Where To Go In Halkidiki: An Overview Of The Best Places
With so many options, where should one go in Halkidiki?
Halkidiki peninsula is popular for its long sandy beaches and aquamarine waters, making it difficult to choose which are the best beaches among the many options. The peninsula is located south of Thessaloniki and consists of three smaller peninsulas; Kassandra, Sithonia, and Athos. The shape of it brings to mind the trident of God Poseidon in Greek Mythology. In this post, we will introduce you to the beauties that this land has to offer from archaeological places to picturesque villages and exotic beaches.
The distinctive characteristic of Halkidiki is landscape diversity. Whether you are a sea lover or a mountain lover, Halkidiki covers all the needs a visitor might have. From magical sandy beaches and cosmopolitan life to archaeological treasures and a unique cave, this place satisfies all your needs.
The First Leg – Kassandra
The Kassandra peninsula or the “first leg”, as it is called in Greek, is located just 90 km from the city center. Historically, Kassandra used to be named “Flegra”, which means a place of fire. According to Greek mythology, the area was home to giants and became a battleground during the era when they tried to banish the gods from Mt Olympus.
Kassandra is known for its nightlife. At Kallithea village, there are plenty of bars and nightclubs that will appeal to young visitors. The must-visit clubs are Angels Club, Pearl Club and if you are interested in getting familiar with the Greek music and way of having fun, then also visit Aqua Club.
Coming to the beaches, many cosmopolitan beach bars are offering you luxurious amenities, refreshing cocktails and crystal-clear waters. Paliouri offers stunning beaches like Xenia beach shore with clear pure water and thin sand. On the other side of the peninsula, do not miss Possidi beach, which is marked by an impressive lighthouse standing on the side of the beach. Sani resort stands just 45 km south of Polygyros, which is the capital of Halkidiki region. It combines pine forests, amazing beaches, and excellent tourist facilities. Extra points are given to the area since it also offers one of the best sunsets in the region.
If you are interested in arts and happen to be around Kassandra during July and August, you should visit the amphitheatre of Siviri, where the annual Kassandra festival takes place. The festival consists of concerts and theatrical plays with a great variety of content. Every year is extremely popular not just for the residents of Halkidiki but to the tourists as well, who want to discover Greek music and theatre productions.
The most convenient place to stay is Pefkohori village. It is located exactly in the middle of the peninsula, making it easy to explore the other villages. One of the best options for accommodation is Bungalow White Apartments. It is located high on a hillside, just a few kilometres above Pefkohori village, keeping away from the bustle of the crowded village. The view is breathtaking, with the sea expanding across the gulf and creating a beautiful contrast with the green of the pine forest that covers the land. Bungalow White is perfectly decorated in the minimalistic style, with a pool bar, which is rarely crowded allowing for private and relaxing moments, while the staff is more than happy to serve you.
The Second Leg – Sithonia
Leaving Kassandra behind, you are heading towards the Sithonia peninsula or the “second leg” of Halkidiki in the Greek language. Sithonia is not a tourist-popular destination, which makes it an even more beautiful and unspoiled place. If you are looking for a place to spend your vacation in peace without the hustle and bustle of a crowded place, this is your best option. Sithonia consists of family-friendly beaches with turquoise waters, and plenty of small caves to explore and enjoy. Also, the peninsula of Sithonia is the ideal place for camping lovers. There are many organized camping spots offering great facilities, which can feel quite similar to an all-inclusive vacation, like Kalamitsi Camping.
Having to list the best beaches in Sithonia is a really difficult job; all of them are stunning and picturesque. Beginning with Armenistis beach, which is located 65 km southeast of Poligiros, you will be amazed by the exotic waters that are usually described as being similar to a pool. The beach is organized, giving the appropriate convenience needed with sunbeds and refreshing beverages. The camping of Armenistis stands there and is one of the best camping spots in Greece. On the other hand, if you prefer more natural scenery with non-organized beaches, then you have to visit Kavourotrypes beach. This is a light sandy beach with numerous rocks. It is enclosed by refreshingly green trees and rocks that slide into the water and one of the most famous beaches in the second leg of Halkidiki. Initially, it used to be a nudist beach, though now no nudity is allowed (officially at least!).
