Aristotle’s seaside route
Scheduled tour dates – Guaranteed departures!
From 28 April to 6 May 2018
From 27 October to 4 November 2018
*adapted tour days from 28 April – 5 May 2018 to serve Dutch vacations of May (Meivakantie) is possible – please contact us for this option
Other tour dates upon request
- Petralona cave
- Nea Potidea canal
- Porto Valitsa seaside
- Parthenonas traditional village
- Wine tasting in Porto Carras winery
- Toroni castle
- Porto Koufo idyllic bay
- Downhill cycling to Kalamitsi
- Beaches in Kavourotrypes
- Visit to the traditional shipyard in Ierissos
- Cruise around Agion Oros (Mount Athos)
- Drenia small islands
- Ruins of ancient Stagira
- Arnea–highland capital of Cholomontas mountain
- Visit to the unique tavern of “Sogambros”
A trip through the history and the aquamarine beaches of Halkidiki: The most beautiful peninsula in the Mediterranean!
In northern Greece, three distinctive “fingers” stretch into the Aegean sea, creating idyllic bays, quiet harbours and isolated beaches.
On one of these fingers, Mount Athos, a place of worship of different gods since thousands of years, rises above 2,000 m and, if you stand on its peak, you get the impression that you are on the tip of a pencil. It’s surrounded by sea that deepens sharply until the abyss. Thousands of years ago the constant storms of the area sunk Darius’ fleet and forced Xerxes to build a canal in Nea Roda for the safety of his soldiers.
A few years ago I had the pleasure to watch from high above, from a monastic cell, the mating game between two whales, that are very rarely encountered in the Mediterranean sea.
In the rocks of Petralona hundreds of years ago the first controlled fire was lit by the inhabitants of the caves, cities and villages prospered and then got lost in time.
In Stagira, a city build on a rock with exquisite view and located next to two bays with beautiful beaches, philosopher Aristotle was born, who educated Alexander the Great.
From time to time, quite often, raiders plundered the wealth of the cities of Halkidiki, and on its beaches pirates used to abandon surplus of slaves from the slave market.
The legend of the queen of Parthenon still lives up to our days and enriches the narratives of the locals along with stories about Saints and miracles in “Virgin Mary’s garden”, which, in the ancient times, was dedicated to goddess Artemis and was inaccessible to men.
In this trip we are going to:
Start a peaceful journey by our bicycles in the quiet landscapes of the plains, along “golden” beaches, under the shadow of the Mediterranean pine trees, accompanied by the heady scent of thyme, mint and oregano.
Swim in the cleanest waters and taste the unique cuisine that is still found in this area.
Be “guided” through history, visit unique places, meet hospitable people and freshen ourselves up in crystal spring waters.
Allow us the pleasure to accompany you!
PS: We thank Panagiotis Sotiriadis for the offered pictures.
What to bring with you on this route
In order to know what necessary things to bring with you on this tour, please check the information at the “What to bring” section of our General Information, but especially for this tour, we consider the following useful:
- Snorkeling equipment
- Binoculars in case of a participating on a cruise to Mount Athos
How to get there
Departure: from Philippion Hotel in Thessaloniki
Please, find on the website of the hotel information about the location and how to get there: Philippion Hotel.
Nearest airport: “Makedonia” International Airport (SKG, Thessaloniki)
Return: at Philippion Hotel in Thessaloniki
Distance on bicycle: 37 km
Elevation on bicycle: Up 533m / Down 764m
We gather at 08.30 in Philippion Hotel in order to start our tour.
After a quick debrief and settlement of administrative matters, as well as getting to know each other, we are going to depart for the small settlement of Agios Antonios, 25 km from Thessaloniki. We will give you your bicycles and equipment and buy for our snack later some of the delicious pontian pie “perek” from the local women’s cooperative.
Our first cycling stop is Petralona cave, which is of extreme palaeontological interest.
After that, we are going downhill to the plain of Halkidiki until we reach Nea Moudania beach, where our first day of cycling is going to end. We will be transferred by vehicles to the quiet guest house “Dryades” in Siviri, which has a magnificent view of sunset, and a hospitable owner, whom we might see hitting his African drums and praising the recipes of his lady cook.
Along our route, until we reach the guest house, we are going to see the city of Nea Potidea, with its characteristic canal and its strategic location. During the Peloponnesian War it was a place for battles between the Athenians and the Spartans in order to ensure dominance in Halkidiki. There are still remains of parts of its castle, which are immersed into the sea.
We are also going to pass by Kassandreia, the city that was founded by the Macedonian King Kassandros. The whole first “finger” is named after him, which is also fatherland of Enceladus, the god of earthquakes.
