Halkidiki

Halkidiki is a three-pronged peninsula near Thessaloniki 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.

You might like these

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

Latest Posts

  1. Stiff Fines in Greece for Covid-19 Carelessness

    Greek authorities have not only tightened measures aimed at restricting the spread of the deadly Covid-19, but are also slapping violators with steep fines for carelessness, Deputy Civil Protection Mi…

    Read More

  2. Negative Covid-19 Test Mandatory for Entry to Greece from Five Countries

    All travelers entering Greece from Sweden, Czech Republic, Belgium, Spain and The Netherlands as of August 17 will be obliged to present a negative molecular test result (PCR) for coronavirus (Covid-1…

    Read More

  3. The Greek 4: New Tourism Campaign Puts Spotlight on Four Aegean Islands

    The Greek Tourism Ministry and the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) on Monday announced the launch of a new campaign aimed to promote four islands of the Northeast Aegean: Lesvos, Chios, Sam…

    Read More

  4. Covid-19: Greece Cancels Thessaloniki Fair, Sets Curfew for Bars in Popular Destinations

    The Greek government on Monday decided to impose a series of new measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19), following an alarming surge in confirmed cases. Greece on Sunday saw a recor…

    Read More

  5. Greece Announces Urban Transport Network Upgrade

    More buses, increased frequency, and additional staff are the Greek transport ministry’s top priorities as part of an overhaul in mass transport, Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis announced recentl…

    Read More

  6. Covid-19: Greece Announces Changes for Travel Through Land Borders

    All travelers entering Greece’s land borders as of August 17 will be obliged to present a negative molecular test result (PCR) for coronavirus (Covid-19) conducted no more than 72 hours prior. The tes…

    Read More

  7. Covid-19: No Standing Customers Allowed in Bars and Clubs in Greece

    The Greek government has extended a ban on standing customers in all bars, clubs, live music venues, bar-restaurants and cafe-bars until August 31. The decision was announced on Friday by the General…

    Read More

  8. Travelers to Greece from Malta Must Have Negative Covid-19 Test

    All travelers entering Greece from an airport of Malta as of Wednesday, August 12, will be obliged to present a negative molecular test result (PCR) for coronavirus (Covid-19) upon arrival, according…

    Read More

  9. Covid-19 Restrictions Imposed on Greek Island of Poros

    Greek health authorities announced emergency restrictions on Friday for the Saronic island of Poros, some two hours outside Athens, after at least 30 people were found to be positive to the coronaviru…

    Read More

  10. US Urges Citizens to ‘Reconsider’ Travel to Greece Due to Covid-19

    The US State Department on Thursday issued a new advisory for Greece urging its citizens to reconsider plans for travel due to increasing cases of Covid-19. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is…

    Read More