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Halkidiki Travel Guide



ladies on Sarti beach contemplating the Athos peninsula, Halkidiki, Greece

Local ladies on Sarti beach contemplating what goes on in Greece's Athos peninsula, from which women are prohibited.


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Visiting Halkidiki

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 Sithonia.


Sarti beach cafe, Sithonia, Halkidiki, Greece

Sarti beach.

Sithonia Downsides

- 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 east.

- 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.



Halkidiki weather

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.


Sithonia Cycling

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 policing attitudes...)
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.


Where to go in Sithonia, Halkidiki

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.


East Side


Sarti beach and town overview, Sithonia, Halkidiki, Greece

Sarti beach and town view, Sithonia.

***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 degrees of magnificent views to the front and a good cluster of bars, shops and restaurants in the rear.

Accommodation is an excellent selection of Greeck 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 the town.


A beachside tourist apartment (domatio), Sithonia, Halkidiki, Greece

A beachside tourist apartment (domatio), pity about the cables! Sithonia, Halkidiki.


The sand here is generally coarse and the sea - fanned by a steady breeze - can be choppy, but experienced travellers who are in the mood for the perfect beach will simply jump on their scooters and head off for the day.

Others will enjoy the views across to Mt Athos and stroll to the far south end of Sarti's beach where there are mini dunes and finer sand. Tourists in Halkidiki tend to be Germans, Scandinavians and Bulgarians, though locals can make a good stab at English.


Sarti town wide view, Sithonia, Halkidiki, Greece

Sarti town, Sithonia.

Block of new domatia (apartments) designed for foreigners, have been constructed facing Mt Athos and only 5 metres from the beach. Like much of Greece, Sarti is growing, with smart new domatia appearing regularly, and one suspects, little old cottages disappearing just as regularly.

Domatia are well equipped, very clean, with balconies overlooking the beach and a useful little kitchen. Twenty metres away in the street behind are grocer stores, restaurants and bars.


Sarti night scene, Sithonia, Halkidiki, Greece

A quiet and familiar night on Sarti's main street in the evening.



Halkidiki,  Kalamitsi beach, Greece

Kalamitsi beach, Sithonia.

***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.


Kalamitsi beach signs,  Halkidiki, Greece

Kalamitsi beach, Sithonia.

Just about as far as you can get in Sithonia without becoming amphibious (160 kms/100 miles from Thessaloniki), tiny Kalamitsi village is very, very quiet, and has a large soft, sheltered beach. This beach would suit couples or families who like a less-than-wild night life but a quality beach experience - though forget watersports.

New development is under construction and we hope that it's restrained enough not to spoil the tranquility of this little known spot.

Bugbog's choice of beach place in the peninsula would be Kalamitsi or Sarti.


Karydi beach, Halkidiki, Greece

Kavourotrypes Beach.

***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.


One of Vourvourou's little beaches.

**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.


West Side

*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.

**Lagomandra also 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 of facilities.

***Toroni has 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.



Campers who enjoy primitive conditions will be happy in the pine woods of eastern Sithonia, Halkildiki, where the views are sensational and the beaches sublime.

Official camp sites these are not, so facilities such as running water do no exist. Thus some wheels would be useful for travelling to and from local grocer stores and moving location when the endless blue becomes tiresome.

This area is called Kavourotrypes, and it's a series of charming little coves about 15km north of Sarti. They are not signposted so just dive into the pines just north of the big official camp site nearby.


The road down the Sithonia peninsula from Sarti, Halkidiki, Greece

The road south down the Sithonia peninsula from Sarti. A biker's best, even if it is a mini motor.


The Sithonia peninsula is a fine destination for independent travellers, particularly motorcyclists as roads are heavenly curved and empty but in addition to the usual gravel-rash caveat also beware honeybee-meets-eyeball situations when moving at speed without eye protection, the region seems to have a thriving bee industry.




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