East Sithonia: Pine Trees and Turquoise Water
East Sithonia, the eastern part of the middle leg of Halkidiki (or Chalkidiki), is the less touristy side of Halkidiki. However, the area that starts at Agios Nikolaos and ends at Toroni constitutes an outstanding travel destination, thanks to both its unique beaches and the pine-filled natural environment.
Text: Lina Kapetaniou Translation: Lisa Radinovsky
The middle leg, finger, or peninsula of Halkidiki is more “alternative” and more unspoiled than the first one. We don’t see the big nightclubs, large hotels, or plentiful rooms for rent that we find in Pefkochori and Paliouri in the first leg of Halkidiki. Indeed, the east side of Sithonia on the second peninsula of Halkidiki is even more sparsely populated than the west side, where Nikiti and Neos Marmaras attract many people.
From Agios Nikolaos to Toroni, the largest settlements are Vourvourou, Sarti, and Sykia. Along the 69 kilometers of coastal road that connect Agios Nikolaos with Toroni, visitors will find dozens of beaches, large and small. The meandering coastline is almost all sandy, with turquoise water and views of the third peninsula, Mount Athos. Pines reach down to the sea, and the hills behind the beaches are verdant.
The second peninsula was “discovered” mainly by adventurous Germans several decades ago, and despite the advance of Russian and Balkan tourists in recent years, we still see many signs in German. Not many years have passed since families from Germany streamed in with campers and filled the beaches. Today, their place has been taken by Russians, Romanians, Bulgarians and Serbs. The predominance of camping, however, has remained unchanged, since eastern Sithonia has dozens of campgrounds which have developed considerably. Previously simple places to camp, they have evolved into impressive destinations. Many campgrounds now occupy whole beaches, while others combine luxurious facilities with rentals of campers or tents.
Starting from the north, the first village you come across is Ormos Panagias. A picturesque fishing village, Ormos is famous for fishermen and fresh fish. Locals and tourists flock here for both the fish market with the fish of the day and the tavernas that serve unique seafood appetizers. Ormos Panagias harbors both fishing boats and tourist boats, since a new, second marina has been added across from the settlement of Lagonisi. You can start a cruise around Mount Athos here.
After passing several sandy beaches, some organized and some not, you will find Vourvourou. Spread over a large area along the sea, this village has many rooms for rent, restaurants, and shops.
Famous beaches like Kavourotrypes, Armenistis, and Platanitsi follow. The next large settlement is Sarti, with its long beach and lively downtown area which fills with people every night. Beloved by foreign tourists, Sarti is one of the few spots in east Sithonia where you can find evening entertainment.