Potidea, Kassandra, Chalkidiki, Greece
Potidea, Kassandra, Chalkidiki, Greece (Credit: Vasilis Kritos on Pixabay)

Chalkidiki: The peninsula for unforgettable holidays

Home of Aristotle, Mount Athos-oldest surviving monastic community on Earth- mountainous and sea beauties, a wealth of experiences

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OVERVIEW

Shaped like Poseidon’s trident, Chalkidiki, is a large peninsula, in the northwestern Aegean Sea. Made up of three smaller peninsulas (Kassandra, Sithonia and Mount Athos (the famous Christian Orthodox monastic state), Chalkidiki boasts breathtaking natural beauty with its pristine beaches, secret coves, majestic mountains and olive and pine forests.

Stunning archaeological sites, picturesque villages, world-renowned Christian monuments, diverse architecture and rich culinary heritage, complete the incredibly amazing picture of Chalkidiki holiday. Plus luxury resorts, traditional guesthouses, marinas, beach bars, fish tavernas, night clubs, art festivals, cater to every taste.

Kassandra, the westernmost cosmopolitan peninsula is renowned for its  bustling beaches and rich nightlife. The seaside villages of Kallithea, Kriopigi, Chanioti, Pefkochori are all located here awaiting you with their crystalline waters and sandy beaches.

Sithonia, the middle peninsula, is the  perfect place for nature lovers as it keeps a more traditional vibe. Nikiti, Neos Marmaras (Porto Carras), Gerakini, Stagira, (Aristotle’s birthplace) are just some of the beautiful small towns and villages you can visit.

Ouranoupolis, a small town at the edge of the third peninsula, just before Mount Athos, is another earthly paradise. Arnaia, in Central Chalkidiki, famous for its traditional architecture and mountain scenery, is a popular village in winter.

No matter when you choose to visit or where you choose to stay, Chalkidiki with its divine landscape, combining mountainous and sea beauties, is promising unforgettable holidays and will satisfy even the most demanding visitors. “There’s no other place like Chalkidiki”, say the Thessalonikians and they are not wrong!

Statue of Aristotle at Stagira, Chalkidiki (Credit: Municipality of Aristotelis)

AT A GLANCE

Regional unit’s capital: Polygyros Regional unit’s area: 2,918 km2   Regional unit’s population (2021): 101,324  Density: 35/km2   Time Zone: UTC+2 Climate: Mainly Mediterranean with cool, wet winters and hot, relatively dry summers.

ADMINISTRATION

The regional unit Chalkidiki is subdivided into five municipalities. Athos, the third small peninsula, is governed as an autonomous monastic state within the Greek Republic. For this reason it is not mentioned in the list of Chalkidiki’s municipalities below. Please also note that Mount Athos accepts only male visitors with special permits.


Municipalities

ARISTOTELIS     KASSANDRA     NEA PROPONTIDA    POLYGYROS    SITHONIA


.MUNICIPALITY OF POLYGYROS

Area: 947.4 km2 Population (2011): 22,048  Density: 23/km2  Website: http://www.poligiros.gr

.HISTORY

Built in the shape of an amphitheatre on the southern slopes of the verdant Mt. Holomontas, Polygyros is the capital of the regional unit of Chalkidiki, in Central Macedonia, northern Greece. Although Chalkidiki has been continuously inhabited since ancient times, according to historical records, Polygyros is first mentioned in a chryssovoulon (medieval imperial document with golden stamp) of Eastern Roman Emperor Nikephoros III Botaneiates about 1080 CE.

Some scholars situate in the broader area of modern Polygyros the ancient city of Apollonia, one of the 32 cities, which, under the leadership of Olynthus (one of the most important cities of ancient Greece), constituted the Chalkidian League (432–348 BC), a confederacy of the Greek cities of Halkidiki.

The confederacy was dissolved in 379 BC as Sparta starved Olynthus into surrender in 379 BC. In a few years, however, the Halcidian cities again federated, but were conquered by Philipp II of Macedon in 348 BC.

In 168 BCE Chalkidiki  fell to the Roman Republic. During the following centuries, Chalkidiki was part of the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman). In 1430, as the rest of the Eastern Roman Empire, Polygyros was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and belonged to the Sanjak of Thessaloniki. In 1821 the Greek War of Independence started and the people of Polygyros rose against the Ottoman authority. Polygyros was incorporated in the Greek State in 1912 after the Balkan Wars.

. POINTS OF INTEREST

Tower of Galatista: There are numerous towers scattered all over Chalkidiki. The huge Byzantine Tower (14th or 15th century) of the small town of Galatista is one of the best preserved towers of the peninsula, of a fortification character. Architecturally, this type of construction belongs to a large group of Byzantine four-sided towers, which are found in Macedonia and Mount Athos.

Exi Vrises (6 fountains): Named after its six water taps, this scenic location is well-known.

The Paintings of Paleochora: Local artists with folklore themes, give Paleochora the title “the painted village” of Chalkidiki.

Paleporta: The area where the ancient town Apollonia was. You can still see part of the castle walls foundations.

