Xanthi is the gateway to Thrace, and the most scenic town in the region. To Greeks, it has a mildly exotic reputation: its skyline is spiked with minarets, its food skews Eastern, and Turkish and Pomak (a dialect of Bulgarian) are spoken on the street. The old quarter showcases the grand homes of Ottoman-era tobacco barons, in various states of repair, while local university students bring life.
It's worth settling here for at least a couple of days, to explore the old town, as well as surrounding natural attractions. To the north, the inky-green Rhodopi Mountains rise to the Bulgarian border: go for forest hikes and thermal baths, and a glimpse of the Muslim Pomak culture in the villages. To the west, take a pretty walk along the Nestos River, or a kayak ride. South of Xanthi, the ports of Keramoti and Kavala have ferries to Thasos and other islands.