Kassandra

Kassandra

For decades, the Kassandra Peninsula has been one of the most enchanting vacation areas in mainland Greece. The first “finger” of Halkidiki is famous for its picturesque villages, ancient heritage, and prolific climate. Furthermore, it features a convenient transport network and moderate price policy, compared to the island Greece.

A limited “set” of attractions is the only disadvantage of this destination. On the other hand, the peninsula does not have a lack of stunning natural beauty. People come here to admire the views, swim in the pure sea waters, and take a break from all sorts of worries.

History

It is already proven: Kassandra has been inhabited since prehistoric times. It is on the first "finger" of Halkidiki that the Petralona Cave is located, where traces of the oldest man in Europe have been found. And this finding was probably the most significant for the entire history of the peninsula.

In ancient times the peninsula was called Phlegra and Pallini. The modern name of Kassandra comes from the Macedonian king Kassandra, who founded the city of Thessaloniki. Ancient historians and geographers have mentioned the existence of several large and important cities on the peninsula: Sani, Mendi, Schioni, Aphitis, Kassandria. The large cities of Kassandra were members of the Athenian Union and took part in the Peloponnesian War. At about the same time the famous Potidaean Canal was built, which contributed to the prosperity of Kassandra and separated the peninsula from the mainland of Halkidiki.

During Roman rule, the entire peninsula was part of a Roman colony. By the order of Justinian, strong fortifications were erected in Potidaeia. In spite of this, Kassandra was conquered by the Huns. And in the XV century the Turks came to the area. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, during the struggle for liberation from the Ottoman Empire, the inhabitants of Kassandra resisted the Turks and contributed greatly to the independence of Greece.

In the 70s Cassandra had paved roads. Now you could easily reach even the most remote corners of the peninsula, and tourism began to develop. Every year there are more and more holidaymakers on Kassandra. And yet the peninsula retains its natural beauty and identity.

How to get

The Kassandra Peninsula convenient location is one of its major advantages. Thessaloniki Airport stands 57-100 kilometers away from its resorts (depending on the remoteness). The largest air harbor welcomes scheduled and charter flights France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Ukraine, and other countries.

The Port of Thessaloniki welcomes the ferries from Naxos, Andros, Skopelos, Paros, and other Greek islands. Regarding the railroad connection, Thessaloniki has a link to Athens, Kalambaka, and other cities of mainland Greece. You can also get to Thessaloniki by bus from Athens, Alexandroupolis, and other Greek settlements, as well as from Istanbul, Sofia, Budapest, and Prague.

The Kassandra resorts are also accessible from Thessaloniki via the municipal transport. However, this means of transport will require that you change the bus. After you leave the terminal of Thessaloniki Airport “Makedonia,” you will need to catch the bus №79. It runs from early morning till late evening. It will deliver you to the IKEA stop, where you have to change for the bus №36. This bus runs to the KTEL Halkidikis bus station. The buses of this station deliver travelers to the resorts set within the Kassandra Peninsula.

If you want to get to the Kassandra resort from Thessaloniki, without changes, you can hire a car or book a transfer.

How to move?

A rented vehicle is the most convenient option for trips within Kassandra. You can find the car hire offices at Thessaloniki Airport and in the rest of the cities of the peninsula. You should better reserve a vehicle in advance to make sure that the required car will be available upon arrival. It is especially important to book a car on a high tourist season since the large flow of tourists might leave you without any transport at all. When you book a private vehicle, you are free to move not only within Kassandra – you can take a drive to the nearby peninsula of Sithonia or go to explore mainland Greece.

It is noteworthy that Halkidiki has a well-developed network of bus service. You can shift between the Kassandra resorts using comfortable buses. The average traffic frequency depends on the season: in the summer, transport runs several times a day.

If you want to shift between two nearby resorts, you should better take a taxi. The short-distance trips are quite cheap here. The cost depends on the number of kilometers and travel time (it is more expensive at night). On average, you will pay about 1.3 euro per 1 kilometer.

What to see?

Although travelers come to experience the Kassandra Peninsula’s best beaches, it is hard to imagine Greece without places of interest. The peninsula antique heritage includes the Byzantine Tower in Nea Fokea, the Temple of Ammon Zeus in Kallithea, the ruins of Poseidon Temple in Posidi, and the fragments of Justinian Wall in Nea Potidea. One of the most featured attractions of Kassandra is the Potidea Channel. Everyone who comes to Kassandra will necessarily see it.

