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“Like Halkidiki, nowhere” | Tips by #TheLocals

When someone tells you “Write something about your favourite place in Halkidiki”, you realize, before he even finishes his sentence, that such a thing would
simply be impossible…

Airview of the Kassandra peninsula

From the evergreen, perennial oak trees, that cast a spell on you, when you find yourself in the Holomontas forest in Autumn, the crystal clear waters in the Kavourotrypes and Aegeopelagitika beaches, the delicious fresh fish in Porto Koufo, one a hot afternoon while the cicadas play the 3rd symphony of Beethoven, to the full moon drinks
accompanied by friends’ laughter at the Athitos "balcony"… What can anyone say that will be enough to do justice, about this magical land?

Fishing boats at Porto Koufo

You know… when I was a little girl (and until adolescence, I must admit), I thought that Halkidiki and Thessaloniki, were the same place, as for all the people who lived in Thessaloniki, Halkidiki was just an expansion of our neighbourhood. Our second home. For every age group and a different favourite place. As children at the camp in Metamorphosis, during our first teenager freedoms for a swim with the local bus at Kallikratia, as students for nightlife in Kallithea and the camping’s of Sithonia and as adults at the festivals of Moudania, Kassandra and Sani

Sani festival up in the hill

Sani music festival on Sani hill

When someone is pulling our leg with the classic -after all these years- the expression “Like Halkidiki, nowhere”, I don’t think they realize how much truth that statement
conceals. I have many times tried to explain, but words are not enough to describe the uniqueness of this land. An endless coastline, that no matter how much you explore it, every single time, it has something new to reveal. Sometimes I feel that the land keeps secrets and reveals them when you are ready to embrace them, depending on your state of mind,  on the day, the company you are with, and how much beauty you can handle at a time. Gastronomy, culture, silver olive tree fields and endless pine tree forests,
mountains, and traditional villages. That is the magic of Halkidiki: It has no age, no standard form, no boundaries. You can do “whatever you want” with it…

As for the ones who have never visited it, it makes sense they say “Like Halkidiki nowhere”, with a sense of irony, just because they heard it somewhere. But you can hear the difference when it comes from the mouth of someone who has… It has a sweet memory feeling at the end. That feeling only MY Halkidiki, that mixture of calmness and passion, sun and wind, light and star glow, can cause to the hearts of its visitors. So, I can’t be more serious when I say “Like Halkidiki nowhere”…

By Lia Zampetoglou | Director of Learning & Development INSETE

Halkidiki, an incredible diving destination | #TheLocals


With rocky or sandy scenery, crystal clear waters and warm water temperatures, the greater part of the coastline of Halkidiki is ideal for diving.

Diving in Halkidiki offers unique diving experiences, with a great abundance of reefs, walls and caverns, making diving here one of the most interesting diving experiences in the region of the Mediterranean.

Blue octopus in Halkidiki

SHIPWRECKS

The waters of Halkidiki are home to a few shipwrecks, some warships wrecks and plane wrecks, which in total might not be enough to cover the demands divers; nevertheless, there is a series of several coordinated efforts to sink ships so as for new artificial reefs to be created in the near future.

DIVING FOR ALL

The calmness and clarity of the waters, the excellent visibility and the lack of
dangerous fish
or other organisms create the best conditions both for first time divers
and beginners. Of course, experienced divers can choose among a plethora of
challenging dive sites
.

DIVING CENTERS

More than 25 diving centres reside or operate via branches in Halkidiki,
the majority of whom carry a long experience in the field.

Professional, qualified diving staff are trained to teach all levels, from beginners
to instructor courses
or dive guide those interested to visit the area’s dive sites. All
diving centres are licensed by the port authorities and offer services according to internationally-recognised diving standards.

Diving centres are scattered throughout Halkidiki so it is certain that you can find one close by to where you stay. There is absolutely no need to bring your own diving
equipment since all diving centres provide all you might need.

DIVING ALL YEAR ROUND

You can dive in Halkidiki throughout most of the year. However, the most popular time to dive is between May and October, with July and August being the busiest months
during which the water temperature may reach up to 32oC.

Dive sites in Halkidiki truly offer something for everyone, making diving in Halkidiki
an experience that will last a lifetime
.

