Travellers lured automatically to Greece's islands and southern charms risk missing out on one of the country's most fascinating regions: Macedonia. Forever associated with Alexander the Great, it's littered with ancient cities, holy places and natural wonders that bridge the years between ourselves and the ancients who once revered them. And then there's Thessaloniki: Greece's second city, a cultural dynamo of ancient pedigree and the country's acknowledged gastronomic capital.
Traces of successive conquerors and cultures can be seen everywhere, from the Macedonian treasures of Pella and Vergina, to Thessaloniki's Roman fora and palaces, ubiquitous masterpieces of Byzantine church-building and the extravagant bath houses that arose during the centuries of Turkish power. Even deeper and older is Mt Olympus, a cloud-piercing wonder that makes perfect sense as the home of the gods. Add beaches, wineries, lakes and the ebullient culture of today, and you have a place not to be missed.