Arnea – The “lady” of mountainous Halkidiki

Arnea – The “lady” of mountainous Halkidiki

  Do not underestimate the mountainous Halkidiki. Not even in winter. Great routes and villages that it’s time to put on the schedule, with Arnaia appearing first in line. Beautiful Arnaia, built at 600m. at the foot of Holomontas Mt., named “Liarigovi” in the past, preserves to this day both its wonderful natural environment and the traditional character of the settlement and is the most beautiful village of Halkidiki.

Folklore Museum

   Restored houses, traditional mansions, unique examples of Macedonian architecture, cobbled alleys for unforgettable walks, traditional cafes and restaurants, take you on a journey through time in a setting of fairytale beauty. We found it very interesting that after the general restoration of many buildings, informational signs with a brief history of each building have been posted on the walls of about a hundred historical buildings of Macedonian architecture enlightening the visitors with details! Visit the Folklore Museum, tel.: 2372 350100 open: 10.00-14.00 ) housed in the famous “Iatrou” mansion, and the unique Textile Museum, tel.: 2372 351100, open: 9.00 – 13.00). Entrance €2 – single ticket for both museums which are in the same neighborhood.

  Further down, in “Horostasi” you will see the School of 1871, the so-called “urban school of Liarigovi” today’s Town Hall. Be sure to enter the Historic Holy Metropolitan Church of Agios Stefanos (open almost all day). You will be impressed by the unique, artistic, wood-carved iconostasis and the transparent floor.

urban school of Liarigovi You will have a delicious and traditional meal at the square at “Platanos” tavern. Opposite, at “Aristotelous” cafe, enjoy your coffee next to the plane tree and next door, around the corner, taste 5 types of the award-winning “Georgaka” honey and excellent “mundovina”. Go to “Passalimani” café for nice cocktails and the musical evenings it hosts.

 Life flows at a calm pace in Arnaia, with tradition elements overflowing the place and magically transporting you to other times. We enjoyed every hour we spent strolling around its cobblestone streets dinning and having our coffee near the gurgling water under the plane tree in its historic Square.

 Walks in Arnaia

 The residential area of Arnaia, rich in images and great examples of traditional Macedonian architecture, definitely needs one or more walks to be revealed. Only by walking will you recognize its importance, but also the dozens of reasons why it was designated a “Historical Site” by the Ministry of Culture.

 Starting from the main square, whichever street you take you will need between 10 and 20 minutes at most to complete a very interesting walk. The Municipality has designed 6 distinct walking routes with the aim of serving visitors and making it easier to get to know the architectural wealth of the settlement. All routes start and end radially in the central square revealing both the near and far corners of the settlement. The shortest walking route (10 minutes) is the one marked in red on the map and passes through “Gerogianni” Square and “Kari Pazari”. The longer ones, such as the green and the yellow, lead to the northern edges of the historic center, reaching Horostasi and the church of Agios Stefanos.

What to see

  Even today, Arnaia preserves samples of an old local society in terms of its urban planning and architectural character. The settlement did not develop on top of some organized pre-existing settlement. It is old, without an urban plan and densely built. According to tradition, the inhabitants who returned to the city after its destruction by the Turks began to rebuild the settlement around the squares. The houses are very close to each other and without yards, to protect them from the wind and keep them warm during the winter. There are no free spaces within the building fabric. There are narrow, cobbled streets and squares that make up an attractive combination of the beauty of the surroundings and tradition. The core of the settlement is the central square, the “market”, where there is a large plane tree through which drinking water flows. Around the square and the main street, where public services, banks, shops and dining areas with traditional cafes and taverns are concentrated, the commercial center of Arnaia is developing. In the alleys that start radially from the central square, creating smaller squares and neighborhoods along the way, one can admire the rich traditional reserve that this unique settlement has. South of the central square, in the district of “Gannoudena”, is the famous “Iatrou” Mansion, which functions as a Historical-Folklore museum and further on the Textile Museum. The most remarkable examples of Arnaia architecture are gathered in this district. Houses built after the disaster of 1821, painted in strong indigo or ochre, form beautiful neighborhoods.

