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  • Where to visit, eat and stay in Halkidiki, Greece

    Imagine secluded coves with sandy beaches, crystal clear water lapping the shore. Mediterranean forests over rolling hills, lush pine trees and deep green hues. No, this isn’t one of the Greek Islands, this is Halkidiki, a region on the Northern mainland of Greece.

    Halkidiki boasts a staggering 550km of coastline and the beaches here are breathtakingly beautiful. There are three peninsulas within the region; Sithonia, Kassandra and Mount Athos, the easiest way to get around would be by driving. Here’s my guide for your Halkidiki holiday

    Hello Freckles Halkidiki Greece guide stagira
    hello freckles halkidiki guide
    hello freckles halkidiki beach

    Places to visit

    Here’s a few recommendations for where you should visit in the Halkidiki region. I’ve handily plotted them all on the map below.

    Marianna’s Vineleaves

    I visited Marianna’s, a family run business which has been certified organic since 1997. This is a vineyard with a twist – the end product here isn’t wine, the focus is the vine leaves. If you’ve ever had dolmades you’ve eaten vine leaves before. This typical delicacy involves rolling rice and herbs in a vine leaf, then boiling. Sakis gave us a tour of their vineyard and we later sampled some of the goods available, including the spinach pie and sweet pumpkin pie. Take a trip here yourself Tuesday to Thursday before 4pm and enjoy trying the dolmades yourself. Don’t miss the pickled vines too, they’re delicious!

    mariannas vineleaves
    Marianna's products Nea Gonia halkidiki
    Hello Freckles dolmades

    Petralona Cave

    On the western foothills of Mount Katsika, you’ll find Petralona Cave, one of Europe’s most impressive caves and an important historical landmark. Within the cave, a skull from Homo Heidelbergenisis was found, an ancestor of the neanderthals, dating back to 700,000 years ago. The great hall is home to huge stalagmites and stalactites.

    This is also a great place to visit if it’s a warm day, as the limestone cave feels nice and cool. There’s a shop here too so you can get some cold drinks, ice cream, or both!

    Petralona Cave
    Petralona Cave Halkidiki

    Diaporos Island

    The beaches in Halkidiki are beautiful and Greece is home to many, many islands. One that you should visit within the Halkidiki region is Diaporos Island. You’ll need to book a boat trip for this one and whether you go for a swanky catamaran or a pirate ship experience, it’s a great way to see some secluded beaches. The blue lagoon as it’s fondly known here is incredible. Depending on the boat tour you book, you may also visit Robinson Beach, only accessed by the sea!

    halkidiki pirate ship diaporos island
    Halkidiki boat trip

    Athitos village

    A beautiful village with stone houses, independent shops and local produce, plus some impressive views across the Toroneos Gulf. This is a popular spot for artists and it’s easy to see how they can draw inspiration from the surroundings here. Have a slow afternoon here, enjoy a freddo cappuccino or ice cream, visit the museum and take in the view across the gulf.

    athitos village halkidiki

    Nikiti

    The old village of Nikiti dates back to the 14th century. Every turn in this charming place was a picture perfect postcard. There’s a steep hill to walk to the viewpoint by the church but I highly recommend you go there. You’ll get a lovely view over the rolling hills down to the sea. There’s some great food spots here too, including Ergon Beach House which I’ll mention later on.

    Halkidiki Hello Freckles Nikiti
    nikiti, halkidiki
    Halkidiki Nikiti Citroen car

    Arnaia

    Another old settlement, but this village in the mountains definitely has an alpine feel. Try some honey from Georgakas, the pine honey and orange honey blossom were my favourites. While you’re in Arnaia, visit the Greek Orthodox church of St Stephen and walk over the glass floor where you can see fifteen old tombs. These tombs were excavated after the fire in 2005, where the remains of three other buildings were discovered. It’s bittersweet that this discovery was made in this way, as the fire was devastating. 

    arnaia
    arnaia greek orthodox church st stephen
    Arnaia georgakas honey

    Ancient Stagira

    Ancient Stagira is steeped in history and perhaps the most important archaeological site in Halkidiki; it’s the birthplace of Aristotle. Admire the city walls and ruins and look out across the Aegean Sea. You can take a hike down to Stagira beach too if you’d like, it looked so tranquil from the viewpoint. Don’t visit on a Tuesday though as that’s the only day of the week the site isn’t open, but any other day it’s free entry which is amazing given the historical significance!

    Ancient Olynthos

    The ruins of this ancient settlement date back to the 7th century. You can also see some examples of early mosaic patterns here. I’d allow at least an hour to explore the old city ruins. Be mindful if you visit in summer that there’s little to no shade here, take plenty of water and a hat as it’s a remote area. Also – not open on Tuesdays. 

    ancient olynthos ruins
    ancient olynthos ruins Hello Freckles

    Where to eat / drink

    As I mentioned, Halkidiki has such an expansive coastline and with that there’s a lot of beach bars, especially on the peninsula of Kassandra. Whether you want to have a quick lunch, enjoy a few cocktails by the sea or dine meze style while the sun fades over the horizon, there’s somewhere that will tick the box for you.

