10 of the best things to do in Halkidiki: go beyond the beach in northern Greece


“There’s no place like Halkidiki,” the Greek saying goes. The potbellied, three-legged peninsula just an hour’s drive from Thessaloniki is known across the country for its sparkling waters, pine tree forests that create a heady scent, and its golden sand beaches.

And while most travelers make a beeline straight to the shore, Halkidiki has much more to offer than just waves. From monasteries to mountains, villages to islands, there’s something here for just about every kind of traveler. We’re not saying you should skip the beach entirely – because Greece has some of Europe’s very best – but these 10 alternatives will tempt you to explore Halkidiki beyond the sun and sand.

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1. Take the plunge on a diving course

Why admire the shimmering surface when you can dive straight into it? En route to Halkidiki’s middle peninsula, Sithonia, stop off at Atlantis Diving Center. Located in Nikiti, one of the first stops as you drive into Sithonia, this expert-packed outfit can arrange diving expeditions geared towards first-timers and kids. One-day diving excursions (including transport and refreshments) cost from €75, a small price for the chance to glimpse scorpion fish, sea bass and a sea floor fluttering with anemones.

2. Cycle pine forests and rugged hills

On Kassandra, the westernmost tendril of Halkidiki, there are much more rewarding ways to break a sweat than sunbathing. Feel the heat on a mountain-biking tour with Break Free: excursions ply the pine-forested interior of the peninsula. The so-called “camel’s hump” of Kassandra is sure to set thigh muscles screaming, but the agony and burnt rubber are well worth it once you catch sight of the glowing Thermaic Gulf. Major roads in Halkidiki hug the…

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