  the church of Agios StefanosGoing down the main road from the square you will find yourself in front of the famous School of 1871, the so-called “urban school of Liarigovi”. It is the most well-built school of the 19th century in Halkidiki and since 1990 it houses the Town Hall. Next to the Town Hall is the church of Agios Stefanos, a three-aisled basilica with a famous bell tower dating from 1889. The church was completely burned down twice. During the reconstruction and renovation works, the existence of three older buildings was revealed inside the church: a large three-aisled early Christian basilica dating from around 400, a small one-room Byzantine church from the 10th – 11th centuries and a large rectangular post-Byzantine building from the 16th – 17th century. It is the only temple in Greece that works for the needs of the faithful while it is built on antiquities of great value – and indeed visible, since there are special glass panels on the floor of the temple, which allow you to see the illuminated and specially designed archaeological site and the findings that were discovered under the temple! In the famous bell tower of the church opposite the Town Hall and Agios Stefanos is the old inn and today “Alexandrou’s” guesthouse in two beautifully restored buildings. This whole area used to be the center of the village, the so-called Horostasi. The cruciform church with a dome of Aghii Anargyri, painted in 1919 by monks of Mount Athos, is also noteworthy. The imposing building of the Primary School with its huge courtyard is also of interest. It is a typical example of school architecture of the 1930s.













The island of Ammouliani in Halkidiki

The island of Ammouliani in Halkidiki

 The island of Ammouliani is located in Halkidiki, in the gulf of Mount Athos. Ferry transport is very frequent during the summer season, with a ferry departing every half hour from Trypiti. The voyage is very short since the mainland is only approximately 3.8km away and the city of Thessaloniki lies at a distance of 130 km. At just 20 minutes and for 2.20 € per person and you have reached the port of Ammouliani.

  Check the ferry departure schedules because there are changes according to the season).

ammouliani 25

  Ammouliani is a small island but having your car can be very handy! It does not cost much (10 €) and you can visit all the beaches of this small island! However, if you choose not to have a vehicle, it’s OK. There is a bus that awaits you at the harbor to take you plunging wherever you wish.

 If you haven’t booked a room,yet, we unreservedly recommend “ARCHONTIKO” hotel. Clean and charming rooms, a variety of handmade breakfast (we loved the home-made orange jam). In June the room price was very reasonable. We are not sure about the rest of the summer!

 ammouliani 14

It’s time to take your buckets and go to the beach!!! Here’s where we went! At the “Beach Bar Island”, “Karagatsia” and “Alykes” (Beach Bar Savana – last in the row, after the camping). Our humble opinion: If you like crowds go to “Alykes”, if you prefer calm, quiet beaches to go “Karagatsia”. Almost all beaches are organized. They provide you with two deck chairs and an umbrella without extra charge, just coffee or whatever else you order. (The Water bottle is for free).


Megali Ammos Beach, Beach Bar Island

“Karagatsia” beach


 Alykes beach, Beach Bar Savana

 Important Tip: If it’s windy on the island, don’t make second thoughts! Head to “Karagatsia” beach. There is a nice canteen for the “difficult hours”.

 You can also take a day cruise around the island with stops at beaches or even to the smaller islands nearby. If you feel like Sinbad the Sailor, you can also rent your own boat for one day! It’s a great experience! You don’t need a licence!

   Time for some cold coffee? Enjoy it in NAFTILOS or if your choice is for a drink,try AELIA SUMMER COCKTAIL BAR, both with a view to the harbor.


 Are you hungry? We ‘ve got all the details for you! Try the fish tavern “TZANIS” , at a 10 minutes’ walk from the port (maybe 8). If you do, we suggest you taste couscous served with seafood. Respect! Great, polite service! If you don’t wish for a fish tavern, you have alternatives such as pizzerias, Greek fast food(gyros/souvlaki wrapped in pita) and small taverns with homemade dishes. There’s no way you will leave dissatisfied!

