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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.