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Travel info for Chalkidiki
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Welcome to Chalkidiki!
ATTRACTIONS 

- Athos. The Athos peninsula, which is the third leg of Chalkidiki, is dedicated to God and the Divine. Even though it’s part of the Greek state, it’s autonomous and under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It’s inhabited exclusively by monks who live in its 20 monasteries and entrance to women is strictly prohibited. The men who want to visit Athos have to issue the relevant papers from the city of Ouranoupolis, which is the last frontier for the seculars. Every monastery has its own rules and attractions (listed below based on hierarchical order).

The Monastery of Megisti Lavra is the first and the biggest one and it’s relatively close to the beach. The Monastery of Vatopedio is dedicated to the Annunciation of Virgin Mary and its establishment is dated back to the end of the 4th century. It’s a monastery with rare heirlooms and religious treasures and it’s considered one of the most magnificent churches of the East. The Monastery of Ibiron was established on the 10th century and has –besides its rich history- an important library with valuable manuscripts and documents of the Byzantine Empire. The Monastery of Helandrio, with Serbian monks, is practically hidden in the thick forests of the northeastern side of Athos. The imposing Monastery of Dionysios is built atop a steep cliff and boasts a lovely wooden temple from the 15th century, plated with pure gold. The Monastery of Koutloumousiou, with the turbulent history, has a commune living system since 1856. The Monastery of Pantokratoras is built on a seaside rock and hosts some of the most important icons and hagiographies of Athos. The Monastery of Xiropotamos is in a magical location in the middle of the peninsula overlooking the serene Siggitiko gulf. The Zografou Monastery is also hidden in the thick forests and got its name (Georgiou Zografou) from a miracle that took place when the monks were trying to decide where to dedicate it: after praying, a painted icon of Agios Georgios on a wooden plaque was found locked somewhere in the church. The Monastery of Doheariou, the first on the southwest coast (towards Daphne), has numerous visitors and a distinctive tower that operates like a library. The Monastery of Karakalos is dedicated to Peter and Paul, has a lovely view to the sea and the ambiance of a fortress. The Monastery of Filotheou prevails in a vegetated plateau, where they say the ancient Asclepieio was, it’s dedicated to the Annunciation of Virgin Mary and hosts one of the most respectable icons of the peninsula; this of Panagia Glykofilousa. The Monastery Simonos Petras is an architectural miracle, since it emerges from a steep cliff gazing at the sea. It’s construction is related to a miracle. The Monastery of Agios Pavlos, also of miraculous architecture, is 20 minutes from the coast. When Mara Vrankowitz, the Christian mother of Sultan Muhammad Porthitis, wanted to transfer on her own the gifts of the three wise men in the monastery, she heard a voice telling her that the only queen of Athos is the Virgin Mary and that she shouldn’t proceed to the inside. Right at this spot, they built a small church to remember the incident. The Monastery Stavronikita, with the interesting mosaic icon of Agios Nikolaos Streidas, was the first that recently turned into a commune one. The Xenofontos Monastery is located near the sea and it’s dated back to the 10th century. The Grigoriou Monastery prevails in the waves of the southwestern side, built on the rocks. The Monastery of Esfigmenou (no one knows where this name came from) was arguing with nearby monasteries over its boundaries and estate. The Monastery of Panteleimonas has close relations with the Russian church and a rich library with 20.000 volumes (in Russian and Greek), while only one of its 30 monks is Greek. Finally, the Monastery of Kastamonitou enjoys one of the most picturesque locations in Athos, well hidden in the forest and hosting 3 miraculous icons.

- Museums. The area has a deep history and, as a consequence, numerous museums. In Afytos, a small seaside traditional settlement in Kassandra, there is a Folk Art Museum made by the local club, which, among others, occasionally hosts cultural events. Respectively in Arnaia (Polygyros), in a two-story building of the 18th century there is a Historic and Folklore Museum which operates with the initiative of the local women club. A very special exhibit is the 200 year old fire pump, which was designed based on an ancient invention of Ktesimpios (285-220 BC).

