A Lover’s Guide to Halkidiki, Greece

Did you know there are eight types of love in Greek?

On a recent adventure to Greece with Jet2Holidays I experienced them all and left a bit of my heart in Halkidiki in the process.

Holidays to Halkidiki, Greece are a treat for all your senses. From the fragrant jasmine flower-filled air to the nourishing flavoursome cuisine, the comforting call of cicadas in the trees at night to the dreamy light of golden hour; if I didn’t have 1000+ photos on my phone as evidence I wouldn’t believe such a place exists on earth.

sunset on beach and silhoutte of a paddle boarder
Sunset over Nikiti, Halkidiki, Greece

It feels too good to be true and yet you can get to Halkidiki via flights from Stansted Airport in next to no time; that’s if Cupid’s arrow doesn’t strike and transport you there first.

What is Halkidiki known for?

Though Greece is synonymous with island adventures, Halkidiki (also known as Chalkidiki) is in mainland Northern Greece, central Macedonia. It has all the charm you get in the Greek islands with added pleasures. Halkidiki is split into three peninsulas surrounded by the sea; one is inhabited by monks and isn’t open to the public. The other two, Kassandra and Sithonia draw in the visitors. You’ll find paradise beaches, charming vineyards, endless olive groves, historical sites and quaint mountain-top villages. Wondering how long to spend in Halkidiki? You’ll need at least a week to explore it.

cat asleep on a wall
Alongside the sightseeing, allow plenty of time to nap like a local

My Lover’s Guide to Halkidiki isn’t literally ‘a guide for Lovers.’ No. It’s for anyone who wants to fall in love with their vacation; because it’s guaranteed here. You know when you write a list of what you want from a holiday destination? Well, that list gets ticked off with holidays to Halkidiki.

‘love is not a moment, love is a lifetime’

The colour lover in me adored the luscious flowers blooming around every corner, the water lover in me couldn’t get enough of the enticing green and blue-hued sea, the food lover in me ate her weight in the yummiest red tomatoes, while the story lover in me fell head over heel for the history of this beautiful region.

vintage car parked up in old nikiti, halkidiki
Ride on time – the perfect wheels to explore Halkidiki in

Written with love, I hope my guide for things to do in Halkidiki inspired by its loveliest places become part of your own adventures to this romantic part of the world.

Falling in love with Halkidiki, Greece (or how to interpret love the Greek way)

1. Ludus – Playful love
Love is a game of playful adventures – travelling the Aegean Sea in a pirate ship

girl looking out to sea standing on sandy beach looking at a pirate ship, halkidiki
Seas the day – live like a pirate!

Ahoy there! Spending 9-5 on a pirate ship? What a way to spend a vacation!

I won’t lie. I’ve seen these vessels in other holiday destinations and thought they were too tacky for me to consider. How wrong I was. I loved my pirate ship day trip around the shores of Halkidiki so much that I would do happily embark on the voyage again and again, Groundhog Day style.

So what’s the treasure? Well, you literally do turn up at 9am and you’re dropped back to shore at 5pm. But you won’t be on board for eight hours. The ship takes you on a playful voyage, journeying around the lush, paradisial Diaporos Islands and Sithonia peninsula.

view of empty beach and gorgeous sea colours
Paradise beach -the pirates know all the best places!

You’re then shipwrecked on a private beach with nothing but umbrellas for shelter. Sunbathe, swim, or go for a stroll. And shiver my timbers, the two stop-offs we were marooned at were stunning. Dream beaches in the middle of nowhere. And as there are no visitors other than your shipmates the experience has a VIP air to it.

Lunch is served on board. For vegetarians it was a wholesome plate of beans, rice and salad, while meat eaters had kebabs. Drinks and ice-creams can be bought from the bar and there are different areas of the boat, inside and out to hang out in. I even found a comfy sofa for a mid-sail siesta.

2. Storge – Familial love
The natural bond we have with family chilling at Mare Nostra Beach Club

white sand beach with stylish seating , a hammock and palm trees, mare nosta beach club
Meet me in the club!

