Here is all the Halkidiki travel advice that you need. We’ve got a list of things to do in Halkidiki, as well as top Halkidiki sites and tips for where to eat and sleep.
Three different peninsulas make up one of the most incredible areas in Greece. Situated in the Central Macedonia region, Halkidiki is a popular place for summer holidays on the mainland. You will also see it spelled “Chalkidiki.”
If you’re planning a Greek escape and would like to know more about Halkidiki, this guide will be useful to find out what to do in Halkidiki but also what are the best beaches you can visit, where is best to stay, and what are the best-rated restaurants in the area. Are you ready for the dreamy shores of Chalkidiki? Let’s go!
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Where Is Halkidiki, Greece
Considered one of the best tourist resorts in the country, Halkidiki is part of the Macedonia region. Halkidiki is formed by three different peninsulas or legs known by the names of
- Agios Oros
While the first two legs are fantastic destinations for a seaside holiday with stunning beaches and lush landscapes, the latter, Agios Oros is home to an important monastic estate that only men are allowed to visit (always with a previous request and permit).
Combining fantastic coastal resorts with incredible opportunities for outdoor activities, the area also offers a great base to explore nearby towns, including the second most important city in Greece, Thessaloniki, only 40 kilometers from Halkidiki.
The central area of the region is home to Polygros, the capital of Halkidiki. The southernmost peninsula or leg is Kassandra.
This is arguably the most developed area in Halkidiki when it comes to tourist infrastructure. Since it is the closest one to Thessaloniki, it attracts many weekend visitors, including hundreds of students.
The peninsula situated in the middle of the region, Sithonia, is a paradisiac destination if you prefer calmer holidays with plenty of outdoor adventure. Towards the north, the last peninsula is Agios Oros, housing the above-mentioned monastic community.
How To Get To Halkidiki – Chalkidiki Travel Info
The fastest way to get there is to fly to Thessaloniki and then reach Halkidiki by car or bus. Renting a car is a great choice if you explore the region’s different areas.
When To Visit Halkidiki Greece
As with most places in Greece, if you’re visiting for a beach holiday, the high season starts at the end of May and ends at the beginning of September. During this period, there are bigger crowds, and prices tend to be higher.
Spring and fall are always better options to enjoy a more tranquil holiday and save on accommodation. Winters tend to be quite cold in the area, and many resorts and hotels are closed during the coldest months of the year.
Best Things To Do In Halkidiki
There’s a lot to do in Halkidiki – you will find excellent beaches and incredible historical places, religious sites, and cultural activities to enjoy and discover.
Polygyros, The Capital Of Halkidiki
Situated on the slopes of Mount Holomontas, in the heart of the Halkidiki region, this is one of the most popular places to stay when spending time in the area.
Several hotels, rental homes, shops, restaurants, coffee shops, churches, and other attractions exist. Here, you can visit the Archaeological Museum and the Folklife Museum.
This resort town and port is an interesting area to discover in Halkidiki. It is located on the peninsula of Mount Athos and is home to traditional artisan shops, restaurants, and entertainment. The port also hosts one of the many Byzantine towers that you will find in Halkidiki.
The Ouranoupoli Byzantine Tower was built in 1344 and was a privileged observation point. It was specifically constructed to spot pirate ships and avoid possible sieges and attacks directed at the monks living at the Vatopediou Monastery.
The area surrounding Ouranoupoli is known for lush olive groves, olive oil production, and the top-quality honey made in the area. If local products are something you appreciate, then don’t miss a taste of the local wine either.
Mount Athos From The Sea
Most travelers cannot visit the UNESCO-listed site of Mount Athos or the monasteries and the religious community in this leg of Halkidiki; however, it is possible to spot the monasteries and the natural landscape from the coast by sailing on a Mount Athos cruise.
Long ago, monks gave official permission to ships that want to approach the coast for tourists to appreciate the area. Most daily cruises leave from the port in Ouranoupoli or the beach of Tani Ammonia (known as Ormos Panagias), and a trip lasts 3 to 5 hours.
For instance, this Mount Athos Sightseeing Glass-Bottom Boat Tour departs from Ouranoupoli, and the whole experience takes about 3-4 hours.
Nea Fokea Village
Nea Fokea is a town that was initially part of the monastic community of Mount Athos but offered as a gift to Greek refugees from Turkey (back in 1922 after the signature of the Laussane Treaty) and, with time, it grew to become a tourist resort on the coast.
It can be a great place to discover if you are curious about the monasteries in Mount Athos. Here you can check out an ancient Byzantine Tower built back in 1407.
The Sanctuary Of Zeus Ammon And Dionysus
Located in Kallithea, this ancient sanctuary was a place where in the 8th century B.C. the cult of Dionysos and probably that of the Nymphs began in a cave in the southern part of the sanctuary. A few centuries later, the cult of Zeus Ammon was introduced.
Finally, a few years later, the cult of Asclepios was introduced, making it a sanctuary where the three deities were worshiped. The place reached its highest popularity during the 2nd century A.D. when the area was reorganized, the old buildings were altered, and new worshipping areas were created.
