A guide to things to do in Halkidiki
When taking your holidays in Halkidiki, you’ll be visiting one of the most fascinating, cultured and varied parts of Greece. Its three very different peninsulas range from tourist-focused with fun nightlife to a nature-lovers sanctuary and places for holy expeditions. It’s more than likely you’ll feel pretty bowled over by the sheer amount of stuff to do across Halkidiki’s destinations. Check out some of our favourite ways to spend time in this enthralling area.
Follow the secret paths of Petralona Cave
From fossilised skeletons to spindly stalagmites and imposing stalactites, it’s safe to say you’re going to feel like you’ve stepped into another world inside Petralona Cave. The subterranean network of natural tunnels makes for a fascinating trip, although you should be aware that cameras and phones aren’t permitted. The caves are open from 9am through until sunset, so you’ve got plenty of time to explore the depths.
See the sun rise from a hot air balloon
If you’re prepared to set an early alarm, you can have an unforgettable view of Halkidiki from the air. It’s made even more sensational by the opportunity to watch the sun rise over these historic and majestic peninsulas. A hot air balloon tour comes complete with food and drink from the team of experts, who’ll help you into the basket and lift you high above the landscape. You can start from Nea Moudania, or, for late risers, sunset tours are also available from places like Petralona.
Visit Sithonia for kayaking at sea
Take a day of your Greek island holiday to ride the waves. From half-day tours to a full day on high seas, the shimmering Aegean Sea is yours as you scoot snugly into a kayak and join your team, oars in hand. With that hot sun as a constant companion and rolling waves kissed by stunning landscapes in every direction, it’s an adventurous way to explore the stunning sights that only Halkidiki can offer.
Stretch out on the beach
Who could visit Greece and not hit Halkidiki’s beaches? The coasts of Halkidiki are warm, inviting and covered in creamy gold sand, so you’re going to want to lay down and take it in. From Sani Beach to Nea Flogita, from Aremenistis to Hanioti Beach, the opportunities to relax are more than abundant, and the kids will love the chance to splash and play.
Tour Thessaloniki, a city of architecture and history
Thessaloniki is a city by the sea, with a historic tapestry of influences, from Ancient Rome and the Byzantine Empire to the Ottomans. Vigilantly watched over even today by the mythic White Tower, a tour of this city will wind you through the back streets and mesmerising architecture of this port town. There’s also the opportunity to explore museums and galleries rich in intrigue and antiquity.
Gaze on the Athos monasteries
A series of ancient monasteries perch atop the peaks on the Athos peninsula, from humble to grand. Although the monasteries have restricted access to males only via prior consent, you can tour the coast by boat and gaze upon these astonishing and secluded places from the water. You can stay at the top of the peninsula in serene Ouranoupolis to be in the best position to view the monasteries.
Wine and dine the Halkidiki way
Halkidiki boasts some excellent cuisine, which takes many of its cues from traditional Greek culture. For instance, Taverna Avli in Kalithea fuses conventional family dining with modern presentation, serving glazed meats and baklava desserts to sample. And if you head to Gerakini, the leafy groves and Mediterranean stonework of Mouragio add a traditional touch to your seafood dinner.
From beachfront diners to international restaurants, even down to good old fashioned fry-ups and steak dinners, the towns across Halkidiki specialise in bringing hot food and cooling wines to holidaymakers around the clock.
Hike Sithonia’s forests and coastlines
If hiking is your adventure activity of choice, head for Halkidiki’s lush green central finger of Sithonia.
Choose from wandering the nature reserves of the central mountainous area, following more accessible, scenic coastal paths or ones that’ll lead you between pretty towns. This is the perfect way of discovering the beauty of Halkidiki.
You can walk the protected area around 800-metre-high Mount Itamos to spot deer, wild boar and rare birds, or perhaps the seven kilometres of beach and coves around Porto Carras will attract you.
Alternatively, you could take the circular route wandering though pine trees and olive groves from Nikiti to view the 19th-century architecture of Agios Nikolaos, before heading back to the coast. Pack a picnic and enjoy lunch over breathtaking views.
Scale Mount Olympus the easy way
Looming over Halkidiki from mainland Greece to the west, you might be tempted to get up close and personal with the impressive Mount Olympus.
After all, it’s said to be where the 12 Gods of Greek Mythology once lived. The highest peak in Greece, we don’t suggest you try to scale it – instead, go on a bus tour from Halkidiki with other interesting stop-offs.
After a three-hour journey up to one of the mountain’s plateaus, you’ll be ready to stretch your legs to a remarkable aspect over northern Greece. A regular stop-off on a Mount Olympus tour is the 5th-century BCE city of Dion, located in its foothills.
Visit its archaeological park and museum to learn about Alexander the Great’s history here, and see the Macedonian sanctuary dedicated to the God, Zeus. This is the perfect option for holidaymakers who are interested in learning about the fascinating history of Halkidiki.