TRAVEL PICKS - SIGHTS
Located at Polygyros, the capital of the Prefecture of Chalkidiki, built right in the center and 70 km from Thessaloniki, start your journey to the mountainous-lowlands of Chalkidiki. Polygyros is connected to all the beaches of which the nearest is only 12 km away. The reference point is "Eksi Vrises", its Archaeological Museum with exhibits of prehistoric, geometric and Roman period, which also includes exhibits from Ancient Olynthos. Visit the Folklore Museum in the Karagani House, where the early 20th century urban house is represented. If you find yourself on "Kathara Deftera", you will experience the famous Polygyros Carnival, where the customs of the place revive during the celebrations in the city center. Visit Vrastama, 11 km from Polygyros, at the foot of Holomontas. Visit the church Evangelismos Theotokou and the cave of Saint Efthimios, in a magnificent location with waterfalls and plane trees, where the Saint practiced. If you are lucky, you will participate in the four-day celebration of raki, with a traditional way of celebrating. It is worth visiting Taxiarches, a picturesque, traditional village on the slopes of Holomontas, built on two slopes and among four springs and dense fir forests. You will drink local tsipouro in Chorostasi, as the village square is called, you will taste local, traditional products of the women's association and you will follow mountaineering routes to Arnea, one of the most beautiful towns in Greece. Besides hiking getaways, it is ideal for horseback riding, climbing and mountain biking. It has many attractions, such as the basilica with a dome church of Taxiarches, the Ecclesiastical Museum, the Hani, the large Sipotura fountain at the entrance of the village etc. Next station, of great interest, Arnea, the old capital of the Prefecture. At an altitude of 600 meters, built at the foot of Holomontas, under chestnuts and eternal oak trees, next to streams or water springs, it is about 70 km from Thessaloniki and 38 km from Polygyros. It is characterized as a traditional settlement and is a challenge to the visitor of high demands, to experience the rare natural beauties of Holomontas, through a network of walking trails and recreation areas. There, in an area of 16.5 acres, there is another wildlife shelter of interest. The visitor can visit the Folkloric Museum, the church of Saint Stefanos, which is a religious monument, and is built on ancient ruins. Also taste the extraordinary traditional products of the area, while watching the production process. Having good road access to and from Thessaloniki, it is a base for Mount Athos and other destinations, combining mountain and sea at the same time. Go through ancient Stagira, the birthplace of the philosopher Aristotle, a mountainous village, at an altitude of 500 meters above sea level and 8 km from the sea, on the main road of Thessaloniki - Ouranoupoli. Continue to meet Stratoni, a seaside village built on the bay of Ierissos with important finds of Roman times, Known for the two famous statues, a male and a female, the so-called "despoina of Stratoni", exhibited at the Museum of Polygyros . If you turn right, you reach Ierissos. Also known as Ancient Akanthos, it is one of the largest towns in Chalkidiki. Vast golden sandy beaches are lost in the blue of the crystal clear sea and are a place of calm holidays and psychosomatic relaxation. It is known for its ships and also a natural entrance gate to Mount Athos. Next follows Nea Roda. Built at the narrowest point of the peninsula of Athos, where in 480 BC Xerxes opened a canal to pass its fleet. You will be pleasantly surprised by the visitor from the archaeological finds of the area. Swimming in its pure waters, as well as the seafaring training and learning school for the lovers of marine activities, satisfy every requirement. Go down to Ouranoupolis, famous for its crystal clear waters and unique beaches. It can be considered the earthly paradise, fully justifying its name (city of heaven). It has many accommodations, camping, guesthouses, hotels and all the necessary hosting facilities. For those who are forbidden to enter Mount Athos, they can enjoy a cruise around the stunning peninsula. Boat excursions are also taking place on the opposite uninhabited islands with exotic beaches and crystal clear waters that will enchant you. Visit the Drenia Islands, Serviko and Zygos Monastery. Take the opportunity to cross Ammouliani, the only island of Chalkidiki that is inhabited and enchanted by every visitor because it includes everything you can dream in just 4.5m2 . It is 120km away from Thessaloniki and it is connected by regular ferry boat lasting just 10 minutes from the opposite coast of Tripiti. This island is an idyllic combination of golden sandy beaches, turquoise waters, crystal clear sea, intense vegetation and giant rocks. The secluded bays with the secret beaches are ideal for those who seek tranquility and relaxation, and for the rest, shores with long sandy beaches tempt those who are interested in water sports. A marvelous choice is also the boat trip to the nearby uninhabited islands of Gaidouronissi, Tigani and Pontiki, where you can enjoy your swimming in the emerald waters and dine on the sand, at the impressive taverns of the area. Afternoon coffee or night out is not missing out on the beautiful island that offers fun for all tastes. At its southern end, six tiny islands, surround a small inland sea with shallow water, creating a natural swimming pool with turquoise waters and a sandy bottom that will only shock you.
