Halkidiki is the birthplace of Aristotle, the philosopher and teacher of Alexander the Great. It is a peninsula formed by the extension of Macedonia into the Aegean Sea that takes the shape of a trident, it was the trident of Poseidon in ancient Greece. The three peninsulas are called Kassandra, Sithonia, and Mount Athos.
The deeply indented coastline of over 500km's is of outstanding natural beauty with combinations of coves and bays, rocky headlands, beaches with golden sands and crystalline waters, olive and pines forests, traditional villages and modern tourist resorts. There are fantastic walking trails through the pine forests where you can enjoy the nature and the wild flowers which produce local honeys.
The ever-present sea gives the place a mild Mediterranean climate with limited rainfall whilst sunshine and warm summers are well known. It enjoys over 300 days of sunshine on average annually.
Apart from these natural beauties, Halkidiki has been a place of cultural development ever since prehistoric times. The inhabitants are a blend of old-established people and refugees from Asia Minor, and they unite the flame of local tradition with that of the "lost homelands".
Halkidiki can be easily accessed by car and bus, with regular bus schedules. It is also very close to Thessaloniki (60 km) and Macedonia Airport (Thessaloniki).
Kassandra is the most western peninsula of Halkidiki’s trident and the most populated. It has immense sandy beaches and pine-clad locations that reach the aquamarine sea. There are well organized hotel accommodations and plenty of entertainment centers that provide a wonderful environment for vacationing to tourists from all over the world but also to weekend travellers from Greece.
The first resort you come to is Nea Moudania, Halkidiki's largest town and commercial centre with strategic position. Its most important cultural contribution during summer months is the "Sardine Festival" and the "Festival of the Sea" attracting lots of visitors every summer.
Next is the village of Nea Potidea and its famous canal that once separated Kassandra from mainland Halkidiki. Potidea has been a Corinthian colony and from the 7th century BC onwards a member of the Athenian Alliance. In 357BC was destroyed by Philippos, the king of Macedonia but was rebuilt in 316BC by king Kassandros, also king of Macedonia, who also opened the canal which fortified the whole peninsula. It was besieged by the Romans and the Goths and destroyed by the Huns in 540AD. It was rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Justinian and fortified with a wall parallel to the canal. In 1426 the wall was reinforced by the Venetians and in 1821 it was restored by the local rebels (against the Turks) who defended themselves behind it. On 14 November 1821 the Holocaust of Kassandra took place.
Sithonia, the second peninsula of Halkidiki, is located between the peninsulas of Kassandra and Mount Athos. It was named after Sithonas, son of Poseidon, the god of the sea in Greek mythology.
In Sithonia you will find the perfect harmony of mountain and sea, a symphony of blue and green. A succession of fishermen's hamlets, picturesque little harbours, beaches deserted or crowded, covered in pine vegetation where the sea and the sky tranquil you. It is the place where the flawless beauty of Mediterranean pine trees, the white sandy beaches, the clean turquoise waters and the azure sky capture the visitors from the first moment. The exciting landscape attract all types of tourists, especially the nature lovers who want to escape from the urban life.
Nikiti is the gateway to Sithonia and one of the oldest villages of Halkidiki with its narrow streets and traditional stone-built houses definitely worth exploring. As you travel from Nikiti though the mountains you can’t miss seeing the beehives lined up in neat rows under the pine trees. Nikiti produces about 200.00 tones oh honey per year, a record amount of any region in Greece.
Athos is situated in the eastern part and is most enchanting peninsula of Halkidiki. It is the oldest surviving monastic community in the world and the only place in Greece which is totally devoted to praying and worshiping to God, and thus it is called the Holy Mountain (Agio Oros in Greek). It is a unique monastic republic, which, although part of Greece, it is governed by its own local administration.
According to the legend, the Virgin Mary and Mother of God, was sailing accompanied by St John the Evangelist on her way from Joppa to Cyprus to visit Lazarus. When the ship was blown out of course to then pagan Athos it was forced to drop anchor near the port of Klement, close to the present monastery of Iviron. The Virgin walked ashore and, overwhelmed by the wonderful and wild natural beauty of the mountain she blessed it and asked her Son for it to be her garden. A voice was heard; "let this place be your inheritance and your garden, a paradise and a heaven of salvation for those seeking to be saved". Since that moment the mountain was consecrated as the garden of the Mother of God and is out of bounds to any other women.
At the foot of Mount Holomontas at an altitude of 600m you will find the small town of Arnea consisted of traditional houses. It is the place for tourist searching for more than sea and beach as it has a rich history and traditions, Arnea is famous for it's wines and excellent hand-woven fabrics, not only you can buy these at the local exhibitions, but also you can actually see how they are made.
Taxiarhis is built near the crown of Mount Holomontas at an altitude of 650m. Tradition connects Taxiarhis with Mount Athos (Holy Mountain) and especially with the monastery of Dohiarios and the monastery dependency of Archangel Michael. The village has its name after the patron saint of the village, Archangel Michael.
The people mainly deal with timber, produce of cordwood, agriculture and cattle breeding. Also reputable are the builders, the stonecutters and the craftsmen from Taxiarhis who work all over Halkidiki. Many women deal with weaving, knitting and needlework, while an important part of the income emanates from the culture of fir for Christmas trees and continuously more people deal with agrotourism.
Ammouliani is the only inhabited island of Halkidiki with a permanent population of aprox. 600 residents which are occupied mainly with fishing and tourism. It is situated in the gulf of Mount Athos and is connected to the mainland with a ferry boat service with the opposite coast of Tripiti. The itineraries of the boats are in regular time intervals throughout the day.
It has an extent of 4,5 kilometres. There are lots of hills and small valleys on the island which have blended in with the olive trees and low vegetation but there are no systematic cultures so the ecosystem remains untouched.