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CAR RENTAL IN HALKIDIKI, GREECE (CHALKIDIKI)
Southwest of Thessaloniki, in Central Macedonia, lies the world famous peninsula of Halkidiki. Its peculiar shape looks like 3 ‘fingers’ or ‘legs’, all three of which end up in three smaller peninsulas: Kassandra, Sithonia, and Mount. Athos. Halkidiki is a place blessed with rare natural beauty, crystal clear waters, golden beaches and picturesque villages and settlements characterized by magnificent traditional architecture. Halkidiki is ideal for holidays regardless of whether you decide to visit it in spring, summer, autumn or winter. It is a lively and world-
Because of its large size and its countless attractions the best way to visit and explore the hidden ‘treasures’ of Halkidiki is to rent a car. For this reason, you should pre-
After settling the matter of the car rental, you can book your air ticket to the Macedonia international airport in Thessaloniki since it is the largest and closest airport to Halkidiki. When arriving in Thessaloniki, just go to the car rental pick-
Rent a Car … Drive and Explore Halkidiki…!
Even though someone can get to Halkidiki by bus, taxi or boat, the best way to explore this magnificent place is to rent a car. This way you will have all the freedom you want and be able to draw your preferred routes and destinations at your pace. No need to hurry, no need to follow others, no need to be stuck in a bus.
While you will be driving from Thessaloniki towards Chalkidiki, the variety of landscapes that will unfold will make you stare with astonishment, ‘thirsty’ for more. If someone tries to describe some of the pictures that are characteristic of Halkidiki will probably need tons of pages! Endless blue….and 550+ plus km. of golden sand beaches, 32 of which awarded with the blue flag (i.e. the blue flag is awarded to beaches that are characterized by crystal clear waters and high standard organized facilities). The more you will be driving into Halkidiki, the more you will understand that renting a car was a wise choice. The feeling of tranquility and positive vibes, enhanced with purity and freedom, create a unique canvas of a great holidays experience. After all, Halkidiki is a place natural and organized, traditional and contemporary, quiet and busy; a place of contrasts!
As you will be driving from Thessaloniki, the first crossroad of you Chalkidiki exploration will be Polygyros, which is the capital of the prefecture of Halkidiki, just 70 km from Thessaloniki.
Built amphitheatrically on an altitude of 550 m., Polygyros could become your ideal base if you are not sure which of the three ‘legs’ you want to explore or if you want to explore attractions situated in two or all three of the ‘legs’. It is almost in the center considering distance and time. Also, it can offer you all you need while staying there, such as cheap accommodation, many taverns, and attractive surroundings. From there you will get a nice view of Kassandra, Sithonia, and Mount. Athos.
A short Guide to Kassandra, Sithonia and Mount. Athos
Every year, thousands of tourists choose Kassandra as their summer holidays destination. Kassandra is famous for its spectacular attractions, buzzing and colorful nightlife, magnificent beaches ideal for sunbathing and tranquil moments next to the sea. Most of the beaches are well organized offering a wide variety of water sports and outdoor activities. On the other hand, most of the settlements are surrounded by dense forests, ideal for hiking and mountain biking. So many things to do, so many places to visit. Kassandra is more suitable for young people or those feeling young who are looking for rather crowdy and fun places!
You can start your road trip excursions from Nea Potidea, where you can visit the Potidea Canal and the castle ruins. Later on you will pass by Nea Fokaia, where the church and tower of Apostolos Pavlos and the Wildlife Sanctuary seem like top spots to visit while being there.
Nearby is Afitos, a village with great history and very friendly people. There, some of the most interesting attractions are the ancient mines, the Vrisitsa springs, the Folklore Museum and some outstandingly picturesque chapels. As you will be driving south from Afitos, you will reach the Kallithea village. An overall nice village with great taverns, a very nice windmill, a Folklore Museum and nice cafes to enjoy your evening coffee while having a rest! Nearby is Polichrono with its small lake, the place where the rare lake turtle Testudinata lives and breeds.
On the west Kassandra Coast, the Agia Paraskevi spa facilities are a great place to stop by and even stay for a couple of days. The accommodation rates are reasonable and the spa springs are well known for their rich natural minerals. A couple of spa sessions and you will feel totally reborn and relaxed! Some other interesting attractions on the West Kassandra Coast are the Theotokos Church with its beautiful frescos in Kalandra, the ancient temple of Poseidon and the lighthouse in Poseidi! All very close to Agia Paraskevi.
Kassandra is the leg with the most lively nightlife compared to the other two Halkidiki ‘legs’. If you are a ‘party-
You can visit many magnificent beaches and dive into the crystal clear waters while enjoying the alluring warmth of the bright Greek sun. Kassandra is also a great place for outdoor activities and water sports! Almost all of the popular Kassandra beaches are well organized and man-
On the other hand, if you are the kind of explorer who prefers hiking, mountain biking or just walking around and taking pictures of beautiful natural landscapes, then Kassandra won’t disappoint you! Its forests are ideal for all these while the picturesque villages prove to be great alternatives for peaceful and relaxing evening walks. While in Kassandra, don’t forget to visit the wildlife sanctuaries in Nea Fokea and Polichrono.
If you are looking for a real ‘paradise’ on Earth where landscapes offer generously so many spectacular natural views, then the middle ‘leg’ of Sithonia is a place that will make you change the way you think of the ideal summer holidays. Renting a car seems the best thing to do, because Sithonia offers an outstanding road trip experience where the unfolding landscapes just totally seduce the senses and let the imagination fly wild and free.
