Travel Guide to Halkidiki, Greece
Halkidiki is located in northeastern Greece and is known for its breathtaking scenery and crystal-clear Mediterranean waters.
It is a popular destination for travellers seeking a relaxing beach getaway, and its picturesque scenery of the mountain ranges, rolling hills and beautiful pine forest are a sight to behold.
The culture of Halkidiki is firmly rooted in the greek orthodox religion, and visitors can explore the many cultural offerings from traditional Greek villages to archaeological sites like stone fortresses and ancient olive groves.
There is plenty to do here for all travellers, from swimming and sunbathing to exploring unique historical sites and tasting delicious local cuisine.
A Short History of Halkidiki:
The name Halkidiki is derived from ‘Chalcis’, a city-state that flourished during ancient times.
It was conquered by the Macedonians before being absorbed into the Roman Empire. The region has seen plenty of battles and occupations over the centuries by the Byzantines, Ottomans and Venetians.
Nowadays, Halkidiki is a popular holiday destination for both local and international tourists, and increasingly more people are opting for it as an alternative to the more traditional Greek holiday hotspots.
Where to go:
Sithonia: Sithonia is the middle peninsula of Halkidiki, comprising a series of beaches and charming seaside towns. You can find various activities here, from camping in natural sanctuaries and exploring ancient monasteries to sunbathing and swimming in crystal-clear waters.
Possidi Beach: Possidi Beach is hailed as one of the most beautiful beaches in Halkidiki. The white sand and clear waters make a perfect spot for swimming and sunbathing. Complete with scenic sunset views and the mountains of Ossa and Pelion in the distance, this beach completes any trip to Halkidiki.
Mount Athos: Mount Athos is Greece’s most famous monastic complex, located on the eastern peninsula of Halkidiki. Visitors can explore the Byzantine churches, monasteries, and unique art collections.
Thessaloniki: Thessaloniki is the capital of Halkidiki and is a great place to visit if you want a cultural experience and a day in the city. Here you can find several historical sites, vibrant nightlife and delicious cuisine.
What to do:
Water sports: Halkidiki offers plenty of opportunities for adrenaline junkies who want to try water sports. There is something for everyone, from windsurfing to jet skiing and paddle boarding.
Hiking: There are plenty of hiking routes to explore in Halkidiki, from easy trails suitable for all ages to more challenging ones with panoramic views.
Wine-tasting: An essential for any trip to Halkidiki is a wine-tasting experience. Many local wineries and vineyards offer tours, some with restaurants and tasting events. Others provided horseback riding and guided walks.
Boat tour: Enjoy the stunning views of Halkidiki and its coastline on a boat tour. You can enjoy all the beauty Halkidiki offers, from group excursions to private charters.
Archaeological sites: Many archaeological sites in the region, such as ancient fortresses and monasteries, offer a unique insight into the past. The ruins of the ancient city of Apollonia, located on the east side of the peninsula, are a great example.
Local foods to try:
Gyros: Gyros is one of the most famous Greek dishes, and it is widely available in Halkidiki. The tasty pitta bread is filled with grilled meat, salad and tzatziki.
Souvlaki: Souvlaki is a kebab-style dish made of pork, chicken or lamb, usually served with a pitta.
Moussaka: Moussaka is a Greek casserole made of layers of sautéed eggplant, potatoes, minced meat, and creamy béchamel sauce.
Dolmades: Dolmades is a traditional Greek dish of vine or grape leaves stuffed with rice, herbs, and spices.
Saganaki: Saganaki is a cheese-based dish made of fried cheese slices, served as an appetiser with various dipping sauces.
Souvenirs to buy:
Olives and olive oil: Olives and olive oil are a staple in Greek cuisine, and you can find various kinds of olives in Halkidiki.
Macedonian jewellery: Macedonian jewellery is distinctive for its intricate designs and unique colour combinations.
Spices and herbs: You can find a variety of spices and herbs in Halkidiki, such as oregano, salt, pepper and thyme.
Local wine: There are many wineries in Halkidiki, and the region produces some of the best wines in Greece.
Ceramics and pottery: Greek pottery is renowned for its intricate designs and can be found in various stores in Halkidiki.
Is Halkidiki Expensive?
Halkidiki is a popular destination, and prices can be affordable depending on where you stay and eat. Generally, local food is cheaper than in most places in Greece, and accommodation ranges from budget hotels to luxury villas. Of course, prices can be more expensive in the more popular areas of the region, but it is still possible to find good deals.
Halkidiki enjoys a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. The temperature in the region can often reach upwards of 30°C during the summer months, and it is not uncommon for the temperature to drop below 10°C in the winter months. Rainfall is relatively low during summer, and the season is generally considered the best time to visit Halkidiki.
Where to Stay:
Hotels: Halkidiki has a variety of hotels to suit all kinds of budgets, ranging from small boutique hotels to luxurious 5-star resorts.
Airbnb: Airbnb is an excellent option if you want to stay in a more secluded area. You can find plenty of villas and apartments to rent in Halkidiki.
Camping: There are some great camping sites in the region where you can pitch a tent and enjoy the outdoors.
Resorts: There are plenty of all-inclusive resorts in Halkidiki where you can enjoy the beach, pool and various amenities without worrying about budgeting.
Hostels: For the budget-conscious traveller, hostels are an affordable way to stay. Many hostels are located near the beaches where you can visit them for very reasonable prices.
Rent a car: Renting a car is an excellent option for exploring the region at your own pace.
Try local food: Sample the local cuisine, and you won’t regret it.
Research before you go: Some beaches in Halkidiki require entrance fees, so research is best.
Bring a hat and sunscreen: The summer weather in Halkidiki can be very intense, so protecting yourself from the sun’s rays is vital.
Respect the culture: Halkidiki is a region with deep roots in the Greek Orthodox religion, so respecting the local customs and culture is essential.