The coast of Kassandra peninsula (Modern Greek: Kασσάνδρα, Ancient Greek: Katharevousa), near the city of Thessaloniki, offers many excellent beaches.
Kassandra is known for its wonderful beaches that have made it one of the main tourist areas on the mainland. The proximity to the international airport of Thessaloniki also promoted the tourist development. Many tourists from Eastern European countries come by car in the region, so it can be quite crowded in the high season, even on remote beaches, which used to inaccessible for air tourists. On summer weekends an invasion of bathers from Thessaloniki takes place with the volume of traffic increasing strongly. The best time to visit is the early or late season.
Tourism has already entered Kassandra in the 1970s. Accordingly, on Kassandra there are also the hotels that date back to this time and are also characterized by the style of this time. Therefore there are some architectural aberrations from this time. These hotels have often been refurbished to modern standards but are not very nice to look at.
In the north, the peninsula is very narrow. Sometimes you can see the sea on both sides. On the east coast the villages are more the style that is favored by Greek tourists. On the west coast the tourist settlement Sani dominates, which was completely created for tourist use. It is very nice and clean but you are completely isolated and guests have nothing to do with real Greek life style.
In the middle of the peninsula, the mountainous part begins. Again there is a difference between the east and west coast. At the east coast from Kallithea and south of it are the tourist centers of the peninsula with their beautiful crowded beaches. Mass tourism began here in the 1970s. Many of the hotels are from that time, and have been renovated several times, but you can still tell the age. On the steep west coast, it is much quieter, the strands are not so nice and partly unmanaged.
If you drive all the way to the south you get into the really nice part of Kassandra. Here are the picturesque bays, which are indeed quite busy in the summer, but in the early and late seasons invite to a quite swimming. There are even some beautiful beaches that can be reached by bus. The really beautiful beaches can only be reached by car, and the roads here are quite adventurous.
- 1 Nea Potidea
- 2 Nea Phokea : small beautiful coastal viiale with its landmark, the Byzantine tower. The remarkable church of Saint Paul, which is located in a cave in which you can move due to the narrowness and low ceiling, in part only on all fours.
- 3 Afytos: As the only one of the coastal villages, Afytos has retained and restored much of its old structure. A walk through the village should not be missed.
- 4 Kallithea: very touristy place with many shops, taverns and bars and well-known nightlife.
- 5 Polychrono
- 6 Chaniotis: a highly touristy flat place, which is therefore also suitable for older guests
- 7 Pefkochori: very touristy place with a lot of shops and wonderful seaside restaurants and relatively good extensive beach. Pefkohori is one of the few flat places where you can easily get to the beach and therefore highly recommended for older guests
- 8 Paliouri (& Agia Paraskevi)
- 9 Nea Skioni (& Loutra): small beautiful coastal village with a SPA center. The central pool is fed by sulphurous water from the volcanic spring and has a constant temperature of 39 degrees
- 10 Posidi
- 11 Skala Fourkas (& Fourka, Kassandrino)
- 12 Kassandria: Definitely worth seeing is the market in Kassandria, always on Tuesdays.
- 13 Siviri: a rather inconspicuous tourist destination, where it is quite quiet for the conditions on Kassandra
- 14 Sani: The facility was created at the beginning of the 60s on the drawing board, where a completely new very luxurious and beautiful holiday area was created. The tower of Sani is the landmark of the place
The nearest major airport is Thessaloniki (SKG IATA). By bus it takes about an hour to Kassandra, the further south you want the longer it takes. By car, you can do it in 45 minutes. The highway from Thessaloniki ends near Nea Moudania and then you continue on a fairly well-maintained road to the south. From this central road all villages can be reached.
Kassandra is very well connected by bus lines. Sometimes there is a page with the departure times which are not very reliable. You sit down at the bus stop and wait until the bus arrives. Be aware that you can not just sit at the bus stop when the bus arrives, you have to get up and wave, otherwise it will not stop. Of course, you have to know how the bus looks like, because there are also many other tourist buses.
Rental cars, scooters and quads are offered in every location. The main roads on Kassandra are quite well developed and signposted. Parking in most villages is a real problem in high season and traffic especially on weekends can be heavy. To make tours on the island weekdays are the better choice.
In Kassandra, there are no major attractions that are worth a long drive, but a stop on an island tour.
- 1 Canal of Potidea. The canal separates the Kassandra peninsula from the mainland in the very north of the peninsula. Here Kassandra is so narrow that you can see both sides of the peninsula from the road crossing the canal. On the right you can see the Thermic Gulf, on the left the Toronian Gulf. Both seas are connected by the canal. The history of the channel is not fully understood, a report mentions the channel in the 1st century AD. In 1407, the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologos had the channel again excavate and at the same time build fortifications on its south side. 1423 the Venetians took over Thessaloniki and the channel of Potidea including Kassandra. Despite the military security measures the channel felt in 1430 with Thessaloniki and the peninsula Kassandra to the Ottoman Empire
- 2 Chapel of Panagia Faneromeni. It is a small church painted in blue and white that was built during the Ottoman possession after the appearance of Mary the Virgin. Besides the story that accompanies it, the photogenic church is near the seaside, and the view is amazing.
