When you book a holiday to Halkidiki, one of the best things to do is to head to the beach. Those travelling with children should take advantage of the calm waves and soft sands of Nea Skioni Beach on the western shore of Halkidiki’s Kassandra Peninsula. For pristine shores and translucent waters, Xenia Beach comes highly recommended, and has even been heralded ‘the Maldives of Greece.’
Sithonia, Halkidiki’s second peninsula, is perfect for any hiking enthusiasts out there. Because it gets a little more rainfall, Halkidiki boasts more greenery than the other Greek islands, and this makes it the perfect place to get out and explore the wonders of nature. If you follow one of the many walking trails up into the hills of Sithonia, you’ll be rewarded with breath-taking vistas, as well as the chance to sample some local delicacies at one of the village tavernas along the way. For shorter distances, Athos peninsula’s Aristotle Park is ideal for a leisurely stroll, if only for the stunning view towards the Gulf of Ierissos.
In addition to its spectacular scenery, Halkidiki offers a unique and inspiring insight into traditional village life. No matter how many times you visit the island, you’ll never run out of places to explore, or people to meet. Situated 35 kilometres south of Poligiros in Sithonia peninsula, the fishing village of Niktiki boasts beautiful beaches, rustic seafood taverns and cobbled streets galore. For spectacular views, authentic architecture and lovingly-preserved traditions, the mountainside village of Parthenonas is a must. There’s a fascinating folklore museum and a distillery, where wine and tsipouro (a locally produced liqueur) are made.
Situated around 50 kilometres north-east of Thessaloniki in the village of Petralona, is Petralona Cave. Otherwise known as ‘The Cave of the Red Stones,’ this expansive cavern system was first discovered in 1959, and has since earned a reputation as the most significant of all of Greece’s 12,000 caves. Home to one of the richest fossil collections in Europe, as well as a human skull dating back around 700,000 years, the caves are now a hugely popular archaeological site, and a must for any first-time visit to Halkidiki.
Built in 1956 to house the imposing statue of the Classical Greek philosopher, Aristotle Park is one of the most picturesque natural spots in Halkidiki. Situated in the historic village of Stagira, where Aristotle was born in 384 BC, the park offers stunning panoramic views of Athos peninsula and the Gulf of Ierissos. At around 500 metres above sea level, the park is worth visiting for the scenery alone, but it’s unique and interactive elements make it a great choice for anyone visiting with young children.
Just 15 minutes away from Halkidiki by car, the ancient city of Olynthos is ideal for an afternoon of exploring. Dating as far back as the 7th
century, the area features intricate floor mosaics which are known to be some of the oldest in Greece and there’s a museum where you’ll find restored objects and artefacts that once sat amongst the ruins.
Known by the locals as ‘the Holy Mountain,’ Mount Athos is regarded as the spiritual capital of orthodox Christianity, with 20 monasteries and approximately 2,000 monks on the site. Although the 130 square mile peninsula does not allow women – or even female animals – inside, you can still admire it from afar. The best way to see it is to take a boat cruise along the west coast of the peninsula, departing from either Ouranopoli in the east, or Ormos Panagias in Sithonia.
In the summer, temperatures in Halkidiki are usually in the mid-high 30s, with around 10 hours of sunshine. The area has gets more rainfall than most other Greek islands, and the wettest month tends to be March, with 25 millimeters of rain over three days. During the spring and autumn, the weather will be cooler so expect anything from temperatures in the late teens to temperatures in the mid-20s.
If you are a British citizen, you don’t need a visa to enter Greece but you must have a valid passport. For the latest information on European travel regulations, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/greece/entry-requirements.
The currency in Halkidiki is the Euro (EUR).
The main language spoken is Greek.