 Now you expect us to suggest some evening bars … Fail! (It’s not that there aren’t any!) When you go on holiday in June you dream for absolute relaxation and peacefulness, so after dinner, you get back to your room early, turn on the air condition and cool down while watching old series on TV. Avoid the balcony! The raid of many (really a lot of) mosquitoes. Get a mosquito repellent to survive them.

 So here is our overall opinion of Ammouliani! It is a beautiful island, with crystal clear sea, organized beaches, and everything in close proximity. The island size is such that you don’t need to spend time in transportation. It has several shops that cover the whole range of dining, entertainment, gift items and clothing. It also has amusement parks for young and older children. If you visit in June to calm and rest it’s a perfect destination.


TIP 1: If you come from Thessaloniki, choose the road via Egnatia motorway and take the turn at the crossroads for Stavros/Redina. (Otherwise, you may be stuck into Halkidiki’s heavy traffic)

TIP 2: The island is small. Not a good choice for long holidays.

Sithonia’s peninsula setting off from  Nikiti

Sithonia’s peninsula setting off from Nikiti

A blue and green symphony! That’s what it is! The pine trees reach the sea in the second “leg” of Halkidiki, which impresses with its rugged landscape, thrilling nature lovers and those seeking a relaxing holiday. From traditional villages, coves and vast beaches bathed in the pines up to quaint fishing villages, the alternations in the second “leg” will surely impress you! Even though in recent years mass tourism has changed to a great extent the towns of Sithonia (Pref. Marmaras, Sarti, Nikiti), it is certain that in this region … one can discover little nature diamonds!

Old village of Nikiti

In the end, it is true what they say! “There’s no place like Halkidiki!” It’s there that every summer, for the past 12 years, having as a base Natasha’s house, we visit a different beach every other day . What’s the wind’s direction today? Is it north? Then we’re going to “Kastri”! South? To “Trani Ammouda” then! And so on…

For everyone who tastes the graces the area for the first time, here is some useful information to start with:

Nikiti village and Nikiti Beach

Nikiti on the hill or at the seaside? That’s a dilemma. Whatever you choose is just as enjoyable.

The crossroads of the main road (at the traffic lights) leads either – if you turn left as you come from Thessaloniki – to the narrow streets that lead to the traditional village, perched on the hill, with the beautifully preserved houses, built since 1830, or – if you turn right, to the beach of Nikiti, where cafes and taverns one next to another offer their goods along with great sea views and under the trees’ shade.

The traditional settlement is built on the hillside and it is ideal for a walk any time of day.. The Macedonian architecture of the houses with the characteristic chimneys, displaying the art of the craftsmen that built them, the church of Agios Nikitas on the hill, built in 1867 and the old school are worthy sights. You can sip a Greek coffee at the oldest cafe of the village, that of Nikos Kazan, with the wooden tables under a large pergola. If by any chance you find yourself in Nikiti on September 15, the feast day of the saint, note that a feast is held on that day, as well as a wandering of the holy icon of the Saint, in a sacred ceremony along the streets of the village.

Nikiti's beach

During the 50s, the village was extended to the beach. Of course, you will stroll around, …… and take many walks on the beach of Nikiti, which has been transformed after fully regenerated since last year. On the road that leads from the traffic lights to the esplanade, there are shops selling clothes, jewelry and souvenirs. The stroll, starting from the harbor and the picturesque church of Agioi Theodoroi, and heading east ways, and up to the end of the dirt road (where the camping area starts), covers a distance of about 2 km. On the beach of Nikiti there are several cafes and bars next to the sea, most of which offer sun beds free of charge.

The main beach of Nikiti is a cozy place with clean, warm water. It is ideal for families with small children because the seabed is shallow in most places. It is easily accessible by foot or car, from almost every part of Nikiti and offers many facilities. It’s worth mentioning that it’s awarded with a blue flag every year.