In the wider area you should visit the mountainous Babdo with the Folklore Collection, created with the donations of the locals. Together with the authentic artifacts, you will notice a traditional household, as well as materials related to the financial activity in mountainous Chalkidiki. Polygyros couldn’t but feature a Folklore Museum, so upon request and at no entrance cost you can see up close an urban Macedonian house of the 19th century.

The Archeological Museum of Olynthos offers visitors a comprehensive view of the nearby archeological site with the use of audiovisual equipment, which describes the history of the ancient city and the excavations. To see the findings from the archeological site as well as from the entire prefecture, you should visit the archeological museum of Polygyros, in the center of the city. Don’t forget to visit the Anthropological Museum of Petralona, combined with the unique cave, where you will see the amazing findings of the prehistoric and the paleontological era of Greece and the world. You will also get the chance to see the geological and paleontological maintenance labs. The museum features a library and a meeting room.

Another special museum of the area is the Christian Exhibition in Pyrgos of Ouranoupolis, which once belonged to the Monastery of Vatopedio. Once it was used by monks and it was known as “home-boat”. Today it hosts a variety of icons and religious treasures for those who reached the last frontier before Athos, but for some reason did not cross it. For a different kind of visit, try the Museum of Fishing Boats in Nea Moudania, which features tools from the everyday life of fishermen, as well as boat models.

- Historic and Archeological locations. The Temple of Ammon Zeus in Kallithea (Kassandra) is one of the most important ancient temples in Greece and it’s located on a magical landscape. Ancient Stageira, in the mountainous peninsula of Liotopi near Olympiada, is known as the birthplace of Aristotle. Ancient Olynthos (Kassandra) was the most important city of Chalkidiki for about half a century, until it was destroyed in 348 BC by Philippos and was never reestablished. Today, its remnants help us understand the Ippodameio planning system.

In the archeological site of Akanthos in Ierissos, visitors can admire part of the acropolis, the ancient walls, buildings and the cemetery that has 9.000 tombs. In the archeological site of Potidaia (Ancient Kassandreia) there are remnants of the ancient walls and the cemetery. The findings of Ancient Mendi are particularly important, as is the domed building which is the only warship location from the Dark Centuries in Northern Greece. Near Mendi (in Cape Poseidi) you will see the Temple of Poseidon, which gave the location its name. Preserved are the foundations of 4 massive constructions –obviously temples dedicated to the God- while at the end of the cape there is a Lighthouse, dated back to 1864.

The Tower of Nea Fokaia is Byzantine, but it was constructed with materials from ancient buildings. Also worth seeing is Metohi Stavronikita in Sani, in a prosperous area which was probably the Acropolis of Ancient Sani and that now hosts many cultural events, within the framework of the local festival. The Paleochristian basilica of Sofroniou is dated back to the oldest temples of the area and has many marble parts.

- Other attractions. The Cave of Petralona offers two reasons to visit it. On one hand it’s a beautiful cave with stalagmites and stalactites and on the other it has a universal historical importance since the scull of Homo Rhodesiensis who was 700.000 years old was found there. He was indeed the most ancient European. Thus, all the findings from the cave (fossils, tools etc.) are truly invaluable. There are also traces of ashes from the most ancient fire man built on earth!

Holomontas in central Chalkidiki is a Wild Life Refuge (Polygyros). In Arnaia, in an area of 16.500 acres, we see another Wild Life Refuge for those who love to observe animals. Nea Roda has a profound historical importance (this is where Xerxes tried to enter this country through a canal) but also geographical: it’s the narrowest point between Athos and Chalkidiki.

ROUTES 

Kassandra peninsula: The tour of the first leg basically starts from Nea Potidaia, a modern resort, and continues through a coastal route of stunning natural beauty to Nea Fokaia, where you can walk in the picturesque port or relax in the nice sandy beaches and swim in the crystal transparent waters. During the summer you can catch one of the cultural events in Pyrgos or see one of the famous festivals.

