Halkidiki is a strikingly beautiful peninsula in Northern Greece made up of three “legs” — which all boast many different attractions for travelers. Despite being one of Greece’s premier tourist destinations, Halkidiki (or Chalkidiki) can be overlooked by international travelers.
The allure of Halkidiki
Halkidiki is an extraordinarily beautiful tourist destination with a different flavor than that of the more cosmopolitan Greek areas such as Athens or Mykonos. Halkidiki is the perfect place to relax in the summertime, offering many opportunities for those who prefer to take their vacations in quieter, more natural surroundings.
The peninsula is often frequented by domestic tourists as well as those from nearby Balkan states due to its position in Northern Greece. However, it is a uniquely stunning place that should not be missed by overseas and international travellers as well.
Halkidiki is very popular among those who prefer camping holidays, since it has many organized campgrounds which cater to budget conscious travelers who enjoy their vacations immersed in nature. Most campgrounds are placed on or adjoining one of the many beautiful beaches in the area, making them perfect for beach lovers.
However, there are also many luxury resorts in the area, with some named among the best resorts in Europe in Conde Nast in 2020.
Introduction to the different “legs” of Halkidiki
The southernmost leg, named Kassandra, is Halkidiki’s more conventional tourist destination. Kassandra, which boasts resorts, clubs and bars, is geared toward travelers seeking a balance between beach-going and other vacation activities. Greeks refer to Kassandra as the first leg of Halkidiki.
The second, or middle leg, named Sithonia, is slightly less populated than the first leg. Sithonia is full of beautiful beaches as well as organized as well as free camp sites, which make it a perfect for a nature-filled getaway.
There are also some villages in Sithonia which can satiate the occasional urge to go to a bar, taverna or restaurant. Due to a lack of light pollution, the stars also shine very brightly over Sithonia and the rest of Halkidiki, which makes it perfect for stargazing!
The northernmost, or third leg, Athos, is generally closed to the public due to it being the home of twenty Orthodox monasteries. Because of this, only men are allowed on the third leg of the peninsula — and only after special permission is granted.
Regardless of which leg you choose to visit, Halkidiki is guaranteed to make for an amazing holiday destination.
Weekend getaway for Northern tourists
Due to Halkidiki’s proximity to Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki, it is a perfect getaway for those visiting Northern Greece. Halkidiki is located about 40 km (25 miles) from Thessaloniki – only a short car or bus ride away.
Thessaloniki locals will often visit Halkidiki for a long weekend over the summer in order to soak up the sun on its beautiful beaches. For international tourists, a trip to Halkidiki could be combined with a visit to Thessaloniki, for a perfect balance between city and nature getaways.
Thessaloniki is a destination that shouldn’t be missed, with many cultural landmarks such as the White Tower and the old castle. It also has many shops and is famed for its beautiful seaside promenade which is perfect for an afternoon stroll.
When visiting Halkidiki, it is always a good idea to visit Thessaloniki as well (and vice versa). Both offer unique experiences and stunning views, and are slightly more “off the beaten track” for international tourists. A trip Northern Greece is not to be missed!
In a country with such a wealth of beautiful beaches and places to visit, it is telling that Greeks have a saying: “There’s no place like Halkidiki”!