large menu, and most Greeks stop by to try buffalo meat specialties, although all their dishes are excellent. The portions are generous, and the prices are much lower than in resorts. While a Greek salad in restaurants on Thassos costs 8-9€, in this restaurant, it costs only 2.80€! You can find the restaurant on Google Maps if you search for “Oasis Restaurant Petritsi” or in Greek “Οαση Πετρίτσι.”.
After the meal, you’ll be served a delicious dessert on the house, but what’s most beautiful is the ambiance, the sound of the river, the springs, the shade, the clean and fragrant forest air. There is also private parking available, as well as a small playground for children. We truly enjoy this place.
We must note that during the summer months, all tables may be occupied, especially on weekends between 1 PM and 4 PM Greek time. If you happen to pass by during that time, it’s best to make a reservation in advance. Also, please be aware that the kitchen operates from 11:30 AM Greek time (10:30 AM Serbian time) until 11 PM in the evening Greek time.
For those who enjoy walking, there are several walking trails available from here, and you can also take a trip to the waterfalls, which are about a ten-minute drive from the restaurant.

To see what else you can visit in Greece on this part of the journey to the Promahonas border crossing, please refer to our earlier texts listed below this one.

We have decided that our next stop will be upon entering Macedonia, so we did not make any other stops in Greece and Bulgaria. However, you can visit the Alistrati Cave or the Roupel Memorial Park (please pay attention to the park’s opening hours).

When entering Bulgaria, drive towards the Zlatarevo/Novo Selo border crossing. Take the good main road, and if you enjoy beautiful nature, you will enjoy the view of the Bjelasica mountain ranges, forests, meadows, and fields with greenhouses. Upon entering North Macedonia, we recommend making a new stop at the Lebedovo ezero (Swan Lake) complex, which is a 10-minute drive from the border. In this complex, there is accommodation with a restaurant (we haven’t tried the food), as well as two small lakes with swans, geese, and ducks. There are also other animals around the lake, such as deer, roe deer, various poultry species, horses, donkeys, and sheep. This break will be interesting for children as well. There are also two small playgrounds.
Taking a walk around this complex will be a pleasant break, especially if you are traveling with children.

If you’re in good shape, you can also visit the nearby beautiful and large waterfall, which is reached by a rather challenging forest trail that stretches for a few kilometers. We didn’t inquire about accommodation options at the Lebedovo ezero complex, but we believe it could be a good choice. We stayed in Strumica, which is a slightly larger town, as we wanted to explore that area as well. It is a half-hour drive from Lebedovo ezero.

The best choice for accommodation in Strumica is the Villa Park Strumica hotel because it is located in a truly large and beautiful park. In front of the hotel, there is a large playground, a café, a restaurant, and a spacious and well-maintained park full of shade. This park was a truly pleasant surprise for us. Near the park, there is also a large public swimming pool (no entrance fee).
We couldn’t find a family room in this hotel, so we looked for accommodation in the city. There are studios and apartments with prices ranging from €35 to €110 per night (in May). Prices are likely slightly higher during the peak season. We booked an excellent apartment in the town center with private parking for €70 per night. The apartment is spacious, with three bedrooms for four people, a large living room, and a terrace. It is fully equipped, and we felt at home. It’s truly a pleasant place to stay for a night or a longer visit. The phone number of the apartment owner is +38978811118.

Otherwise, the town of Strumica is larger than we expected, with a big square and promenade, bike paths, so it left us with a very pleasant memory. In the evening, we were hungry and tired, so the owner of the apartment ordered food for us from a restaurant. Prices in restaurants and in the city, in general, are reasonable, and we truly enjoyed both the walks and our stay.

Our next break was in Kumanovo, at a pleasant restaurant in Kumanovo Spa. The restaurant is called Stone Revolution. It’s a nice place with a children’s playground, but it’s not a mandatory stop, rather if you get hungry or want to take a break before entering Serbia. The food is good, kids can have some fun, and parents can take a break from the journey. They have good barbecue, roasted suckling pig, excellent pizzas, and delicious pastry called furnarinke.

If you’re tired of taking the same route to Thassos and want to explore new areas, we recommend this scenic route full of natural beauty.

Check out the following texts that cover different travel options to Greece and back via Bulgaria. There are so many great routes that it’s difficult for us to choose the best one.
By car to Thassos and back
How to get to Thassos
Thassos Via Bulgaria
Lodging on the way to Greece
Journey to Greece via Bulgaria
Road to Greece via Vlasina Lake and Bulgaria
Travel to Thassos and Kavala via Bansko and Drama
Kerkini Lake
Rila Monastery Bulgaria

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