By Kostas Katsioulis | Director Of Field Services at
Northern Greece Underwater Explorers (NGUE)

 

 

My favourite places in Halkidiki | Tips by #TheLocals

In my mind, Halkidiki will always be connected to the carefreeness of vacation and
personal freedom and growth
. It is a place that never stops offering remarkable
moments
of joy in natural surroundings of unparalleled beauty.

Paliouri

The beauty of Halkidiki is indeed addictive! My personal favorite is Paliouri and specifically, St Georgios’ beach. Although you need to climb down a steep narrow path to gain access to the beach, it is totally worth it.

Clear blue waters and large round stones, located at the “tip” of the Kassandra
peninsula, with the whole Aegean Sea lying in front of you. A visit to St Georgios’ beach can perfectly be combined with a visit to the cosmopolitan Chrousso beach, a luscious meal, an art exhibition in Porto Valitsa or even with the purchase of
top quality blossom honey.

Let’s not forget that Paliouri is named after the Paliurus spina-christi plant or “Tsali”, as known to most of us, which bees love. A rare variety of blossom honey, worth tasting should you find it.

Drenia - Ammouliani Island

I absolutely love this small chain of six islands called Drenia, located between Ouranoupoli and Ammouliani. We usually rent a small motorboat from Tripiti and visit our very own “Blue Lagoon”. Emerald waters, golden sandy beaches,
a paradise on earth.

Karidi beach

However, the one place I hold closer to my heart is Karidi beach, in Vourvourou, Sithonia. It is the place where I learned how to swim. I vividly remember throwing a coin in the water and diving to get it. The water there is so clear that the coin was
always visible
, no matter the depth. It is the place I visit every October for one last swim before winter comes.

For us living in Thessaloniki, Halkidiki is a blessed place, and we feel lucky to be living so close to it and be able to enjoy it anytime!

                                                             

By Argyro Barata | Designer of Creative Experiences

 

 

Sithonia, my birthplace | Tips by #TheLocals

Right before I dive into the Areton sea, alongside my clothes left on the beach, I leave my winter troubles behind. I need only a towel, an umbrella and the water, nothing else.

My favourite books are covered by the thick sand of the “little Lagomandra”, a small beach right before the bigger one. A group of us, back in the day, gave it its name. We needed to get away from the bustling beach bars and found shelter there, a tiny beach that can accommodate several groups of friends and offer unforgettable moments of fun and laughter. Driving around Sithonia is an exciting experience and finding that unique spot of the beach that suits you is very easy as there are endless choices.

Vineyards of Domaine Porto Carras

Vineyards of Domaine Porto Carras

Another gem of Sithonia is the vineyard and award-winning winery in Porto Carras. I highly recommend booking a tour there. It was in this vineyard that the Greek grape variety of Malagousia was saved from extinction due to the efforts of Vangelis Gerovassiliou, the renowned Greek winemaker. It is definitely worth a tasting!

It comes as no surprise, that Mount Athos (Aghio Oros) overshadows the rest monasteries and religious paths of Halkidiki, which are rarely mentioned, even in travel guides. I came close to the sacred mystery of Easter in Saint (Agios) Arsenios monastery and enjoyed the Byzantine breeze in Timios Prodromos in Metamorfosis. Even the people who are not religious can appreciate the grandeur of community life in the monastery of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary in Ormylia. The hagiographies in all three churches of the monasteries are vital to the whole mysticism of the area.

Parthenon Film Festival

Parthenon Film Festival

Only 5 klm away from Neos Marmaras, on the hillside of Dragounteli mountain, lies the picturesque village of Parthenonas. Built-in the post-Byzantine era it still preserves its Macedonian architecture and offers unparalleled views of the Toronian Bay. The ideal spot for your afternoon cup of Greek coffee. At the beginning of July, it also hosts the Parthenωn Film Festival-Cinema in the village, not to be missed. As Orestis Andreadakis, president of the International Film Festival of Thessaloniki, described, by far the best open-air festival in Europe. And if you happen to visit towards the end of July you should not miss the opportunity to attend the Agios Panteleimonas fair, which lasts for three days and represents the past and present of Greek hospitality. Last but not least, do not fail to visit the folklore museum, housed in the old Elementary School building.

As a place, Halkidiki is defined by its people. Each and every one of us has a secret to share about this enchanting place, ask us!


By Angelos Mallinis | Organiser of Parthenωn Film Festival

 

 

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