Halkidiki, Greece

Halkidiki, Greece

The Halkidiki peninsula is located in the northern part of the Aegean Sea and is distinguished by a very interesting “three-pronged” shape, which is formed by three thin elongated “finger” peninsulas. These are Kassandra, Sithonia and Agion-Oros (Athos). Halkidiki is the main resort of mainland Greece. Unlike the southern islands, they are buried in bright greenery even at the height of summer. The resort as a whole offers a calm and comfortable stay, including a family one. There are hotels of all categories, from five-star hotels to cheap apartments.

Halkidiki is famous for its clean beaches and calm seas, but apart from relaxing on the coast, there is something to do here. The ruins of several ancient cities have been preserved, there are archaeological and anthropological museums. The main religious attraction – the monastery complex on Mount Athos – is not available to everyone, so a sea excursion around the closed peninsula is in demand. For Greece climate and geography, please check TopPharmacySchools.

Resorts and regions of Halkidiki

Each peninsula of Chalkidiki has something special. On Kassandra you can see the Byzantine observation tower in Agios Pavlos, the monastery of Mount Athos in Nea Foki, the old traditional village of Afytos, the thermal spas in Agia Paraskevi. On Sithonia – the excavations of ancient Olynthos with the oldest mosaic in the country (5th century BC), the old villages of the Parthenon, Sikiyu and Nikiti, the vineyards of Porto Carras, the ancient ruins of Toroni and its old harbor of Porto Koufo. Mount Athos is an amazing sight from the rocky cape of Kartalia. And, of course, the famous Athos with its 20 Orthodox monasteries and numerous sketes, the largest and most significant monastic community in Greece.

Tourists often ignore the northern part of Chalkidiki, the one that has no access to the sea. And in vain: there is also a lot to see here. For example, the traditional mountain villages of Arnea, Taxiaris, Agios Prodromos; the cave of Petralona with amazing stalactites and stalagmites, as well as the oldest traces of human presence found in Greece; Archaeological Museum in Polygyros, ancient Stageira, where Aristotle was born, or the forest on Mount Holomontas.

There are excellent beaches along the entire coast of the peninsula. When choosing an area for recreation, you need to consider some features. Kassandra is fun and noisy, mostly young people come here – in many towns there are beach discos at night, and housing is cheaper. In Sithonia, the price tag is twice as high, the rest there is more calm and respectable.

Communication and Wi-Fi

For calls to Russia, it is better to use a local SIM card. There are 3 major mobile operators in Greece – Vodafone, Q-Telecom and Cosmote. The best rates are offered by Vodafone and Frogmobile (a Cosmote subsidiary). The cost of a SIM card is 5-10 EUR (together with the connection of a package of international calls), a minute of conversation with the house will cost 0.15-0.35 EUR. Tariff plans and recharge cards are sold in mobile phone stores and Germanos (Frogmobile) stores.

To connect, you need a passport and a Greek address (a hotel is suitable for tourists).

Free Wi-Fi is rare in Halkidiki. Many hotels are equipped with access points, but you will not be able to connect in public places. The exception is some cafes and restaurants. It is worth looking at the tariffs of cellular companies for mobile Internet. Most often, when buying a SIM card, the price already includes 200-500 Mb. On Frogmobile, you can connect a daily package – 20 Mb per day for 1 EUR. There are internet cafes.

Diving and snorkeling

Dive sites near Halkidiki are not as interesting and diverse as those on the Red Sea, so it’s definitely not worth going here for the sake of scuba diving. However, it will work to dilute the beach excursion program with active recreation in the form of diving. Along the coast of Kassandra there are about a dozen good places for diving. There you can see the inhabitants of the Aegean Sea – sponges, scorpion fish, tuna, octopuses, cuttlefish, starfish and many others. Moray eels, eels, lobsters and groupers are found in the crevices. Not far from the town of Agia Paraskavei there is a cave and a tunnel, which are only partially under water, people often go there for snorkeling.

Despite the low popularity of diving in these places, there are many centers and clubs on the peninsula, there is even a Russian one at the entrance to Halkidiki. The range of services is standard – dives for beginners and pros, snorkeling, daily safari and PADI training. One swim for a beginner diver will cost 55 EUR, for an experienced diver – 45 EUR. You can dive with a mask and snorkel for 50 EUR. Training programs lasting from 1 to 10 days and certification will cost 200-500 EUR. Many diving clubs provide equipment for rent – about 25 EUR per day.

Shopping

Shopping in the usual sense exists only in large cities – Nea Kallikratia, Poliiros, Nea Moudania and others. Boutiques and shopping centers are open there, the assortment includes goods of world brands Max Marra, Mex, Mango, Zara, Levi’s. The sales season is in the second half of summer, and items from last year’s collections with discounts of up to 80% can be found at the J&K Outlet in Fourka and Haniot. In search of inexpensive products, you should look at the market, they are in almost every resort village. They usually work from early morning until lunch, but everything is fresh, and prices are good. It is better to go to Thessaloniki for a fur coat, on the peninsula there is a risk of overpaying 500-1000 EUR. If the check for a fur coat is more than 1000 EUR, you will have to pay a tax at customs – 30% (usually sellers agree to indicate a smaller amount in the document).

Olive oil and olive oil-based cosmetics are brought as gifts to relatives and friends from Halkidiki, as well as products of local craftsmen – ceramics and antique painted figurines, home textiles made of wool and cotton with traditional Greek ornaments, and much more. Of the edible, in addition to butter, Greek honey, raki vodka and metaxa cognac are in demand.

Cuisine and restaurants of Halkidiki

Thousands of tourists come to Halkidiki to taste the Greek cuisine. It contains a lot of fresh vegetables, meat and seafood. Sauces occupy a special place in the culinary culture – they are added to almost all dishes here. Tzadzyki, a yoghurt sauce with garlic and cucumbers, is in demand among tourists. The famous Greek salad is to be found on the menu called “rustic”. Shrimps and octopuses are served as separate grilled dishes and added to salads.

Of alcoholic beverages, you should pay attention to the “retsina”. It is a white wine aged in Chalkidiki pine barrels with a characteristic resinous aftertaste. It costs a little – 3-7 EUR per bottle.

Street food is widespread in Halkidiki. Local fast food establishments (“souvlaki gyros”) serve the usual Greek homemade food, adapted for the fast food format. This is one of the most budgetary ways to have a tight bite – “suvlaki” (small skewers) or “gyros pita” (bread cake with meat, vegetables and yogurt sauce) with a drink will cost 7-12 EUR. Breakfast in a small cafe will cost 10-20 EUR per person.

It is believed that the tavern is an inexpensive cafe for locals, but in Halkidiki the average check in them ranges from 20-60 EUR for a dinner for two with wine. It all depends on the popularity of the institution, location, as well as the set of dishes – exotic lobsters significantly increase the amount of the bill.

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