Halkidiki

Halkidiki is a three-pronged peninsula near Thessaloniki in Macedonia in northern Greece, which comprises Mount Athos and the holiday resorts on Kassandra and Sithonia.

Halkidiki, GreeceHalkidiki

Most people think of Halkidikí as only the three peninsulas that dangle like fingers in the Aegean Sea, but there is in fact a fourth part of the area, northern Halkidikí, inland from the beach resorts on two of the peninsulas, and rather less visited. One of the most famous parts of the region is the eastern-most peninsula, on which stands Mount Athos and known throughout the world as the place where no females, human or animal, are allowed to set foot.

Halkidiki in GreeceHalkidiki

Kassandra

There could hardly be a greater contrast than with the beach resorts of the western-most peninsula, Kassándra, where the only difficulty in setting foot is finding somewhere to do so on the packed summer beaches. This is the place to head for if you want a lazy day in the sun followed by a lively time at night, particularly so in the north-western part of the area where the beach resorts merge into each other and eventually merge into the suburbs of Thessaloníki.

Mount Olympus Seen from the East Coast of KassandraMount Olympus Seen From The East Coast of Kassandra

The town of Néa Moudánia is the gateway to Kassándra, situated as it is at the narrow top of the peninsula, and most people head on through that gateway without stopping. The town is less attractive than resorts further south but does have all the facilities you might want and is the place from which boats depart for the Sporades islands and the Pelion peninsula. You can drive round Kassándra quite quickly to get a feel of the place, and there are resorts on both the east and west coasts, all of which are fairly similar though those on the east coast have good views across to the next peninsula, Sithonía.

Sithonia

Sithonia on HalkidikiSithonia

Sithonía is slightly quieter and rather more attractive, with more of the green hills that are also typical of the landscape of northern Halkidikí. The resorts are more spread out and more low-key, and again the east coast has the advantage of views across to the dramatic peninsula of Mount Athos. If you wish to take a boat trip to see the monasteries of Mount Athos then you can either go to Ouranópolis on the top of the Athos peninsula and catch one there, or get one from Órmos Panagía, the main town on the east coast of Sithonía.

Toroni on HalkidikiToroni

The better beaches tend to be towards the southern tip of Sithonía at small resorts such as Toróni and Aretés, while if you want all the comforts of a planned holiday complex you should head for Pórto Carrás, the largest such complex in Greece, spreading out behind a 10-km (6.2-mile) stretch of beach.

Northern Halkidiki

If busy resorts do not appeal to you then you should instead explore northern Halkidikí, where you will find beautiful wooded hills, some hill villages hardly touched by tourism, and plenty to see. A major attraction is the cave near the village of Petrálona, sometimes called the Petrálona Cave but more correctly known as the Kókkines Pétres, or Red Stones Cave.

This is one of the more interesting of the several show caves in Greece, as it was here that the oldest known object in Greece was found, a Neanderthal skull, which is thought to be anything up to 700,000 years old. The historical interest of the cave is illustrated by the use of reconstructed pre-historical scenes, which are quite effective in their natural setting.

Birthplace of Aristotle

A lovely winding road cuts through some of the best scenery in northern Halkidikí, with many temptations to stop on the way and take photographs. The road goes through the large village of Arnéa, an attractive place worth stopping off at in order to see some of its old houses and inspect the local carpets and crafts that are for sale.

Slightly further on is the smaller village of Stageíra, whose main claim to fame is that it was the birthplace of Aristotle (384-322 BC), commemorated with a marble statue on the edge of the village, on a hilltop which also provides good views. As well as being one of the greatest of the ancient Greek philosophers, Aristotle was also a tutor to Alexander the Great. Nearby is also the archaeological site of Ancient Stagira.

Mount Athos

Mount Athos MonasteryMount Athos Monastery

See our separate pages on Mount Athos and on Mount Athos Boat Trips.

Some other Macedonia pages

  • Thessaloniki

    The capital of Macedonia and Greece’s second city, Thessaloníki has a lovely situation by the water, a wealth of history, many good museums, and good food.

  • The Churches of Thessaloniki

    The churches of Thessaloniki are remarkable and include UNESCO World Heritage Monuments, Byzantine masterpieces, and a church dating from the 5th century.

  • Museums of Thessaloniki

    The Greek city of Thessaloniki in Macedonia has an array of wonderful museums and art galleries, and here's twelve of the best.

  • The Royal Tombs and Archaeological Site of Vergina in Macedonia

    The archaeological site of Vergina in Macedonia is famous for the royal tombs which were the burial place of King Philip II, father of Alexander the Great.

  • The Prespa Lakes in Northern Greece

    The Prespa Lakes in northwest Greece is one of the most beautiful parts of Greece with abundant wildlife and also many ancient churches.

  • Scenic Drives in Northern Greece

    Scenic Drives in Northern Greece, Ioannina, Meteora, Kastoria, Prespa Lakes

  • Philippi

    Philippi is an ancient archaeological site near Kavala in East Macedonia and Thrace and is famous for being the place where the apostle St Paul was imprisoned.

  • Kavala

    The city of Kavala in eastern Macedonia is the area's major seaport and the base for ferries to the islands of the North East Aegean, including Thasos.

  • The Site of Ancient Pella in Macedonia, Greece

    Pella in Macedonia is famous for its mosaics and was also the birthplace of both King Philip II and his son, Alexander the Great.

  • Northern Greece Guide

    The Bradt Guide to Northern Greece is a detailed guide to Thessaloniki, Halkidiki, Macedonia, Thrace, The Pelion, The Sporades and the rest of Northern Greece.

  • Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece

    Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece and is in the Mount Olympus National Park in Macedonia, with Litochoro being the best base.

  • Mount Athos

    Visiting Mount Athos in Greece requires a permit, but you can see the monasteries on a boat trip around the peninsula, known as the Monks' Republic.

  • Mount Athos Boat Trips

    Mount Athos boat trips are very popular with visitors to Halkidiki in Greece, as they are the only way most people get to see these spectacular monasteries.

  • Macedonia and Thrace

    Macedonia and Thrace are the regions in Greece where travelers will find Thessaloniki, Mount Athos monasteries, Halkidiki and sites like Dion and Pella.

  • Kastoria

    Kastoria is a lakeside town in West Macedonia which prospered with the fur trade and today has some handsome mansions, museums and many Byzantine churches.

  • Dion

    Dion is a rather wonderful archaeological site in Macedonia, not far from Thessaloniki, with an archaeological museum nearby in the town of Dion.

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