A prime summer destination in northern Greece, Halkidiki is a lush region, made up of three peninsulas near Thessaloniki – Kassandra, Sithonia and Mount Athos. From wine tasting to famous festivals, here’s why you need to put Halkidiki on your travel bucket list.
Greeks will confirm that Halkidiki’s three peninsulas harbour some of the finest views in the country, from the serene monasteries of hilly Mount Athos to the winding, bike-friendly roads of Sithonia and Kassandra’s beautiful beaches. And who could forget the ancient Petralona cave? If you’re still not sold, here are our top reasons for visiting this stunning northern region.
Prep for all that wine and cheese with a thigh-burning workout. Halkidiki is quickly becoming known as a top cycling destination, with over 100km (62mi) of bikeable routes. The Sithonia peninsula is the most popular, with intermediate difficulty: almost all roads are paved, but there are some hills to climb. For those that prefer a guided experience, tour companies are opening in the area.
Halkidiki has no shortage of festivals, especially during summer. Our favourites include the feast of Agios Mamas in early September, which lasts for a week with a trade fair, concerts and more; Sani Festival, which is very popular every summer and has concerts, theatre performances and art exhibitions; and the Carnival of Polygyros in August, which includes a treasure hunt and parade.
Halkidiki’s winemaking regions offer a great blend of traditional techniques and modern styles. Check out the low hills of Kassandra, Mount Meliton in Sithonia and even the monastery region, which monks have been tending for generations. The vineyards are open all year round, but you’ll have the best experience in autumn, when wineries are in full production and the grape harvest is in progress.
Ammouliani, Halkidiki’s only inhabited island, is nestled between the second and third prongs of its three peninsulas. Set off from Ouranoupoli to its adorable main town, full of quaint houses and clusters of flowerpots. Then, hop back in a boat and visit the Drenia isles (also called the Donkey Islands), six tiny havens with shallow, sandy beaches.
Not found your perfect place to stay yet? Book one of the most beautiful boutique hotels in Halkidiki now through Culture Trip. For more to do in the area, take a look at the top things to see and do while you’re there. After a long day exploring, wind down with a delicious dinner at one of Halkidiki’s best restaurants. Why not take a trip to nearby Thessaloniki too? Stay in one of its best hotels and explore all that the area has to offer by browsing the best things to see and do in the second largest Greek city.
This article is an update of one originally by Ethel Dilouambaka.