Where is Kassandra?
Kassandra is the first or leftmost prongs of the Halkidiki. Halkidiki is a trident-shaped peninsula in North Greece, close to the city of Thessaloniki. The other prongs (also called "legs" or "fingers") are Sithonia and Mount Athos, Kassandra is the most developed and densely built, with plenty of hotels, restaurants and entertainment options. It is suitable for families with kids, groups of friends and all-inclusive accommodation fans.
How to reach Kassandra?
Like the rest places of Halkidiki, Kasssandra is very easy to reach from Thessaloniki by car or by public bus. The closest airport is the Macedonia Airport of Thessaloniki, roughly 50 km away from the beginning of the prong.
Which are the main villages?
The villages on the east coast are more popular and the seaside areas between them are built with villas and hotels. The largest resorts from the north to the south are Nea Potidea, Afitos, Kalithea, Polychrono, Hanioti and Pefkochori - with organized beaches, multiple eating options, entertainment for kids and shops. The west coast is less developed, with smaller resorts and quieter beaches, among which Nea Skioni, Skala Fourkas and Siviri are most visited. Some of the most expensive five star hotels in North Greece can also be found on Kassandra.
An alley of Afitos
Are there nice beaches on Kassandra?
Kassandra is mainly a beach destination, just like the rest of Halkidiki peninsula. The whole seaside of the prong is an endless strip of sand or small pebbles, interrupted by sea rocks here and there, except for the southernmost part which is hilly and not inhabited. The sea water is bright and transparent, in saturated blue color, and waves are rare since Kassandra is wind-protected from both sides. The beaches with the finest sand are Chrousso (near Paliouri) and Sani next to the homonymous resort complex (behind the beach there is a nice pine forest). Beach bars can be found both at the resorts and between them. If you want to escape the crowds during your holiday, choose the west coast but keep in mind that most of the beaches there are pebbly or sandy mixed with pebbles.
What to see on Kassandra?
- Afitos, a charming old village which differs from the rest places on Kassandra with its stone houses, lovely pedestrian area and great sea views.
- Possidi cape on the west coast - a sandspit stretching for hundreds of meters into the sea. It is one of the few places on the peninsula where strong waves may appear (along with kitesurfers) but when the weather is calm, it is very scenic with its blue water and two shores which gradually merge into one.
- The canal of Nea Potidea - this canal practically makes Kassandra an island because it fully separates it from mainland and the connection is via a short overbridge. It was built around the 4th century by Cassander during the thrive of ancient Potidea.
- The temple of Ammon Zeus and the sanctuary of Dionysos in Kallithea - although there are not impressive historical landmarks left, Kassandra has been inhabited since antiquity.
- The stone tower of Nea Fokea from 1407.
- The small church and beach of Agios Nikolaos - the southernmost point of the prong you can reach by car. It is not a sightseeing but just a good reason to visit this unspoilt part of Kassandra, so different from the lively resorts.
The tower in Nea Fokea
What activities to do on Kassandra?
Relaxing at the beach and enjoying the sea is the first and ultimate thing you can do. Full day boat trips to the middle prong of Halkidiki, Sithonia, are organized daily in the summer from Pefkochori - the trip usually includes a few stops for swimming and time for a walk in the lively Neos Marmaras. Pefkohori, Hanioti and Polichrono have bars and cafeterias working till late, but Kallithea is the resort renown for its night clubs and discos.
A boat unloading tourists from Pefkochori at the harbor of Neos Marmaras
What to eat in Kassandra?
Many of the hotels here offer all-inclusive or half-board accommodation but those who prefer to eat out have plenty of restaurants and fast food options to choose from. Fast food has nothing to do with McDonalds (and you will not find this food chain on Halkidiki at all) but it means the traditional Greek-style gyros and pancakes called "krepes". Bakeries offer excellent pies, pastries and cookies for breakfast. As to the cuisine, there are no region-specific specialties but you can find any of the usual cooked meals typical for Greece, along with fresh fish and seafood.
What to be careful about?
If you happen to be on Kassandra in July and August, keep in mind that organized beaches and beach bars tend to get overcrowded during the weekends. The reason for this is not only the growing number of tourists, but the fact that the residents of Thessaloniki also find it an attractive and close destination for a day at the beach. The situation is different in workdays but in order to avoid the noise and crowds on Saturdays and Sundays, you can drive to the west or south coast where the beaches are more secluded and many of them have large empty spaces without beach bars.
Our personal experience?
Kassandra was the first prong of Halkidiki we visited and we were mesmerized by the transparent water and the sparkling blue of the sea which we could catch a glimpse of while driving on the coastal road. We stayed at Afitos where the sea views are the best. By that time (over 10 years ago) Kassandra was still unknown destination for mass tourists and it was very quiet, just the type of place where to fully rest by the sea without hearing the conversation of other people around as the long beach seemed unreally empty. In the course of years we visited a few more places on the prong with friends and small kids and then we could appreciate the shallow water and the lack of waves but the increasing number of people and cars was obvious even in June. Kassandra is still beautiful but if you prefer tranquil holidays, choose a hotel or villa in the quieter resorts or located out of the villages - there are many of them scattered along the coastline.
Kriopigi beach in August
Agios Nikolaos church at the southernmost part of Kassandra
Beach bar in Hanioti
Kitesurfer at Possidi sand cape