Also known as the Cave of the Red Stones, the Petralona Cave is one of the most impressive and important caves on the continent, featuring one of the richest collections of fossils. The place became famous after the discovery of a human skull that dates back approximately 700.000 years.
The cave stretches over 10,000 square meters, featuring a complex landscape of chambers, high roofs, and natural pools with stalactites, stalagmites, draperies, and shields. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the cave is part of an extensive cavern system in calcareous Mesozoic deposits containing large quantities of fossil bones from horses, cave bears, lions, and mammals.
After the visit, it is a good idea to check out the Anthropological Museum next to the cave, which contains many archaeological findings and a replica of the authentic skull found in the cave, while the original skull is in the Aristotelian Museum of Thessaloniki.
Thermal Spa Of Agia Paraskevi
This natural spa on the Kassandra peninsula is a popular wellness retreat thanks to its exceptional curative treatments. It is said that these thermal springs have unique therapeutic properties, as the healing waters contain natural chemical elements.
The Thermal Spa of Agia Paraskevi is open to the public from April to January every day, from 9 am to 10 pm.
Wineries In Sithonia
There is an ideal microclimate around the hilly areas in Sithonia, where locals cultivate 24 select grape varieties that thrive on the southwestern slopes of Mount Meliton. Among the grapes, you will find some typical Greek species, such as Assyrtiko, Athiri, Malagouzia, Rhoditis, and the international Sauvignon Blanc.
Domaine Porto Carras is a staple wine producer in the area, famous worldwide for its high-quality and balanced wines, including the cosmopolitan Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Syrah. The Slopes of Mt. Meliton vineyards are a model of organic viniculture, in line with modern international trends, while the Meliton Slopes is a Protected Designation of Origin (P.D.O.).
You can visitDomaine Porto Carras in Neos Marmaras, Sithonia.
Another important historic site in Halkidiki is Arne, a village that has been declared a national historical monument for its traditional Macedonian architecture.
In the village, don’t miss a stop at the church of Agios Stefanos, the largest church in Halkidiki with a unique glass floor through which you can observe several archaeological findings.
Nikiti Old Town
Traditional settlements populate the Halkidiki area, and some of them are unique destinations for a day trip in the region. One of them is the old town of Nikiti, an ancient off-the-beaten-track settlement in Sithonia.
This lovely village has gorgeous stone Macedonian houses with blossom-filled balconies arranged along narrow paved small streets. In the village, you can also visit the old stone church of Saint Nikitas (built back in 1870) at the top of the hill, discover the Historical and Folklore Museum of Nikiti, or spend time in a classic tavern sampling delicious traditional cuisine.
In Kassandra, the traditional Athitos village is a settlement built on a rock with steep slopes from where you can admire unique panoramic views of the Toroneos Gulf and Sithonia.
The village’s architecture displays a unique nature as the building material was commonly made of stone composed of sand and shell. In the village, you can also observe different sculptures made with this original material.
When visiting the village, don’t skip a traditional selection of mezedes (small food dishes) in a local tavern or walk along the streets to find the perfect artisan or gastronomic souvenir to take back home; these include homemade olive soap and honey.
In the village, be sure also to check out the Agios Demetrios church, a domed basilica from 1858, and the Folklore Museum of Athitos.
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Top Beaches In Halkidiki
There are dozens of unforgettable shores scattered all over the Halkidiki region; however, when it comes to the top beaches, these are the ones often placed on top of any list.
Karidi Beach isn’t known for its quietness during the summer months as it’s consistently rated as one of the best beaches in Sithonia, but that shouldn’t stop you, as the beach itself is simply beautiful and very photogenic.
Despite its popularity, there are no bars or cafes on the beach, so you must take your parasol and towels. However, there is a small restaurant just at the entrance to the beach, where you can buy refreshments and food to take with you.
The water here is shallow and extremely clear, and the sand is white and very soft. You can walk out quite far without the water passing your waist. This is a great family beach too.
On the southern part of Sithonia, you will find Kalamitsi Beach, a relatively large beach that is ideal for families who want a day splashing in the sea. The water is calm, and there is plenty of shade.
You’ll find restaurants and cafes backing onto the beach, and watersports are on offer too. There are parasols and sun loungers to use, but there’s also a large stretch where you can take your own towels and parasols if you prefer.
There are regular buses from Sithonia to Kalamitsi Beach, and the journey time is around one hour.
This is truly one of the more dreamy and exotic beaches in Sithonia, but it’s harder to reach, making it less touched by tourism.
A beach bar and cape separate crystal waters and golden sands, creating the perfect little piece of paradise to get relax and unwind.
For those who want all their beach day amenities in one place, Sarti is the spot. This is a Blue Flag beach, and plenty of amenities are available at this beach in Sithonia. It is also a huge beach, so you’ll always find space. You can also see fantastic views over Mount Athos, so remember your camera!
The water on Sarti Beach is shallow, and the beach is sandy, so it’s a good family spot and has everything you need in one place. There is a long promenade you can walk on if you get bored sitting on the beach, and there are watersports to enjoy. This is also a great diving spot.
Sarti Beach is around half an hour by road from Sithonia, and there are regular buses and taxis.
