Caverns & Caves
The Greeks consider that there is no better place on Earth than Halkidiki. Moreover, millions of travelers share their admiration
Halkidiki is a combo of three picturesque peninsulas, each of which has its unique nature. If you take a look at the map, you will notice that it has the shape of the Trident of Poseidon. While speaking of Halkidiki, the Greeks often call it this way. The constituent peninsulas are situated in the following order: Kassandra, Sithonia, and Athos.
The ancient history of the peninsula found its reflection in Greek mythology. Thus, one of the legends says that Mount Athos appeared after the giant Athos threw a huge stone into the sea. Sithonia was named after one of the sons of Poseidon, Sithon. The artifacts found in the area evidence about the presence of people since ancient times here, including the settlements and remains of the first residents of the European continent.
Halkidiki was the home for many developed cities: Sani, Toroni, Dion, Sarti, and Apollonia. It was an active participant of the Peloponnesian and Persian Wars and a member of the Athenian Union. Halkidiki was the part of the Macedonian state, ruled by Philip II. It experienced the influence of the Roman Empire.
The X century brought a significant twist into the history of Halkidiki. It was the time when people built the first Orthodox monastery in its area. Later, this place became the home for the only autonomous monastic republic in the world, Mount Athos.
Halkidiki, as well as the majority of Greek territories, was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire for several centuries. It gained freedom and become the part of independent Greece only in the early XX century thanks to the bravery of the rebels.
It took several decades for people to build roads between the remotest territories and develop the region into an attractive travel destination. At present, both the locals and guests of Greece like to recreate here. Halkidiki is a place where history, nature, and culture join, thereby turning the peninsula into the gem of Northern Greece.
Halkidiki has been a favorite resort destination for the Europeans. That is why you will not find it difficult to get there. Thessaloniki Airport “Macedonia” stands in the vicinity of the peninsula (depending on the remoteness of the resort – 30-90 minutes by car). It is the biggest gateway in Northern Greece, welcoming scheduled and charter flights from the EU countries, Russia, and Ukraine.
Upon arrival at Thessaloniki Airport, you should leave the terminal and catch the №79 bus. It runs to the IKEA bus stop. Here, you will need to make a change for the №36 bus, running to the bus station – KTEL Halkidikis. After that, you can buy the ticket for the bus that will deliver you to the required resort.
You can facilitate the task and reach the necessary resort in Halkidiki with comfort and without making changes. All you need to do is to book a transfer or rent a car.
People who are used to use car rental facilities never regret such a decision. Halkidiki with its numerous beaches, natural beauty, and a great diversity of resorts is an excellent place for independent trips. It is a sin to relax at the hotel or on the beach when Halkidiki has so much to offer you!
You can find the car rental offices at Thessaloniki Airport and all resort cities in the peninsula. You can also make a reservation for a vehicle online, and it will be served into the airport or the city you need.
If you do not like this option, you can use the bus service. In Halkidiki, it works well. All busses go back and forth between the resorts and link the peninsula with Thessaloniki. If you plan to take a short-distance trip (for example, to the nearby resort or the beach), you should better use a taxi or a bicycle.
All Halkidiki attractions can be divided into several categories:
There are many villages on the peninsula, which are situated at a distance from the coastline. Nevertheless, they are no less interesting for travelers. For example, Kassandria – the administrative center of Kassandra and one of the oldest cities that managed to preserve its historic heritage. During a visit to Kassandria, you can admire its early Christian arches, the old windmill, and take a look at the Folk Museum of Kassandria, attracting visitors with its diverse collection of household items.
Another city boasting a rich and eventful history is Polygyros. It is the capital of Halkidiki, impressing travelers with the picturesque old town and constructions of the Ottoman rule times. The Folklore Museum of Polygyros exhibits the ancient findings from all over the peninsula.
Halkidiki is that “ideal destination” which has it all for any type of traveler. It is a comfortable place for youth, fans of outdoor activities and excursions, and people who cannot imagine their lives without shopping.