Useful Tips

The beach stretches for an over two kilometers distance. However, you can comfortably walk along the promenade that covers half of it and continue on the street along its full length.

If you prefer driving along in your car, you might face some unpleasant traffic during the weekends in August. The place is filled by vacationers and is usual with some of them not to respect the rules, parking anywhere on the crowded beach road. The traffic on the coastal road is not allowed in the evenings!

The beach basically starts at the end of the main vertical to the beach street heading south. On the other side, there is a marina for small boats, which is ideal for evening walks.

Along the beach, there are plenty of cafés, restaurants and bars that usually have chairs, loungers and umbrellas on the beach. Most of them have a wireless network.

Suggestions for food: We loved the “Kazanis” restaurant. Tel .: 2375023333, and the “Arsanas” tavern Tel. 23750237-87. For pizza lovers taste nice Italian pizza in «Nel Fuoco», and Greek “gyro” / “souvlaki” in “Gyromania”, all on Nikiti’s beach promenade.


20km far from Neos Marmaras

91km far from Thessaloniki

Nearby beaches

2km “Kastri Beach”, 5km “Kovios Beach”, 6km “Kalogria Beach”

Where to swim

Having so many options with such a great number of beaches, different from each other, though equally beautiful , take the chance to test them all! The most frequent options could be:

Beaches nearby Nikiti

Kastri- 2km far

KastriA not-so-well-known beach of Sithonia, between Nikiti and Agios Ioannis. It consists of two small creeks that meet in cape Kastri, with a feature islet off the small bay . The water is clean, shallow and the sea bed is sandy. It is easily accessible by car, although you will need to locate the narrow road leading to the beach. The beach is not organized, so if you want an umbrella or lounge chair you should bring along your own.

The area is considered by many archaeologists as the site of the ancient city “Galipsos”, mentioned by Herodotus. It is certain that there was an ancient settlement, as there are remnants of fortifications on the islet, while a little further, near “Saint John’s” beach, an ancient cemetery was revealed during excavations.

Useful Tips

The access to the beach is via a narrow road. To find the road, follow the old road that leads from Nikiti to Agios Ioannis.

The road leads to one of the two bays. If you want to go to the other you’d better either swim or climb the cliffs to reach it, as car access is difficult. You can visit the island even on foot!!!!! They say that it’s possible, if you find the ancient trail that is now immersed!!! (Don’t even think to try it!)

It is a clean family beach without beach bars or water sports activities. Quiet and calm !!!!

Generally speaking, the beach is not so well known. It is relatively small, so it is going to be difficult to find space to park your car probably during the high season (July 15- August 15)

Ai Giannis (Saint John) – at 4 km

A very beautiful, open space area of ​​Nikiti, in Sithonia Halkidiki. The beach is covered by a velvet smooth sand and it’s of great length and width. The water is emerald! The only drawback is that there is a flat rock along the shore that extents to its greater length and it’s a bit slippery as you enter the water but this does not bother me and many others, who prefer it for its uniqueness. In the past years, there was a famous beach bar there that attracted crowds of people and possibility for sport activities, concerts etc. Today, it has been purchased by a company that plan to build a hotel resort and nobody knows how the landscape will look like in the future. Currently there is a small beach bar on the beach and a canteen up the rock. In earlier years, the large open space was used as a camping area. Today, the area remains “unexploited” and therefore free to the public. Visit it before it ends up beyond recognition!

Useful Tips

The beach is easily accessible by car and there is ample parking space. On your way out to the main road, use extra caution because due to the downhill straight, the cars develop high speeds.

If you do not choose to take the road down to the beach, there’s a little canteen selling coffee and refreshments, two hundred meters further on the right where you can enjoy the panoramic view of the beach of Agios Ioannis to the north and the coastline of Sithonia that continues south to the New Marmara.

To the west of the coast, you can visit the island “Kastri”. It’s so close to the shore that from some points it is accessible even without having to swim.