Archaeological sites: all of the archaeological sites listed below are of secondary importance and poor conservation status. Nevertheless, a visit to an island tour is worthwhile.
- 3 Justinian Wall. At the western end of the Cassandra Canal, remnants of the old city walls of Potidea can still be seen. The 6th-century structure was once 1200 meters long and protected the island from intruders.
- 4 Megali Kypsa. On Simantra beach west of Kassandria are the ruins of an ancient Roman estate. In addition to the foundations and columns of the mansion, parts of a mosaic and the remains of the adjoining, former pottery can be seen. Centuries later, an early Christian church was built over the ruins of the estate.
- 5 Poseidon Temple. There is not really much to see, as the area is fenced off. You can see a few remnants of walls and the temple, which is covered for protection. The oldest part of the temple ruins date back to the 11th century BC. dated. Over time, the temple was extended by other additions and belonged to the ancient city of Mende. Four buildings were uncovered: the temple, two buildings on the sides of the temple and a vaulted building in the eastern part. The area around this archaeological site and the extensive beach are very worth seeing.
- 6 Ammon Zeus Temple. On the beach of Kallithea are the ruins of Ammon Zeus Temple, which dates back to about 400 BC. Was built in the 3rd century BC. The god Ammon Zeus is an association of the Egyptian god Ammon and the Greek godfather Zeus and was especially revered in the Sparta region. A temple in honor of this god in the Kassandra region is a unique feature. The excavations are well signposted and photogenic because of its location on a beautiful beach. It is next to the Ammon Zeus Hotel. Approximately 3 km further south is the ruin of an early Christian church of Solina 'from the 5th century. It is fenced and quite inaccessible.
Museums: the small museums are a destination for rainy days.
- Folklore Museum in Kassandria. The Folklore Museum in Kassandria houses an extensive collection of traditional costumes as well as an exhibition of historical objects and provides visitors with an insight into the history of this region.
- Folklore Museum Polychrono. In a renovated stone house behind the central church lies the Folklore Museum of Polychrono. The exhibition provides an interesting insight into the life and customs of local history.
- Folklore Museum Afitos. The folklore museum in Afytos is divided into two floors. The ground floor houses a library, the upper floor an interesting collection of historical exhibits.
Kassandra offers all the activities one would expect in a well-developed tourist area, such as all kinds of water sports, scuba diving, boat tours, and hiking. In each of the places the offers are displayed on posters along the promenade.
If you are seeking for more active way to spend time one of the best ways to explore area is using quad bike. There are plenty places where you can rent them, prices start at around €40 per day. There are many hidden beaches and it is the easiest way to get to the top of the hills from where you can see magnificent views of Kassandra peninsula.
- The spa thermal baths of Agia Paraskevi.
- The summer concerts and theater festival in the amphitheaters of Nea Moudania and Siviri and the jazz festival of Sani.
- Feast of Agios Mamas: The most well-known feast in Halkidiki is undoubtedly the Feast of Agios Mamas. Every first week of September legions flock to the village of Agios Mamas to participate in the event, which is of commercial and folkloric interest. It is estimated that over 1,000 exhibitors and 200,000 visitors come to Agios Mamas every September.
There is a good variety of beaches on Kassandra peninsula. If you are looking for something different there are few remote beaches which are usually not so overcrowded. Out of season you might find even a place to enjoy nudism. The easiest way to get to them is using a quad bike.
A big super market (Lidl) is at the main road at Avytos. Little super markets are in every village, as well as bakeries, pharmacies and other shops for the daily needs. At the villages on the east side from Kallithea down to Pefkohori you find the largest selection of shops selling touristic articles and cloth.
In every village you find Greek restaurants, pizza, gyros and other fast food, bakeries and patisseries. The places have adapted to the guest from all countries and you can get e.g. British breakfast, continental or Greek with Bougasta and coffee in all variations. Popular for breakfast is the Greek specialty Bougatsa, buns of puff pastry stuffed with pudding (Bugatsa me Crema) or feta cheese (Bugatsa me Tiri).
Known for its nightlife is Kallithea - not only known, almost infamous. In the south of the city there are numerous nightlife facilities, including the stigma disco. There are even customers who come from Thessaloniki just to drink and dance there.
There is an vast number of accommodations listed on the popular internet booking portals with prices and reviews. Lately building activity has increased again and new hotel complexes are emerging, but mostly in unfavourable locations. Therefore, it is important to look at the location of the accommodation on Google Earth before booking to avoid disappointment. Many accommodations are so far away from the nearest town that you can not get to a beach without a vehicle or enjoy the nightlife. It should also be noted that on Kassandra only a few places are flat and so the way to the beach is often difficult without a vehicle.