Thrace is a geographical area in the northeastern part of Greece. Formally known as the region of East Macedonia and Thrace, it is one of Greece's 13 administrative units. It is sometimes also referred to as Western Thrace in order to distinguish it from its northern and eastern parts, which lie in Bulgaria and Turkey. Thrace is divided into the regions of Rhodope, Thasos and Xanthi. The capital of Thrace is Komotini, and Alexandropolis is the city with the highest population.
Geographically and ethnically diverse, Thrace is a land of many contrasts. The borders and population of Thrace have changed many times during its long history, and this makes it a fascinating place to visit. Thrace was once a part of the Byzantine Empire, and it was later ruled by the Ottoman Turks. Today, Western Thrace has a majority of Greeks and a sizable minority of Turkish, Bulgarian and Roma residents. Still, many of the residents speak English, and they have a reputation of being friendly to tourists. On the northern border, the Rhodope Mountains offer skiing in the summer and hiking in the winter. On the southern border, there are several popular beaches along the Aegean Sea that attract a lot of tourists during the summer months.
Getting around Thrace is relatively easy because buses, cars and trains can travel almost anywhere. The Egnatia Odos Motorway cuts across Western Thrace and follows the path of the old Via Egnatia, which was a Roman military road. The ancient road is still visible today. Komotini is home to several different museums, and it also has a modern shopping center. Additionally, the Democritus University of Thrace is located there, and the city is also home to a large population of students. There are also various outdoor markets around the area that attract vacationers.
Many tourists enjoy cruising along the Evros River, which is home to a multitude of migrating storks, flamingos, swans and other exotic birds. Visitors to the Dadia Forest Reserve can view over 30 different types of predatory birds. Many of the birds are in danger of becoming extinct and find sanctuary in the forest. In the Nymfaia Forest, there are plenty of hiking and biking trails to explore, and this is another popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.