“Kovios beach”- at 5 km


It is one of the most beautiful beaches of Chalkidiki. The water is blue, not too deep and maintains a cool temperature most of the time. The sea remains usually without rippling even when windy. The fine and velvety sand is ideal for hours of sunbathing. The rocky coastline before the beach is ideal for snorkeling and amateur spear gun.

Useful Tips

The access to the beach is through a downhill rocky path. If you have disability problems or very young children, prefer the path of the hotel “Makednos” 500 meters further.

The sea is excellent and warm especially late in the afternoon. It then that you can enjoy the beautiful sunset of Sithonia.

The bay helps to keep the waters warm even in May-June or late September. The beach is free. To the south part of the bay, hotel “Makednos” offers beach chairs and umbrellas There is also a beach bar.


It is a relatively unknown beach but offers a stunning combination of rocks, sea and pine trees. Located at the south of the beach of ‘Kalogria’ it consists of two bays. In the first bay, the coastline is mainly rocky and there is only a small sandy beach in the south eastern end. The second cove forms a larger beach with warm shallow waters.

Useful Tips

The small beach in “Spathies” is easily accessible by car. From “Kalogria” continue straight. “Spathies beach” is right next to the first. If you are driving on the main street of Nikiti-N. Marmara, turn right when you see the sign that says “Coast Spathies”.

In the small beach the parking space is limited. The access to the larger beach is difficult. In fact, you should leave your car farther away and walk, unless you drive a 4×4 car.

The waters are calm most of the day. The rocks are ideal for diving and exploring. The beach is only for swimming and sunbathing. There are no cafes, restaurants, canteens etc.

“Kalogria beach”

Here is another wonderful beach of Halkidiki, five kilometers far from Nikiti. The coast is long and famous for the velvety, white sand. A special feature of the beach is the small rocky island in the middle of the bay of “Kalogria”. It is easily accessible by car, while on the northern part it’s well organized with sun beds and a beach bar.

Useful Tips

The beach is free. You have to pay only if you want to use a sun bed, although there is plenty of space to setup your own equipment.

You can easily swim the distance to the island. The waters are relatively shallow.

There is an easy access by car. However, note down that the beach is very popular and so during the peak season or hours of the day you may not find space to park. So prefer evening hours or early morning visits, if you can.

In the southern part of the beach, the waters are shallower and, therefore, better for families with young children.

“Elia beach”

This is an area with a long coastline, very clear water and not widely known to the visitors. The beach is sandy, but narrow and at a lower level than the street. The pine trees are literally hanging above the beach, creating a dramatic feeling.

Useful Tips

There is an asphalted road along the beach starting at “Athena Palace Hotel” and as far as “Lagomandra beach”. But parking your car is difficult as there are many hotels and beach houses that have created private parking places along the coast.

The beach is mainly narrow. If you want more space, prefer the northern part of the beach just before “Athena Palace Hotel” and “Mikri Elia” just before “Lagomandra”.

The beach is at a lower level than the street. You can get down from paths and/or stairs that exist in several points.

The beach is not organized.


A very beautiful beach, much closer to “Neos Marmaras” rather than “Nikiti”. A small grove of pines right next to the beach adds a special character to the beach. It is easily accessible by car and offers many facilities, awarded every year with a blue flag.

Useful Tips

The beach consists of two parts, separated by a small cape. The northern part is more organized with sun beds and umbrellas mostly owned by the nearby hotels. In the south part there are water sports facilities.

If the sun is bothering you, you can always and easily setup your equipment under the pines. The sea is right next door.

If you come from Nikiti, mind the road, as there are several sharp turns and cars turning or suddenly coming out of side streets.