One of Cassandra's most interesting attractions is located close to Kallithea, though many travelers don't know about it. This is the early Christian basilica of Solina, which has preserved unique floor mosaics with scenes of Paradise

Petralona Cave is one of the most visited sites on the peninsula. This place allows you to fully immerse into the dim and distant past of Kassandra and admire the cave adorned by nature with stalactites and stalagmites. The Kassandra museums can tell you an exciting story about the history of the peninsula. They are mostly dedicated to the folklore. Such museums aim to familiarize their visitors with local traditions. You can visit some of them in Afitos, Agia Paraskevi, and Polychrono.

A lot of Kassandra visitors also wish to learn about the spiritual life of Greece. The Kassandra Peninsula has both large monasteries and small churches. The church in Afitos, the cave church Saint Paul’s Church in Nea Fokea and the Holy Monastery of Saint John of Russia in Pefkohori are the most interesting of them.

The Kassandra Peninsula beaches are a particular highlight of this destination and its natural attraction. In the summer, they are always full of vacationers. However, you can also unwind in one of the secluded bays in the area. The KallitheaChaniotis and Pefkohori beaches are the most developed and popular areas for recreation. The beaches of Paliouri, Siviri, and Kriopigi offer a relaxed experience on the shore, washed by the crystal pure waters. If you seek for heavenly pleasurable recreation, you should visit the Sani Beach resort. It provides the best conditions for its guests. Its beaches stretch for many kilometers away and are covered with fine clear sands. Glarokavos Beach is one of the largest beaches on the Kassandra Peninsula. This place perfectly blends pristine nature with rather well infrastructure.

What to do?

Excursions, outdoor activities

Kassandra is a paradise nook for people who adore hiking within natural surroundings. There are many small mountains covered with pine-tree forests on the peninsula. Almost every local resort offers trekking routes, the maps for which are available at local tourist bureaus. The resorts of the peninsula also offer a range of beach activities: diving, banana boating, and yacht tours – you can find all the necessary facilities to make the holidays in Kassandra a memorable experience.

Besides, diving is one of the must-try activities for active travelers. Kassandra has a lot of exciting things to offer them. Right by the shores of Kassandra, you can explore several drowned vessels, which have become the home for many species of fish. Among the best places for diving are the Koursaros Bay, which has a depth of 33 meters and rich underwater life; and Porto Valitsa, inviting to see the underwater rocks and octopuses.

Kassandra is a convenient starting point for any excursion. Travelers often take the 1-2-day trips to Thessaloniki: to breathtaking monasteries of Meteora, Mount Olympus, the ruins of the ancient Dios, and Mount Athos. Travelers come to Kassandra to make a pilgrimage and take sea voyages about the third “finger” of Halkidiki. The trips to the Edessa and Kastoria (the fur capital of Greece) waterfalls leave one of the brightest memories about holidays in Greece.

You can take up several exciting excursions without leaving the area of Halkidiki. Here are the most popular of them:

  • An excursion to the Cave of Petralona – it is an exciting tour into the times of ancient Kassandra. It will be interesting for both adults and children;
  • A voyage on a ship about the secluded bays of Kassandra and the nearby peninsula of Sithonia – these excursions feature a great diversity of travel routes;
  • Halkidiki Orthodox Christian holy places – the excursions of such type are held upon various routes and include a visit to the most prominent monasteries of the peninsula;
  • Wine tours – there are several wineries in the Kassandra Peninsula (large and small), which invite travelers to join the wine-tasting ceremonies.

Kassandra Peninsula beaches

The coastline of Kassandra comprises over 50 kilometers of clean beaches, covered with light sands. The beaches of Sani, Kallithea, Palliouri, and Kriopigi are regarded as the best places for recreation. Some of them are narrow, while the width of others covers hundreds of meters. Anyway, you will not face any problems in finding a good place to relax.

You should also draw your attention to the following beaches:

  • Glarokavos – it is a long sandy stripe with impure of small pebbles, surrounded by pristine nature;
  • Egeopelagitika beach near Posidi cape– it is a long and broad sandy beach. The sea is often calm here. The beach bars on the shore provide a diverse choice of cocktails and arrange beach parties. Thanks to its extension, you will never find the beach overcrowded;
  • Chrousso – it is a picturesque bay and the beach with bars and a deck for yachts. The depth of the bottom increases only in a 30-meter distance offshore. The unique blend of the enchanting sea and the greens all around, penetrating in the water, set a marvelous atmosphere for renovation.