If you take the opposite direction from Stratoni you go to Olympiada. It is located in the bay of Strymonikos, in the northeast of Chalkidiki, and is only 95 km away from Thessaloniki via Stavros. It is protected by the Natura 2000 program for its natural wealth and is 700 meters away from Ancient Stageira, the birthplace of Aristotle. There, excavations brought to light archaeological treasures, which are kept in the Polygyros Museum. Combined with its natural beauty and sea activities in its deep blue waters, it attracts the visitor to experience it and also use it as a reference point for other nearby destinations such as Pella, Veria and Vergina, Amphipolis, Kavala and the Philippi.
The other route from Arneia to Thessaloniki passes through the village of Agios Prodromos, famous for the "souvlaki" you can taste and reach Galatista, a mountainous village on the slopes of Chortiatis, 39 km from Thessaloniki and 28 km northwest of Polygyros. It is located just above ancient Anthemounta, a powerful city in the region, with references to the Byzantine and Ottoman times, when it was completely destroyed. It is worthwhile to visit and walk through its narrow streets with old houses and beautiful churches, in a place where tradition has dominated. From Polygyros to Thessaloniki, go through the ancient Olynthos, which for about a century was the center of the entire prefecture. It was destroyed by Philippos in 348 BC and today its ruins, which help to perceive the Hippodamian town-planning system, are the ones that remind of its past glamor. In the area there is an Archaeological Museum, using audiovisual material, which integrates you with the climate of the time. Continue on to Petralona, known for their homonymous cave. A cave 300 meters above sea level, stalactites and stalagmites of unparalleled beauty , but also a place of global interest since there were fossils of Neanderthal, the first European man, 700,000 years old. Here exists the Petralona Anthropological Museum, which features a library and meeting room. A detour to Potidea (ancient Cassandria) will compensate you.
After Nea Moudania, we are actually starting to descend the first leg visiting Nea Potidea (ancient Cassandria) where we find ruins of the Walls and the Cemetery. One could not fail to stand in its canals, which was built (1st century BC) at the narrowest point of Kassandra and joins Thermaikos with the Toroneos gulf. Our next stop is Nea Fokea, a seaside, beautiful village, with the well-preserved 17th-century St. Paul's tower, the picturesque harbor and the crystal clear coasts. In addition to the Tower of Dionysios, a visit to the goldfish pond, in the pine forest south of the village, will compensate you. As part of the Cassandra Festival, cultural events take place, especially on June 29th, when the village is celebrating. We descend to meet Afitos, a traditional settlement with a history that is lost in the depths of its 28 centuries of existence. The stone-built houses and the paved cobbled streets, overlooking Toroneo, unlock the panorama of the visitor's senses, since nature and settlement blend harmoniously. In such a stone-built house at the Aletra (1898), there is a Folklore Museum. Within a short distance we meet Kallithea, the most populous and most commercial point of Chalkidiki. Beneath the hill, with a magnificent view to the sea, in a rich pine forest, is the sanctuary of Dionysus and the Nymphs, part of the sanctuary of Ammon Zeus. In the center of the settlement, there is a large junction leading either to eastern or western Cassandra. Outside Kallithea and one kilometer away there are the most famous shops of the Prefecture where the summer fun keeps on on a 24-hour basis. The numerous villages of Kriopigi, Polychrono, Chanioti and Pefkohori, which are considered to be an ecological paradise, are places worth visiting, as they have excellent tourist facilities with organized camping, hotels, entertainment centers, water sports centers and more, shops, beach bars and more. From the Aegean Sea, the cosmopolitan beaches of Fourka and the crystal clear waters of Posidio's caption with the perfect organization become a pole of attraction. In Possidi there are the foundations of buildings, probably temples dedicated to god Neptune, hence the name of the cape. Ancient Mendi is also nearby, with equally interesting archaeological finds. Next comes Sani, a luxury resort built on the site of ancient Sani. It is characterized by the fine sandy beach, the perfectly organized beach and the five hotels that raise the bar of services all over Halkidiki. The area's trademark is the Sani Resort with the impressive marina as well as the 110-acre wetlands, which are a refuge for over 200 species of rare birds. Visit the Byzantine Tower of Stavronikita, where various cultural events are held nowadays.