Changing landscapes characterized by golden sand beaches, picturesque little gulfs and coves, azure crystal clear waters, historic monuments, traditional charming architecture and colours so bright and lively that honestly it is way too difficult to find anywhere else in the world!
There are so many interesting attractions and so many beautiful and pure natural landscapes that it is very difficult to figure out from where to begin. If you are not planning to stay in Polygyros as mentioned above, probably the best place to use as your excursion base is the picturesque seaside settlement of Neos Marmaras. From there you can manage your road trips easily and cut to half times and distances. Overall, Neos Marmaras is a pretty cool place to stay at since it is relatively small, with most of its hotels being small or medium-
One of the best road trip starting points is probably Nikiti, yet one more small picturesque seaside settlement on the North West coast of Sithonia. Try your best to arrive there early in the morning before the sun gets too hot. Walk through its many cobble-
Then you can drive southwards to the traditional settlement of Neos Parthenonas, one of the best-
Another great idea, especially if you like visiting historical sites, is to plan a road trip to Toroni. There you can visit the ruins of the Toroni castle and the early-
Even though Sithonia does not have so many beach bars, and its nightlife is a lot quieter than that of Kassandra, this doesn’t mean that you can’t spend some really great night moments there, too. In Sithonia, you will find nice and rather interesting small bars and cafes.
There, people are friendly, and the chances are great for having some interesting discussions accompanied by easy listening music. You may even find a couple of people having guitars and end up singing till the very first moments of sunrise. Authentic, friendly, simple moments! The best nightlife spots in Sithonia are Neos Marmaras, Nikiti, and Sarti.
Sithonia is the ideal place to enjoy the pure essence of the Greek summer where surely you will spend endless and totally tranquil moments, sunbathing and diving in beaches that look so beautiful, almost unreal. If you are looking for organized beaches, then you should drive to the beaches of Sarti, Neos Marmaras, and Nikiti. On the other hand, ask the locals to inform you about the rather less known and pure beaches. There, you will be able to feel for a few hours that you are on a real seaside paradise, as in the case of Vourvourou beach!
On the other hand, if you enjoy hiking or mountain biking, then the mountain of Itamos will provide you with all the excitement that you may look for! Great paths await you to discover by feet the blessed nature of Sithonia. Just mind that, during the summer period, you should avoid walking outdoors during the afternoon hours, since the temperatures can rise really high!
Mount Athos and Agion Oros
The third ‘leg’ of Halkidiki is a sacred place for Greeks and the Greek Orthodox Church believers. The religious community of Agion Oros consists of 20 monasteries, 12 hermitages, countless cells, chapels, and churches. Under the protection of the almighty Mount Athos, Agion Oros, and the whole peninsula in general, is a place dedicated to God; a place where the man discovers his inner self surrounded by natural blessings. No wonder why it is considered as one of the most famous attractions of religious tourism in the world.
For this reason, if you are looking for a ‘heavenly’ experience, then staying for a couple of nights at one of the monasteries will prove to be the experience of a lifetime! Bare in mind though, that the ‘avaton’ is strictly applied all the time! This means that no women are allowed in Agion Oros. Men are allowed to stay at a monastery of their choice from 4-
The experience of staying at a monastery, that may date many centuries back in time, is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You can also directly observe how monks live, work and praise the Lord.
The religious art found is uniquely amazing, making monasteries not only sacred places of worship, but also very interesting live and interactive museums.All monasteries have great collections of books, codes, manuscripts, frescos, etc.; precious treasures dating as back as the era of the Great Byzantine Empire!
On the other hand, if you just plan to visit a couple of monasteries, but not intend to stay there, then you can book your accommodation in either Ouranoupoli or Tripiti in the entrance of the peninsula. Ouranoupoli is a small town with a very good tourist infrastructure, plenty of shops, hotels, cafes and bars, as well as restaurants and fish taverns. And yes, women are allowed to stay there! The ‘avaton’ is followed only in the area of Agion Oros.
If you are looking for a rather more serene place to stay, then the area of Tripiti is ideal for you. Surrounded by bloomy nature, magical beaches, and azure waters, it seems to be the ideal tourist destination. Especially for those who want to stay away from noise and crowds and rather enjoy a comfortable, classy and exquisite accommodation experience!
Mount Athos -
Swimming is not allowed in Agion Oros. Fortunately, this is not the case for the nearby beaches. Some of the beaches that are worth a visit are: Alexandros, Philippos, Agios Pavlos, Komitsa, Ksiropotamos, Tzafa, Voulitsa, and Iviritiko. Also, if you are going to stay in Tripiti, then you should visit the islet of Ammouliani that is situated close to Tripiti and Ouranoupoli. A small ferry can take you there on a daily basis. There, you will feel like a castaway left on a serene forgotten piece of paradise on earth!
Summing up, Halkidiki is one of the best places on Earth to choose from for your summer holidays. Regardless of your expectations, budget, and time, Halkidiki will surely offer you countless reasons to come back soon. No matter how long you may plan to stay, you will always be short of time. There are so many places to visit, so many things to do that renting a car proves to be the best alternative to save both time and money. Renting a 4x4 will give you a great feeling of freedom and autonomy and will help you access many isolated beaches where time passes in a different way and where stress and hurry are totally unknown words!
Rent a car...explore Halkidiki...and enjoy the pure essence of the Greek Summer!
Thessaloniki International Airport (SKG)
Kassandra Palace Hotel
A. Melathron Hotel