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Halkidiki: an alternative view | #TheLocals

 

Most of us when we think about Halkidiki we have images of crystal clear, transparent waters. Sandy beaches in an enchanting blue-green setting dominated by pine tree forests. Beautiful bars and tasty taverns.

But for me, when I think about that blessed peninsula, stones and woods come along with all the other beauties of Halkidiki. The architecture of traditional villages all over the area is stunning!

Fine examples of traditional architecture at Arnea village

Fine examples of traditional architecture at Arnea village

To begin with, Arnea, located at an altitude of 600 meters in the eastern part of Halkidiki is truly a gem! The traditional houses of the village were built from the beginning of 19thcentury until the middle of the 20th. Made of stone the two-story houses are often painted in blue, pink and ochre colour while most of them are fully restored.

Afitos village by night

Afitos village by night

Afitos: an island on the mainland! And indeed you have that feeling as you walk around the narrow cobblestone paths or enjoy the breathtaking view of Toroneos Gulf. During the evening the centre of the village which is dated back to the 3rd century BC transforms into a pedestrian area, ideal to explore the hidden stone made houses.

Enjoying a drink at the traditional village of the old town of Nikiti

Enjoying a drink at the old town of Nikiti

There are times that you just need a lazy afternoon coffee or a cool cocktail. The best option for those days is old Nikiti. Stone-made mansions with beautiful yards and balconies full of flowers will take you straight to the main square of the village where you will be able to feel the real spirit of Greece!

View from the traditional village of Parthenonas in Sithonia

Panoramic view from the traditional village of Parthenonas in Sithonia

A refreshing change from the beach? Parthenonas has the best view towards turtle island and the most spectacular sunset of Halkidiki. All the houses of the village, built in the traditional Macedonian order, are fully restored. The way on the top of the village by foot is eye candy. Don’t forget to check the centenarian tree of the main square!

Traditional house at Paliouri village

Traditional house at Paliouri village

Last but not least Paliouri is an authentic Greek village. Low houses with big yards – most of them with gardens full of flowers and vegetables. Taverns with outside sitting offering homemade products. Local sellers of exceptional honey. Few tourists, many locals and the sense of serenity.

By Anastasia Nikolaidou | Hotel manager at Stratos hotel

 

Halkidiki. My summer home 

#TheLocals

 

To be completely honest I can’t remember one single summer of my life that I did not spend in Halkidiki, whether that would be for two long, lazy, carefree months when I was fortunate enough to still be in school, or for some shorter periods of time when school life was over and career time kicked in.

Sunbathing at Possidi cape

Sunbathing on Possidi cape

Thinking about it, Halkidiki has been more than a destination; for me, Halkidiki has been a part of my life, it’s an idea, a refuge, a place that most seamlessly addressed my needs through time during the 42 summers of my life.

As a child, I spent hours swimming and snorkelling in its crystal waters, playing with friends, running off to get ice cream, being taught by my dad about fireflies hiding in the grass at night or about which urchins were edible and how we could take them off their rock without being poked! Hot, carefree summer days that started with bougatsa (a typical fyllo-based breakfast option in Northern Greece) for breakfast, beach time that was followed by fresh fish for lunch, an afternoon nap with crickets singing us to sleep and endless afternoon playtime, until my parents drove us to one of the most hospitable tavernas in a near-by village to taste grilled local meat dishes, golden hand-cut French fries and fresh salads, very often picked from the owner’s own back veggie garden.

A Greek delicacy: bougatsa for breakfast

A Greek delicacy: bougatsa for breakfast

Later on, while studying in the university and still enjoying long vacations, the trendy beach bars became a daily must-go habit. Friendly staff serving ice coffee welcomed you to their venues, and a minimum 6-hour stay at the beach bar was filled with water sports “contests”, flirty encounters with other regulars and cocktails at sunset time. And then, rushing back home for a quick bite, shower and dress up a time to kick the night off in one of the many truly cool bars, followed by another drink at a more lounge-logic small club, only to end the night dancing to the tunes of an in-house or guest DJ at one of the big clubs all around the area of Kassandra. Somewhere around 6.30 to 7 am, sunglasses were on and just before going home, you had to make a stop at one of the many bakeries just opening up and serving the freshest and most delicious cheese or spinach village pies, sausage or kasseri-filled pies and sugar-coated donuts, always accompanied by the classic choco-flavoured milk. Driving back home while enjoying the sunrise, sleep and then up again at around noon to start the day over. Oh, those times!

An amazing sunrise at Polichrono

The sun rises at Polychrono

And somewhere at around your 30th birthday, when the 2-month holidays were replaced by weekends starting in May and ending in September and a 15-day work break in August if you were lucky, things took a more… serene turn. Kassandra was “replaced” by Sithonia and its beautiful, traditional guesthouses or cosy summer apartments awaited. Either with your loved one, your family or with a small group of friends, a Greek coffee with fresh fruit, some feta and a sesame “koulouri” (haven’t tried it yet? Well, it’s your loss!) was the ideal way to start your day.

