Chalkidiki (Greek: Χαλκιδική, also Halkidiki or Chalcidice) is one of the main tourist areas of Greece. It is a wide peninsula of Northern Greece that extends as three narrower peninsulas, as a whole forming the shape of a trident, or a three-fingered hand. The northern and north-western section of the peninsula is part of the Thessaloniki region, which includes the city of Thessaloniki. The capital of Chalkidiki prefecture is the town of Polygyros, in the centre of the main peninsula. The coast hosts numerous excellent beaches.
Of tourist interest are the three so-called fingers of the peninsula, which extend south into the sea.
The western finger is the most cosmopolitan one. The most popular locations in Chalkidiki can be found here. It is famous for its nightlife and home to lots of beautiful, although crowded, beaches and scenic villages.
The middle finger is less developed than Kassandra, making it famous for its pristine nature and beaches. It is less crowded than Kassandra in general, but still expect to find lots of people there during high season.
|Mount Athos |
The eastern finger houses the monastic community of Mount Athos, a self-governing autonomous polity inside Greece.peninsula and monks republic, with the homonymous holy Mount Athos. Entry is only allowed to male pilgrims intending to visit the monasteries. There are cruises from Ouranopolis which circle the peninsula and from which you can see some monasteries.
|Northern Chalkidiki |
Often overlooked, the main peninsula of Chalkidiki is a popular tourist destination all year round. The beaches, especially the ones on the eastern side, are popular destinations during the Summer, while villages on Mount Cholomondas attract visitors during the winter.
Other Destinations Edit
- The island Ammouliani lies close to Mount Athos and is a tourist centre
Get in Edit
By bus Edit
KTEL Chalkidikis operates buses from Thessaloniki to destinations all across Chalkidiki. The buses are modern and clean. In general destinations in Kassandra are better served than those in the rest of the peninsula. Some routes to destinations in Sithonia are significantly slower than doing the same trip by car. For example a trip from Thessaloniki to Toroni by bus takes 3 hours, while the same trip can be done in 1.5-2 hours by car. Information about bus routes and schedules is available on the KTEL Chalkidikis website.
Buses towards Chalkidiki depart from the KTEL Chalkidikis bus station instead of the main KTEL Makedonia station in Thessaloniki. For more information see the article on Thessaloniki
By car Edit
The A24 motorway links Thessaloniki with the beaches on the east side of Chalkidki, Nea Moudania and Kassandria in the western leg, and is the preferred way to go from Thessaloniki to Kassandra and Sithonia. The motorway gets congested on summer weekends, as lots of people flock from Thessaloniki to the beaches of Chalkidiki.
Get around Edit
By bus Edit
KTEL Chalkidikis also operates routes between destinations in Chalkidiki. However, the number of departures might be limited and buses can often be late, making the bus inconvenient for day trips further away from where you are staying. In addition, there are no direct bus routes connecting Kassandra and Sithonia, so getting around by bus is not ideal if you want to explore multiple peninsulas.
By car Edit
A car provides the easiest way of getting around Chalkidiki. The road network mostly comprises of rural roads in acceptable condition. Don't get carried away by people speeding or performing illegal overtakes.
Most accommodations will offer parking space. Inside villages people will park wherever there is empty space, ignoring any signage, as is the situation in most of Greece. Parking near beaches is often found in unpaved open spaces. Many beach bars, especially in Kassandra, offer designated parking areas for customers.
The Canal of Potidea, separating the Kassandra peninsula from the mainland, has old origins. The history of the channel is not fully understood, but a report mentions the channel in the 1st century AD. In 1407, the Byzantine Emperor repaired the channel and build fortifications on its south side.
The oldest mosaics found in Greece, from the 5th century BC, are from the excavations of ancient Olynthos.
A spectacular view of Mt. Athos can be had from the Kartalia cliff cape.
Mount Athos Edit
A highlights in the capital of Mount Athos is the old church of Protaton, which has exceptional murals and a famous icon of the Virgin Mary.
The twenty monasteries in Mount Athos possess holy relics, icons, frescoes and mosaics of great value. The monasteries make the peninsula a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In Ammouliani you find beautiful beaches with beach bars, sun beds and umbrellas.
The hinterland Edit
Ancient Stageira was the birthplace of Aristotle, the greatest philosopher of antiquity and the teacher of Alexander the Great. Recent excavations show the early-classicistic fortifications preserved in very good condition, and several public buildings in the Agora, an archaic sanctuary, the Thesmophorion, private houses from the Classical and Hellenistic period and the city's waterworks.
The castle of Rentina in Asprovalta, dating from the 4th century AD was a strategically important castle. It is reasonably well preserved, as are the impressive remains of a settlement next to it. It has a varied history with Byzantine, Frankish, Serbian and Turkish lords.
Acanthus was the main city and the port of north-eastern Halkidiki, founded in the middle of the 7th century BC by colonists from Andros, on the site of a prehistoric settlement. It can be visited from Ierissos.
The castle of Neposi is close to Megali Panagia. It was the largest fortress in Halkidiki from the 5th century AD. It was rebuilt twice and abandoned for long times, but was used as a fortified settlement until the 14th century. The castle ruin has an area of 1.5 hectares and the length of the remaining walls is about 1000 meters with a maximum height of 4 to 5 meters.
- Local flower and pine honey from Nikiti and Arnea, the two biggest centres of Greek honey.
- Wooven woolen articles from Arnea.
- Tsipouro, the strong-kind-of-ouzo schnapps from the local villagers.
- Wine. The winters here are mild and the summers are long and dry. The good climate, among with the mineral-rich soil, are crucial factors for the famous wine-making of the area. The most famous wine is that produced in Sithonia, in the Neos Marmaras area, the Porto Carras
- Olives and olive oil. Production areas: Mount Meliton, Pallini Peninsula, Holomon foothills, Polygyros, Ormylia, Olynhtos and Nea Moudania
- Cheese products
The region has as a main tourist destination in Greece a corresponding variety of accommodation in all categories, listed and rated in the well-known Internet portals