We start from Metamorphosis, a quiet, seaside village in the pine forest. Next is Nikiti, known for its Macedonian architecture and the many beachfront cafes. We continue to other beaches such as Kalogria, Elia and Tripotamos where there is organized camping and then we reach Neos Marmaras, the liveliest point of the second peninsula, with many cafes, beach bars, etc., which gathers the elite of the tourist market. The excellent hotel units of high standard, built next to the sea and the blue flags certifying the unique beaches, satisfy even the most demanding visitors. Above Neos Marmaras and about 5 km away, it is worth visiting the Parthenon, a traditional settlement at an altitude of 350 meters, on the slopes of Mount Itamos. Sources of Herodotus bear witness to his long history. Today renovated according to the Macedonian architecture and in combination with the fantastic view of Toroneos, welcomes many tourists all year round, having excellent hospitality infrastructure . Do not forget to visit the temple of Agios Stefanos, the oldest in the prefecture and the Folk Museum, with exhibits of traditional costumes and photographs. Twenty-four km south of Neos Marmaras, we meet Toroni, where traces of prehistoric settlement were found. Its monuments are the Castle of Lecithos and the early Christian church of Agios Athanasios, a 3-aisle basilica of the 5th century. Our next impressive station is Porto Koufo, which has its name since the Thucydides. A natural harbor of unique beauty, the safest in Northern Greece, which is an important fishery of the area with many traditional fish taverns. At the extreme point of the peninsula Kartalia dominates. A place with steep rocky clusters, sinking steeply into the deep blue Aegean waters bring awe to the visitor. Their name is due to the gipsies, which the locals call "cartalia". Sykia is one of the oldest villages in Halkidiki with a rich archaeological and historical past, as well as an ecological interest since it hosts important wetlands. For relaxation and tranquility, we make a stop at Kalamitsi, the gentle, generous small village with its endless sandy beach, turquoise waters and rocky coves, ideal for diving or masked explorations. There is also organized camping. We climb to Sarti, which is 140 km away from Thessaloniki and is a large settlement surrounded by the green Dragounteli mountain. In this area, a part of the Walls of the ancient city are preserved. This combined with the rich idyllic landscape of green-blue waters, white sand, hospitable creeks and scenic rocks, are a dynamic tourist attraction. The area is ideal for surfing, water skiing, fishing and boating in the surrounding beaches. 500 meters to the west of the village is the metropolis of the Xeropotamos Monastery built in 1867. Daily excursions are organized for the area around Mount Athos. We continue our travel, visiting the popular beaches of Platanitsi and Armenistis with the golden sandy beaches, surrounded by pine and plane trees, with organized beaches with beach bars, basketball and football courts, sea sports and more. Armenistis camping crosses the borders of Greece for alternative tourism. It's finally time we arrived at the really magical village of Vourvourou. A seaside village, captures you at first glance. With the fringes of Mount Itamos being bathed in the tranquil turquoise waters of the Sigitikos, within a short distance from it, there is a cluster of 9 islands, with Diaporos being the most famous among them. The visit there is "imposed" as images and experiences are unique. The shallow turquoise waters, the clear sandy bottom of it, make up Caribbean icons and cause the visitor to swim, take snorkeling or diving. In the natural bay Kryfto (700 meters long) the waters are always warm, ideal for winter swimming. On the coast there are ruins of the pre-Byzantine temple of St. Andrew (500 BC). Karidi Beach is an attraction itself. White sand, turquoise waters, white rocks and a pine forest that descends to the coast. Kavourotrypes or Portokali, located 23 km south of Vourvourou, constitute a hidden paradise. A lace of small contiguous coves with clear waters and pine trees, where the blue sky meets the endless blue of the sea and become one. We reach Agios Nikolaos, a beautiful village with traditional 19th century houses, 117 km from Thessaloniki. Findings from prehistoric and ancient times bear witness to its role in history, as the northeast of the village was the ancient city of Siggos. A landmark, the village square with its numerous taverns and flowering roses. Although it is a mountainous village, its beautiful beaches, such as the Salonikios coast, Lagonissi, Trani Ammouda, are not far away. Ormos Panagias, which is also its port, is just 2.5 km away. Apart from the natural beauty that characterizes it, it is the gateway to the entrance of thousands of visitors every summer who want to enjoy a cruise to the Athonite State and to Ammouliani , Drenia, Ouranoupolis and elsewhere. Here, in the picturesque taverns of Ormos, accompanied by the exquisite seafood snacks accompanying the traditional Greek tsipouro, the visitor enjoys the ultimate travel experience.