Halkidiki, also known as Chalkidiki or Chalcidice or even Xalkidiki, is a rural fist striking out
into the north Aegean Sea with three fingers.
These fingers are, from the south, Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos respectively.
Access to all three is usually via Greece's second city, Thessaloniki,
an hour or three by bus on good roads, depending on the destination.
Kassandra (80km/50m from Thessaloniki) is the easiest to
get to and around, and has suffered package resort development overload
as a consequence. If you're a package person then Kassandra may
suit you, though it's more like a Phuket Patong than a Greece paradise.
Bugbog prefers the prettier, little developed finger of Sithonia (150km/94m from Thessaloniki),
with its quiet roads winding past glimpses of tiny, perfect turquoise
bays, endless pine trees and clusters of beehives.
More information below.
The last Halkidiki finger is Athos, with the lower part a
partly self-governing peninsular of 20 monasteries where there are
no hotels, all females except hens are prohibited and only 10 male
foreigners a day can get permits to enter.
The upper/western part of Athos has some good beaches that have
unfortunately been terminally infected by that loathsome disease
- packagus resortia.
Mount Athos, at over 2,000m high is clearly visible from much of
Mt Athos as seen from the Sithonian peninsula of Halkidiki, Greece
- German is, unusually for Greece,
the second language, not English. Even some signs are in German!
- Accommodation is limited, with almost
no big hotels, though extensive and attractive camping sites abound.
Many visitors stay in Domatia (apartments), which are well
equipped suites including a kitchenette, but no 24hour services,
food or drink provided. They are excellent value, comfortable, newish,
often with balcony and usually exist in villages where all supplies
can be bought nearby at a good price.
- Waves: The most attractive side of
the peninsula, the east, has steady breezes that often create choppy
waves - good for windsurfing, not so wonderful for toddlers or the
super-lazy, though there are some well protected beaches in the
- Night Action: Sithonia is not a wild
nights zone, except perhaps for the biggest town, Neos Marmara.
For club scenes better to try Halkidiki's first finger, Kassandra.
Best: May-June, September-mid October for sightseeing, though
the Aegean will be chilly for swimming till June.
Worst: mid July - August. Greece is over heated, overcrowded and suffers the random Meltemi wind, making sea travel wobbly
and beach use uncomfortable.
Mid October-February is the cold wet season.
Unlike most Greece islands, you may currently zoom around the serpentine
but excellent roads in Sithonia on a scooter, at any speed and without
a helmet. (We're not saying it's the law, it's more about local
Traffic is rare and the biggest hazard is getting a bumble bee in
the face at 50kph. Really. Beehives line many stretches of road,
so a cloth across the nose/mouth and sunglasses are useful, and
Bugbog would recommend inexperienced riders to wear helmets too.
to go in Sithonia:
Having your own transport in Halkidiki's Sithonia is a major
asset. The roads are uncluttered and gorgeous and the scattered
beaches have different characters that bear some investigation.
Rental transport is reasonably good value and very time efficient
so take a driving licence with you and keep your options open.
One of Sarti's older inhabitants
***Sarti, a small
attractive town that follows the curve of a large and picturesque
beach and peers up at Mount Athos across the water.
The sand is coarse and water a little choppy but both families and
couples seem content with 180† of magnificent views to the front
and a good cluster of bars, shops and restaurants in the rear.
Accommodation is an excellent selection of Greece's own Domatia built in tasteful, small apartment blocks.
One element that makes Sarti special is authentic, flower encumbered
Greek cottages, housing authentic old Greek people scattered around
Tourists in Halkidiki tend to be Germans, Scandinavians and Bulgarians,
though locals can make a good stab at English.
***Kalamitsi. In the
far south of Sithonia, past Sarti, is this tiny cluster of tavernas,
domatia and camping. The bay is attractive, the sand is softer and
whiter than Sarti and the area much less developed, but this means,
of course, that evening choice of eating/drinking / shopping is
extremely limited. Bugbog's choice of beach place in the peninsula
would be Kalamitsi or Sarti.
Kalamitsi beach, Halkidiki
***Kavourotrypes. For campers or folk
with wheels (scooters OK) and a yen to explore, the series of coves
north of Sarti are charming, totally undeveloped, calm and have
silky sand and clear blue water. They are unmarked in English, but
just north of a big campsite.
**Vourvourou. An odd collection of
domatia apartment blocks, hotels, guest houses and tavernas that do not make up a town, but do
provide comfortable accommodation, preferably for families. The
nearest beach, Karydi, is small but perfectly formed, with fine
sand backed by pine trees and no services.
*Neos Marmaras. The biggest, liveliest
town in Greece's Sithonia has a lot of accommodation and activities,
but is not very attractive, nor does it have especially good beaches.
*Agios Ionnis is
a long stretch of sand just after Nikiti. It's a little unkempt and
there are almost no facilities nearby, but the water's calm and clear
and the sand reasonably foot friendly.
has no accommodation nearby and the sand is very coarse, but this
is the place for watersports with a wide selection available.
*Porto Koufo shelters
in an appealing, enclosed bay at the south end of the peninsula. The
sand is fine but there isn't much of it, nor is there much choice
a couple of decent sized beaches with good sand and water, plenty
of domatia and tavernas to fulfil tourists's needs and a soul that
some other beaches lack.
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