How can Halkidiki, a sensationally different part of mainland Greece, promise three amazing experiences in one holiday? Because it has a three-legged peninsula that juts into the Aegean Sea creating a wonderful 500-mile coastline and a trio of contrasting opportunities.
Halkidiki has breathtaking scenery, endless sandy beaches, rugged mountains, waterfalls, lakes, charming villages, castles, forests, monasteries and ancient sites. It also has stylish restaurants with international gourmet cuisine, five-star hotels, friendly tavernas, laid-back beach bars and the clear blue waters of the Aegean Sea. And historic, modern, lively Thessaloniki – Greece’s second-largest city isn’t far away.
Sithonia, the middle of the three legs, has pine-clad hills hiding secluded beaches and quaint villages oozing with old-fashioned Greek charm.
Mount Athos towers over the spiritual eastern leg, home to 20 monasteries and 1,400 monks and is the preserve of the Orthodox Church. Women were banned from going there more than 1,000 years ago, men need permission to visit, but everyone can enjoy seeing its rugged beauty.
Kassandria, the western leg, is so different. Great beaches, some buzzing with watersports, others tucked away in small coves.
Modern resorts such as Sani have a great choice of bars, restaurants, tavernas and shops. Traditional, busy Hanioti has tavernas around its square and a long beach. Atmospheric Afitos is a village with paved streets, stone-houses and a fishing harbour and white sandy beach at the bottom of the hill.
Great places for families and couples, for those who want to chill-out in a holiday hideaway and for those who want adventure. Halkidiki offers an amazing number of activities, all-kinds of watersports plus climbing, biking, riding and off-road driving.
Take a boat trip to enjoy the views or hire a car, take an excursion or catch a bus to discover the true Greek gem that is Halkidiki.
Where to stay in Halkidiki
Offers a beautiful untouched area with the crystal clear blue waters of Toroneos gulf - a world as natural as you will ever find it.
Hanioti's long strip of sandy beach with clear waters is one of the many Greek beaches to fly the coveted Blue Flag for purity.
Kalithea meaning 'good view' boasts beautiful sandy beaches and overlooks the crystal waters, out towards the middle peninsula.
The village of Kriopigi offers a selection of shops, bars and tavernas. The nightlife is low key, based around the local tavernas.
The area is characterised by an abundance of natural beauties such as evergreen trees, Itamos Mountain and many beautiful sandy beaches
A friendly resort set back in the pine-clad hills with numerous shops, bars and tavernas lining its main road and beach promenade.
Best Time to Visit Halkidiki
Celebrations come at the double on Halkidiki during July and August, with the Kassandra and Sani festivals of music and arts. Kassandra is set in a 3,500-seater amphitheatre at Siviri, and attracts leading Greek and international musicians, while Sani celebrates the arts on a hillside topped by an eight-metre 16th century tower.
Halkidiki Travel Advice
Bus: Buses are frequent, punctual and cheap although not always air-conditioned. The KTEL Bus service provides local links to numerous towns and villages on the Kassandra peninsular and Halkidiki as a whole, as well as longer distance journeys further inland to Thessaloniki and to the region's administrative capital, Polygyros.
Boat: In the Kassandra peninsular from Nea Moudania, there are speed boat itineraries during the summer to Thessaloniki and the Sporades.
Taxi: Even the smallest of villages in the Halkidiki region generally have one or two taxis, and of course the tourist areas have many more on offer. All taxis are on meter, but it might be a good idea to ask the driver for a rough idea of the price before you set off.
Car: An excellent way of getting around during Halkidiki holidays, car hire gives you complete flexibility as well as the ability to see more of the region.