With hotel prices rising by 30-50 percent compared to last year, Halkidiki has become a pricey holiday destination. In 2018, finding cheap accommodation in Sithonia was far from easy. In fact, there were no double rooms below 50 euros at all. While looking for where to stay in Halkidiki Sithonia we found out that some Read More
Loved by thousands of local and international tourists, Halkidiki boasts unrivalled beauty and charm. The natural landscape of the peninsula is a combination of lush, green hills; sandy beaches and incredibly clear water. Compared to the bare and rocky Cyclades, this land in Northеrn Greece is far more beautiful. As a person who has had more than twenty summer vacations in Mediterranean during the last decade, I am convinced that Halkidiki is by far one of the most beautiful places in Greece. It is an excellent choice for a relaxing summer vacation. The place is less known than the Greek Islands but the region benefits from being less visited than the crowded summer destinations. Its calm and tranquility atmosphere make it perfect for a holiday.
The Halkidiki hotels range from luxurious complexes with golf courses and modern facilities to romantic traditional lodgings and guest houses.
Location, Geography and Climate
Halkidiki or Chalkidiki peninsula is a region with more that 300 miles (500 km) of pine-fringed coastline. This is the Greek province with one of the longest coastlines. Halkidiki has an area of almost 3,000 sq.km and a population of less them 100,000 inhabitants. The capital city of the region is Polygyros.
The map of the area looks like a paw with 3 toes on it – Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos.It is located 150 km from the main city of the Central Macedonia – Thessaloniki. The peninsula is surrounded by the waters of the Aegean Sea (White Sea). It stretches out below the northern mainland.
Halkidiki is a one hour drive from the Thessaloniki Airport. The first leg – Kassandra, is a 50 minutes drive from the city; the second part is farther – up to 1,5 hours by car and the third is 2 hours far from Thessaloniki. There is a daily bus service from Halkidiki to Thessaloniki.
The coast features varied landforms and views – wild rocks by the sea, pristine bays, secluded beaches, little harbours, vineyards and olive grooves.
The peninsula has a micro-climate with a great number of sunny days a year. Local people say that they have up to 310 days of sunshine throughout the year. The tourist season starts in mid-April, depending on the Easter dates and ends in mid-October. There are few resorts that can be booked all-year round. The water gets warm enough for swimming at the end of June.
Halkidiki and its first finger were often mentioned in the ancient Greek mythology. The name Kassandra means a woman who sees the future.
The first of the three fingers is the most developed and organised with luxurious hotels and vibrant nightlife. Kassandra is the most populated of the three parts.The villages are sitting on a hillside with pine forests and olive grooves.
Taking the road from Thessaloniki, the first city you come to, is Nea Moudania. On the east-coast are located Kalithea, Kriopigi, Nea Fokea and Haniotis. Here you can find small guest houses and huge hotel complexes. Most resorts have a wide variety of amenities-traditional Greek taverns, bars and recreation facilities. You can rent scooters or bikes, or have windsurfs lessons on the beach. This side of the peninsula is a home of Byzantine arquitecture complexes and churches. The most interesting place on the Kassandra’s east coast is Afitos which features traditional stone-built houses and narrow streets. Here you can experience lively atmosphere and nightlife.
On the west-coast of the peninsula is the luxurious Sani resort. The complex includes 4 or 5 star hotels with a variety of deluxe amenities.
Kassandra attracts tourists with its long, golden sand beaches and blue waters. From the three finger’s coasts, only here you can collect beautiful shells from the Aegean Sea.
The area between Kassandra and Sithonia is also developed with hotels, campings and harbours. The most popular places are Gerakini and Metamorfosi. Here, the color and transparency of the sea are not so good as the characteristics of the water along the coasts of the fingers. The Metamorfosi’s beach features reddish shades.
This part of the peninsula received its name from Sithon, son of one of the Olympian god Poseidon.
The middle finger is less populated. Without being over touristy, it is perfect for a romantic vacation for families with children. Here you can find uncrowded hideaways where you can enjoy peace and quietness. There are many idyllic beaches with perfectly clear waters.
On the Sithonia’s west coast are Nikiti, Neos Marmaras, Porto Carras, and Porto Koufo. The blue and emerald water of the Aegean Sea is lapping the sandy beaches. There are secluded places that look like pieces of paradise. The best beach on the west-side of Sithonia is in Porto Koufo.
In the high season and especially in the weekends, even Sithonia’s beaches look crowded with people from Thessaloniki and other cities in the area.
On the southern tip of the peninsula is the spectacular place Kalamitsi. It features a mix of tempting emerald water, fine sand and lush vegetation. There are three bays in the area, all surrounded by beautiful rocks. The middle beach is a public zone, partly organised. In the area, there are a few taverns, guest houses and a mini market. The bay on the right side is occupied by a camping. There is not a road infrastructure to the third beach in Kalamitsi. You can get there with a boat or through a path across the hills. This hidden beach is a place for nudists and people camping in tents.
The east-coast of Sithonia is more windy than the West part. The main resorts on this part are Sikia, Sarti and Vourvourou. The best beach is Karidi, which is 2 km south of Vourvourou. It features rare beauty. The combination of shallow, emerald blue water and granite rocks scattered around the coast, reminds of the exotic beauty of the islands in the Indian Ocean such as the Seychelles and Similans. On this coast you can find hidden sandy bays sheltered by sandy dunes – a landscape of rare beauty!
