What to do
Activities in Halkidiki
Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, boat renting & Yacht Sailing
Halkidiki has one of the cleanest, most idyllic coastlines in the world. Besides the classic beach-side sports, there is a wide spectrum of water activities on offer. Snorkeling in the calm crystal-clear waters is the easiest way to admire the marvels of the sea. For those ready to jump into the deep end, scuba diving will open a whole new world of underwater life. A rich variety of fish, sponges, and octopuses can be spotted, while the area’s shipwrecks and underwater caves will keep you spellbound. Novices can take lessons at one of the area’s diving schools. Boat renting and Yacht sailing are two other popular local treats. The summer’s rays and cool evening breeze make gliding through the waters even more enjoyable. Daily cruises to the monasteries of Mount Athos, a UNESCO heritage site, are also available from the ports at Ouranoupoli and Ormos Panagias.
Walking trails, Mountains, Hills & Beaches
Hiking & Cycling
With its wide-reaching network of walking trails, connecting one village to the next, Kassandra is the perfect place to go hiking. The most breathtaking vistas of forests, mountains, wetlands and beaches are waiting to be discovered. Countless opportunities are also available to ambitious cyclists, who can plan their course through the easygoing coastal roads, or the more challenging ones on the hills above the coastal villages of the area. Almost all of these routes can be navigated digitally on Google Maps or Bing Maps.
Archeological and UNESCO heritage sites
Travelers to Halkidiki have the chance to delve into the region’s history at nearly every corner. Especially worth visiting are the Petralona caves, home to pre-historic fossils and the 700,000-year-old ‘Petralona skull’, which belonged to an early hominid. Enthusiasts of ancient Greece will be enamored by the sanctuary of Ammon Zeus in Kallithea, the ruins of the town of Olynthos, the birthplace of Aristotle ancient Stagira and the city walls at Potidea. Keen museum-goers will come across a fine selection of Byzantine artefacts at the Ioustinianos Centre of Byzantine Culture at Nea Flogita. In close proximity to Halkidiki, visitors can find 3 UNESCO heritage sites: The Archaeological site of Aigai, the Paleochristian & Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki and the Archaeological site of Philippi. Other archaeological sites of great importance near Halkidiki are Pella the capital of ancient Macedonia and Dion Archaeological Park.
Halkidiki’s diverse habitat has plenty in store for nature lovers too. In the hills above Polychrono lies Mavrobara Lake, housing rare species of the European pond terrapin (Emys orbicularis) and the Caspian turtle (Mauremys caspica). This site is one of many where wildlife can be seen in their natural habitat. Several Halkidiki’s wetland marshes, such as the bird sanctuary near Nea Fokea and the wetlands in Nea Potidea, are protected by the European Natura network.
Regarding local gastronomy, one of the top experiences is to visit an open farmers street market. Here you will find fresh tasty local fruits and vegetables of all kinds, fish, herbs, honey and eggs, most of them being sold directly by local farmers. Also, it is a great way to engage with locals and experience their everyday routine. Moreover, the fish of the day delivered by the local fishermen is an experience the travelers can enjoy by the sea either in a cozy tavern or in a gourmet restaurant. Another delicacy that cannot be missed is the Locally produced meat flavored by herbs gathered from the surrounding hills.
On the road and Off
Jeep safari offers the opportunity to discover the beauty of Greece, in a way which cannot be seen by a normal touring. It explores the natural life of Halkidiki in Kassandra, with views which will never be forgotten, looking across the Aegean Sea and the Toroneos Gulf. Usually the tours include driving through olive groves and pine forests, making a stop to Mavrobara lake with the rare species of water turtles, exploring the countryside, taking in the aroma of pine trees and seeing goats climbing mountainsides. Some of the tours may also include a stop for lunch at a traditional seaside Greek tavern or having a picnic by the sea.
Halkidiki has been a land of renowned wines since ancient times. Evidence from the 5th century BC mention the dry white wine and semi-sweet wine of Mendi (next to present day Poseidi). On the sun-drenched slopes of Halkidiki, the warm dry climate and the humidity from the Aegean Sea create a beneficial environment for winemaking. The red wine is made from Xinomavro and Limnio which is one of the oldest grape varieties in the world, along with the French varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache Rouge and Cabernet Franc. The white wine comes from the grape varieties of Assyrtiko, Roditis, Malagousia, Athiri and Sauvignon Blanc. There are several wineries open to visitors (Tsantali, Glaudia Papayianni, Porto Carras etc.), the closest one being the small “Smile of the Soul – Tzikas Estate” in Siviri. It produces organic wine with a traditional method of production.
On the southern side of the peninsula, next to the small village of Loutra, the facilities of Thermal Spa Agia Paraskevi stands out. On the cliff overlooking the Aegean Sea, the natural spring spa meets the modern spa and due to its unique composition of chemical elements it can help people from all ages overcome their health problems while rejuvenating both body and spirit. If you wish to unwind, do not hesitate to visit the thermal springs at Loutra, whose therapeutic, mineral-rich waters come complete with outdoor swimming pools, saunas and hydro-massage facilities.