Off the beaten track and mostly unspoilt, making it less well-known than many other Greek destinations, the three-pronged peninsula of Halkidiki juts dramatically into the calm, shallow waters of the Aegean Sea.
Each point offers a uniquely different character, yet all three boast the same laid-back atmosphere, breath-taking scenery and pristine white-sand beaches that are making this peninsular increasingly popular.
With its Mediterranean climate, Halkidiki is a destination you can visit any time of the year but, as with most places, there are times that are better options than others.
The peak summer months of July and August bring with them heavy crowding and oftentimes uncomfortably hot temperatures. For more pleasant temperatures that average around the high-20s and low-30s, May through to June and September to October will let you enjoy almost perfect conditions.
Picturesque Polychrono Lake is surrounded by pine trees on Halkidiki's peninsula of Kassandra and is a peaceful safe haven for the rare Testudinata turtle. The evening markets and village square of Hanioti found on this this, the more popular of the three peninsulas, also holds appeal.
On the south-coast of Kassandra, you’ll encounter a wonderful experience that’s both enjoyable and has health benefits at the Agia Paraskevi Thermal Baths. Surrounding yourself in the aroma of sulphur may not be all that tempting, but the naturally warm spring waters are said to be very therapeutic.
The elegant Sani resort has a yacht-filled marina and a Blue Flag beach. A 20-minute drive from Nea Moudania will land you in view of the luscious green backdrop that Gerakini beach boasts.
For a beach with more promise of life and party, the clubs and beach bars found at Kalithea will hold more sway, and it is both beautiful and remarkably popular for this, as well as many other, reasons.
Some of the best restaurants of the region, particular for seafood, are in Sithonia. The local speciality is sundried and grilled octopus and we’d recommend you give it a try.
Kivotos, which can be found in Sarti, is hard to beat for setting, with its tables placed right on top of the sand, giving the catch-of-the-day on offer that extra feeling of freshness.
The town of Siviri hosts the annual Kassandra Summer Festival, the highlight of which is the acoustics of the town’s impressive amphitheatre, which attracts crowds in the thousands to watch plays and concerts.
The jazz performances of the Sani Festival are a real treat, and there’s also carnival week in Polygyros.
If you’re unfortunate enough to miss all of that, your back-up plan is Kalithea, which is the best nightlife spot in Halkidiki, and is therefore your best bet for lively after-hours.
Found on the third peninsula, the spectacular Mount Amos and its Moni Simmons Petra is something you simply have to witness. It is mostly off-limits to visitors, but the boat trips around the shores of this monastic republic are an absolute must to take in the awe-inspiring architecture.
The rugged landscape of Sithonia lends itself to great hiking and a whole host of walking trails. You can also take diving courses that’ll let you explore the mysteries beneath your shoes.
There’s a great mountain-biking tour on Kassandra, a tourist path inside the Petralona Cave, and for something the kids will also enjoy, the waterpark Waterland, just outside Thessaloniki has plenty of things available to keep everyone happy.
KTEL, the local bus network, serves the major municipalities and there are places to hire a car in Thessaloniki. There are also taxis available and, if you’re staying in or near a resort, they should be easy to acquire.