Written by Richard Way,
6th September 2023

Greece’s idyllic islands are the go-to option for most Grecophiles but some house-hunters could be missing a trick. The country’s mainland is home to two less promoted peninsulas, where gorgeous beaches and unspoilt mountainscapes complement a delectably authentic lifestyle. Cue the Peloponnese and Halkidiki – we compare the basics about these two heavenly destinations and perhaps tempt you into an exploratory trip to one of them…

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Kalamitsii beach on the east coast of Sithonia on Halkidiki.

Halkidiki is a picturesque peninsula in Greece’s northern Central Macedonia region. It borders the historic city of Thessaloniki, which has an international airport with low-cost routes to the UK. The central part Halkidiki has a mountainous interior and is home to its largest town, Polygyros. Three smaller peninsulas, often compared to fingers, protrude off the bottom – from west to east, these are called Kassandra, Sithonia and Mount Athos.


Varvara waterfalls

Varvara waterfalls.

Halkidiki’s meandering coastline covers no less than 550 kilometres and includes limitless beaches, most of them Blue Flag and many set in stunning sandy coves. All types of water sports are on offer in the busier areas, as is sailing and fishing. Away from the coast, its lush landscape offers picturesque trails for horse-riding, hiking, cycling and other types of outdoors and agricultural activities. Other attractions include the Petralona Cave, thermal springs, and protected natural areas such the lush forested slopes of Mount Holomontas and Mount Stratoniko, and Varvara waterfall. Countless chapels and religious monuments pepper the landscape, which is rich in all types of Mediterranean food, from wine to olives and local dairy produce.

The region has a 3,000-year-old history. With links to Aristotle and ancient wars, it features in Greek mythology and today remains a prominent destination in the Christian world. Unsurprisingly, with so much to celebrate the locals love festivals and have numerous ones throughout the year. These take place in the dozens of ancient villages and towns across the region.

The three fingers…

Kassandra, Northern Greece


Arguably the three jewels in the crown of Halkidiki are Kassandra, Sithonia and Mount Athos. Kassandra is the most populated with the most choice of beaches, resorts and amenities for tourists. Kallithea is the peninsula’s largest resort and one of the liveliest in Halkidiki during the summer. This is where youngsters go for shopping and night life. Otherwise, Kassandra is more about relaxed family resorts, with glorious beaches, low-key amenities and quality tavernas are complemented by stunning natural scenery. Resorts or fishing villages like Fourka, Pefkochori, Hanioto, Polychrono, Siviri, Nea Fokia and Afitos rarely disappoint.

Sithonia offers a slower nature-inspired lifestyle, where villages are more traditional with less commercial entertainment for tourists. There is good choice of campsites and walking trails, as well as the best beaches in the region – the sand there is finer than Kassandra but the beaches are smaller. The largest, most cosmopolitan spots are Gerakini, Psakoudia and Neos Marmaras, while more laid-back spots include Toroni, Porto Koufo, Vourvourou, Sykia and Sarti.

Named after the local mountain, easternmost Mount Athos is special in its own way. Regarded as an Orthodox spiritual centre for a thousand years and today a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries and is a self-governed monastic state within the sovereignty of the Hellenic Republic. As such, there is limited access to the peninsula!

Twin villas for sale, made of stone, with views of the sea. Kasandra, Chalkidiki Perfecture. €430,000. 

A property for sale in Halkidiki, click on the image to see more.





The southernmost region of mainland Greece, the start of the Peloponnese peninsula is just over an hour’s drive west of Athens, connected by the Isthmus of Corinth. It has two port cities, Patras in the north – famous for its carnival, and smaller Kalamata in the south. The latter, which is approximately three hours from Athens, has an international airport with UK flights. Much larger than Halkidiki, the lifestyle and experiences it offers are similar but more diverse and on a larger scaler. Again in common, the Peloponnese has a lush mountainous interior, and four smaller south-pointing peninsulas, namely Messenia, the Mani, Cape Maleas and Argolis.





Untouched by mass tourism, the Peloponnese fuses a never-ending coastline of wide beaches and secret coves, with charming Greek towns, lush natural landscapes offering all types of activities and a diverse, deep-rooted history. Featuring heavily in Greek mythology, there are limitless ancient sites! Wherever you are, a Venetian fortress, Mycenaean palace or Byzantine town is never far away. And where else can claim to being the birthplace of the Olympic Games? Today Olympia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – in fact, the Peloponnese alone is home to five out of Greece’s 18 UNESCO Sites!

Much of the Peloponnese is mountainous, with dramatic gorges, chestnut forested mountainsides and sleepy stone villages. Exciting places for outdoor pursuits include Mount Parnonas, Mount Lykaion, Mount Livadaki and Mount Krathis, the last home to a small ski resort!

Not forgetting the region’s gastronomy. Kalamata olives and olive oil are famous worldwide, but the wines from Nemea, Mantineia and Malvasia are praiseworthy. Sparta and Argos are known for oranges while places like Arcadia offer local produce like honey, nuts and eggplant!

Focusing on the coast, beaches and resorts of varying sizes are scattered around the peninsula’s edge. Typical of the northwest are small boutique resorts set alongside long, narrow pebbly beaches – popular resort areas include Kourouta, Zacharo and Arkoudi. Meanwhile, being close to Athens means Argolis in the north-east has become a hot spot for livelier cosmopolitan resorts with good amenities – these are around Nafplion, Tolo and the chic harbourside town of Porto Heli, form where you can reach the magical islands of Hydra and Spetses.

The four fingers!

Messinia and the Mani peninsulas are equally popular area as Argolis and arguably home to the best beaches in the Peloponnese. Typical transfers from Kalamata airport are also convenient 1-2 hours, depending on destination.

Key resorts and villages across both include Stoupa, Agios Nikolaos, Kardamyli, Neohori, Pylos, Chrani, Koroni and Methoni. True to the spirit of the region, most are traditional fishing villages with a pretty harbourside and friendly tavernas, so entertainment is low-key and without lively nightlife. Set back from the coast in the foothills, a choice of charming villages offer an authentic lifestyle with glorious views but still with just a five-minute drive  to beaches. Examples include Neohori, Lefkto, Frigano and Riglia.

Some of the stand-out beaches in Messinia and the Mani include famously omega-shaped Voidokilia, Kalogria, Finikunda, Peroulia and Pantazi.

Meanwhile, Cape Maleas is even less commercial with a selection untouched, wild beaches. At its tip though is one of Greece’s undiscovered gems – the island of Elafonisos, a natural haven with an ancient settlement dreamy and the paradisical beaches of Simon and Sarakiniko.

Country house in Korinthia Perfecture, Peloponnese, €130,000. 

country house Greece,

Check out this country house.

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