Are you planning a vacation to Halkidiki? Want to hear more about our Halkidiki experience? What to do and see in Halkidiki Greece? Scroll down and read our Halkidiki guide.
After our amazing vacation to Zakynthos, we knew we must go back to Greece. To explore more of this beautiful country, its delicious cuisine, culture, and nature. This time, destiny (and cheap flight tickets) took us to Halkidiki, a unique 3 fingers shape peninsula in the northern part of Greece. Even though this area is not an island, each peninsula is very narrow, and covered with sea from both sides.
The main attraction of Halkidiki is of course the beaches. There are so many to choose from, each with its style and vibe, but all share beautiful crystal water and nature. Every day we were hopping from beach to beach, snorkeling, drinking, relaxing, and enjoying the good life.
Halkidiki is full of picturesque traditional villages, tavernas with the freshest and tastiest food you can imagine, lively bars,.and also green nature with wildlife. A perfect mix for a perfect vacation.
When to go
Halkidiki has a mediterranean climate with hot and dry summers and mild winters. We visited Halkidiki in mid August and we have to admit that it wasn’t a good idea. Due to the high season, all the beaches were overcrowded, prices were higher, rental cars more expensive…
We would say that the best time for the visit is in the shoulder season – May, June or September.
Transport in Halkidiki
The best way to explore Halkidiki is by car. It will cost you a bit more but when you look at the freedom and comfort, you will soon agree that it is worth it. With a car, you also see much more places than you usually would. Also, most of the places below are only possible to visit by car.
We booked our car through the RyanAir app (AbbyCars) and we got it at the airport. For 5 days we paid 170€ for the car, and the gas was 70€ all together. We were there in August, which is the top season. Out of the season, you can easily get a car for less than 20€ a day.
There is also public transportation from Thessaloniki but from what we have heard it is a hustle. It takes so much more time and you need to change buses regarding your final destination.
Food in Halkidiki – What to do and see in Halkidiki
Just to think about it, gives us an appetite.
The Mediterranean cuisine was always one of our favorites, and the Halkidiki kitchen brings it to perfection. Fresh catch from the sea, the best olive oil you can get, locally grown vegetables, herbs, and delicious cheeses. All come together for traditional dishes that overpast time.
Because we don’t eat much meat, there is no meat dishes described here. But all the meat lovers will feast with moussaka, pastitsio, souvlaki, soutzoukakia…
Here are some of the dishes and food we were lucky to experience in Halkidiki:
Fried zucchini – forget about french fries, the fried zucchinis are the new contender for the best deep-fried snack. Thinly sliced zucchini, covered with specially mixed batter, deep fried to perfection.
Grilled octopus – usually served 2-3 octopus legs per portion, seasoned with local herbs. Grill until tender in the oven.
Tzatziki – creamy yogurt dip, mixed with cucumbers, garlic, and lemon. A greek classic.
Grilled eggplant – a whole eggplant grilled on the barbecue, served cut open with feta cheese, fresh tomatoes, and parsley. Drizzled with local extra virgin olive oil.
Greek salad – another classic. A mixed salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, colorful peppers, and olives. On the top are a nice chunk of fetta cheese and course the local olive oil.
Peas stew (Arakas Laderos Kokkinistos) – hearty warm stew, that contains green peas, potatoes, carrots, and onions. Cooked in tomato sauce with extra virgin oil and fresh dill. A true traditional Greek dish.
Grilled cheese – halloumi or any other hard cheese grilled on the barbecue. So simple but so good, you can’t ask for more.
Sardines and anchovies – a staple dish in every Halkidiki taverna. Fresh catch from the sea, deep fried or grilled served with lemon.
Ouzo – the official alcohol drink of Greece. Anise-flavored liquor served with ice and water.
Dolmadakia – Stuffed Grape Leaves, with rice, fresh dill, and mint. Usually served with a small tzatziki dip. A great appetizer to go along with a cold beer.
What to do and see in Halkidiki Greece
Halkidiki consists of three Peninsulas (also called three fingers), stretching into the Aegean Sea.
The first peninsula, Kassandra, is the closest to Thessaloniki, making it the most popular one. It is alive, it has good nightlife and beautiful beaches.
Sithonia is the second fighter and it is known for its pristine nature, amazing campgrounds, and stunning beaches.
The third peninsula, mysterious Athos is something very unique. It is the spiritual capital of the Orthodox Christian world and home to 2000 monks. Only men are permitted to enter the Mount Athos region, and even men need a special permit which is not easy to get. Women that want to experience Mount Athos can do it only by boat, where you can see the monasteries from the sea.