Relaxing on the beach

Relaxing on the beach

Some relax time reading your favourite book under the shade of a tree and off to one of the many secluded beaches or lounge beach bars, swimming, chilling, cocktailing and snacking until around 6 pm. The fancy dressing that was imperative during your 20s was now replaced by a dry bathing suit and a pareo or a pair of shorts, and you were ready for a traditional restaurant right by the sea or a fancier one that still admitted you in your casual apparel. For those, like me, who wanted to end their day chilling, we head back home and continued our night with some home-made cocktails under the stars. For those who still longed for more fun, easy-going outdoor bars were ready to welcome them. And yes, let me say that up to this very day, whenever I get to spend such a weekend in Halkidiki, I do prefer to wake up really early on those Monday mornings when I have to go to work, rather than “sacrifice” my Sunday evenings driving back to the city; after all, isn’t it better to spend just some more hours in the place that makes you feel like you want to stay there forever?

 

By Lina I. Vanidhis | Marketing Communications Strategist, MindTheLab.io

 

Why we visit Halkidiki every year | #TheFriends

My first visit to Halkidiki was in 1984, it was my first trip to Greece and I just fell in love with the place so much that I have visited every year since!

Janice and Barbara

There are lots of things that make Halkidiki special - the beautiful beaches, the warm blue waters, the amazing views, the delicious food, the many villages and resorts each offering different types of holiday, but most special are the local people - they make you welcome, treat you as a friend and make sure you enjoy your holidays!

We always stay at the same hotel and we are made very welcome - and we are treated like V.I.P.s, we always feel we have come home!

We have made so many happy memories in Halkidiki over the years but the most special one happens around sunset every day - it’s sitting with a glass of wine just watching the last few people on the beach, and as the sun disappears and you look out across at Sithonia everything turns pink - it’s the most beautiful sight!

We can’t wait until we can return to our second home once it’s safe to travel!

 

By our dearest friends: Janice and Barbara

Halkidiki is Europe’s answer to an exotic stay | #TheLocals

Having visited many exotic destinations around the world, I can’t help but compare each of these places with my personal favourite, Halkidiki.

Kavourotrypes beach in Sithonia

Searching the globe for that little piece of paradise can often take you to some far-flung destinations. Experiencing different cultures, great food and dreamy beaches can often come with a hefty price tag. So, if you're a seasoned traveller in search of refreshing new places for an idyllic yet adventurous vacation, Halkidiki may be just the place you are looking for. Once you discover it, your alternate vacation choices will be cast aside and you'll lose your heart to Halkidiki forever. Trust me, I know!

Beach lovers and travel bloggers would definitely consider this as Europe’s answer to an exotic stay. Where the azure waters shelve as they brush gently alongside tempting white golden sands. Halkidiki wows people from all over the world, all of whom have different expectations of what a great holiday entails.  But we manage to tick all of their required boxes. A blend of genuine traditional Greek hospitality, matched with the perfect mix of hotels from family-run to all-encompassing resort experiences, not to mention a large and exciting range of dining out. Let yourself be swept away when you see for the first time the magnificent of our coastline. From stunning verdant backdrops with rugged cliff edge coves to large sweeping beaches tempting you in to enjoy it firsthand.

Seafood in Halkidiki

The two key regions of Kassandra and Sithonia offer contrasting facilities yet complement each other perfectly, ensuring both meet the ever-increasing needs of the traveller.

Kassandra boasts cosmopolitan beaches with some of the regions finest resort hotels offering every facility you could wish for. The beaches offer numerous water sports and there are some super trendy beach bars to enjoy a cocktail whilst admiring our super sunsets with that special person perhaps. These appeals mainly to a younger target audience and affluent movers and shakers (our own little Saint Tropez). If you like! By contrast, traditional villages, and the stunning 'lazy day' beaches of Kriopigi and Paliouri are among some of the key highlights of nice n' easy Kassandra.

Kavourotrypes beach by sunset

Sithonia is the secret gem, relatively untouched by mass tourism and offers you a small piece of heaven on earthPortokali beach in Kavourotrypes, considered by many to be one of Halkidiki's finest can easily be compared to any of the top beaches found in far-flung exotic destinations. The 'Hop On' is a great way to discover and experience this first hand. Families will adore Kalogria beach. Here, a well-established beach bar offers a great environment for a day's relaxation in the crystal waters of Toroneos gulf, where the peninsula forms. Your taste buds will be invigorated here in Halkidiki. A gastronomic experience awaits, as an abundance of eateries spoils you for choice.. Needless to say, we always love those small family run tavernas with home-cooked dishes 'just like grandma used to make'. Regional cuisine is a must and you won't be disappointed.

Restaurant at Kalogria beach

You'll find a superb range of fish and seafood restaurants always reasonably priced.  The restaurant in Karydi beach is a new addition to the gourmet set here in the area and offers fine dining for those in search of that special food experience or as bloggers would say: 'Food Porn' at its best!

If you have visited Halkidiki before- you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.

If we’ve not had yet the pleasure of hosting you…what are you waiting for?

"San tin Halkidiki den exi" (translation: There is no place like Halkidiki).

Welcome!!!

By Anatoli Kapnidou | Director of Sales & Revenue
at Capsis Hotels Thessaloniki & Heraklion

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