You can find outdoor activities in Halkidiki without leaving the territory of your resort. Almost every beach (except for the most secluded ones) offers diving and windsurfing equipment rental facilities. The peninsula is an ideal place to go cycling, trekking, and hiking along the picturesque trails. Some of the resort cities (Neos Marmaras, Kriopigi, and Nea Moudania) also offer kart clubs.
Speaking of popular activities in Sithonia, one cannot miss noticing kayaking. Vourvourou is the best place for it: it has shallow waters and many small islands. You can learn more about Halkidiki by taking a horseback riding tour or a jeep safari through little-investigated nooks of the peninsula.
If you want to get profound knowledge about Greece, you should draw your attention to excursions. Halkidiki is a comfortable starting point for many tours. You can take a trip to Thessaloniki – the second biggest city in Greece with centuries-old heritage; legendary Meteora – the complex of monasteries sitting on the rocks; Vergina, Kastoria, and Dion.
Sea tours are especially exciting in Halkidiki. The routes are diverse: you can go on a cruise along the shores of Mount Athos, explore the beaches of Sithonia or discover the beautiful Ammouliani Island. Halkidiki offers its guests many pilgrimage tours to the shrines of Thessaloniki, Mount Athos, and mainland Greece.
The beaches are a visiting card of Halkidiki. It has wonderful options for all tastes. It has long sandy beaches and small pebbled ones, lively areas and tranquil harbors. Many of Halkidiki beaches are surrounded by luscious forests which lend peculiar enchantment to local landscapes.
Here are the best beaches in Halkidiki you cannot miss visiting:
There are over 70 beaches in Halkidiki in total. Thus, you will undoubtedly find the one to your taste.
Any peninsula of Halkidiki is a great match for a family vacation. Local beaches are clean and safe for children. The hotels offer special children’s menus and animators. There is also a great number of exciting excursions. You can take a one-day cruise and visit Aristotle Park in Stagira, Petralona Cave, have fun in Dinos Luna Park in Pefkohori, and take a glance in Thessaloniki, known for its zoo, aquarium, and amusement Magic Park.
Halkidiki is a popular holiday destination with youth: there are many bars, offering a diverse cocktail menu and loud beach parties. Kallithea in Kassandra is considered to be the center of Halkidiki nightlife – it is a place, where you can find the best entertainment in the summer. Apart from Kallithea, you can find the clubs in Polychrono and Pefkohori.
The best Greek DJs usually come to Nea Moudania. According to the standards of Halkidiki, it is a big city. In addition to clubs, it has many bars, cinemas, shopping centers, and concert halls. Regarding Sithonia, most of its clubs are situated in Neos Marmaras. It is arguably one of the posh and lively cities in the second “finger” of Halkidiki.
Halkidiki can hardly be compared to Athens or Thessaloniki when it comes to shopping. Nevertheless, the choice of goods here is impressive. You can buy almost everything on the peninsula: staring from fur-coats of the highest quality from Kastoria (most cities have specialized shipping centers) up to olive oil. There are many antique shops, leather goods, and jewelry stores, and traditional craft shops (textiles, ceramics, goods made of the olive tree, etc.).
Hanioti boasts a rich choice of cosmetics, while Nea Moudania and Sani attract visitors with brand clothes. Nikiti is best known for its honey of local production. You can do some excellent shopping in Afitos and Kallithea. You can also take a ride to Thessaloniki using the bus or a car – in addition to brand boutique shops, the northern capital of Greece has great plenty of shopping malls and outlets.
The summer months in Halkidiki are rich in events. Here are the festivals and celebrations which are worth a visit:
Although the name of Halkidiki stands for one joint territory, covering three peninsulas, one should mention that each of those constituent parts is different by nature. The resorts of the three peninsulas are different either.