Nea Fokea (Kassandra)
A beautiful small seaside village, located on the Kassandra peninsula. We stayed in Nea Fokea for most of our vacation and loved every minute of it. The village has a tiny cute beach, with a bar (beware, it’s a bit pricey), a short promenade with a couple of seafood restaurants, and a well-preserved Byzantine tower of St. Pau above the port.
But for us, the most special part of Nea Fokea was the main square.
Every evening the square came to life, with a mixture of the local crowd and tourists. kids were playing joyfully outside, while the grownups are drinking ouzo and feasting on traditional dishes in the tavernas around the square.
Mavrobara Lake – Turtle lake (Kassandra)
After a short off-road drive from the Kassandra main road, we arrived at this natural gem. Located in the forest of Polihrono, the Mavrobara Lake is mostly famous for its rare species of water turtles. Immediately we could notice cute little turtles, swimming happily around the lake. Some of them came close to the shore, hoping to get some treats from the visitors.
There is also a nice short path that covers the lake, where u can get a view of different corners of the lake and also enjoy the surrounding nature.
Afitos (Kassandra) – What to do and see in Halkidiki
Unlike Nea Fokea, Afitos is a much more bigger and touristic village. Its popularity comes from its special charm, traditional classic village, with colorful stone-built houses, stone paved streets, and allies.
The village offers some great views of the peninsulas, and in general, it’s a great place to take some photos. Along the village, we saw many tavernas, caffès, bars, and souvenir shops. And overall the village is lively and vivid during the day.
Sani Wetlands (Kassandra) – What to do and see in Halkidiki
This ecosystem is home to over 200 species of birds, including some rare endangered ones—a paradise for birds and wildlife enthusiasts. We tried to get to the swamps area with our rented car, but it was almost impossible to reach, even though the GPS shows there was a way.
So after a few tries, we decided to just observe the Sani Wetlands from afar but still managed to see the many birds occupying the waters around. For people who want to explore more, there’s an option to sign up for a guided tour twice a week.
Glarokavos beach (Kassandra) – What to do and see in Halkidiki
Our host recommended this beach to us, and we were very excited to see Glarokavos beach and its nearby lagoon. The white sandy beach is very long, and all covered by trees and flora, and in every corner, there is a spot with a shade to protect you from the harsh sun.
Due to the shade and closeness to the shore, a lot of people come there to camp, and we saw many tents and small camps along the coast. A perfect camping spot.
In the end, we had a mixed feeling about Glarokavos beach, the lagoon itself wasn’t as impressive as we expected and there was garbage everywhere (we even saw old microwaves), on the other hand, the water was amazing, crystal clear full with fishes (great for snorkeling), the vibe was peaceful and the trees gave us protection throughout the day.
Possidi beach (Kassandra) – What to do and see in Halkidiki
We were looking forward to this beach, after seeing some birds-eye view pictures on the internet. The uniqueness of Possidi is due to its long beach strip shape like a tongue that goes towards the water. Unfortunately for us, when we arrived, the beach was super crowded and it was a bit of a hassle to find a good parking space.
We also found out that to get to the tongue shape area we had to walk quite a lot, and in the burning sun of august it was just too much for us. In the end, we decided to seat along the beach and only saw the special shape from afar.
Possidi beach has beautiful white sand and the water is amazing, but there are no shade options so it’s highly recommended to bring a sun umbrella with you.
Kavourotrypes beach – Orange beach (Sithonia)
Considered one of the best beaches in Greece, with its beautiful shining turquoise water, the deep green of the trees, and pearly white rocks. The colors of Kavorotrypes beach are just out of this world.
Sadly for us, this is one of the most popular beaches in Halkidiki, and when we arrived it felt chaotic. Millions of cars desperately trying to find parking space, screaming children, loud music, and piles of piles of people. It was a big downer for us, and we decided to leave immediately.
Fava beach (Sithonia) – What to do and see in Halkidiki
This was one of our favorite beaches. Located in the more nature-oriented peninsula of Sithonia, surrounded by green pine tree forest and covered by many shapes and forms of rocks and boulders. We even found a rock shaped like a sofa, on the water, and spend our time sitting there while enjoying a cold beer.
The vibe of Fava beach was super chill, with a mixture of local families and young couples. Without loud music or bars, it is a great beach to relax and avoid crowds.
Platania beach (Sithonia)
One of the most peaceful beaches we came across during our vacation in Halkidiki. The beach is quite small, divided into two parts, the main beach and a smaller part to the south after crossing a small rocky hill. We felt almost alone on Platania beach and loved every second of it.
Besides the beauty of the beach, there is also a great view of the majestic mount Athos rise from the horizon.
A perfect vacation
As we already mentioned, we love Greece and now also Halkidiki. It gave us everything we look for in a vacation. Endless natural beaches, warm welcoming locals, and the best food we could ask for. Halkidiki is a safe bet for everyone whos looking to relax and enjoy the good life.