Neos Marmaras is still a baby by the standards of Greece since it was founded just in 1922. But despite this fact it has already become quite an influential resort town, which boasts two beaches at once marked with a Blue flag, excellent infrastructure and picturesque nature. The combination of all these options made it a cosmopolitan resort, where you can hear the languages of almost all countries of the world during the high season.
No more than 2.000 people live here all year round. In the height of the season, this number increases to 20.000 people due to the visitors.
There was an ancient and a Byzantine settlement on the spot of the nowaday resort — this is evidenced by the findings, which were discovered during the archaeological excavations in this area. This is also indicated by the ruins of the walls of an ancient fortress.
According to the written sources, the bay was previously called Balabani and had a great importance for the population because the Byzantines fortified it with fort walls and built an unassailable tower. Until 1429, the metochion of the bay was assigned to the Gregoriat monastery. During the Macedonian liberation war, the monastery provided shelter to many rebels.
At the beginning of the XX century, there was a small fishing village here, where a ship with refugees from Marmaras landed. They actively engaged in construction and quickly turned this place into a center of international tourism, having named it after their homeland that they had lost.
How to get
Neos Marmaras is spread out over three hills at the foot of the highest mountain of Sithonia — Itamos (823 m), which is 118 km from Thessaloniki. You should take bus No. 78 and reach KTEL Halkidikis. Then you need to change to the regular bus. Travel time is 1.5-2 hours.
Airport transfer will be a better decision as for time and money. If you book it online in advance, you can save up to 15% comparing to the prices of regular taxis.
Since Neos Marmaras is located on the incredibly scenic Sithonia Peninsula, it is recommended to rent a car at the airport for the entire duration of your vacation. There are many beautiful places and beaches around, which are definitely worth visiting.
What to see?
Neos Marmaras in Halkidiki offers many interesting things at every step. Already on the approach, near the settlement of Tripotamos, not far from the road, you can see an abandoned complex of structures. These are the remains of the 19th-century Tripotamos metochion, which was once located here. It belonged to the Konstamonitou monastery. The ruins make it possible to study better the traditional architecture of the monastery metochions on the Halkidiki peninsula, as it is one of the most outstanding examples.
There is a memorial complex in the central harbor, not far from the church of Holy Archangels, where unique ancient icons brought by refugees are preserved. There you can see a replica of the Santala boat that led a string of fishing boats, on which the refugees managed to escape.
You will love just walking around Neos Marmaras: it is one of the most picturesque villages in Halkidiki.
We also recommend you to visit a settlement of Parthenonas. This is an old village at an altitude of 350 m above sea level, which the state took under its protection after almost all the inhabitants had moved to Neos Marmaras. Historians believe that the name of this village is connected with the ancient polis of Parthenoupoli, which was located on this spot in ancient times. Now it is pleasant to walk slowly through the old streets here and drink coffee in small taverns. Do not forget to visit the Folklore museum, where you can get acquainted with the traditions and customs of the inhabitants of this area. The exhibition presents houseware, national clothes and photos of the early 20th century. It's a good idea to come here for the sunset. The view is spectacular.
What to do?
If you are an active and courageous traveler who is not afraid of difficulties, then you can win the top of mount Itamos (another name is Dragoudelis). All the way from the first point to the top is 15 km. The route is considered to be relatively easy but, nevertheless, some training and equipment will be necessary. In the village you can quickly find a guide who will bear you company. If you need a large group of enthusiasts for such a trip, then it is better to come in October. Every year this month, the "Dragountely Pass" is held. It is organized by the municipal council for social welfare and the cultural association "Parthenon" under the auspices of Sithonia. It is an environmental event, during which the participants get acquainted with the mountain range and have a nice time outdoors. There are several options for climbing: along the hiking or bicycle paths, or on horseback.
Lovers of yacht voyages can use a great chance to enjoy a sea trip. The most popular route is to head south along the coast of Sithonia. Thanks to the rugged coastline and many small islands, the coast looks incredibly beautiful. Also yacht cruises often go to the island of Kelifos, a turtle-shaped island opposite Nea Marmaras, to swim in the open sea
In the summertime there is a boat trip from the port to Porto Carras Resort. For a few euros you can go to the resort, walk through its well-kept park, go to a restaurant, play tennis (better book courts in advance) or relax in the spa.