The tour continues to the south, by crossing the traditional Afytos (Folk Art Museum), to end up in Kallithea and see the Temple of Ammon Zeus. The crystal clear waters of Kassandra bedazzle the eye and we can understand where the area got its name from. From there we suggest you continue your descend towards the southern part of the peninsula and we invite you to discover the astounding beaches of the area.

As you are leaving the main body of Chalkidiki behind, you will be stumbling across more quiet locations. After Paliouri, the road takes you west and reveals the view of the deep Aegean blue. Soon you will reach Poseidi and you can visit the temple of Poseidon. After few lovely beaches you turn right (east) to return to Kallithea and ascend north, so that after N. Fokaia you can follow the road that heads west. This way you can complete the exploration of the first leg, by visiting the incredible pine forest that goes all the way to the coast of Sani, forming stunning beaches. The area, besides from an incredible scenery, offers high quality tourism infrastructure, since it’s one of the main holiday destinations for the residents of Thessaloniki –and not only.

Sithonia: The Sithonia peninsula, since it’s a bit distanced from the nearest urban center –Thessaloniki- is more quiet. Start from the west part of the leg, through Metamorphosis, a quiet beach, filled with pines. You can then continue to Nikiti, where you can visit the traditional settlement and get a taste from the Macedonian architecture or enjoy a cold beverage in one of the numerous beach cafes. From there you can take the dirt road for a more adventurous route to the beaches of Kalogria, Elia, Tripotamo (where there is a camping) to end up in Marmara, the most cosmopolitan resort of the peninsula.
In Marmara you will enjoy all the desirable amenities, while you can combine intense summer nights with getaways to relaxing sandy beaches. The next impressive location is Porto Koufo, the safest natural port of the country, which is mentioned by Thucydides under the same name. The fishermen appreciate the wealth of the sea and you will appreciate Kartalia, the southernmost point of the peninsula: words are not enough to describe the awe visitor senses when he faces this rocky, steep edge that faces the grandiosity of the sea. Go through the unforgettable images from the east side to the village of Sykia, one of the oldest ones in Chalkidiki. In the wider area you can visit the archeological settlement of Torono, which has evolved into a modern resort taking advantage of the long sandy beach.

Heading north, we stumble across Sarti, where there are remnants of the ancient city and we end up visiting the attractions in Metohi of Xiropotamos, a building dated back to 1867. Don’t forget to check out the white sandy beaches with the emerald waters, where rock formations emerge from the water and complement the idyllic scenery. The area is prosperous and offers high quality services.

By heading to the beautiful Vourvourou, you will go through the famous beaches of Armenistis and Platanitsi. The tour concludes with Agios Nikolaos, a mountainous village of unique aesthetics, which preserves intact the stigma of ancient times, offering a nostalgic trip in time. Do not think that its distance from the sea means that no nearby beaches. The beach of the village is just 2.5 kilometers away and it offers more than 30 kilometers of coastline with beautiful, picturesque coves.

Chalkidiki – main body: The main body of the peninsula offers a variety of cultural, historic and natural attractions. So there is no way you will be bored. If you stay in Polygyros, you will have an easy access to the beaches of the peninsula. Except from the numerous routes this area offers, you should visit the mountainous central Chalkidiki.

From Polygyros you can head towards Holomonta, wander in the incredible forest and enjoy the colors, the pines, the firs and the beeches. You might also see oaks and chestnuts. There are many streams in the area, so you can take advantage of every spring you can find.

Holomontas has a remarkable flora, which supports the rich fauna and forms a Wild Life Refuge. It has hiking trails for those who love to hike, while the nearby villages are ideal for more relaxed strolls. Arnaia, Taxiarchis and Vrastama are villages of unique architectural tradition. In many of these settlements, women have created cooperatives to promote the local products and to preserve the tradition, something that gives a special meaning to this mountainous area of Greece, which is mainly known for its coastline. From Arnaia you can go east and see Ancient Stageira, while if you continue to the same direction you will end up in Stratoni, where you can turn left to Olympiada and enjoy the Aegean blue, once again. 

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