Sacred spaces and secluded beaches; discover a sublime Mediterranean coastline feathering out from mainland Greece on Halkidiki holidays
Stepping out onto creamy white beaches and listening to the sound of waves at the edge of the Aegean Sea, holidays to Halkidiki put you in the middle of a glittering Greek adventure. At plush hotels you’ll find everything from Michelin-starred chefs to luxury yacht charter while the region’s naturally beautiful environment spoils you with burnt red mountains, ancient stone villages, turquoise seas and footprint-free emerald hills.
We love holidays to Halkidiki for those stunning stretches of award winning Blue Flag sands and the intriguing blend of history and mythological status. Plunge into Petralona Cave where there’s proof of human life existing 700,000 years ago, snorkel among stone ruins taken over by water centuries before and set sail from the Sithonia peninsula, fittingly named after the son of Poseidon, god of the sea.
You’ll find tiny beachfront tavernas serving up traditional Greek mezze and gourmet seafood restaurants where dishes come with a side of sublime views. In Kassandra, bars shine bright into the night while in Sithonia there’s a more tranquil, unspoilt atmosphere. You could spend your whole holiday skimming from honey-coloured beach to solitary white-sand cove searching out the best snorkelling spots and watching wild dolphins brush the waters; equally, you could question the law of physics in Aristotle’s Park and trace the southern peninsula by boat past the monastic state of Mount Athos (no women allowed) where sacred 5th-Century living monasteries still exist.
Expect incredible spots for sunbathing, sailing and diving, sweet forest-covered mountain peaks easily reached for sunset views and traditional cobblestoned fishing villages where colourful boats bring back catch of the day. If this is your kind of Grecian journey, pop into your local store and we’ll start planning your Halkidiki holiday.
Best time to visit Halkidiki & Thessaloniki
• 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 & Thessaloniki holiday highlights
The three peninsulas of Halkidiki are Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos. The most popular and most developed of the three ‘fingers’ is the westernmost, of Kassandra. This region is family-friendly with long, golden-sand beaches and lots of lively bars and restaurants along the shore. The challenging Koutsoupia-Siviri hike rewards with stunning ocean views and ancient ruins while the Bousoulas bird sanctuary hiking trail is home to over 180 species of birds including migrating mute swans and egrets. Discover charming stone houses in the picturesque village of Athitos and explore the coast’s secluded coves by boat or cruise to resorts such as Potidea and Porto Koufo.
Sithonia is the quieter middle peninsula, with a laid-back vibe and beautiful beaches on the east and west. Sarti is a windsurfing favourite and the coves of Kavourotipes and Karidi are a dream fro sunbathing. From the east coast you’ll have excellent views across the sea to Mount Athos. Interesting sights on the peninsula include the ancient city of Toroni, dating back to the 8th Century BC, and from here you can also snorkel among ruins.
The eastern Athos Peninsula is largely undeveloped and the beaches on the north coast are more popular with locals than tourists. Much of the peninsula belongs to the self-governed Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain – a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is 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. It’s possible to take a boat trip along the coastline to admire the monasteries of Mount Athos, most likely as close as you can get.
Hike the peaks of Mount Holomontas, Mount Itamos and Mount Stratoniko, go inside Petralona’s Cave to discover an impressive range of stalagmites and stalactites where some of the earliest human remains in Europe have been found and make the most of the many PADI diving sites available – Halkidiki is a renowned spot for divers.
Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, is known for its sociable atmosphere and incredible food – think traditional tavernas, gourmet restaurants, cool cocktail bars and lively clubs. It’s the gateway to Halkidiki and we recommend combining a stay here with one of Halkidiki’s beach resorts for the best of both worlds.
Where is Halkidiki?
Set just below the city of Thessaloniki and home to the longest single stretch of coastline in the country, Halkidiki has an unusual geography formed from three peninsulas (shaped like Poseidon’s trident) jutting out into the Aegean Sea in the north of Greece – Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos.
Car rental is a fantastic choice for getting around the larger region of Halkidiki and there are some beautiful roads to travel taking you to traditional fishing villages, tinier towns and stunning beaches. In the most central resorts taxis are readily available, boat trips can be taken from Ouranoupolis and Vourvourou to Mount Athos and there is a bus service to Thessaloniki.
Food and drink
In this region which rich in wine, herbs and dairy, you can expect to feast on delicious fresh cheeses, sweet honeys and amazing oils. Plush hotels house award-winning restaurants with menus overseen by Michelin-starred chefs and traditional villages are home to charming tavernas and seafood restaurants serving the catch of the day and local specialities. You’ll find eateries with spellbinding sea views, fine dining right on the beach and kid-friendly pizzerias and snack bars. At the Sani Resort, the annual Sani Gourmet Festival is a gastronomic celebration bringing some of the finest chefs around the world to the coastline for a few days in mid-May.