Relax on the beautiful peninsulas of Halkidiki
South of Thessaloniki in northern Greece, Halkidiki is home to some of the country’s best beaches. Take a trip here and you’ll also find rich produce, excellent local cuisine and a captivating history. Halkidiki is made up of three peninsulas that extend into the Aegean Sea. Said to be shaped like Poseidon’s trident, each is different in character and has its own appeal.
Best time to visit Halkidiki
• The climate is fundamentally Mediterranean with long hot sunny days often from April through to the end of September, and pleasant, warm evenings
• The water is warm until mid-November, however, the rainy season begins mid-October.
Halkidiki holiday highlights
The most popular and most developed of the three ‘fingers’, the western peninsula of Kassandra is family-friendly and has long, golden-sand beaches framed by emerald hills carpeted in wild flowers. Discover the region’s wild beauty on a number of walking and cycling paths through the forest. The challenging Koutsoupia-Siviri hike is rewarded with stunning views over the ocean and the chance to explore ancient ruins including a Roman villa. The Bousoulas bird sanctuary hiking trail is a relaxing walk with fantastic bird-watching opportunities – the area is home to over 180 species of bir ds including migrating mute swans and egrets. Other attractions on the peninsula include the picturesque village of Athitos which overlooks the Sithonia peninusla and is home to charming stone houses and cobblestone lanes. Explore the coast’s secluded coves by boat or cruise to other attractive resorts such as Potidea or Porto Koufo. Set in a 1000-acre ecological reserve on Kassandra’s west coast, overlooking Mount Olympus, the luxurious Sani Resort is home to four hotels. The elegant Sani Marina is dotted with yachts and there are a number of excellent restaurants, lively bars and chic boutiques.
Sithonia is the quieter middle peninsula, with a laid-back vibe and beautiful beaches on the east and west. From the east coast you’ll have excellent views across the sea to Mount Athos. The landscape is rugged and mountainous, dotted with tiny picturesque fishing villages and lesservisited beaches. Interesting sights on the peninsula include the ancient city of Toroni, dating back to the 8th Century BC.
The eastern Athos Peninsula is a fascinating region. It’s largely undeveloped and the beaches on the north coast are more popular with locals than tourists. But much of the peninsula belongs to the self-governed Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain – a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988 that’s home to 20 monasteries, the first of which was founded in 963 AD. Today, over 1500 monks from Greece and other Eastern Orthodox countries live in Athos. Known as the Garden of the Virgin after reported visions were sighted, women and children aren’t permitted to set foot on this holy territory – the Athos monks devote themselves to the Virgin Mary and she is the only female influence they must have. But hire a boat or join a sightseeing trip and you’ll be able to view the ancient monasteries – which perch dramatically on cliffsides and on top of rocky promontories – from the water. Mount Athos itself is said to be named after the giant who threw a giant rock at Zeus; he missed and it became the mountain. Local activities here include hiking, climbing, cycling and sea kayaking. Stay at the Eagles Palace on the north of the peninsula to discover all that this unique region has to offer.