Distance on bicycle: 38 km
Elevation on bicycle: Up 832m / Down 888m
Maybe I take my breakfast in my room… or maybe not, better under the shade of the pine trees with a view of the sea, so that I can smell the scents of the coffee while it’s being prepared by Valadis behind the bar, that was build by himself next to the swimming pool.
There is no place for laziness today, we are going to cycle the whole first “finger” until we reach one of the most beautiful and hidden “corners” of Halkidiki, namely “Porto Valitsa”.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to go for a swim, or even dive to the bottom of the sea. According to our information, the award winning chef of the restaurant of Porto Valitsa makes sure to please the visitors in the best way possible, renewing every year his menu!
After a busy and tiring day, we think that it would be a good idea to continue to the lively roads of the eastern “finger” by car until our guest house “Petrino” in Afytos.
Along our route today, we are going to visit coastal fishing villages, endless beaches and bustling resorts, old chapels, beautiful natural formations and at the end Afytos village, where you can still find some old stone houses and a nice square, carrying all the culture of Greek villages.
Distance on bicycle: 35 km
Elevation on bicycle: Up 719m / Down 1,004m
While the days go by on our tour and we get to know the area, more and more beauties will be revealed to us, as if we have to struggle first in order to initiate ourselves into them.
Today, we are going to set off by our vehicles in order to pass from the first to the second “finger”, Sithonia, under the shade of Itamos mountain, which was named after the conifer tree “Taxus Baccata” that used to be there in abundance. It’s related to pine trees, but its fruit is poisonous, it’s rare and very difficult to be found nowadays.
We are going to pass by the beautiful coast line of Agios Andreas and Kalogria, and then uphill to the mountainous traditional village of Parthenonas, in order to listen to legends and gaze at the Aegean sea from above, and just let for a while the breeze to magically alleviate our thoughts.
From the Parthenonas we get on our bicycles and go strait ward to Porto Carras winery. There we are going to taste wonderful organic wines that have been produced for years with enthusiasm in the vineyards of the area.
We continue cycling in absolutely quiet and lost‑in‑the‑beauty roads, among small harbours and along sandy coasts.
We are going to meet Toroni, a colony of Athenians and one of the most important cities of Halkidiki in ancient Greece. One can still see the ruins of the Roman castle, which was built on the remains of the older one after the fierce battles between the Athenians and the Spartans.
We are going to end up in Porto Koufo fishing village. It’s a natural very deep bay, which used to be a pirates base in the older times, and recently a submarine refuge during World War II. We have chosen it for our third overnight.
Distance on bicycle: 32 km
Elevation on bicycle: Up 819m / Down 834m
No one should neglect breakfast today, since we are going to start our day by our bicycles going uphill. Let’s go over the mountain and as soon as Agion Oros (Mount Athos) appears majestic in front of us, we are going to let ourselves “fly” to the liberating downhill towards the little fishing villages, Kalamitsi and Sykia, to Sarti with the endless coastline and to Platanitsi with the Platanus trees hidden along streams just a few metres from the sea.
A little bit further we are going to leave our bicycles in the shadow to let them rest and walk downhill to, maybe, the most beautiful coast that we are going to see on this tour, Kavourotrypes.
We are going to overnight in Agios Nikolaos area on a small peninsula with a view to the little island of Diaporos.
Distance on bicycle: off your choice
Elevation on bicycle: off your choice
No, today we won’t have to get ready for a trip!!!
We are going to walk barefoot on the porch, drink coffee in peace and let the butter melt and become one with the honey on the slices of bread in our breakfast.
So, we are going to stay in the area with a free schedule and a lot of suggestions.
You will have the chance to rent a boat for an all-day tour, or a sea canoe for routes to small islands, or lie on the beach and let yourselves sunbathe for endless hours, or order cold beers while seating in the shade all day long, accompanied by stories. Everything is allowed!
For any one of us, of course, who wants to cycle, the bicycles will be at our disposal!
Distance on bicycle: 38 km
Elevation on bicycle: Up 941m / Down 826m
We are certain that we are going to wave goodbye with a bit heavy heart to the hospitality of the “Thalassokipos”. Do not worry, though, because we still have a lot and great things to see and do in the next days of our tour.
Our crossing to the third “finger”, most of which is governed as an autonomous polity by the “Athonite State”, is going to start by our bicycles on a quiet route that follows the coastline until the seaside village of Pyrgadikia. Built amphitheatrically, it resembles a lot the architecture of island villages. It was founded by Greek refugees after the Asia Minor Disaster in 1922 on the ruins of ancient Pyloros. After our stop in the harbour, we are going to continue to the inland towards Gomati. Our cycling day is going to end in this little village, and, if we are lucky, we are going to receive the blessing of the monk of Athos, Anastasios, in the church.
