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Halkidiki | beach holiday travel guide

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Halkidiki, sometimes spelt Chalkidiki, is the triple-pronged peninsula that lies on the north-east coast of mainland Greece. The Halkidiki region is primarily served by the international air and ferry ports at Thessaloniki and its characteristic three pointed prongs are called Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos, separated by two large bays.

Halkidiki is noted for its long, sandy beaches, deep coves and fast-developing tourist resorts. Kassandra, to the west and nearest the airport, has seen the heaviest influx of tourism with purpose-built resorts all around the coast.

The middle prong of Halkidiki is Sithonia - more hilly and wilder than neighbouring Kassandra and very popular with campers, although luxury hotel resorts can also be found.

The third prong of Halkidiki is Mount Athos, or Holy Mountain. Athos is wilder still than both its neighbours. The Athos area is almost wholly given over to Christian Greek Orthodox monasteries, established there since the 9th century, with tourists strictly confined to the northern end of the peninsula.

Women are banned from stepping onto monastic land on Athos and male visitors need a special permit to go ashore. Most tourists are reduced to skirting the peninsula on daily boat trips.

Halkidiki's peculiar geography gives the province the longest single stretch of coastline in Greece at around 500km and much of it made up of sandy beaches and deep bays

Most of the beach holiday resorts throughout the region are easy to reach thanks to an extensive and well maintained road system, although public transport tends to peter out in Sithonia.


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Kassandra beaches

Kassandra

Kassandra is the most popular 'leg' of the Halkidiki peninsula as it is closest to the ferry and airport services of Thessaloniki.

Both the east and west coast are blessed with large beach resorts and long sands. There is plenty of good holiday hotel accommodation linked by a good road.

The atmosphere tends to be more international than Greek, with the biggest resorts on the east coast. The west coast is quieter and much more secluded.

Sithonia beaches

Sithonia

Sithonia is less commercialised than its western neighbour Kassandra and has more luxury upmarket resorts interwoven with small fishing ports.

Camping is very popular on the Sithonia peninsula and many beaches are backed by holiday campsites. Roads are good but bus services are few.

Outside the high end luxury hotel resorts Sithonia has a rural Greek atmosphere and more character than Kassandra.

Athos beaches

Athos

Athos is the least populated of the Halkidiki peninsulas with holiday resort hotels restricted to the northern region.

Most of the Athos peninsula is a closed 'monastic state' with severe limitations on entry and tourist activity restricted to offshore boat trips.

Nevertheless many consider north Athos to be the most attractive area of Halkidiki, although there is far less provision here in the way of public transport.