No matter how much they annoy us, our love for family exists whether we like it or not. If you’re holidaying with them, spending a day (or half a day) at a dreamy beach club together is a great way to spend some quality time. Mare Nostra Beach Club in Kassandra has a chic yet relaxed vibe. The entrance is lined with tropical red blooms and banana palms leading you to a beachfront retreat area with beds, sofas and sun loungers.

girl sitting on beach lounger with drink and sunhat
A place in the sun – yep, I could move here!

Stay in the shade or feel the warm sun on your skin. The sea is cool and calming and when you get peckish, simply head to the restaurant. There’s a fee to use the beach furniture but how could you not stay a while and relax? This place is gorgeous!

3. Philia – Affectionate love
The feeling evoked by caring for a friend is affectionate love –  dinner at Platanorema Farm

platanorema farm in halkidiki, horse

But it doesn’t just stop with humans. Animals inspire affectionate love too, giving and receiving it. Keep an eye out for the local cats and dogs in Halkidiki, many of whom will welcome being pet. Or better still, take a trip to Platanorema Farm where alongside hearty organic meals, there’s a whole menagerie to meet. Stay overnight in a guest house to get a full ‘retreat style’ experience.

Platanorema has 35 acres of land to explore. Most likely you’ll be accompanied around the site by one of the resident dogs. Look out for their mini horse, peacocks, piglets and bunnies.

plate of dessert in halkidiki
Sweet treats from Halkidiki

Meals are served in a traditional stone restaurant and the vegetables are grown on-site. The mushrooms deserve a special mention as they were cooked to perfection. Dessert was a rather unexpected crystallised courgette. I’m not sure how something that resembles orange jelly can be a courgette but I guess that’s for the chef’s to know and me to never find out.

4. Mania – Obsessive love
The manic feeling of constantly thinking about someone or something or The best restaurants in Halkidiki

happy girl at pink and yellow cafe with pink flamingo basket bag
With my travel companion Felipe the Second

Sure, obsessions have their bad side but the obsession I’m talking about is a good one: food. Plump and juicy tomato salads, spice-infused feta cheese, cooling, thick tzatziki, soft and squidgy pitta bread, huge olives, fresh seafood and seasonal fruits in perfect condition. Every meal you eat in Halkidiki, Greece will boost your mood thanks to the natural goodness of the ingredients and the love that goes into making each dish. It was often a Herculean task finishing the generous portions; I never went hungry!

Here are two of the best beach restaurants to eat at in Halkidiki

Akroyiali Taverna, Olympiada Village

dimitris restaurant owner
Dimitris has The Midas Touch when it comes to meal planning

We need to start with Dimitris; he’s not just the manager, but a member of the family that run this beachfront restaurant which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Opened in 1924, theirs is a love story dedicated to fine food. Their age-old recipes are family secrets like their vibrant and flavoursome sauteed octopus dish.

octopus at akroyiali taverna, halkidiki

I couldn’t get enough of their chickpeas either. I could have eaten the whole bowl.

Lunch was served with satisfying salads but it was the desert that had me going back for seconds. The best apricots I’ve ever eaten in my life.

restaurant interios

If you’re not sure what to order let Dimitris choose for you. He has The Midas Touch when it comes to curating a mouth-watering meal. 

Ergon Beach House, Nikiti

Nikiti is a buzzing seaside resort. In upper Nikiti you’ll find the quaint Old Town and by the coast, a promenade of cafes and a gorgeous stretch of white sand. Away from the action is the quieter oasis of Ergon Beach House. A hotel and restaurant with beach views overlooking the sunset, it’s a special place to come for an evening meal and the food here is exceptional.

greek pizza boat in restaurant
Did someone say pizza boat?

There’s a vast fish and seafood menu and plenty of lighter sharing dishes. I opted for a vegan peinirli; a Greek pizza boat, topped with local mushrooms. It was pure comfort food.

pistachio baklava ice cream
Halkidiki’s most Instagrammable dessert

Dessert was a hit too; a huge serving of baklava pistachio ice-cream, which is a must-share, because as yummy as it is, it’s also very rich.

Ergon Beach House has a deli selling Greek delicacies but I oped for a non food-related find. It was love at first scent when I tried their own brand of almond and olive hand cream in the loos and I’m so happy I bought a bottle to take home. Every time I apply a pump to my palms, it transports me right back to that magical evening.