This beach is in Sithonia, a few minutes from Nikiti. It is a shallow beach with clean, turquoise waters, perfect for families. The beach is quite large, it features powdery white sand, and children love the place.
The sea is relatively calm, with little waves so that parents can enjoy extra peace of mind. This is an organized beach where you can find beach bars, umbrellas, and loungers. Access to the beach is relatively easy too.
Another fantastic beach in Sithonia, the place has a unique exotic feel that makes it a popular destination in the area. Often described as the Hawaii of Halkidiki, Kavourotripes is a rocky cove with crystal turquoise waters, and it is popular among couples. Solo travelers as families tend to avoid it since access with small kids is not so easy.
The area is naturist-friendly, and camping is tolerated.
Probably one of the most famous shores in Halkidiki, Sani is located in Kassandra. The whole area is made of different small sandy shores, one next to the other, giving shape to the entire coast of Sani.
The beach is popular among families since it is shallow and the waters are calm. The landscape is undoubtedly beautiful too.
Located in Kassandra, this place has the feel of a busy resort more than an isolated shore; however, several characteristics put it among the best beaches in Halkidiki, especially regarding families.
The place is very well organized, featuring different bars and taverns along the coast, there are chairs and umbrellas for rent, and some sports are also available. The water is very shallow, and it’s very safe for kids to spend time on the shore.
Located in Sithonia, this beach (also known as Ormos Panagias) is an exotic shore with beautiful emerald waters, shallow, clean, and featuring soft golden sand. Despite being one of the largest expanses of sand in Sithonia, it is not very overcrowded. The beach has organized structures and is an ideal destination for families.
Located in Halkidiki, Lagonisi Beach is stunningly beautiful and has greenery that seems to extend almost to the water’s edge. The sea is blinding blue, and it’s an excellent area for snorkeling, with a rich abundance of marine lines around this area.
This beach is pretty calm and tranquil, and there are hiking opportunities on the mountain trails close by.
If you’re looking for a calm beach that doesn’t have loud music or crowds, Livrohio is an excellent choice. This is another Blue Flag beach that is large and wide, with fine, golden sand. There are parasols and sun-loungers on offer from some of the cafes and restaurants, as long as you purchase food and drinks.
Overall, this is a great family beach due to the lack of rocks and calm waters.
Nea Kallikratia Beach
This beach is another popular one, but the fact that it’s long means you’re going to find plenty of space. The golden sand is soft, and the sea is calm, with a relatively shallow stretch for quite a distance. It’s an excellent choice for families once more, and lifeguards are on duty during the peak summer seasons.
Sun-loungers and parasols are available to hire.
Where To Eat In Halkidiki
There are dozens of excellent restaurants and bars in the Halkidiki region; these are the ones we recommend checking out.
Located in Gerakini, Anemomilos is one of the top-rated places to eat in Halkidiki. This vegetarian-friendly restaurant serves local cuisine, seafood, and typical dishes of Mediterranean and Greek traditions.
Head to Sani for a fine dining experience near the sea and fall in love with the surroundings. At Beach House, you can find excellent seafood and European cuisine.
Where To Stay In Halkidiki
There are excellent all-inclusive resorts, family hotels, and affordable studios to rent in the area. These are the ones we recommend both in Kassandra and Sithonia.
Affordable Accommodation In Kassandra: Julia Hotel
Located in Fourka, on the Kassandra peninsula, this hotel features accommodation with a garden, free private parking, a restaurant, and a bar. Every morning, they serve continental breakfast to guests while kids can enjoy the children’s playground..
Mid-Range Accommodation In Kassandra: Petrino Suites Hotel
This property is located in Afytos. It is a gorgeous stone-built hotel with a private beach, offering traditional accommodation and a lovely pool. It serves a rich homemade breakfast and has a garden restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine. The place is a short drive from Sani Beach. Free parking is also available..
Luxury Accommodation In Kassandra: Philoxenia Spa Hotel
Located in Pefkohori and just 50 m from the sandy beach, Philoxenia Spa Hotel boasts an outdoor swimming pool with sun loungers and umbrellas, a spa center, and a garden. Some units offer views over the pool or the sea..
Affordable Accommodation In Sithonia: Miramare Hotel
The property is right on Paradisos Beach, set amidst a blossomed garden. It has a sea-view restaurant while free sun loungers and umbrellas are available at the beach..
Mid-Range Accommodation In Sithonia: Kelyfos Hotel
Situated close to Neos Marmaras, this property boasts beautiful sea views, only meters from several entertainment facilities, including a tennis court, riding facilities, and beach bars. Rooms feature large verandas with stunning sea and mountain views. The on-site taverna serves tasty homemade dishes while shaded; private parking is provided on-site for free..
Luxury Accommodation In Sithonia: Akti Toroni Boutique Hotel
A fantastic 4-star hotel right on a sandy beach in Sithonia, Akti Toroni Boutique Hotel offers free private parking, spa facilities, and a kids’ playground. The modernly decorated studios have a private balcony or patio and a kitchenette. Free loungers and umbrellas are available on the hotel beach..
So, now that you have your complete Halkidiki travel guide, are you ready?