HALKIDHIKÍ begins at a perforated edge of shallow lakes east of Thessaloníki, then extends into three prongs of land – Kassándhra, Sithonía and Athos – trailing like tentacles into the northern Aegean Sea. Kassándhra and Sithonía host some of the busiest holiday resorts in Greece, drawing hordes from Thessaloníki and other parts of the north, as well as increasing numbers from eastern Europe. The beaches themselves consist of white sand, ranging in consistency from powder to coarse-grained.
Mount Athos, the easternmost peninsula, is in all ways separate, a “Holy Mountain” whose monastic population, semi-autonomous within the Greek state, excludes all females – even as visitors. The most that women can do is to glimpse the buildings from offshore cruise kaïkia sailing from the two small resorts on the periphery of the peninsula – Ierissós and Ouranoúpoli – on the “secular” part of the Athos peninsula.Read More
Fifty kilometres southeast of Thessaloníki, en route to the Kassándhra peninsula, and set among handsome mountain scenery, is the cave of Kókkines Pétres. The name means “Red Stones”, and they were discovered in 1959 by villagers from nearby Petrálona looking for water. Besides an impressive display of stalagmites and stalactites, the villagers – and, later, academics – found the fossilized remains of prehistoric animals and, most dramatic of all, a Neanderthal skull, all of which are displayed in a decent museum near the cave entrance. No photography is allowed, but there is a small museum and onsite café.