You should pay into an account several crucial moments for successful recreation on the beach. The main rule is that you should be the first to come on the populous beaches or book a chaise lounge beforehand. Otherwise, you will stay without it. The second rule says you must be careful with sea urchins. To avoid unwanted meeting, you should have a swim far from the beaches with a rocky bottom

Family recreation

The Kassandra Peninsula is especially popular with families. The peninsula offers all one needs for recreation here: a prolific climate, affordable prices, entertainment facilities, and clean beaches. Pefkohori is a wonderful destination for recreation with young visitors. Here you can find not only a terrific coastline and infrastructure but also the Dinos Luna Park. Siviri is also a great choice for calm family holidays. Sani attracts visitors with its ravishing beaches. Chaniotis provides a shallow and safe sea.

In contrast to Sithonia and Athos, Kassandra provides a rich choice of family hotels with animators, kid’s menu, facilities for entertainment, and babysitting services. The travelers, who choose apartments for a stay and prefer to cook by themselves, can do some shopping in the large supermarkets selling green-labeled products nearby.

Kassandra is a comfortable place to start any type of excursion. The teenagers will find it interesting to visit the Cave of Petralona. Thanks to the wonderful location, you can join a family tour to Thessaloniki, boasting of having the Magic Park, Thessaloniki Zoo, and the aqua park Waterland.

Recreation for young people

Kassandra is the center of Halkidiki nightlife. Afitos is a nice place for measured walks within the romantic atmosphere. Kallithea offers loud club parties, a diverse choice of bars and nightclubs. Some of its venues often invite Greek and European stars to hold the musical performance. The rest of the cities in Kassandra offer more moderate entertainment at night. It usually includes relaxation at the bars, which are open until late at night. Some of the hotel complexes in Kassandra target their facilities on young visitors. They often arrange parties and show-programs for their guests.

Shopping

The choice of shops in Kassandra ranges from designer boutiques to souvenir stalls. During a holiday in Kassandra, you can buy anything you want: the icons, jewelry, crockery made of olive trees, ceramics, and clothes. The stores selling furs from Kastoria are scattered all over Kassandra. The exclusive boutiques are situated in Sani.

The fans of gastronomic souvenirs can buy the gifts of the Kassandra nature. The peninsula is famous for its olive oil, honey, and spices. Regarding the cities where you can buy tasty specialties, Afitos, Kallithea, Chaniotis, and Pefkohori offer the richest choice of shops for such a purpose. Greek cosmetics are one of the best presents you can bring home from Kassandra. It is famous for a high concentration of natural ingredients: aloe, olive oil, pomegranate, and wheat extract.

Holidays and events

During vacations, you can visit one of the local events, held in a big way. The Festival of Kassandra is the biggest of them. The musicians, actors, and dancers arrive at the peninsula from all over Greece and other countries in July and August to take part in the celebration. The main performance takes part in the Siviri Amphitheatre.

Another prominent festival takes place in Sani. The world-famous Sani Festival attracts the fans of jazz, folk, classical music, and auteur cinematography. Afitos becomes a cultural center in the summer. The major square of the city houses the performances of folk bands, dancers, and musicians.

In the last days of June, Nea Fokea holds a celebration dedicated to the day of Apostle Peter and Apostle Paul. It is followed by the festivities which last for three days. Another event you cannot miss visiting is the Festival of Sardine in Nea Moudania. It is a perfect chance to do both have fun and taste the best dishes, having sardines as the main ingredient.

Where to stay?

There are hotels to all tastes and budgets in the Kassandra Peninsula. There are a lot of apartments for hire, well-developed 5-star hotel complexes, campsites, and private villas here. Pallini Beach, Sani Beach, Potidea Palace, Ammon Zeus, Miraggio Thermal Spa Resort, and Istion Club Hotel are the most popular hotels in Kassandra. This destination offers accommodation facilities for fans of animation and active entertainment and travelers, for whom a clear and comfortable suite is enough for a stay on holiday. While choosing an accommodation, you should first draw your attention to the central area of Kassandra with its 4-5-star hotels. After that, you can look through the options offered by the side areas with their apartments and hotels of lower grades.

While choosing an apartment or a hotel, you should also pay attention to the features of the sea entry. For example, before you can recreate on the beach of Afitos, Kriopigi, and Kallithea, you will need to take a walk, while Pefkohori, Nea Potidaia, Siviri and Chaniotis offer fast and convenient access to the sea.