On our way to Ouranoupolis, which is the gateway of Mount Athos, and is going to be our next stop, we are going to pass by Ierissos in order to visit one of the last shipyards for wooden caique in Greece, where we will have the chance to admire the craft of these people, which is slowly becoming extinct.
We are going to follow the tracks of Xerxes Canal and finish our today’s trip in Xenia hotel.
Distance on bicycle: off your choice
Elevation on bicycle: off your choice
This day might be one of the most important days of our tour.
We are not going to cycle, but we are going to have the chance, those of us who want to, to participate in a cruise on the west side of Mount Athos, watching from afar the monasteries, the hermitages and the monks’ life in their seaside cells.
Four miles off Ouranoupolis we could visit by a small caique Drenia islands for swimming or snorkelling in an area described as “one of the most beautiful places in the world”.
Sundown in Ouranoupolis can be amazing, especially if it’s accompanied by the excellent food that one can taste in the little beach taverns.
Our second overnight is going to relax us and give us the chance to experience unique moments in this amazing “corner” of Greece.
Distance on bicycle: 48 km
Elevation on bicycle: Up 1,432m / Down 1,411m
We head north towards the city of Ierissos with our bicycles, and from there we are going to continue on a quiet and shady road until we reach ancient Stagira, motherland of the great philosopher of all time, Aristotle.
At this point we are going to finish our tour along the coast line, in order to go a little bit uphill and before the end of our route, to visit an unknown, but equally charming side of Halkidiki, the mountainous one.
We are going to through chestnut forests, quench our thirst with the “Immortal water” of the “five faucets”. We are going to meet quiet villages with no touristic development, and overnight in Arnea, the capital of Cholomontas mountain. We are going to wander around neighbourhoods, where the Macedonian architecture is still alive, and taste the famous local honey and honeycombs.
Distance on bicycle: 21 km
Elevation on bicycle: Up 239m / Down 739m
Our last day before our return to Thessaloniki. What about “getting lost” for a while in the shady forest of the mountain, and make a stop in Prophet Elias chapel, where “Sogambros” is going to await us together with his son, in order to dance, to give us a hug, to drink coffee and to live one last experience of “Greek hospitality”. “Sogambros” is recommended by MARCO POLO German tourist guide as a place that shouldn’t be missed!
From there we are going to continue by our bicycles on a mostly downhill route until the valley and the traditional village of Agios Prodromos. We are going to have our lunch in one of the many little taverns, that are famous for their skewers (souvlakia) and feta cheese, and we are going to return early in the evening to Philippion Hotel, from where our tour started.
Route specifications table
|General route difficulty level:|
Intermediate to difficult*
|Rider’s ability level (technical):||Not applicable (only for MTB)*|
|Bicycle type:||Road or trekking bike|
|Distance of route:||234 km|
|Elevation:||Up 5,265μ m|
Down 6,216 m
* For a detailed description of our rating scale please refer to the corresponding Levels of Difficulty Tables on our website.
During the whole tour we are going to move on paved road and in selected areas with quiet roads. We are going to meet quite difficult points due to prolonged ascents every day. The distances and the elevations can be handled by cyclists of, at least, average fitness. If you are one of them, you are not going to have any difficulty, and you are going to enjoy the routes. We consider that also children over 10 years of age can participate, that usually cycle with their parents. For the younger ones, always under the responsibility of the parent, we have small bicycles for rental, bicycle seats and helmets. In any case, our vehicle is also going to be available for those who want to or need to use it.
Please, consult the detailed tables with the routes and elevations at the “Itinerary” tab.
Price and what it includes
The participation fee for “Aristotle’s seaside route” is the following for a Guided tour:
|Prices||and accommodation options|
|€2,500||single room accommodation*|
|€2,200||double room accommodation per person*|
|€2,160||triple room accommodation per person*|
For discounts for big groups, please contact us.
Full payment of the participation amount should be settled two months in advance of the scheduled start of the event.
What is included and what is not in the Guided tour
|INCLUDED||Accommodations for 8 nights in 3–4-star hotels or guest houses (check the daily programme in the ITINERARY tab of this tour for links to the chosen hotels)|
Snacks, drinks and light lunch (e.g., sandwiches) during the tour
2 attendants (van support driver and bilingual certificated bicycle guide with First-Aid certification)
Support vehicle during cycling tour (equipped with first-aid kit, bicycle repair kit, water and snacks)
Shuttle service during cycling tour (it will transfer luggage from one hotel to the other)
Entrance fee into museums and winery
Souvenirs (jersey clothing)
Bicycle helmet and water flask
Day route maps (directions, distances and elevation profiles)
Hotel in Thessaloniki before and after the tour
Bicycle rental (available under request)
Personal purchases and extra expenses than those mentioned above regarding the hotels
Anything that is not mentioned in the Included items