The life in the first “finger,” Kassandra, never stops. It is a place, where you can find nightlife entertainment, excellent beach bars, plenty of shops, and lively beaches. Kallithea is all-in-one resort: it offers to relax on a terrific beach and a great diversity of facilities for entertainment beyond its area. For example, shopping and visiting the ruins of the ancient temple. Kallithea is the home for the most distinguishing night clubs in Halkidiki.
If you seek for beautiful panoramas and history on holidays, you should go to Afitos – a village that is often regarded as the “Kassandra’s balcony” due to spectacular views. Moreover, Afitos is also known for its old stone-made houses.
Perfect beaches and calm sea are found in Pefkochori – the resort, the air of which is full of pine-tree scents. There are almost no waves in Hanioti – a very popular resort city, which has shops and hotels for all tastes. If you prefer luxurious beaches with white sands and All-Inclusive services, you should go to Sani.
Sithonia offers a more relaxed and “homelike” ambiance. Sithonia apartment rental is a more popular variant than accommodation in hotels. The local atmosphere is more tranquil here, compared to Kassandra. The nature in Sithonia is no less beautiful than in the rest of the peninsula territories.
The fans of relaxation in the area of secluded nooks will certainly like the Vourvourou district with its exotic sandy bays, which have nothing in common with high waves and storms. If you want to combine excursions and beach recreation, you should go to Nikiti. If you want to experience Halkidiki nightlife – welcome to Neos Marmaras – the liveliest resort of Sithonia.
In the southeast of Sithonia, there is a lovely settlement of Porto Koufo – a place for travelers who seek for solitude. Porto Koufo is a perfect destination for gourmets, romantics, and families with children. The local sea is protected from waves. The taverns beckon visitors with mouthwatering fish dishes. The Porto Koufo sunsets can impress even the most experienced travelers.
Regarding Mount Athos, it has fewer resorts. All of them sit close to the monastic republic. Such a location guarantees a relaxed and tranquil atmosphere. The most popular resort in Mount Athos is Ouranoupolis. In addition to the picturesque beach, this place is known for its old Prosforio Tower.
In the vicinity of Ouranoupolis, there is the island of Ammouliani – a pleasant bonus for travelers who need more space than the mainland area can offer. Ammouliani attracts visitors with pristine beaches, family-run taverns, and the atmosphere of provincial Greece.
The choice of hotels in Halkidiki can please travelers with any requirements and budget. There are both large hotel complexes of famous Greek hotel chains and small apartments in the peninsula. Most large hotels are situated in Kassandra. Regarding Sithonia, travelers usually seek for apartments and 2-3-star hotels there.
The hotels of advanced level have everything for a terrific vacation without any exception – starting from SPA-centers, restaurants, and bars up to diving centers and tennis courts. If you do not need extra services but wish to heel “homelike,” then you should draw your attention to Halkidiki apartments for rent. Many flats by the sea can be rented for a long-term stay. This option is especially suitable for people who go on holiday with friends or as a big family.
Halkidiki cuisine includes the nest traditions of Greece and international gastronomy. There are authentic taverns, fashionable restaurants, fast food venues, pizzerias, coffee shops, and bars in the resort cities throughout Greece.
The pride of Halkidiki is local olives, which are used in different dishes. You can find them in a famous Greek Horiatiki Salad. Halkidiki olives are big and characterized by excellent gustatory qualities. People often stuff them (with almond, lime, and garlic) and serve as tapas, included in mezze.
The menu of coastal taverns in Halkidiki grounds on seafood and fresh fish dishes. People usually grill octopuses, calamari, and fish and serve with a slice of lemon and a salad made of fresh vegetables. Meat is cooked the same way: on a grill with spices, adding exceptional scents to the dish.
What else to try in Halkidiki? You should necessarily try traditional meatballs, tzatziki, moussaka, Beef Stifado, and gyros. How about some drinks? Of course, it is wine (home-made and from the best wineries), ouzo, and Retsina.
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