If you are traveling first of all to explore the culture and life of other nations, then there is many places are in for a treat, because many interesting events are held every year in Neos Marmaras. For example:
- the annual traditional religious festival at the church of St. Panteleimon is held on July 27. The holiday lasts three days. On the last day, the residents prepare food in huge cauldrons and treat everyone with it. This tradition is called "kourbani";
- folklore events on Clean Monday;
- a three-day holiday "Memories of the old Motherland" — on the day of the Holy Spirit (the 50th day after Easter). On this day, guests of the resort have a unique opportunity to attend an Orthodox wedding in all the traditions of old Marmaras;
- a traditional fair, which is organized by the chapel of St. John on August 29;
- marathon race on October 16;
- every year in May and September, the international folk dance festival is held, which brings together folk ensembles, orchestras and performers from all over the world. This is one of the biggest and brightest events in Halkidiki.
In this place you can also:
- go diving under the guidance of a certified coach at Poseidon Diving Academy;
- rent a boat, a yacht or a car.
- go karting.
It is worth mentioning the beaches in the area. There are hardly any comfortable places to swim in the village itself, but there is a long beach at the edge of Neos Marmaras. There you will find bars, snack bars, boat rentals and other facilities. The entrance to the sea is shallow and the sand is fine and pleasant.
If you're in the mood to explore the best beaches in the area, we recommend:
- Kalogria. This is a strip of beautiful sandy beaches between the villages Nikiti and Neos Marmaras. Here you'll find plenty of stylish beach bars as well as places to stay on your own.
- Vourvourou. A series of coves with sandy beaches, surrounded by pine trees, alternating with picturesque rocks and olive groves.
- Tristinika and Destenika. There is golden sand, shimmering in the sun, and even in high season there are few people.
There are many large shops where you can buy clothes, fur and leather products, as well as small flamboyant shops where they sell jewelry, national clothes, olive oil, natural cosmetics and much more.
Rest with children
There are a lot of things to do with children in Neos Marmaras. Here you can find children's playgrounds with swings and slides everywhere. At the very end of the town, there is an attraction called "Water zorb” — it is located on the way towards the Porto Carras hotel complex.
Both children and adults will enjoy the mini-train ride in Nea Marmaras. It goes around the whole village and can also take you to the nearest beaches.
After the children have played and run enough, you can take them to eat ice cream in Happy Cow Frozen Yogurt. This is a place where you will get a small plastic cup filled with delicious refreshing frozen yogurt that will be decorated as you desire. To keep your hands warm, the glass is put in a carton box with the image of a cute painted cow. This dessert will not allow neither children nor their parents to stay indifferent.
Be sure to visit the Itamos nature reserve. There children will have a chance to see antelopes, foxes, hares, sheep, wild boars and rare deer. There is a 2000-year tree here — European yew. Attention! It's poisonous! A legend says that if you fall asleep under it, you will not be able to wake up.
Leisure for adults
If you can tell the taste of Pinot Grigio from Bordeaux Blanc and Chablis ler Cru with your eyes closed, if you have your own small collection of fine wines of your year of birth, then you should definitely visit the largest vineyard in Greece, where in a private winery the "Porto Carras" wine is produced.
At night, we recommend you to visit Molos. There you can sit on the outdoor veranda overlooking the sea and drink a light cocktail. It is beautiful and atmospheric here at any time of the day or night. Popular DJs and beginners often perform here, and bar keepers are famous for their ability to mix exotic cocktails and make a real show out of it.
Where to stay?
Neos Marmaras is one of the most popular resorts. Therefore, there is a wide range of accommodation here — both budget and luxury ones.
Local residents actively rent out their apartments and houses during the season. But such options are being sold like hot cakes. You will have to work hard to regain your option.
There are no villas in the village itself, as there are more urban housing (apartments) and the houses are quite dense. Pay attention to the surroundings of Neos Marmaras in the direction of the village Nikiti. The distance between them is only 20 km so it is advisable to rent a villa and take a short ride to your favorite village.
There are enough hotels in Neos Marmaras for any visitor to choose a suitable option for any budget and goals.
Porto Carras — Meliton — is the best 5-star hotel. The building is built in the shape of a large cruise ship and looks even more impressive in the evening. The owner of the institution has adopted the experience of the best hotels around the world and managed to create a mini-state where there is something to do for both children and adults. At the guests’ disposal, there are 5 large swimming pools, an open-air cinema, a casino and 15 restaurants serving Greek and European cuisine.
