Ancient fortresses meet secluded beaches
“There’s nowhere like Halkidiki” so say in-the-know locals and indeed this area comprised of three peninsulas or ‘legs’ as the Greeks call them is strikingly diverse. The first leg Kassandra attracts a younger, fun-loving crowd with its bars and endless coastline lined with sun beds. Sithonia offers wilder beaches, good camping, low-key seafront bars and plenty of activities. Athos takes you off the beaten track along ancient footpaths, under secret waterfalls and out to tiny islets in the Aegean – with the Holy Mountain as a dramatic backdrop.
Stop off at Cape Possidi for a trio of tempting beaches. Go birdwatching at the Sani wetlands, home to over 200 bird species, which has several trails through the woods. Look out for rare or endangered species such as the glossy ibis, greylag goose, corn bunting and Montagu’s harrier.
Kassandra is well known for its nightlife. The party tends to get going around 11pm, and in many beach bars doesn’t stop until well into the next morning. Head to Club Ahoy in Kallithea for an open-air party to remember. For the perfect recovery, head to the thermal springs and hydromassage pools at Agia Paraskevi, taking in the panoramic sea views. Pop into the country’s largest organic winery, Domaine Porto Carras. Take a two-hour tasting tour of the award-winning vintages, followed by a stroll through vineyards with fine sea views.
Follow the Koutsoupia to Siviri hiking trail along the clifftops giving inspiring views of the shoreline, wildlife including rabbits, lizards, turtles and butterflies, and a Roman villa and an early Christian temple among many ancient ruins. Visit the historic settlement of Arnaia, one of 12 remaining iron villages in central Halkidiki. Take in classic Macedonian architecture, snaking country lanes and delicious local produce. Get your flights to Thessaloniki today and start exploring.