Culture and Village
Of course, the full charm of Halkidiki goes far beyond the beach. The monasteries of Mt Athos stand tall – as they have done for more than 1,000 years and will continue to do so as UNESCO World Heritage Monuments. And the archaeological sites of Ancient Stagira (the birthplace of Aristotle) and Αncient Toroni (dating from the 8th century BC) command the attention of all the family.
But you must take the time to travel through villages that have preserved – and often even revived – their rich cultural traditions: Parthenonas, on the slopes of Mount Itamos, or the old town of Nikiti, another wonderful village in Sithonia. The former silver and lead mining villages of Mademohoria, in central Halkidiki, are certainly worth a visit, among them Paleochori, below Mt Holomondas, or perhaps Megali Panagia, Neochori or Stratoniki… Truth be told, there are any number of coastal and mountain villages with compelling stories to share.
Take a deep breath, you’re about to get hungry. In such a rich and fertile landscape, it is unsurprising that nature gives generously. Exceptional quality olive oil pours with golden ease and table olives have rightly been given Protected Designation of Origin status. And from the ubiquitous goats, come milk and cheese (feta, myzithra, graviera).
Organic fruit and vegetables are offered in abundance, changing with the seasons or preserved as jams and marmalades. We won’t even talk about the fish caught daily, but we will dwell on the honey – with the scent of pine (they say Aristotle was a fan) or the distinctive tasting Sousoura honey, referring to a plant with medicinal properties that grows locally. But the last word goes to the region’s orange cake… Heaven comes in many forms.
Inspired by nature
Hiking paths spread right through Halkidiki. How else could it be in a location blessed by mountain and sea? Some routes have been inspired by the archaeological sites they pass by (Ancient Stagira), and others by nature (the pine forest of Kryopigi, in Kassandra) or the nearby monasteries (Ouranoupolis). And with such rich biodiversity around you, sometimes it’s just a single magical spot (Varvara Waterfalls).
And, of course, with all that blue and favourable sailing conditions, the boating options are plentiful. The Nautical Club of Thessaloniki offers sailing lessons and yachts can be hired from the Sani and Porto Carras marinas.