Women will be able to appreciate the spa, which has been awarded 9 times by Conde Nast Traveller magazine as the best one in Greece. It has an indoor saltwater pool, a thalassotherapeutic pool and 6 hot tubs. Here you can try wine therapy.
For families with children, there are two playgrounds with entertainers, a children and teen’ club and a special menu in restaurants.
The cult of sports and healthy lifestyle prevails in the hotel. There is a huge golf course and a fitness room. Guests can also enjoy swimming, snorkeling, diving, water skiing and canoeing.
Ariadni Blue is a nice boutique two-storeyed hotel. Its territory offers everything you need for a comfortable stay — from a pool with sun loungers to a restaurant with American, European and Greek cuisine. This hotel is pet-friendly. Therefore, if you are traveling with your fluffy pet, let them know about it in advance while booking the hotel and they will allocate a place and food for your pet.
Budget hotels are represented with Hotel Olympos, Pella Hotel, Skouna Hotel, Hotel Athina.
What to taste?
There are a lot of establishments in the center and on the coast, each of which can boast fine cuisine, pleasant staff and a cozy atmosphere.
If you prefer to start your day with a cup of coffee and a delicious dessert, we recommend you to visit Senso crepes&more. This establishment specializes in pancakes. You can order them with strawberry yogurt and chocolate chips, with chocolate paste and fruit or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a banana. Here they will also cook sandwiches with meat or fish and French fries for you.
If you don't like pancakes, you can regale with Viennese wafers at My Place Crepes. There are as many as 30 options of the filling: ice cream (pistachio, cream, vanilla, strawberry, chocolate), chocolate paste, chocolate drops, fruit, cream cheese, yogurt etc. You can design your own perfect dessert.
We also recommend visiting such good "sweet" places as Nuovo Cafe, Sokolatino and Chill Box.
For lunch, we recommend you to go to the restaurant Origano. This is a cozy place on the waterfront. You will taste salads with fresh vegetables and cheese, dzadziki, fragrant souvlaki, various seafood dishes, watching the turquoise sea and yachts that are slightly fluctuating on small waves. For those who prefer meat there is a good range of meat dishes. The menu also includes dishes of European cuisine.
If you can't imagine your lunch without a piece of fragrant dough, poured with tomato sauce, with chicken or cured fillet under a viscous blanket of mozzarella — visit Italian flavors Pizza & Gellatery, Canadian Pizza-Gyros or Roma Pizza.
Las Pákos restaurant is open for severe gourmets. Juicy steaks with blood on a wooden tray with sauce and French fries, huge burgers that are quite hard to bite off and traditional Greek meat dishes attract travelers and locals every day.
For traditional seafood dishes, go to Ta Kymata. This is a real family tavern, which was opened in 1950 and is still popular with locals and visitors. Now the institution is owned by the third generation of the family, which does everything possible for their guests by the example of their parents. The tavern is located on the coast near small fishing boats. Here you will be offered a large plate of fresh seafood, simple salads with vegetables grown personally by the owners, traditional fish soup or spaghetti with lobster accompanied by a glass of homemade white wine.
Nearby you will find another popular family restaurant, Aegean Seafood Restaurant, which was opened in 1958. What is better than sitting at a snow-white table at the water's edge and enjoying spaghetti with mussels, grilled vegetables, salad with squid or shrimp?
We recommend you to visit one of the most Instagrammed places — restaurant Okyalos. It is a three-storeyed establishment with beautiful open terraces overlooking the sea. Original dishes, in which seafood (swordfish, shrimp, mussels, lobsters, squid, lavrak, sea bass, dorado) sound the main chord to the accompaniment of interesting dressings and side dishes and will play all shades of taste in the rays of the setting sun. Fans of tartar and ceviche will be pleased with the selection of these dishes. You need to book a table in advance. The place is very popular.
There are many supermarkets and shops in the village. There is a local farmer market, but it works only on Thursdays.
- In Neos Marmaras, public transport is mostly represented by taxis (the average fare is 10-15€), boats and launches (the cost of a ticket from Porto Carras to the city is 5€). A special tourist train also runs through the city.
- The best time to relax here is May and June. At this time, it is already very warm and many beautiful plants are blooming. The velvet season begins in September. But in August, it is better not to go here for those who can not stand the summer heat.
- If you like to live as close to the nature as possible, in Neos Marmaras it is better to stay in apartments and mini-hotels that are close to the beaches of Paradisos and Neos Marmaras beach. Otherwise, you will have to make a long walk to the sea every day from the center of town.