Taxiarchis: A traditional village with scenic streets and wonderful nature, Taxiarchis is located in the heart of Mount Holomontas at an altitude of 670 meters. Locals are engaged in the work of growing fir trees and fill Greece’s homes with Christmas trees every year.

Mikyverna: The ancient city of Mikyverna, was the ancient port of Olynthos.

Tsoukalas: The 890 metre high peak of Tsoukalas, just to the north of Polygyros offers a a panoramic and enchanting sight: southern Halkidiki and its three peninsulas.

.TOP BEACHES

Tigania beach, Sithonia, Halkidiki (Credit: Nicolas Hadjidimitriou, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Kalyves: A long beach stretching from Mikyverna residences beach to Agios Mamas beach.

Gerakini: The coastal village (around 15km away from Polygyros) that evolved from a small settlement of miners during the ’60s to a popular tourist destination today will enchant you with its legendary coast and lacy sandy beaches. 

Trani Ammouda: Also called Ormos Panagias, is an exotic, peaceful beach (around 43km away from Polygyros) having one of the largest expanses of sand in Sithonia.

Kalogria: A very popular 500 m long beach, soft sand, clean shallow waters, excellent for family friendly swimming. About 44 km away from Polygyros.

Toroni: Scenic landscape, golden sand, clear, greenish-blue waters, surrounding hills filled with olive groves and pine trees, spectacular views of the Toroneos bay. About 77km away from Polygyros.

Tigania: Peaceful beach offering crystal clear waters and stunning sands, good for snorkeling.

Kallithea: Situated in Kassandra about 50 km south of Poligiros, it is among the most well-organized and popular beaches of Chalkidiki.

Karydi: Famous for its white sands and shallow green waters, it is situated toward the end of Vourvourou Bay in Sithonia.

Sarti: White sands and Mount Athos views, Sarti beach is situated 77 km southeast of Polygyros.

. GASTRONOMY

The olives and olive oil from Olynthos and Kalyves to Ormylia, the mushrooms of Taxiarchis, the skewers of Agios Prodromos and the sausages of Polygyros, are just some of the local products that range from interesting to exquisite. Try also the top quality local honey and dairy products. seafood delicacies such as mussels.

.WINES & DRINKS

Taste the mineral water of Doumbia, the kumaro (a drink stronger than ouzo) of Vrastama, the tsipouro (grape-distilled spirit) of Galatista, Sana and Polygyros, and the excellent wine of Marathousa.  Chalkidiki is renowned for its wineries next to endless stretches of vineyards! 

. SHOPPING

Polygyros offers a variety of amenities including local shops and modern supermarkets.

. FEASTS, FESTIVALS & EVENTS

Polygyros is famous for its carnival celebrations, which last 10 days and culminate with the parade of carvival floats on the last Sunday of the carnival period, a special experience which attracts visitors from all over Greece.

A nearby location called Panagia (Virgin Mary) is the setting of a famous religious celebration on August 15. 

Polygyros festival is organized every summer since 2009 with plenty of events, including great theatrical, musical and dance performances starring famous Greek artists.

. RELIGIOUS SITES

Ormylia Monastery: The Holy Convent of the Annunciation of the Mother of God, is a coenobitic female monastic community at the outskirts of the village Ormylia.

Church of Elijah the Prophet: Above Polygyros is an impressive hill, the famous Ai-Lias (Prophet Elijah) with its homonymous church. Next to it there is an observation deck with breathtaking views.

The Church of Metamorfosi (Transfiguration): Built in an old prison property, this Byzantine church has beautiful murals.

Church of Saint Modestos: With the icon of the saint that was painted in the 15th to 16th century by Monks from Mount Athos.

.KEY MUSEUMS

Archaeological Museum of Polygyros: Exhibits contain representative archaeological findings from all over Halkidiki and referring to paleolithic and neolithic age, geometric, archaic, classic, hellenistic and Roman period.

Folklore Museum of Polygyros: At Karaganis Mansion, visitors can learn about the agricultural tools used for ploughing, sowing, harvesting, threshing, and also admire traditional costumes.

.ACTIVITIES

Polygyros is a proof that Chalkidiki is not only a blue-colored destination. Located at an altitude of 550 m. on the south side of Mt Holomontas (alt. 1,165 m) is an ideal starting point for mountain tours. Follow the hiking trails or go mountain biking through the fir, pine, oak and chestnut forests and be enchanted by the rich biodiversity.

Sea sports activities are of course available for sea lovers.

.ACCOMMODATION

According to the Municipality of Polygyros there are approximately 180 accommodation units, of all categories and types, with a total capacity of approximately 8,000 beds, available to suit different lifestyles and budgets. Whether you are looking for a traditional Greek guesthouse or a modern hotel Polygyros has something for everyone.

.TRANSPORT

Polygyros is located 60 km SE of Thessaloniki and 56 km from Thessaloniki’s Macedonia Airport. It is located in the center of the Chalkidiki peninsula.


TO DO & TO GO