Halkidiki, birthplace of Aristotle and home of Holy Mount Athos, is the three-fingered peninsula in Macedonia, where you can spend weeks on end exploring numerous fishing villages, countryside towns and a spectacular coastline with crystal clear beaches.
Just an hour’s drive from Thessaloniki, the best way to get there is hiring a vehicle and driving along the provincial road 25, which begins from Thessaloniki airport, leading south in the direction of Nea Moudania.
Cruising in your car allows you to stop off at all the remote villages that grab your attention and slowly introduce you to the rural nature, which gradually becomes prettier and prettier- until you hit the eastern coast and meet the amazing sea of Kassandra- the first ‘finger’ of Halkidiki’s peninsula.
Here is where most people choose to base themselves for the majority of their stay and from Kassandra you can easily make day trips to Sithonia- the ‘second’ finger, which is much quieter and offers a more relaxed feel. The beaches in Sithonia are stunning and if you are after a less crowded environment, this is the place for you to stay.
The ‘third’ finger is Athos- an untouched area more frequently visited by locals than tourists who come here for a spiritual journey and enlightenment. Here you can visit Ouranoupoli, a low-key village featuring the Pyrgos Prosfeirou, a museum exhibiting ancient and Byzantine artefacts- but for most people it is more about capturing the sights of Mount Athos.
Athos, the most holy peninsula of Halkidiki is made up of 24 monasteries, which can be viewed by sea on a coastal cruise along remarkable landscape. This is the only way for women to see the area, as men aged 18 and over are only permitted here and also need permission in advance to enter.
Halkidiki really is bursting with local traditions, culinary delights, historical monuments, spiritual sites, sea-based adventures and a buzzing nightlife, which guarantees a great getaway for all
WHERE TO STAY →
Blue Bay Hotel- Kassandra, Halkidiki
On the Kassandra Peninsula is an entrance to a hidden gem- the intimate Blue Bay Hotel with unrivalled views across the Aegean Sea. It offers spacious rooms, pools and is run by a local family.
Alexandrou Traditional Inn- Arnea, Halkidiki
In the foothills of Mount Holomontas Arnea is a well-preserved town where a gorgeous family home has been converted into a boutique guesthouse. Freshly baked bougatsa and cakes are served at breakfast.
Dana Beach Resort- Sithonia, Halkidiki
Tucked away in its own little pocket of golden beach and pine forest on Sithonia is a little treasure. It includes four restaurants, beach pavilions with double sunbeds and private bars.
Eagles Palace- Ouranoupolis, Athos
This resort is 4km from Mount Athos and was first built in the early 1970s and is camouflaged by palm and pine trees on a 1km sandy beach. Also offers watersports, art classes, and a sailing boat for tailor-made excursions.
Ekies All Senses Resort- Sithonia, Halkidiki
This boutique hotel is by far the stand out in Vourourou Bay, a sheltered beach where local taverns share the sunset and you can stroll out into the water for over 50m. It’s also toddler-friendly, as well as a convenient base for mountain biking and boat trips.
Skites- Ouranoupolis, Athos
Small and remote hotel of Skites in the shadow of Mount Athos, one of Greece’s most mystical mountains. There are simple rooms and homemade Greek dishes on offer. The hotel is set in pretty gardens and is across a dirt track from a pebble beach, where the water is clear.
Sani Resort- Kassandra
The family-run Sani Resort stretches across 1,000 acres, framed by the pine forests of the Kassandra peninsula and endless white sandy beaches. The award-winning luxury resort comprises of four hotels and a wealth of amenities that promise to keep the whole family entertained.
Giorgio Apartments- Kalithea, Kassandra
Set in the heart of Kalithea, these no-frill apartments are run by local man George Thomasoulis who is there for all his guests needs. The self-contained rooms include a small kitchenette and are a walk away from the local beach, taverns and shops. This is ideal for those who want to be in the heart of it all and are on a budget.
WHERE TO SWIM →
- Chrouso beach – Paliouri, Kassandra
- Kavourotripes & Orange beach – Sarti, Sithonia
- Posidi Lighthouse – Posidi, Kassandra
- Karydi beach – Vourvourou, Sithonia
- Kryaritsi beach – Sykia, Sithonia
- Kallikratia beach – West Halkidiki
- Alykes beach – Ammouliani
- Gerakini beach – Gerakini, Sithonia
- Trani Ammouda – Ormos Panagias, Sithonia
- Komitsa beach – Nea Roda, East Halkidiki
- Ammouliani Beach- Aristotelis
- Ouranoupolis Beach, Aristotelis
- Platinitsi Beach- Sithonia
- Bassoulas Beach- Kassandra
WHERE TO EAT →
Stamatis- Posidi, Kassandra
This waterfront fish tavern has served celebrities including Robert De Niro, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. It features a traditional menu with homemade meals combined with the best drop of local Greek wines.
Tomata- Sani Marina
Tomata combines the influences of classic Meditterranean flavours with a modern approach. Using only seasonal produce, guests can look forward to a taste of sun ripened local fruit and vegetables and locally sourced fish and free range meat. The result is a mouthwatering gastronomic journey through the local markets that also reflects Sani’s focus on local sustainability.
O Kritikos- Ouranoupolis
The amazing squid, stewed octopus, and steamed bass have been tasted by international celebrities. This award winning Psarotaverna (fish tavern) also features mouthwatering mezedakia, which can be enjoyed for lunch and dinner.
Sousourada- Afytos, Kassandra
This is an absolute ‘must visit’ tavern in Halkidiki- with seasonal food that is made with local produce by a passionate chef who creates culinary delights and a delicious menu that is filled with ‘must try’ dishes. You will definitely leave satisfied and wanting to go back for more.
Massalia- Nea Fokea, Kassandra
Massalia is located in the main square of Nea Fokea- take the exit off the main Halkidiki road towards town and simply ask for directions to the main square. Massalia is run by two Thessalonikian guys Niko and Yianni, who they spend their summers in Nea Fokea serving up classic Greek dishes with modern twists.
Explore Halkidiki on a Jeep safari through the hills of the Kassandra or Sithonia peninsula. You can also experience every kind of outdoor activity in Halkidiki, including hiking trails, horseback riding, or kayaking among the still waters of Sithonia. Sail the entire coastline on luxury ships, dive the deep waters or hit the many mountain biking trails of Olympiada on Athos, the birthplace of Aristotle.