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Halkidiki, a heavenly place - Sights and Information

Halkidiki, a heavenly place - Sights and Information

The Halkidiki Peninsula is a large blob to the south-east of Thessaloniki City, from which three long fingers extend into the Aegean Sea. The two large lakes of Koronia and Volvi separate the peninsula from the rest of Macedonia Greece.

Halkidiki boasts 500 km of coastline, with superb sandy beaches surrounded by calm, aquamarine sea. Unfortunately, many of these assets have been ruthlessly exploited and while the finger of Kassandra consists either of luxurious holidays in Chalkidiki complexes for the rich and famous, or package-tourist ghettos, the middle finger of Sithonia has escaped most of the excesses and you can still find some of the most magical beaches in the whole Greece, if you are prepared to look. The easternmost promontory of Halkidiki is the monastic Repablic of Mt Athos (Agion Oros) and most of it is open only to male pilgrims.

Halkidiki is not a place for budget or independent travelers as virtually all accommodation can be booked solid throughout summer. If you are camping fun, however, a visit is more practicable: Halkidiki has around 30 campsites which, even if they are bursting at the seams, are unlikely to turn you away.

There are many interesting places and monuments to visit during your stay in Chalkidiki Greece. Below you will find the most interesting sights:

Petralona Cave: In the northern Halkidiki, the Petralona Cave (open 9am-7pm during summer time), is located 56km south-east of Thessaloniki City, has stalactites and stalagmites and is where a 700.000 years old human skull (evidence of one of Europe's earliest inhabitants) was found. The cave is well presented with an illuminated walkway taking visitors around what is in effect only a small section of huge cave. The prevailing theory held by the resident archeologist Professor Aris Poulianos is that finds in Petralona irrefutably establish that archaic homo sapiens (archanthropos) arose in Europe, not Africa, as is hitherto widely believed. Displays in the museum next door confidently uphold this controversial view. There many tour operators taking tours to the caves.

Ancient Olynthos: (open 8am to 7pm), a fairly important archeological site in Halkidiki, dates to the 7th century BC when the site, distinguished by two rounded hills, was settled by inhabitants from central Macedonian. The Persians destroyed the original city in 479 BC, but Olynthos regained its status 45 years later as the capital of Chalkidiki. In 348 BC, Phillip II, the king of Macedonia, razed the city to the ground, a disaster from which Olynthos never raised its head.

Kassandra Peninsula: The Kassandra Peninsula is also beautiful as Sithonia Peninsula with some differences. Its commercialism is horrendous and even if you are not averse to package tourists, roaring motorbikes, fast food joints and discos, you are unlikely to easily find independent accommodation. However, if you have tent, there are lots of well-advertised camping grounds. Freelance camping is prohibited and there are signs alerting you to that fact. For what it is worth, the western side of the finger is somewhat quiter, with couple of almost get away from it all camping grounds at Posidi and Nea Skioni Villages. The little resort of Siviri, also on this side, has a luxurious private apartments of Thessaloniki's Elite people. Kassandra's only saving grace is the little traditional seaside village of Afytos, which, to its inhabitants' credit, has made an effort to remain pleasant and mostly concrete-free. Its pedestrian friendly streets and laid-back ambience make Afytos a worthwhile stop in an otherwise humdrum set of options. Clubbers and nightbirds will of course find singular solace in Kassandra. The Peninsula has a very active bar and disco scene centre on the village of Kallithea on the east side of the peninsula. This is exactly the place for funs of nightlife and this is the place that males and females may meet each other, a mixed culture night life that can cover any needs and any way of fun. This is the place for individuals in order to have the best vacations and of course in Halkidiki Greece. If it's peace and quiet you are looking forward to, look across the bay farther east to Sithonia.

Sithonia Peninsula: West Coast Sithonia is a vast improvement on Kassandra for families and quite people. The landscape en route is spectacular with sweeping vistas of thickly forested hills. The southern end and eastern coastline are the least touristy and the best destinations for independent travelers. An undulating road makes a loop around Sithonia, skirting wide bays, climbing into the pine-forested hills and dipping down to the resorts. Down the west coast are good streches of sandy, very popular, beaches between Nikiti and Paradisos, with Kalogria beach and Lagomandra beach worth a special mention. Beyond, Neos Marmaras is Sithonia's largest resort, with a very crowded beach, but also lots of places to stay in the form of domatia (rooms). Look out for the big information boards on both waterfronts. Beyond Neos Marmaras the road climbs into the hills where roads lead down to several beaches and camping sites. Development along here is less noticeable and if you have a rented motorbike you can find some very pleasant sports by the sea.

Toroni and Porto Koufo Villages and beaches are small resorts at the south-western tip. The latter is a picturesque little yacht harbor sheltered in a deep bay and has a desent enough beach. There are several fish tavernas for lunch and rooms, should you decide to stay on. The southern tip of Sithonia is still relativelyisolated and is the most spectacular region of Halkidiki (excluding the Athos Peninsula) – rocky, rugged and dramatic. As the road rounds the south-eastern tip, Mt Athos comes into view across the gulf, further adding to the spectacular vistas. The minuscule and almost hidden settlement of Kalamitsi is the most delightful corner of the Sithonian Peninsula. This little enclave has a gorgeous sandy neach, a sprinkling of tavernas and restaurants, some rooms, a couple of reasonable campsites and boat hire facilities. Not yet commercialized it's one of the Sithonian Peninsula's hidden treasures.

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