5. Agape – Unconditional love
When you would do anything for someone and want nothing in return – a visit to Marianna’s Vineyard

girl in dress and sunhat standing i vineyards holding a flamingo bag, marianna's vineyards, greece
Fact of the day: not all vineyards are for wine

I had no idea there are vineyards that don’t make wine. Marianna’s have a farm filled with vines where they harvest sultana grapes. Instead of wine, they’re used to make 12 different edible products. The main one is dolmadas, stuffed rice and herb-filled vine leaf snacks. A family business built on passion, they have a zero-waste commitment, creating a sustainable vineyard, where every part of the vine is used. Now that’s a type of unconditional love you don’t come across every day.

huge plate of dolmadas presented with lemon slices
The secret to the best dolmadas is the type of vine leaf you use and sultanas are the best!

Sultana vine leaves are smaller and softer, making them ideal for dolmadas. Marianna’s is open Monday-Friday. Twice a week, fresh dolmadas are made on-site, if you’re lucky you may get to try one.

Making my first ever dolmada at Marianna’s Vine Leaves

Otherwise, show them some love by buying their jarred version. A personal recommendation is to try their pumpkin pie. It’s based on an Armenian recipe and it was the yummiest thing I ate on the whole trip.

6. Eros – Romantic love
Physical attraction and passion that lights up your soul – the colourful villages of Halkidiki

Look. I’m all for a holiday romance and finding a Greek God/Goddess for a spot of eros, but just as satisfying is a visit to the gorgeous hilltop villages of Halkidiki. Well, I fell in love with them anyway!

Here are two to add to your travel plans, that will light up your soul.


colourful plant points lined up on stairs

Art is in abundance in this charming cobbled creative village overlooking the sea. It’s best-known for being the original home of cheese tin art. In the UK, we get feta in blocks, in Halkidiki, Greece you get it in huge tins. And when the tins are empty, rather than throwing them away, in this village they’re painted by artists. There are now over 1000 of them. Other villages have adopted this art form too but Afitos is the original home of it.

two painted cheese tins made into plant pots, afitos
Cheese tin art – yes you read that correctly!

There are quaint, colourful gift shops aplenty, two ice-cream parlours and a folklore museum. One of the items on display is a dress owned and worn by the grandmother of our tour guide Dimitris.

dresses on mannequins in a museum in halkidiki
Good to know Dimitris’ gran was as colourful as me!

Now that is romance right there – got me wondering if any of my clothes will ever end up in a museum?

large cactus plant overlooking sea
People are strange, Cacti are stranger

Away from the buzz of the centre, there’s a stunning viewpoint with benches and some fascinating cacti.


stone house with two balconies filled with flowers and a blue wall, halkidiki greece
When can I move in?

Pull up a rainbow chair at cool café and craft shop Aristotelous Arnaia and peruse their impressive tea and hot chocolate menus. Chocolate is a form of love in my opinion and this menu tugged at my heart strings.

swing chair in eclectic cafe
The most colourful cafe in Halkidiki

Flavours include ginger and cinnamon, peanut butter and salted caramel and brioche and hazelnut. I was spoilt for choice.

honey shop in halkidiki
Get stuck in at Georgakas Honey

Seek out the colourful buildings, stop by Georgakas Honey to try a multitude of different kinds of honey from across the region before heading inside the exquisite Church of Saint Stephen.

inside a greek church
You’ve got to have faith – the church that survived two fires

It’s impossible to tell, but the church burnt down in 1821 and again in 2005. Each time it was painstakingly restored to its original interiors using traditional craft techniques. It also has a glass floor where you can walk over the past.

7. Pragma – Enduring love
Loves that changes over time, and becomes part of the bigger picture – visiting the historical sites of Halkidiki

One of my favourite sayings about love is that ‘love is not a moment, love is a lifetime’ and that’s what enduring love is all about. Committing, adjusting, getting through tough times – all of this eventually becomes experience which becomes history and history is around every corner in Halkidiki.

