Visit Chalkidiki, green forests that stretch to the beach, golden sunlight reflected on the turquoise waters, a traditional style with a rich gastronomic and cultural heritage. Numerous coves, unique architectural sites, perfectly preserved Christian monuments and a host of unexplored treasures all add their own touch to the unique canvas that is Chalkidiki. The three green legs of Halkidiki reach out into the blue Aegean to create an intriguing travel destination!
From the west, Kassandra (the “First Leg”) is the most popular among overseas visitors. Its combination of splendid beaches, traditional villages, ample activities and modestly sized resorts is hard to resist. On a clear day you can see the myth-laden, 9,600ft Mount Olympus across the Gulf of Salonica. Separated from the mainland by a narrow isthmus, Kassandra is virtually an island. The shore has long beaches – but if you want to escape to Greece of yesteryear, head to Afytos. Built on a hill, the village has an outstanding view but it is among the cobbled lanes and traditional architecture that you will find its true character. With several quality taverns, it is a good place to taste traditional Greek dishes, including grilled octopus, feta cheese and souvlaki.
Halkidiki’s middle peninsula, Sithonia (the “Second Leg”), with its backbone of mountains and pine forests, has long been a magnet for Greek holidaymakers so it has a more authentic feel. Along the coast, sweeping beaches are interspersed by secret coves, and the east side has commanding vistas of Mount Athos, the third peninsula. Try getting up early to watch the sun rise behind its mountains – it is magical. Sithonia has a mix of sleepy little towns and more buzzing resorts, as well as pretty villages and the region’s only golf course. Take a short boat ride to the island of Diaporos to explore its many tiny bays with pale blue waters, or drive to the tip to admire one of the largest natural harbours in Greece at Porto Koufo, once used as a pirate hideout. Nearby Tristinika beach is another gem.
On another note, anyone who wants to truly feel the intensity of the Aegean and overdose on adrenaline, needs to devote a little time to some serious sea sports! Windsurfing, kitesurfing, diving, water skiing and many other sea sports and activities
are all available.
Visit Mount Athos
The most intriguing peninsula is Mount Athos, but it cannot be appreciated in the same manner as the other two. For more than 1,000 years it has been a refuge for monks, so only male visitors can only step foot on its hallowed soil, after being issued a special permit. Fortunately, the breath-taking landscapes and some of the 20 Orthodox monasteries can be seen from a boat trip. An amusing trip
can be made to Ammouliani, the island opposite, which has a friendly village and gorgeous beaches either side of its narrow “waist”.
Any visit to this part of Greece should include a day in Thessaloniki
. The city has a wealth of relics and ruins from Roman and Turkish as well as Greek periods of history, top notch shopping from flea markets to trendy boutiques and an array of restaurants serving delicious meze and fresh fish.
With over 300 days of sunshine throughout the year and 41 E.U. blue flag awards for the clean waters of its beaches - more than any other Greek region - it's obviously an excellent choice for a relaxing holiday.
Thessaloniki is the starting point for any trip to Chalkidiki.