“Trani Ammouda”

Trani Ammouda


On the other side of “Sithonia peninsula”, facing “Athos peninsula”, is one of the most enchanting beaches of Halkidiki, “Trani Ammouda” (awarded the blue flag of the European Union), which stretches for 2.5 km, with crystal clear turquoise waters you can have a magnificent experience on the sloping sandy beach. We can arrive there if, at the intersection outside Nikiti, we continue leftwards on the road to “Agios Nikolaos”. As soon as you reach the intersection to “Ormos Panagias”, turn left (turn 180 degrees) and continue on this road until you get to the beach. In fact there is a very long beach divided by a rock in two beaches. One better than the other. The first is organized with beach bars and games, but the second isn’t! It’s up to one’s preferences. To reach the second just drive up the hill, over the bar and down again. You can always walk to it, past the rock and the beach is all yours to enjoy the most beautiful blue/ turquoise waters ever.

If you’re there around lunch/dinner time eat at “Aristos” (without second thought), “Ormos Panagia” (Tel.: 2375031420, Mob.:6977252019 ) The tables are on the sand!


About 5 km before you reach “Vourvourou”, drive past “Ormos Panagias” and once you reach the east part of “Sithonia” , after driving for approximately 1 km, don’t miss the first street to the left. Following this path, you will head northeast for 500 meters to meet an intersection. It is preferable to follow the third road (dirt road) to the right and at 400 meters you will see the beach “Lagonissi”. A blue lagoon! When we first got there we stood surprised at the sight of the beach and sea! It barely exceeds 400 meters in length, with clear turquoise waters, a very narrow at some points beach, with fine sand, 5-6 tall pines next to two small hotels that are built right on the beach. On the south-west side of the beach, a very small rocky peninsula, creates a very picturesque and unique sight. Unfortunately, here as well, the bulldozers came last year and we do not know what will be its fate!

Usually crowded, problem to park and at present unorganized.



And a little further………



Vacation settlement with total white sand, verdant rolling hills that reach the crystal clear waters and luxurious holiday villas! Following the road from “Ormos Panagias”, among the pines, the view is magnificent! The first thing you meet is “Livari”, a calm and shallow lagoon separated from the sea by a strip of land, surrounded by pine and a a group of little islands at short distance from the coast, perfect for taking a swim. Can be reached by renting a boat! Along ”Vourvourou” you will find many other hidden beaches and bays (“Ksifara”, “Karidi”, “Bara”, “Fava”), quiet even in summer! Although this is a very touristic area, it’s worth visiting it due to the luxurious “Ekies All Senses Resort”!


It is the most famous camping in Halkidiki, with fully organized facilities (tents, caravans, mobile homes, tavern, mini market, cinema, tennis beach volley, tennis, etc.), a famous and very popular beach bar, an organized sandy beach and crystal clear waters.Plus the various events organized! (Tel. 23750 91487,

Further south from “Armenistis”, the beaches that follow one another, compete in beauty! “Apella”, “Platanitsi”, “Kalamitsi”, ”Kriaritsi” and towards “Marmaras”, “Porto Koufo”, “Toroni”, “Tristinika” … and the town of “Marmaras”. Accommodation of all categories and campings to choose for your stay! Although mileage is enough (from Nikiti and back around 110), the round of the second “leg” offers unique landscapes, unforgettable images bound to the summer you spent in “Sithonia”.


Other Sights in Sithonia

The traditional village of Parthenon

The Hotel of Porto Carras

The castle and the church of Agios Athanasios in Toroni

The natural harbor of Porto Koufo

Sithonia Beaches

Nikiti, Lagomandra, Kastri, Agios Ioannis, Paradise, Neos Marmaras, Kalogria, Akti Koviou, Tristinika, Armenistis, Apella, Vourvourou, Kalamitsi, Platanitsi, Kriaritsi, Sykia, Sarti, Ormos Panagias, Lagonissi ……

There are many more beautiful beaches, campings etc. more distant from Nikiti. Sithonia from one end to the other, with the enchanting green landscapes, picturesque coves, small bays and sandy beaches, with crystal clear turquoise waters, is one of the most popular destinations of Chalkidiki. Enjoy!