Visiting The Birthplace of Aristotle

looking down as an aqua blue sea surrounded by trees, birthplace of aristotle, halkidiki
Views that make you feel brainier…well if it worked for Aristotle

One of the most famous philosophers from Ancient Greece who continues to influence life as we know it, Aristotle was born in Ancient Stageira, a mountain location with epic sea views. Though it’s a pilgrimage for philosophy fans, it’s also a tranquil place to stop, pause, breathe and take a moment to contemplate life. 

Inside Petralona Cave

petranova caves halkidiki
I took a lot of photos but none of them do this cave justice

This is one of the most captivating caves in the world and it’s over a million years old – talk about endurance. Transporting you to what feels like an Indian Jones movie set, every corner is full of surprises. No photo can do justice to what it’s like inside, you have to come and see it for yourself.

You’ll wander through chambers at different levels and witness huge stalactite and stalagmites which look like sculptures and all manner of prehistoric rocks in different colours. I was in awe from start to finish and discovered a newfound love for prehistoric sites – let’s see how long that love endures for?

8. Philautia – Self-Love
The art of confidence and body positivity – succumbing to the power of being on holiday

swimsuit selfie, halkidiki, greece

The term ‘self-love’ gets banded about a lot these days, but it’s nothing new. The fact it was recognised as a form of love centuries ago in Greece shows how important and now natural it is.

I’ve always found that when I’m abroad I lose my fears a bit more, like anything is possible. Being in the warm, comforting arms of Halkidiki, gave me time and space to reflect and feel gratitude for life. As I approach the middle of 2024, I thank my lucky stars for how far I’ve come since last year. 2023 was a massive year of crisis and healing for me. I wasn’t sure how I’d get through it.

But this year my zest for life came back and with that, a new form of self-confidence bloomed. When you’re somewhere open, natural, with wide skies, beautiful sunsets and stunning scenery like Halkidiki, Greece, it encourages you to take stock and re-set.

happy girl on beach in fake gucci print swimsuit
Vitamin sea in Halkidiki

It gave me the confidence to share these swimwear shots in public because I don’t make a habit of it. Halkidiki ignited the power self-love and for that gift, I’ll always remember this trip with fondness and smiles.

Where to stay in Halkidiki

sandy beach with sunloungers in greece
Don’t worry beach happy

Book a stay with Blue Dolphin Hotel and Jet2holidays. Centrally located between the main peninsulas in Halkidiki, it has two beaches. Bedrooms are spacious and many have balconies.

ice cream and hotel swimming pool
Back in the swim of things – chilling at the Blue Dolphin Hotel, Halkidiki, Greece

I especially loved the hotel pool because it’s deep so you can have a proper swim, and the fruit selection at breakfast was heavenly. Cherries were in season and there were juicy bowlfuls every morning.   

How to get to Halkidiki

Halkidiki is around 45 minutes to an hour via road from Thessaloniki Airport. You could jump in a hire car. Or, if you book flights to Thessaloniki with Jet2 the transfer to your hotel is included.

Getting around Halkidiki

view of greenery and plants and trees in background
Room with a view at Blue Dolphin Hotel, Halkidiki, Greece
On a previous visit to Greece, I got a hire car and I’d say that’s a brilliant way to explore this region as you can stop off wherever you like. But if that’s not an option, it’s easy to book trips via a tour company, something a Jet2 rep can assist with.

Weather in Halkidiki

a large green cricket style bug
It’s a bug’s life!

In peak summer season, late June through to the end of August you’ll experience heat that’s around 40 degrees. In May and June you’re more likely to get 20s and 30s. March and April are rain seasons; essential for all the yummy produce to grow.

What to pack for Halkidiki

Don’t even think about coming to Halkidiki without a hat. The sun will beat directly down on you and in some of the historical sites there’s no shade. Sun cream goes without saying. Take a swimsuit because you never know when you’ll be somewhere you can go for a dip.

girl in stripey dress and sun hat leaning on a fence looking out to sea

Got any questions about my trip to Halkidiki to help create your own itinerary? Drop me an email, I love hearing from fellow travel lovers and holidaymakers.

I visited Halkidiki on a press trip with the tourism board and Jet2holidays, all views are my own.

Happy holidays in Halkidiki!