Halkidiki is one of the top holiday destinations in Northern Greece – the blissful beachfronts and picture-perfect towns attract visitors from across Europe. However, there’s so much more to a villa holiday in Halkidiki than simply sitting by the pool or strolling along the shore. To help you make the most of your next Greek getaway, we’ve rounded up the top things to do in Halkidiki.
1. Cycle up Mount Cholomon
Densely covered in forest, Mount Cholomon covers almost all of central Halkidiki, so you really can’t miss it! However, those looking to get active on their getaway can hire bikes and weave their way up through the trees. Their reward? Stunning views at the top, but be warned: there are some tricky patches along the way, so you should already be comfortable on two wheels.
2. Explore Parthenonas
This protected village is found on the Sithonia peninsula on the slopes of Mount Itamos. Exuding a welcomingly traditional feel, it’s made up of pretty stone buildings and flagstone streets – perfect for wandering aimlessly around on sunny afternoons.
If you wish to learn a little more about this once-abandoned and now-restored settlement, consider a visit to the Folklore Museum of Parthenonas. It’s brimming with unique items to explore, plus a local distiller serving tsipouro, the beloved Greek brandy.
3. Sail across to Ammouliani island
Want to take to the waters and embark on a day trip? You won’t have to travel far to reach Ammouliani island, found in the Athos bay. Except sparkling seas, brilliantly blue skies and soft sandy beaches – everything you’d expect from a Greek paradise! There are plenty of tavernas to keep your palate cleansed throughout your visit, with many serving ultra-fresh seafood caught that very day.
4. Try the food in local tavernas
Speaking of seafood, Greek cuisine certainly celebrates the creatures of the deep, but you’ll find plenty of unique offerings in Halkidiki to sink your teeth into. Aside from the ample prawns, mussels and other fish-based dishes on offer, our favourite thing to eat here is undoubtedly kleftiko. Simple yet effective, the signature requires marinating lamb overnight before wrapping it up and slow-cooking with potatoes, onions and herbs.
If you’re off meat, you’ll find veggie-friendly moussakas across the region, plus plenty of crisp salads and indulgent cheeses to sample. Then it’s time for the main event: spoon sweet, a thick, sugary fruit preserve enjoyed with ice cream or Greek yogurt.
5. Stay up all night in Kassandra
Kassandra is widely considered the most popular of the three peninsulas, with many of Halkidiki’s top resorts found here. However, you’ll also find a bustling nightlife in Kallithea including Ahoy, which is one of Greece’s largest open-air clubs with space for 3000 party-goers.
Prefer the feeling of dancing with the sand between your toes? There are various beach bars too, but if you’re keen to avoid the club scene altogether, take a trip to Hanioti and browse its bustling evening markets instead.
6. Go back in time at the Temple of Ammon Zeus
Another reason to visit Kassandra, the Temple of Ammon Zeus is a fascinating archaeological find, discovered by accident in 1969 when the Ammon Zeus hotel was being constructed. Excavations show that it was founded in the second half of the 8th century BC, serving as the sanctuary of Dionysus, before being rebuilt in the 1st century AD by the Romans. You’ll learn more about its origins (and namesake) throughout your visit, but nothing compares to the feelings of awe and wonder this place conjures up.
7. Take a boat tour of Mount Athos
Serving as the easternmost peninsula, Mount Athos is unmissable owing to its cluster of Byzantine monasteries. However, only men are actually allowed to visit them, and merely 10 non-orthodox members of the public per day plus 100 orthodox or Greek citizens.
If you’re not looking to grab one of those coveted spots 6 months in advance, or you’re visiting Halkidiki with women, we’d suggest taking a boat trip around the area instead. Vessels aren’t allowed to get within 500m of the shore, so you may need to bring a pair of binoculars along, but the views are still truly spectacular – you may even spy dolphins swimming alongside you too!
8. Uncover the beautiful bays of Sithonia
Sithonia is made for those who love to explore, uncovering their very own hidden gems and secret spots along the way. You’ll find both thick forests and breathtaking beaches here alongside charming fishing villages – great for grabbing a snack or light meal to fuel further adventures.
The exciting challenge comes from trying to locate the various coves and bays across this middle peninsula – you may even find some abandoned fortresses along the way…
9. Attend the annual Sardine Festival
If you time your visit right and visit towards the end of July, you’ll have the chance to attend the Sardine Festival in Nea Roda. While sardines may not be for everyone, this cultural tradition sees the grilled fish served alongside other small plates and ample house wine (if you needed additional convincing). Authentic Greek music is also played, making for a lively atmosphere that’s wonderfully suited to the summer season.
10. Relax at the thermal spa
If all of those things to do in Halkidiki sound like a lot, never fear: situated on a clifftop with stunning views of the Aegan Sea, the Thermal Spa of Agia Paraskevi will rejuvenate your body and mind. There are various treatments on offer, including classic back and neck massages, but the real draw here is the swimming pool. It’s filled with thermal water that’s said to have healing properties, resulting from a unique combination of chemical elements – ready to try it out for yourself?
Now that you’ve read about the top things to do in Halkidki, are you tempted to book your very own trip there? If so, you’re in luck: we’re got a stunning selection of Halkidiki holiday homes for you to browse. To help you along with the planning process, our dedicated concierge team are also on hand to help with finding the perfect one for you and your family.
Hope to visit there some day