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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)

Halkidiki

Halkidiki Holidays 2016/2017

Whether you're into ancient ruins or white-sand beaches, Halkidiki has it. Its shores are dotted with beach resorts, many with distant views of Mount Olympus. Halkidiki's stunning landscape houses traditional Greek villages paved with cobbles and luxury marinas sited within an ecological reserve. Across the region, you can dine on precision-cooked fresh food, skim the ocean on a jet ski or simply perfect your tan.

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The Three Fingers

Halkidiki is shaped like a three-pronged fork spearing the Aegean Sea. Its trio of peninsulas jutting out from mainland Greece into the Aegean Sea means it has miles and miles of wraparound coast – and with it plenty of sunbathing spots.

The first of the fingers is Kassandra, the most popular of Halkidiki's peninsulas. Though Halkidiki tends to stay pretty chilled out on the whole, Kassandra's where you'll find the region's most lively resorts.

Sithonia, the second of the fingers, is more rugged than its trendy big sister, with sloping green hills lining its coastline.

Mount Athos, the most private of the three, is cordoned off from the public, though boat cruises around the peninsula still offer a sneaky peek.

Quick Tips

  • Greek Orthodox
  • Euro
  • Greek
  • Approx 80,000
  • GMT +2

Beaches

The beauty of Halkidiki's resorts begins with its beaches. Many are cloaked in fine white sands that gently slope out to warm waters. They're lined with sun loungers that promise long stints of relaxation. Sani's beach and surrounding greenery is so stunning that it's been named an ecological reserve.

They're also where you can dial the energy up a notch. Kalithea's shores have their own watersports centre, where you can get geared up for jet and water skiing. Hanioti's Blue Flag beach has a scuba centre nearby, while Nea Moudania offers organised boat cruises and beach volleyball.

Restaurants

Unsurprisingly, Greek cuisine is the main attraction at the majority of restaurants and tavernas in Halkidiki, though menus often contain traces of other Mediterranean flavours, especially Italian ones. Takeaways and international eats are easy to find, too.

Top choices in the area primarily centre on fresh seafood, as it's not exactly hard to come by with the sea just down the road – the same goes for local wines and olive oils. Halkidiki is known for its production of both.

The dining scene in Halkidiki ranges from casual to elegant – you'll have no trouble finding either regardless of where you go. Kalithea's restaurants are renowned for their views, while Ouranoupolis – located on Halkidiki's western side – is where to go for stunning sunsets. Try the small village of Aftios for a traditional Greek vibe, while Sani and its Michelin-rated chefs up the stakes to gourmet heights.

Nightlife

Most restaurants in Halkidiki happily double as night spots, with live music and carafes of wine served on outdoor patios. But you'll also find a collection of bars that keep things going until the early morning. Kalithea is the queen of Halkidiki's nightlife scene, with big-time clubs and DJ-led dance nights that attract visitors from nearby resorts. Nea Moudania's coastline is packed with beach bars, while the lounges in Hanioti are known for their creative cocktails.

Activities

No two resorts within Halkidiki are the same. Though you'll find similar beachy activities and gorgeous scenery throughout, each town has its own personality. Depending on which you call your temporary home, you can have a holiday as upbeat or easy-going as you like.

Kalithea, the most popular resort in Halkidiki, combines old-school beauty with lively nightlife. Nea Moudania is where history-lovers flock, as even days at the beach feature views of Mount Olympus – home of the Greek Gods – in the distance. It's also where you'll find a 2,000- year-old amphitheatre. Roman ruins are scattered around the resort of Polichrono, while Ouranoupolis is known as the gateway to Mount Athos and its many monasteries. And for laid-back holidays with a splash of luxury, there's Sani, the creme de la creme of Halkidiki. With seven kilometres of golden sand and a smattering of upmarket boutiques, this chic spot is a feast for your eyes – and a challenge for your wallet.

Shopping

You can really shop-'til-you-drop in Halkidiki. Many of the towns feature main squares and central promenades where you'll find a collection of shops, selling everything from generic souvenirs to more local goods like handmade jewellery and pottery. Nea Moundania features the biggest of both worlds – Halkidiki's biggest weekly, open-air market and the region's biggest shopping centre. But it's Sani that really stuns – it's a haven for expert shoppers, featuring a stylish marina lined with designer names.