The best reasons to visit Halkidiki
Let’s start with some important facts about Halkidiki:
Location: Halkidiki peninsula is located almost 70 km from the city of Thessaloniki and it is part of Central Macedonia, Greece. Halkidiki region consists of the mainland and a large peninsula that resembles a hand with three “fingers” – Kassandra, Sithonia and Mount Athos.
Regions: The peripheral unit of Halkidiki is subdivided into five municipalities: Nea Propontida, Polygyros, Kassandra, Sithonia, Aristotles,
Regional Capital: Polygyros
Blue Flags: 72
Protected by NATURA convention: 12 regions
Population Province: 110.000 (approximately)
Distances: “Macedonia” International Airport (SKG) to Halkidiki: min 45km – max 120km Thessaloniki
Religion: Orthodox Christians
Language: Greek (English & German are also spoken almost everywhere)
There are 7 great reasons to visit Halkidiki and these are:
The beaches in Halkidiki are some of the best in whole Greece. There are 72 Blue-flagged* beaches and the coastline is over 500 km, so it is certain that you will find a beach to fall in love with. The beaches are also known for their fine sand and crystal turquoise waters as well as their wild surroundings. In Kassandra peninsula you will find mostly beaches that feature resorts and in Sithonia, which is less touristic, there are hidden beaches that are perfect destinations for campers.
*a European certification for beaches, marinas or sustainable boating tourism operators for cleanliness and safety.
- Natural Beauty
Halkidiki is a region full of pine forests and lush green areas, 12 of which are protected by the NATURA Convention*. There are also three mountains, Holomontas, Itamos and Stratoniko, that give to the guests many opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking and climbing.
*Network of protected areas
- Mount Athos
Mount Athos or «The Garden of the Virgin Mary», as it is named because of its natural beauty, combines natural environment and cultural heritage. The Athos peninsula is a strip of land that invades the sea and ends up on the top of Mount Athos that has an altitude of 2030 meters. In addition, the unique status of Athos has helped to the preservation of a great number of unaltered natural ecosystems. It is the only monastic state in Europe. It is forbidden for women to access the area. Also men need to have a visit permit in order to explore it. Such a permit needs to be submitted several months in advance in order to obtain it. The area is also featured by UNESCO as an International Heritage Site.
- Petralona Cave
Petralona’s Cave is located in the western part of Mount Katsika and was accidentally discovered in 1959. It is full of stalagmites and stalactites that are covered with red earth. For this reason it is also known as the Cave of the Red Stones. In 1960, Dr Aris Poulianos discovered the remains of the skull of an ancient hominid approximately 700,000 years old, which is considered as one of the most important paleontological discoveries of all time because it is one of the earliest human findings in Europe. Further excavations brought to light more pre-human remains, as well as animal fossils.
Official website: www.petralona-cave.gr
For 26 years the Sani Festival of music is held from July to August at the Sani hill. There are several other locations that are also used.
The most recent festival of Sani is the Sani Gourmet Food Festival that takes place every year in May or June and brings together Michelin-starred chefs from Greece and abroad who create astonishing dishes. Attendees get to discover new flavours, go to workshops and presentations and take part in tasting sessions.
Another well known festival is the Kassandra Festival which also takes place throughout July and August in Siviri, featuring a wide range of music, including traditional and contemporary music from all over the world.
For Greek folklore music lovers, the Polygyros festival is held throughout August and features folklore music artists and bands from all over Greece.
- The wine routes
Explore the gorgeous region of Halkidiki, walk through its wine routes and visit the area’s renowned wineries that can be found on the west part of Halkidiki, mostly in the areas of Kallikrateia, Sithonia, Mount Athos (on the north slopes of Mt. Cholomontas), Arnaia, Marathousa as well as in the areas of Triglia and Panagia. Taste the excellent local wines, on the location they are produced, accompanied by traditional local dishes. Start your trip at the vineyards in Agios Pavlos, an area where viticulture is the leading activity. Make sure you pay a visit to Petralona Cave, where the “Archanthropus of Petralona”, the oldest human skeleton in Europe was discovered. Continue your journey through the western side of Sithonia, where the slopes of Mountain Meliton meet the waters of Toroneos Gulf. The vineyard on the “Slopes of Meliton” is one of the largest in Europe and a model organic viticultural unit. Head towards the mountainous areas and visit Arnaia, one of Halkidiki’s most picturesque villages, then you will continue to Chromitsa and end your journey at Mt. Athos.
Wine lovers can sample the local fruit of the vine in the wineries of Halkidiki; among them stand out the PGI Halkidiki (Protected Geographical Indication), the PDO Slopes of Meliton, the PGI Sithonia wines and the PGI Mount Athos. The climate is ideal for cultivating top quality Greek varieties such as Assyrtiko, Athiri, Malagouzia and Roditis, out of which excellent white wines are produced. Limnio, a renowned local red wine comes from a native variety, already mentioned in the writings of Aristotle.
Besides being a destination for amazing beaches, sun-lovers, archeological sites and nature, Halkidiki is also known for its traditional mouth-watering delicacies. With a long culinary tradition influenced by Constantinople and Asia Minor, the gastronomy of the region is rich in delicious products grown locally under the sun. You will taste delicious bread and pies, satisfying meat and fish dishes as well as homemade pasta, strong cheese and other memorable fresh cooked dishes.