This year, with the help of the Gateway Challenges Funding, I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Sithonia, the middle “arm” of the Chalkidiki Peninsula. The travelling conditions and restrictions imposed by authorities this year transformed tourism, outdoor activities being the ones strongly preferred. I decided that this could be an opportunity to become creative and attempt as many outdoor activities and sports as possible. And what better conditions to do so than the sunny, hot and lively Greece?
First, the beaches are the main touristic attraction in the area. Beaches on the eastern side of the peninsula are great in the morning, offering nice views towards mount Athos. Those on the western side have nice sunsets. Some of the beaches I visited that I would recommend are Karidi, Toroni, Kalogria and Pirgos. Karidi Beach is situated near the small and picturesque town of Vourvourou. The beach is small, but unique. Situated near a forest of pine trees, it offers natural shading during the hot hours of the afternoon. Hence, a lot of people hang hammocks later in the day and relax by reading or chatting. The sand portion of the beach is not wide so it’s good to arrive as early as possible to have a spot near the sea. The shallow water and fine sand make this beach perfect for trying some popular water sports such as beach tennis, played with shorter wooden rackets, and ball games.
Toroni Beach is situated further south, but it’s worth the trip! It offers a long and wide beach situated along the town with the same name. The beach is quiet, perfect for doing some outdoors reading and relaxing walks through the fine sand. The town offers many “travernas” (outdoor restaurants) which serve fresh fish and seafood drizzled with olive oil. One thing that’s common in Greece and that I particularly liked is that restaurants allow clients to look at the raw fish available and choose which one they prefer. This ensures the client can see the size and freshness of the fish.
Two popular drinks among greeks are fresh orange juice and coffee freddo; both are very refreshing, being served with a lot of ice. Kalogria Beach is said to have one of the most beautiful sunsets. A small, rocky island called Queen Zvezdana's Island can be reached from this beach within a 10 minutes swim. The island is perfect for snorkelling and, if feeling more adventurous, scuba diving! Thousands of small, black fish can be seen swimming around this island, making it a great place for underwater photography and marine life exploration. Moreover, you can rent a kayak or pedal boat to explore the area; renting
one at sunset is especially pleasant.
Pirgos Beach, located near Ormos, is what I would call a wild beach. Although it has some beach bars and hotels, the northern part was left almost untouched. The scenery is specific for the area: dry, red rocks with small bushes and olive trees. On the hill near the beach, some goats were eating the scarce vegetation they could find. I would recommend visiting this beach to get a taste of how I imagine pristine land in Greece looked like.
Walks after sunset are another nice activity. Two towns that I visited and particularly liked are Metamorfosi and Pyrgadikia. Both towns offer nice, breezy walks along the coast. On the main street in Metamorfosi locals sell local fruits (citrus fruits, melons and figs), desserts such as icecream and baklavas, as well as olive oil, honey and handmade jewellery. Pyrgadikia is a smaller village with a harbour and restaurants with live music.
In conclusion, Greece and, in particular, the Sithonia Peninsula is the place that offers it all: from nice walks to swimming, scuba diving and snorkelling, beach tennis, good food and live music. It’s a place of serenity and adventure which I was fortunate enough to experience this summer.