General Information on Halkidiki
Chalkidiki is one of the Prefectures of Greece, located at the southeastern portion of Central Macedonia. Its particular shape reminds of three fingers pointing to the Aegean. These peninsular are Cassandra, Sithonia and Mt. Athos. The prefecture of Chalkidiki is a real paradise with interesting coves and bays, rocky headlands, beaches with golden sand and crystal-clear waters, olive groves and pine forests.
Of the three “fingers”, Cassandra is ideal for all-night partying and bustling beaches, while Sithonia is best for nature lovers, quietness and deserted beaches. The third part belongs to the monastic community of Athos, the Holy Mountain. Visitations are strictly regulated. The villages of Chalkidiki are also interesting, while its capital, Polygiros, is situated in the centre of the peninsula, 69km from Thessaloniki.
History of Halkidiki
According to Greek mythology, Chalkidiki was the place where the Gigantomachy, the battle between the giants and the Olympians, took place. After the victory of the Olympian Gods, Enceladus, the Giants' leader, was buried alive in Cassandra. Since then, he occasionally tries to break free, causing earthquakes. Cassandra was named after Cassandros, King of Macedonia. Sithonia was named after Sithon, the son of Poseidon, god of sea, and Athos owes its name to the giant Athos, who, according to mythology, created the mountain, after throwing an enormous rock at Zeus.
The excavations at the Petralona Cave have proven that organised settlements have existed in the area since the Neolithic period (5000 B.C.). Established organized societies flourished in the western and central Chalkidiki around the 4th century B.C, with the city of Olynthos being the most important one. The region was first inhabited by Thracians and Pelasgians. During the 5th century, Chalkidiki participated in the Persian Wars and after losing, Persians killed all inhabitants of Olynthos for punishment. After the victory of Greece in Salamina (480 B.C.), the inhabitants of Olynthos and Potidaia revolted and drove the Persians out. After the Persian Wars, most of the cities in the area joined the Athenian Alliance and participated in the Peloponnesian Wars (431-404 B.C.). In 348 B.C., Chalkidiki was annexed to the Macedonian kingdom, under Philip’s control. In 168 B.C., the region became part of the Roman Empire and, later, Byzantium.
In 1430 A.D., the Ottomans captured Chalkidiki from the Venetians, and despite many revolutionary attempts, the region was finally liberated in 1912. In 1921, refugees from Asia Minor, Eastern Thrace and Bulgaria moved to Chalkidiki, bringing new economic and political strength. They founded about 30 new villages and small towns.
Towns & Villages in Halkidiki
Polygiros: This historical town is situated at the foot of Mount Holomondas and is the capital of Chalkidiki. The town is built amphitheatrically at an altitude of 500m. The houses are spread on the slopes of Prophitis Ilias hill, offering a breathtaking view of the three peninsulas of Chalkidiki. This fertile countryside with vineyards and olive groves has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The interesting past of the city is revealed at the local museum, which houses rare exhibits from the prehistoric and historical periods.
Cassandra: This is the biggest town of the peninsula, with 25,000 inhabitants during summer months. It is one of the oldest municipalities of Chalkidiki and is the cultural, commercial and administrative centre of the area. The city has many beautiful beaches, tourist facilities and active public services.
Nea Phokea: This city was founded after 1922, by refugees from eastern Thrace, on the site of ancient Potidaea, an ancient city founded by Corinthian colonists around 600 B.C. It is one of the prettiest villages of Chalkidiki and it is located near the canal which opened in 1930. While in the area, it is worth visiting the canal, the ruins of the historical castle and the church of Taxiarches.
Kallithea: Kallithea, like Nea Phokea, was also founded by refugees in 1922. It lies 51km south of Polygiros and 90km away from Thessaloniki. It is a cosmopolitan village with long pine beaches, many tourist facilities and an intense nightlife. The village also has archaeological interest, as, among others, boasts an 8th century sanctuary dedicated to Dionysius and the Nymphs.
Porto Koufo: This is the southernmost point of Sithonia. The village is surrounded by dense vegetation and has an amazing golden beach and a safe natural harbour.
Nea Skioni: The village was established after 1930, by former inhabitants of the inland village Tsaprani. It is situated at the southwestern side of Cassandra. It is a traditional fishing village with a unique landscape and long sandy beaches. It has numerous hotels, shops and bars and interesting sites, such as the Holy Trinity Church and the Church of Virgin Mary Phaneromeni.
Neos Marmaras: This is one of the most cosmopolitan villages in Chalkidiki. It was built amphitheatrically on a hill in 1922 by refugees from Asia Minor. It now attracts thousands of visitors every summer. The area boasts some of the most beautiful beaches of Chalkidiki. Golden sand, eucalyptus trees and a picturesque harbour lined with excellent fish taverns compose the set of a restless place ideal for those who want to enjoy more cosmopolitan holidays.
Parthenonas: This traditional village is situated on the slopes of a mountain. There are taverns, rooms to rent and an interesting folk museum.
Ouranoupoli: The town was also founded by refugees from Asia Minor and it is situated 147km from Thessaloniki. The city is the last stop before reaching the monastic republic of Mt. Athos. Ouranoupoli has less than 1000 inhabitants and many beautiful sandy beaches.
Beaches in Halkidiki
The beaches of Chalkidiki are famous worldwide and are considered the best in Greece. 45 of them have been awarded with the Blue Flag. With over 500 km of coastline and more than 300 days of sunshine annually, Chalkidiki is the obvious choice for lovers of sea and sun. A unique feature of the Prefecture is the perfect combination of divine beaches and incredibly dense vegetation and forests.
The best beaches of Chalkidiki are on the third peninsula of Mt. Athos. Unfortunately, due to its peculiarity, these beaches are not open to the public. However, Cassandra and Sithonia compensate by offering amazing, sandy beaches and excellent waters. The table below shows beaches of Chalkidiki with the Blue Flag award
How to Reach Halkidiki
Casssandra Peninsula: There are several buses daily from Thessaloniki to Kallithea (1 ½ hours) on the east coast, Pefkohori (2 hours) via Kryopigi and Haniotis, Paliouri (2 hours) and Agia Paraskevi (2 ½ hours).
Sithonian Peninsula: There are daily services to Neos Marmaras (2 ½ hours) and Sarti (3 ½ hours).
Athos Peninsula: Entry to Athos is usually by boat from Ouranoupolis, which is accessible by bus (7 buses daily) from the Chalkidiki bus terminal in Thessaloniki.
Weather in Halkidiki
The climate of Chalkidiki is typically Mediterranean. It is generally mild with limited precipitation, and cool summers with a lot of sunshine. The average low temperature is between December and February, from 3 to 19 degrees. The average high temperature, during summer, is 23 - 34 degrees Celsius.
Top 10 Destinations in Halkidiki
All Destinations in Halkidiki
Map of Halkidiki