    The Greek diet is something to be fully embraced and one of the key ingredients is olive oil. Halkidiki produces a lot of this and the olives from the region are what you typically find in a martini. Fun, pub quiz fact for you there. The other components of the typical Mediterranean diet include wheat and vineyards, which yep, you guessed it, this region has in abundance.

    Mare Nostra

    One of the beach bars near Pefkohori village in Kassandra and this place is a vibe. Translate the name from Latin and you get ‘our sea’ and this place is a postcard of the typical Greek beach scene. Soak up some sun, sip on an Aperol spritz or enjoy a freddo cappuccino (I had so many of these during the trip – the Greek version of iced coffee. The locals sip it and it’s pretty strong so savour it, rather than rushing for that caffeine fix).

    Halkidiki Mare Nostra beach bar
    Halkidiki Mare Nostra beach bar aperol spritz

    Ergon Beach House

    Ergon Beach House is a resort in Nikiti that oozes sophistication without being pretentious, think upmarket boho vibes. There’s an outdoor gym, glamping cabins (some with private pools – though the sea is a matter of steps away) , an outdoor cinema, street food vendors, shop on site and of course the restaurant and beach bar.

    ergon beach house nikiti

    We arrived just in time to watch the sunset before tucking into one of the best meals I had on the trip. You must try the Tiropita (cheese pie) here, it’s an absolute triumph. If you’re unfamiliar with cheese pie, it’s literally feta cheese cocooned in filo pastry, then honey drizzled on top. Peinirli is akin to pizza, cheesy flatbread goodness, get the lamb one.  Save space for dessert because the pistachio baklava is truly spectacular.  

    Tiropita ergon beach house nikiti
    ergon beach house halkidiki
    Ergon Beach House pistachio baklava Halkidiki restaurant
    Ergon Beach House Dessert Halkidiki restaurant

    Akroyiali

    This beachfront restaurant in Olympiada village is the perfect setting for lunch. Dine with views of the Aegean Sea and enjoy some of the freshest seafood. We also sampled some homemade white wine from the family restaurant, which was light and refreshing. They know what they’re doing both with food and drink and the business dates back to the 1920s. If you’re eating here, you need to try the Olympiada mussels. They’re famed for their size, flavour and all the goodness in them – protein, omega 3 and iron. We had mussels in a white wine sauce, in risotto with other seafood and in linguine too. Don’t skip the sauteed octopus salad either.  

    Halkidiki Olympiada mussels
    Halkidiki Akroyiali restaurant olympiada

    Agrovision Vineyard

    Okay, so this is a wine tasting spot. If you’re not a wine fan, maybe this isn’t for you, but it’s a stunning vineyard with views across the sea. Interestingly Domain Agrovision has wine which is aged in an underwater cellar! There’s only three underwater cellars in Greece, one of which being in the Halkidiki region. 

    Getting to Halkidiki

    The nearest airport to Halkidiki is Thessaloniki. Flights from London Stansted Airport take 3 hours and 15 minutes, then you can transfer from Thessaloniki to destinations within the Halkidiki region from there. To get to the first peninsula will take about 70-90 minutes.

    This was my first time flying out of London Stansted Airport. Check in was really easy, security was straight forward and soon enough I was in departures checking out the duty free selection, refilling my water bottle (essential to do pre flight) then finding the gate ready to board.

    Check out flights to Thessaloniki with Jet2 to start planning your holiday. I’d recommend flying with Jet2, you get a generous 22kg hold allowance and they have a range of flights to suit your budget. My experience flying with Jet2 has always been positive too.   

    Where to stay

    There’s a range of accommodation to book, whether you’re looking for an apartment or a hotel, whatever suits your needs. I stayed in Blue Dolphin with Jet2Holidays package including breakfast. 

    blue dolphin hotel halkidiki

    Blue Dolphin is a 4 star hotel in Metamorfosi on the Sithonia peninsula. The hotel has a range of facilities including an outdoor pool, tennis and basketball courts, mini golf and a glorious sandy beach just moments away. The room was great with a comfy bed, air con, a decent shower and a lovely balcony which I wish I’d spent more time on! I enjoy a good hotel breakfast to set me up for the day and the buffet available at Blue Dolphin certainly did that. 

    There’s also an a la carte restaurant serving Italian food, bar, and a beach bar too open from April to October, which by the way, overlooks one of many blue flag awarded beaches in Halkidiki. 

    Tempted to book your own Jet2Holiday to Greece yet? 

    I was hosted on a press trip to Halkidiki. All photos and thoughts are my own.
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