Halkidiki: An ideal family holiday destination
Being a Greek expatriate living in dark and frozen Finland for 12 years, Greece is my ultimate summer destination. Greece is a top summer destination for many Finns and Scandinavians, too. In these travellers’ minds, Greece is associated with crystal-blue sea, delicious food and sunny beaches. Many travellers from the Nordic countries have already travelled to the Greek islands in the South Aegean Sea to recharge their batteries after the long, dark winter. However, in Northern Greece there is a hidden paradise like no other place in Greece that only a few know and it’s worth discovering. Ready to discover a hidden gem?
Halkidiki -birthplace of Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle- is a dream destination balancing a combination of nature, gastronomy, wellness, culture and tradition. Halkidiki is not an island; it’s a region on the mainland –only 55km from the Macedonia International Airport of Thessaloniki– with three fjord-like peninsulas (Greeks call them ‘legs’) that dive into the Aegean Sea, creating a coastline of about 500km.
In the summer of 2014, my partner and I spent our engagement honeymoon in Halkidiki. Two summers later in 2016, we brought our 7-month-old baby Philippos Dimitrios. Our small family is enticed back year after year by Halkidiki’s emerald beaches with crystal clear waters, family-friendly resorts and mouth-watering local cuisine. Anyone making their first holiday-with-baby should opt for a destination as stress-free and child-friendly as possible with all the necessary amenities and proximity to medical centres. Halkidiki ticks all the boxes!
As a child, I spent most of my summers in Halkidiki, exploring different beaches every year. In Halkidiki, there is a beach for everyone! Visitors can choose amongst 1000 different beaches from cosmopolitan ones to deserted coves for couples and from vibrant permanent party beaches with their blasting music to quieter shores with soft sands and shallow waters ideal for the kids.
Halkidiki is a top wellness destination offering stress-reducing spas and adrenaline-pumping sports and everything in between. On many beaches, sporty dads (or mums) can choose from a wide range of water sports on offer, while stressed-out mums (or dads) can pamper themselves in luxury spas or even with a 5-minute massage by the beach. Halkidiki’s luxury spa hotels offer guests a five-sense wellness experience. Just lie back and pretend you’re a Greek god or goddess!
Halkidiki is an ideal setting for a wedding. Many hotels provide services so you can tie the knot in a symbolic ceremony on their premises, with plenty of churches and chapels on hand to make it official. We had the privilege of attending one such ceremony the last time we were in Halkidiki.
Greek gastronomy is a bonanza of flavours and aromas. The Aegean and Ionian Seas have their own distinctive micro-climate, with sunshine for 250 days a year, refreshing winds and mineral-rich, fertile soil, all of which contribute to exceptionally tasty produce. Local specialties with strong flavours, glistening olive oil, aromatic herbs and spices: those are just some of the ‘delicious’ reasons why Greek cuisine is so magnificent in its simplicity.
At many restaurants in Halkidiki, the emphasis is on offering meals made from the freshest ingredients. Fine meat and dairy products produced by farmers with modest smallholdings, fresh fish and seafood straight from latest catch, healthy fresh vegetables and juicy fruits from local gardens are all served with a smile as wide as the variety of tastes in taverns throughout the region.
In Halkidiki, there is a beach for everyone! Visitors can choose amongst 1000 different beaches
With its popularity growing by the year, now’s as good a time as any to start planning your family holiday in Halkidiki for this coming summer. Trust me, you will fall in love with the golden sunset, be transfixed by the endless blue sea and sigh contentedly with the gentle sea breeze and once you’ve shared all these wonderful moments with your loved ones, you’ll definitely be coming back for more!