The Sithonia peninsula is an amazing part of Chalkidiki. The second finger of three it still remains pretty much undeveloped and untouched by modern developers. This being the case it presents the ideal opportunity for anyone to tour, either by car, pushbike or for the very brave by foot. It has an amazing rugged coastline that is dotted with hundreds of small beaches most of which remain untouched and in some cases only accessible by boat, giving you the chance to explore and find your own personal piece of heaven in the process.
You can do this in either direction, from the start point at Nikiti at the northern point you can start by way of there to Neos Marmaras on the western side or from Karidi Beach, Vourvouros, for me it would be from Vourvouros. Being the largest town south of Nikiti, Marmaras is an amazing traditional Greek town that houses a large port. The town built on a hillside has plenty of old style narrow streets and dozens of shops and tavernas to cater for anyone’s needs, and the perfect place to top up provisions for those taking the push bike or foot option. However I did say the tour should start from here, there is a problem. Between Nikiti and Neos Marmaras the coast has some stunning beaches that I feel may add an extra day onto your tour, please do not rush to get to Marmaras as you really will be missing out on some stunning leisure time. I would give a fair time for the tour to take in quite a lot of 2 – 4 days. You could whizz around in a day but you will not give yourself the chance to experience the beauty of Sithonia and the incredible beaches that await you. For those taking the bike/foot option I could not give a fair time to complete it as you will invariably come across even more to see as you go.
Start from Nikiti to Neos Marmaras, on the way is Koviou, Kalogria, Lagomandra and Tripotamos Beaches, all within easy reach of the main road and most definitely recommended to visit. By the time you get to Marmaras you will be happy at the thought of spending a wonderful evening winding down and maybe reflecting on the day you have just had.
From Neos Marmaras to Koufos. Not very far you may think by looking at the map. However like the rest of Sithonia you will now find the roads getting higher and twistier and as you head down the coast again you will come across a multitude of hidden beaches and bays. You will also pass by and may want to visit Porto Carras, this is a complex often visited by the rich and famous as it offers seclusion in abundance from the outside world which may explain why those on the media hit list choose to come here as they know there privacy is safe. Even so, you can marvel at the stunning beauty of the coastline with the first finger of Halkidiki (Kassandra) always being on the horizon. It also offers you the chance before heading out on day 3 to catch some stunning and beautiful sunsets as it sinks over the horizon of Kassandra.
From Koufos to Sarti. For this leg you will head into the hills, over 3000ft above sea level and also leaving the western coast behind. The distance here between the two towns is relatively small, however, there are dozens of side roads that again take you to secluded beaches, clear blue waters and unspoilt coastlines. One of the roads does in fact take you to the most southern tip of Sithonia and it is no less disappointing with an incredible sandy and clean beach to while away a few hours. If you decide to stay on the main road as you head down from the hills you are now treated to a stunning view of Mt Athos in the distance and the Holy peninsula of Athos itself. You can stop by the fantastic beach at Sikias to take in the view, from there it is only a short trip along twisty rolling roads to the incredible Sarti. There you can enjoy another wonderful evening on the beach trying to take in all you can see by way of how stunning the place is.
Sarti to Karidi Beach, Vourvouros. This is my favourite leg of the trip. The road from is just amazing, as it rises and falls between hills at every drop there is a beach and even in high summer due to the abundance of beaches there is never a time when you feel a beach is overcrowded, and even if it was, you do not have to travel to far to find another. As you travel towards Vourvouros take a few of the side roads and explore the coastline here, you will not be disappointed and as you head north you will also notice some of the stunning houses that have been built. For as much as they are modern they by now means spoil or detract from the coastline in any way, a lot of thought has been taken with regards there construction and are in keeping with their surroundings. When you do get to Karidi Beach I promise you the chill out of a lifetime. A small bay with golden sands and shallow waters make it the ideal location even for those that cannot swim. The waters are always clean, clear and so inviting, as well as the fact that again this place offers seclusion. For the hardier take a short walk inland and you will find lizards, Dragonflies and many other types of wildlife. There are NO buildings at Karidi, occasionally there may be a snack van selling drinks and sandwiches but other than that there is nothing there at all apart from a gorgeous beach.
On the outskirts of Karidi as with most of the beaches mentioned there are apartments/rooms you can rent for relatively reasonable prices and to eat out in the evenings is not expensive.
Nikiti is approximately 2 hours drive from Thessaloniki and is simple to find using the road signs. If you are doing the tour from Neos Marmaras be careful when leaving Nikiti, it is easy to miss the road to Marmaras, although if you do miss it, well, carry on, go the way I would from Vourvouros, you will be no less disappointed.
I only discovered Sithonia in 2012, although I had been to Nikiti and Vourvouros a few times I had no idea just how beautiful Sithonia is. I will also be returning here to discover more and to travel inland to find even more gems that may not be known of. The secret of Sithonia is time, and I mean take your time, it is tempting to rush but if you do I promise you will miss out on so much.
Article, photograph © Rik Freeman