Porto Lagos is at the boundary between the prefectures of Xanthi and Rodopi, and specifically at the point where Lake Vistonida joins the Thracian Sea. At a place which combines the forest green with the blue of the Greek sea. The thicket, but also Vistonida Lake, which is a wetland of particular importance, provide a distinctive color and attract visitors’ interest. Next to Porto Lagos one can visit the monastery dependency of Agios Nikolas, a rare gem in the area, a place of calm and contemplation.
Together with Nestos River Delta, which extends on the west side, the lakes Vistonida and Ismarida compose the National Park of East Macedonia and Thrace.
Lake Vistonida which is the 4th largest lake in Greece with a total area of 45000 hectares approx. with maximum length of 12,5 km, maximum width 7km and average depth of 4 m.
The particular characteristic of the lake is that the water presents changes in salt content. The northern part of the lake has sweet water from the influx from three rivers: Kosynthos or Xanthi River, Kompsatos and Aspropotamos. The northern part of the lake has salt waters which come from the sea through three canals connected to the lake. In this way, the water of the lake gradually changes to brackish. The fact that salt content changes results in the diversity of the environmental conditions where various flora and fauna species prefer to live.
Vistonida is distinguished also for the biodiversity of its birdlife. In total, 260 kinds of birds have been recorded, of which 9 are rare or endangered worldwide
It is one of the largest wetlands internationally, protected by the Ramsar Convention, with tens of rare bird types attracting a large number of tourists with bird watching as a hobby. This is also the reason why the Nestos Delta and Vistonida Lake are included in EU special protection area for birds and in the Natura 2000 network.
In the area of the wetlands there are two areas with salt pans for salt extraction: one is on the north side of Porto Lagos, in the community of Nea Kessani, and the other one on the north side of the lagoon Alyki or Mesi, in Mesi community.
Around basins where the salt content of water is not big, plants grow that have adapted specifically to this adverse environment, salt resistant. In very salty basins only a tiny crustacean survives, Artemia salina.
Salt pans, although they are largely peculiar wetlands created by man, have a very great ecological value, mainly because they provide various important bird species with food and shelter.