A journey around the Kassandra peninsula
Kassandra is seen as the most cosmopolitan of the three ‘feet’ of Halkidiki, many of its villages having large hotels, fashionable bars and a lively nightlife. It is also famed for its arts and culinary festivals, and for its leisure and sporting opportunities. In Greek mythology it was the scene of the famous Battle of the Giants.
At the 35km point of the road in from Thessaloniki there is a sign to Agios Pavlos (+1km) and Nea Kallikrateia. You can stop off at Agios Pavlos to visit the vineyards and winery of the Evangelos Tsantalis company, while there are good, comfortable hotels in Kallikrateia belonging to the Halkidiki Hoteliers Association.
At the 40km point along the road there is a sign for Nea Kallikrateia (+3km), Nea Syllata (+5km), Nea Triglia and Petralona (+12km), where you can visit the famous cave, and Geoponika (+2km). At the 46km point a sign marks the turning for Sozopoli (+1km) and a little farther Nea Playia and Triglia (+3km).
At about the 50km point there is a turning for Nea Moudania, venue for the annual Festival of the Sea, and home to the fascinating Museum of Fishing Vessels and Equipment.
60km along the road from Thessaloniki comes the intersection where you turn right for Sithonia or carry straight on for Kassandra. Another 6km and you come to the bridge over the Nea Potidaia canal, with fabulous views both left and right**. Another 9km along the road you come to the turning for the Sani resort (+9km). On the main road, a kilometer after the lights for Sani, you come to Nea Fokaia, with the distinctive Byzantine tower of Agios Pavlos standing out on the hill.
Take the turning for Athytos (also spelt Afytos), one of the most traditional of all the Halkidiki villages, with stone houses and cobbled streets. ** Half a kilometer outside the village you will see on your right a sign to Kassandreia (+4.7km), where the road leads you over the western coast of the peninsula.
You now arrive at Kallithea (84km from Thessaloniki(, a village which probably took its name (‘fine view’) from the excellent vista enjoyed from the village square. There is plenty of entertainment available here, ** and it’s also worth visiting the sanctuary of Zeus Ammon, ** with its links to ancient Afytos.
Five kilometers on from Kallithea and you come to Kryopigi, ** built on a hillside just 1,200m from the sea.
Polychrono is buzzing with life in summertime, and 3km to the west of the village is Lake Mavrobara, a site of keen ecological interest. Another busy summer resort is Hanioti, ** built on the site of the ancient city of Aiyi (or Aiyai).
Pefkohori, also known as Kapsohora, is believed to be the site of the ancient city of Neapolis.
At the south-eastern end of the peninsula is Paliouri **, said to have been the site of the ancient city of Theramvos, mentioned by Herodotus. After driving through pine trees for 6km, with a great view of the western and southern coast of Kassandra, you come to Agia Paraskevi, famous for its healing springs.
About half way along the road from the springs to Nea Skioni (after 3km) you should definitely stop at the Chapel of Panayia Faneromeni, with its supposedly miracle-working icon of the Virgin.
After another 3km you come to Nea Skioni, ** formerly known as Tsaprani. You pass through Mola Kalyva, the site of ancient Mendi, once a place of great affluence thanks to the fame of the local wine, and then you will come to a sign for Kalandra (+1km) ** and Poseidi (+2.7km). ** After 2km you will arrive at a junction: to the left (coming from the southern end of the peninsula) you head down to Skala Fourkas ** and to the right the road leads to the village of Fourka (+2km) and the mountain village of Kassandrino (+4km)**.
8km along the main road and you come to Siviri, where the renowned Kassandra Festival is held in the amphitheatre every summer, offering a full programme of arts events**.
Kassandreia, also known as Valta, is the main service centre for the peninsula. At the traffic lights (by the Vasos patisserie) you can take the turning up the forest road, which will bring you, after 17km, to the turning to Sani.
Carrying on along the road from Kassandreia, after 6km you will arrive at the main junction with turnings to both eastern and western coasts. You should estimate a complete tour of the peninsula will involve about 175km of driving, starting at Nea Potidaia.