Kassandra resorts

Nea Potidea – you can find this resort on the isthmus, a place where Kassandra is separated from mainland Greece with a channel. People often regard it as “The Gates to Kassandra.” Among the visitors of this destination, you can see the youth and people who like to combine beach recreation with excursions. There are many comfortable hotels and beach bars in Nea Potidea. The fans of culture will find it quite interesting to visit the ruins of the Justinian Wall. A unique feature of the village is that it has beaches on both sides - east and west. We recommend the eastern beaches. In addition to the central one, located on the Kassandra peninsula, there is a very long and wide beach on the "mainland", before the bridge. In summer there are many beach bars and water activities.

Nea Fokea – it is a small city, known as a fishing village in the past. But fish and seafood remained his strong point. There is a port in the village, where local fishermen bring fresh catch every morning. Nea Fokea is also famous for the cave church of St. Paul, the ruins of the medieval monastery, and the Byzantine tower, which has become the symbol of the settlement. It would be a great idea to come here to walk along the sea and admire the panorama from the top of the hill where the tower stands. However, we do not recommend choosing Nea Fokea for a long vacation. The beaches are few and the infrastructure is weak.

Afitos is an authentic village with unique architecture which ensures its status of being the most beautiful settlement on Kassandra. Afitos managed to rise from the ashes like a Phoenix more than once. The stone houses of the village were constructed only in the middle of the XIX century. The resort is famous for its three-nave basilica (the only one in its kind on Halkidiki), the folklore museum, numerous shops, and the observation deck (“The Stone Balcony”). The most breathtaking views are right here! This village is often chosen for its beauty and authenticity. During the day they drive to the beaches elsewhere on the peninsula, and in the evening they return for an elegant stroll and delightful dinners in local taverns.

Kallithea – it is the “neighbor” of Afitos, which boasts of having no less beautiful panoramas. It is one of the most popular and visited resorts in Kassandra. People who love lively environment will love holidays in Kallithea. The city is famous for its excellent infrastructure: there are big supermarkets, souvenir stalls, hotels of all grades of comfort, bars, and clubs. The Kallithea beach is covered with light sand. At the same time, it has several disadvantages: it has high attendance in the summer and a steep footpath. You will have to walk on it after having a swim in the sea. However, for many, these details are secondary, because the beach here is one of the best in Kassandra.

Kriopigi – this resort sands on the hill and boasts an exceptional natural beauty. Everyone who comes here once comes back here, again and again to breathe its clear air supplemented with the scents of pine trees, admire the beauty of the forests, and sunsets. The resort is also famous for its historic heritage. Thus, you can spend your holidays not only on the beach but also walking along the old streets of Kriopigi. Pleasurable dining in the traditional tavern on the central square, supplemented with the Greek vibes, will certainly become a memorable experience. Many villas and cottages for rent are concentrated in Kriopigi. Many of them are located in gated complexes, next to quiet sandy beaches, where pine trees descend to the sea.

Polychrono – it is another popular resort with a marvelous beach, stretching for almost 7 kilometers away. Thanks to such a feature, you can find a secluded nook even on the high tourist season. Just take a walk along the shore. Polychrono provides its visitors with well-developed infrastructure and well-equipped promenade. Just 3 kilometers away from the settlement, you can visit the Mavrobara or the Turtle Lake. Be warned: although this is a popular spot, expect to see just a small pond that is about an hour's walk away.

Chaniotis – is one of the most favorite destinations among travelers who come from CIS countries. In the summer, you can hardly find a place on the beach. The reason for such popularity if quite evident: the sea in Chaniotis almost is always calm. There are a lot of shops, taverns, and bars in the city. Thus, you will not get bored here. Although Chaniotis is often full of visitors, it cannot boast having a vibrant nightlife. If you do not seek for loud parties but for water sports, Chaniotis is the best place.

Pefkohori – this destination is a great choice for nature-lovers. In close proximity to the village there are beaches surrounded by a pine forest: Glarokavos, Golden beach. The beach itself is clean and well maintained, very similar to Hanioti. The resort is also famous for its spectacular sunsets. The Pefkohori promenade is a notable feature of this destination. It stretches for many meters away, inviting travelers to make a stop at its hospitable shops, taverns, and hotels, sitting along the promenade. In these two villages, Hanioti and Pefkohori, there is a large concentration of hotels and holiday villas.

Paliuri and Kanistro are the region for lovers of relaxation and premium villas. On green hills there are villas and cottage complexes, often with wonderful sea views. There is no resort town noise and you can enjoy being at one with nature.