The name “Athos” stands for a Giant in Greek mythology who threw the mountain at the Gods during a battle. The third finger is not a classic summer vacation spot but a natural and cultural attraction. The Mount Athos is a home of more than 2,500 Orthodox monks. Women are not allowed here. For that reason, it is often called the “the monastic republic”.
The atmosphere of the third finger appeals to nature lovers and tourists seeking an insight to different cultures. Athos is probably the most serene of the three parts of the peninsula. The high mountain slopes are covered with pine forests.
After the 9th century, the greatest part of this land became a possession of the monasteries. The Holly Mountain is in the list of the international cultural heritage. Like the Vatican, this spiritual center of Christianity has its own capital and government. Men can visit and stay at Athos with a special permit that can be obtained from the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs or from the Holy Mount Athos Pilgrims’ bureau.
Otherwise, you can explore the Athos coast and nature by boat. There are daily tours from the town of Ouranoupolis.
What To Do In Halkidiki
Each of the three parts of the peninsula have their own character. Thanks to the variety of landscapes and atmosphere, Halkidiki offers opportunities to enjoy both nature and modern tourist activities. There is something for every taste – golf, tennis, sailing, scuba diving, yachting, mountain climbing, trekking and fishing. You can also visit archaeological sites with thousands years of history. Among them are the Petralona cave, the ancient city of Olynthus, and Christian basilicas. When in Halkidiki, you can visit the shopping mecca – the city of Thessaloniki. You can also explore the islet of Amouliani which is north-east from the peninsula.
Thousands of holidaymakers choose to spend their summer vacations in Halkidiki. Read the travel impressions about specific sites on the peninsula to know how to choose the best accommodation and beach for your stay in Greece.
Boat Trip to Diaporos Island
The least known place on Halkidiki features astonishingly pure beauty. The archipelago of Diaporos islands is one of the last unexploited areas of the peninsula. It is accessible by boat from Vourvourou.
The best way to explore the island on a private tour. In July 2018, we spent a whole day on a boat. We rented a vessel boasting 30Hp. The price for 4 persons was 70 euros which was much more than previous years. We also paid 24€ for fuel. Still it was a memorable trip! We had so much fun swimming the blue lagoon.
The Disporos island can be compared to Similan Islands in Thailand. With its majestic stones, white sand and emerald waters this place is the most beautiful in Halkidiki. The island is inhabited. There are no toilets or other services such as cantina for food and beverages. So it is a good idea to pack in advance a box with water and snacks. For a lunch,
you can easily reach many restaurants on the East coast of Sithonia. Our favorite eatery is Paris restaurant, located in Vourvourou.
We stayed at Stamos Hotel, Afitos in April 2017 for 5 days. We chose this small lovely lodging because of the affordable price and nice-looking photos of the pool area. We do not regret our choice because Stamos hotel is a good place to explore the beaches of Kassandra, Halkidiki. It looks like the hotel Read More
Probably the oldest hotel on the island of Ammouliani, the Agionissi Resort is still the biggest settlement for the tourists. The hotel Agionissi is set on a picturesque hill overlooking the bay of Mt.Athos. All the buildings are surrounded by rich vegetation – olive trees as well as Mediterranean flowers and plants. The hotel is Read More
The tiny island of Ammouliani has recently became a tourist hotspot. It attracts people who are looking for a pristine and idyllic destination for their summer vacation. Perfectly clear water, easy access with a 15-minute ferryboat trip and the inhabited islands on the south are the main reasons for tourists to come here. Yet one Read More
On August 2016, we spent eight beautiful days at Hotel Archontiko on the Greek island of Ammouliani. We choose it by accident. Judging by the pictures on their website, there was no indication that we would feel as if at home. Moreover, we felt as a part of the owners’ family! The accommodation is run Read More
Vourvourou is on the eastern side of the peninsula of Sithonia, Greece. It boasts a Seychelles-like natural landscape mainly because of the majestic stones that are plunged into the emerald waters of the Aegean Sea. Vourvourou is a holiday gateway for people who need peace and quietness. If you are looking for a lively place Read More
The southernmost part of the Peninsula of Sithonia boasts fine sand beaches, clear waters and intriguing landscape. Kalamitsi is a family-friendly destination. The secluded resort is far from the festive crowds typical for Neos Marmaras. This romantic gateway is tiny and small and you never have to walk too far to have a dinner or Read More
Neos Marmaras could hardly be called a cosmopolitan town but compared to other villages on the peninsula of Sithonia, Halkidiki this place is vibrant and lively. Location Neos Marmaras is situated on the middle part of the peninsula of Halkidiki, 105 km from the second largest city in Greece – Thessaloniki. The landscape combines sea Read More
Porto Carras Resort has been built in mid-70s to attract luxury travelers. In general, the surrounding area of Sithonia, Halkidiki is mainly visited by tourists looking for privacy and relaxation. There are two hotels as well as tennis, golf and basketball facilities. The area features a vineyard and olive trees forest. One of the finest yacht ports in Greece is located in Porto Carras. Read More
Located on the west coast of Sithonia, Halkidiki, Athena Pallas Village is perched on a small hillside overlooking the crystal clear waters of the Aegean Sea. The hotel is surrounded by lush Mediterranean vegetation featuring a vibrant palette of the local flowers and the green color of the pine trees. The resort has modern sports, fun and spa facilities. The hotel is a great option for an all-year round vacation in Greece. Read More