Often referred to as a “three-fingered paradise,” Halkidiki in northern Greece consists of a trifecta of astonishingly beautiful peninsulas that possess sandy beaches, secluded bays, and lush green forests that meet the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea.
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Kassandra, Halkidiki's westernmost peninsula, is the most visited and resort-oriented; Sithonia, the middle peninsula, is blessed with almost 100 beaches and attracts nature lovers; and the third, the monastic state of Mount Athos, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes 20 Orthodox monasteries. Halkidiki is also home to Stagira, the birthplace of Aristotle; Petralona Cave, which is overflowing with pools, stalactites, stalagmites, and chambers and where the oldest human remains ever found in Greece were discovered; and Ancient Olynthos, an archaeological site where history comes alive. Other must-see sights include Arnaia, Halkidiki’s most authentic and well-preserved Greek village, and Aristotle’s Park, a unique theme park dedicated to the world-renowned Greek philosopher.
What to See
Ancient Stagira – Best known as the birthplace of Aristotle, one of the greatest philosophers in history, the ruins of this ancient city can be found near the town of Olympiada and include the fortification wall, foundations of homes and more.
Aristotle’s Park – After exploring Ancient Stagira visit nearby Aristotle’s Park where you will find a number of interactive instruments including optical discs, a prism, water turbine, solar clock, compass, pendulum and more. Instruments such as these were used by Aristotle to explain natural phenomena to his students, including Alexander the Great.
Kavourotrypes – Hidden behind an alluring pine forest, Kavourotrypes is a cluster of beaches that are widely regarded as the most beautiful on the Sithonia Peninsula. In addition to golden sand and crystal-clear waters, there is a captivating view of spiritual Mount Athos.
Arnaia – This picture-postcard village in the mountains of Halkidiki consists of tile-roof stone houses and narrow cobblestone streets. Because of its well-preserved traditional Macedonian architecture, the Ministry of Culture proclaimed Arnaia a “Historical Place” and “Traditional Settlement.”
Mount Athos – This UNESCO World Heritage Site and Eastern Orthodox spiritual center is an autonomous state that contains a plethora of monasteries where only male visitors are allowed. For all others, it is best seen from the sea on a boat excursion.
Petralona Cave – Located at the foot of Mount Katsika, this remarkable cave is filled with otherworldly stalactites and stalagmites and is where the Petralona Skull was found, which is believed to be over 200,000 years old, as well as a myriad of other fossils.
When to Go
The best time to visit Halkidiki is during shoulder season, approximately April through mid-June and September through October, in order to avoid the summer crowds and intense heat. However, if attending the annual Festival of Kassandra, which features music, dance, theatrical performances and cinema, plan your visit for July or August.