After a detailed study of all the landmarks of the Kassandra eastern coast, you can continue the familiarization with the area at the Kassandra western coast. This part of the peninsula will undoubtedly impress you with its balneotherapeutic health resort of Loutra – a place, where you can improve the state of your health. Herodotus is considered to be the father of balneology. However, the golden age of treatments based on the usage of mineral waters occurred in the XVIII century. That is why the Greeks can use the gifts of nature with use for health. You can find the Loutra hot springs near the village of Agia Paraskevi. There are swimming pools, a Hammam, and hydromassage in its Spa complex. 

Nea Skioni – this beautiful resort appeared on the place once known as a developed city. At present, people recognize it as a small coastal settlement. It sits by the beach, which regularly receives the Blue Flag award for its cleanness. You should come to Nea Skioni if you prefer a relaxed atmosphere and wish to taste amazing seafood dishes, the village is famous for. Do you like to cook fish yourself? Almost every morning you can buy it at the port from fishermen who have just returned from the sea.

The bay area of Possidi cape – it is a great destination for fans of wild beaches, set far from developed hotel complexes. Here, you can find a long sandbar, regarded as one of the most beautiful natural attractions of Kassandra. The cape provides unforgettable sunset views. There are almost no hotels, but a lot of houses and villas for rent within walking distance of the beautiful beach.

Fourka – is a place for economy class vacation. Although the beach in the village is good and mostly sandy, the infrastructure is underdeveloped and the settlement leaves much to be desired. But because of the low popularity of the resort there are budget accommodation options.

Siviri – it is one of the most beautiful resorts of the Kassandra Peninsula. It is famous for its endless beaches and abundance of greens. In the summer, Siviri hosts the Festival of Kassandra. In July and August, Siviri amphitheater turns becomes a platform for concerts and art performances.This village is quieter and not as popular as Kalifea and Hanioti. However, it has many advantages: an excellent sandy beach and pine trees approaching the sea; comfortable promenade, where you can watch the stunning sunsets; well-maintained appearance of the village and its facilities; neat and stylish aparthotels on the first and second line from the sea.

Sani – this place might be regarded as the synonym for splendor and refined hospitality. It is a popular resort among celebrities. The resort complex stands on the territory of the ancient city. It is famous for miles of sandy beaches. One of the main attractions of Sani is the Tower of Stavrinikitas. It dates back to the XVI century. Every year, the tower hosts a festival. The hill, the tower stands on, is a terrific place to admire local sunsets.

What to taste?

Kassandra is closely connected to the notion of excellent gastronomy. The old fishing traditions always provided the peninsula with fresh fish. The fruits of the sea still remain popular among the visitors of local taverns. They serve roasted and char-grilled fish with a slice of lemon and fresh vegetables. Do you like seafood? Look for places called Psarotaverna, which means Fish Tavern.

The Greek fast-food venues offer fats, tasty, and cheap dining options. One of the most popular of them is gyros – the mixture of vegetables and meat with sauce put into a flatbread of pita. Another popular street food is called Souvlaki.

There is a range of must-try specialties you cannot miss to taste during holidays on Kassandra: the grilled octopus, shrimps saganaki (in sause), mussels, grilled fish, moussaka, the Greek horiatiki salad with feta cheese, and tender stewed beef or mutton of stifado. The best way to familiarize yourself with all tastes of the Greek cuisine is to order meze dishes, including all sorts of dishes and appetizers. A glass of exquisite wine, produced by the Halkidiki wineries, will perfectly adorn your dining. You can enjoy a wide selection: Muscadelle, white, pink, and red wines.

Useful info

The Wi-Fi connectivity network is available throughout Kassandra: in any hotel, café, and the beach. You can find the access codes in special applications or ask from somebody. 

Useful tips

  • To make sure that your holidays on Kassandra will be successful for 100%, you should draw your attention to the following useful tips:
  • The Kassandra holiday season starts in late May. June and early September provide ideal weather conditions. The sea warms to comfortable temperatures. The low season of Kassandra is no less suitable for a visit. During the period from April to May, the nature of the peninsula is especially attractive. It is the best time for trekking, measured walks in the natural environment, and going sightseeing;
  • July and August are the most active months on Kassandra. Numerous bars open their doors for visitors. The beach bars invite to join their parties. It is the hot season for festivals. If you wish to experience this amazing atmosphere, you should arrive at Kassandra during this period;
  • Although the Kassandra Peninsula weather conditions are characterized as mild, the sun becomes more active during the period from July to August. You should necessarily use sunscreen products and wear hats on the beach;
  • It is advisable that you avoid buying food from people in the street or the beach to keep yourself safe from unwanted health issues;
  • It is better to book cars for a trip around the peninsula or transfers to resorts in Kassandra in advance.