Do not leave Sithonia without visiting Diaporos islet. It is right across Vourvourou village and you can reach it by renting a private boat or by paddling your own canoe to explore the several secluded caves surrounded by pine trees and sandy beaches. Diaporos is situated on a private bay and surrounded by natural forest. You will be faced with the astonishing pure beauty of the unspoiled coastline. There are many reefs where someone can snorkel in the crystal clear water. Although the islet is uninhabited, you will probably find many yachts and boats visiting the place.
The Third Leg – Mount Athos
The third peninsula of Halkidiki is Mount Athos peninsula. In Greek, it is called “Holy Mountain”. It is the spiritual capital of the Orthodox Christian world and it is listed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage Monuments. Since the Byzantine times, Mount Athos has enjoyed an autonomous status. The Monastic State of Holy Mountain is until nowadays a self-governed territory of the Greek State.
The magnificent peninsula has been the sole province of men dedicated to the worship of God and the Virgin for over a thousand years. In 885, the Byzantine emperor Basil I proclaimed it the exclusive domain of monks and hermits. In 963, the first organized monastery was founded. Later on, it was declared that “no smooth-faced person” be permitted to violate its sanctity. This prohibition is still enforced.
According to tradition, Virgin Mary and John the Evangelist encountered a stormy sea on their way to Cyprus and they were forced to seek shelter in a port at Mt Athos. Virgin Mary astonished by the beauty of the land, asked God to give her the mountain as a present. The Lord responded that “Lets this place be your lot, your garden and your paradise, as well as a salvation, a haven for those who seek salvation”. Since then Mount Athos has been called ” the garden of Virgin Mary” and no female is allowed to enter the place.
Nowadays the number of functioning monasteries are twenty with a population of approximately 1,700 monks. The monastic community is rich with ecclesiastical treasures, rare icons and libraries stocked with precious manuscripts. To visit the monasteries you have to have a special permit, but only if you are a male. For the females, the trip ends in Ouranoupolis city, where the ladies can go for a cruise around the extraordinary peninsula so they can admire it from a distance.
Are you interested in getting to know more about Greek religious inheritance? Then click here!
Apart from the imposing monastic community, the “third leg” of Halkidiki has more gems to discover. In Ierissos and Nea Roda villages, you will find fine vacation options, with clear water, sandy beaches, and relaxing resorts. These are the perfect option if you are looking for a family-friendly place to spend your holidays and relax.
From Tripiti village you can take the ferry and in just 10 minutes you will find yourself on Ammouliani island. This tiny island is characterized by a combination of fine, golden sand, aquamarine sea, vegetation, and giant rocks. It is ideal for both relaxation and all kinds of water sports.
Although Halkidiki is famous for having the best beaches, it is not only that. In the northern part of Halkidiki, there are places, of great archaeological significance and importance, that you must visit.
The first of them is the Cave of Petralona, which is one of the most impressive caves in Europe. The most important among the finds in the cave is a human skull, that of “Archanthropos”, which is believed to be over 700,000 years old – making it the oldest European. This shows that Halkidiki was inhabited since the Stone Age times. You can visit the inside of the majestic cave by boat and admire the stalactites and stalagmites as well as visit the museum next to the cave, where a large number of fossilized bones of different mammals are displayed.
Next on the list should be Stageira village. This is the place where Aristotle, one of the greatest philosophers, was born in 384 BC. You will be able to visit the remainings of an acropolis, fortifications, an ancient temple, and Classical and Hellenistic homes.
Halkidiki peninsula is a place with so many things to do, whatever your preferences are. We just made an introduction to this land, highlighting the best beaches in Halkidiki, the must-visit places and some extra historical tips.
- Your simple guide of where to go in Halkidiki is now complete. If you would like to add something on our list, please feel free to let us know below in the comments!
Hello! My name is Erilda Goga, but they all call me Eri and I am living in Thessaloniki, northern Greece. Although not my actual hometown, Greece has stolen my heart and made me feel like home for the past 20 years. I am a recent graduate of International and European Studies Department with interests in politics, human rights, books, and travelling. Travelling through Europe made me want to learn more about other cultures and more important made me appreciate even more the beauties of Greece.