Beaches in Greece: the unhidden secrets of Athos, Halkidiki

There is a place we visit so many times, and we rarely write about it. Is it because we take it as a break (even from the blog 😉), or is it because we thought there was not much to say about it. But how come no much to tell while we go there at least three times every summer? We’re fixing this error as soon as possible! We present to you one of our favorite seaside and beach destinations. Greece. Namely the Halkidiki (or Chalkidiki) peninsula. Namely, Mount Athos, and more precisely that part of it that is not under the authority of the Self-governing Monastic Community of Mount Athos and has some amazing beaches. So here we go – Athos, Halkidiki.

And while most of the Athos peninsula falls into the mystic under the protection of religion, we are excited about the part of Mount Athos, which is freely accessible to anyone wishing to visit that part of Greece. Even though it looks like a very small piece of the map – do not underestimate it! There is plenty to do and see in that little piece of land.

Sunset over Sithonia, seen from Athos
Sunset over Sithonia, seen from Athos


When we first entered Ouranoupoli, we were surprised to see how all the cars fit in this little town. This year at least there is a huge parking lot, which for 4 euro per day accommodates every car that goes there. The main street has some poorly parked cars, though. Ouranoupoli is the starting point for all the male-pilgrims who have decided to roam through the hills and monasteries of Mount Athos. The city is full of shops for all religious artifacts and trekking equipment.

The town beaches are not the most beautiful or the best in the area, but they can do the job until you board boats and ferries to more interesting places and beaches. Nothing, however, can stop us from drinking a cocktail/frappe at the beach in Ouranoupoli while waiting for the beautiful sunset.

If you want to take photos of the beautiful sunset, head to the Ouranoupoli pier and admire the sunset in the sea over the neighboring Sithonia. The Prosforio Tower is one of the most photogenic places along with the tavern lane. At the latter, we recommend having anything (or everything) from the local specialties. You can always rely on fresh fish and seafood and wide smiles.

Seaside in Greece: Chalkidiki, Mount Athos, Ouranoupoli
Pier of Ouranoupoli and the tower

Drenia Islands

One of my dreams of idyll is a desert island with several trees and a turquoise sea on a fine sandy beach. If this is your dream too, jump over to the islands of Drenia – rent a boat, kayak or board a ferry from Ouranoupoli (5 euro round trip). The biggest of them is tamed – there is a tavern with a bar, sunbeds and quite a few people (for my romantic notions of a desert island). But you can’t go wrong – what is beautiful remains beautiful, the water in the morning is most tranquil and transparent, and on the small islands, you can be secluded. The lack of fresh water for bathing is also part of the charm of the islands (you can cram your face with mineral water from a bottle).

Seaside in Greece: Chalkidiki, Mount Athos, Drenia islands
Once desert islands, now home to few tents and a tavern.
Seaside in Greece: Chalkidiki, Mount Athos, Drenia islands
Squatting was worth it – the sea is crystal-clear and very photogenic.
Seaside in Greece: Chalkidiki, Mount Athos, Drenia islands
Do you know the name of this mount, covered in mystique?

Ammouliani island

Ammouliani island is much larger and more habitable than the Drenia islands – there are about 1,000 permanent residents. It can be explored by car or motorbike, ATV, bicycle, even on foot. We approached the island in two ways. The first time we took the ferry from Tripiti. It was fully packed with vehicles, so we left the car at the Tripiti harbor and walked from the port of Ammouliani to the famous Alykes beach. It took us 30 minutes including two times getting lost, but as soon as we set foot on the beach, all the pain and whining disappeared.

Another approach to exploring the island is by boat/catamaran/kayak. You can choose where to stop, there are some beaches waiting only for you. This option takes time (and energy), but you will surely understand why Ammouliani is so praised. Hidden beaches, caves, lonely gulls, jagged rocky cliffs – you’ll have fun all day long.

Accommodation on the island itself was much more expensive than accommodation in Ouranoupoli and so we decided to save money and stay on the peninsula. Take a day or two to explore Ammouliani and its secrets.

Seaside in Greece: Chalkidiki, Mount Athos, Ammouliani islands, Alykes beach
The water is just right for us!
Seaside in Greece: Chalkidiki, Mount Athos, Ammouliani islands, Alykes beach
The famous Alykes beach on Ammouliani island.


On the north coast of Mount Athos, before the Monks Republic starts, there are some forests. It is extremely easy to get lost there even if you have a map and navigation. However, you will reach a huge wild beach eventually. Even more than one. In Koumitsa you can choose – there is a high-end resort, there is a camping site, and there is an uninhabited beach with only a few scattered boats. The water is clear and transparent, and the majesty of the forest fits well with the playful breeze. This creates romantic seclusion, whether you’re alone, with a mate, or with friends.

Seaside in Greece: Chalkidiki, Mount Athos, Koumitsa beach
Crystal-clear waters
Seaside in Greece: Chalkidiki, Mount Athos, Koumitsa beach
Many boats and no people on Koumitsa beach

Transport and accommodation in Athos

A few words about transport modes and how to choose from them. You will probably come by car or another vehicle. The distances are not small for walking, and hitchhiking in Greece is not the easiest thing to do. Some people cycle around, it’s fascinating. For water transport – options include ferries (e.g. from Ouranoupoli to Drenia islands and from Tripiti to the port of Ammouliani), small motorboats for rent (40-70 euros per day), and kayaks.

Accommodation – the small family hotels and guest houses that are typical of Greece, and campsites with their charming tents and bungalows. We put together a special list of our favorite accommodations in Halkidiki.

Seaside in Greece: Chalkidiki, Mount Athos, Koumitsa campsite
Our lovely little camping tent in Koumitsa campsite
Seaside in Greece: Chalkidiki, Mount Athos, Koumitsa campsite
There restaurant with a sea view inside the campsite
Seaside in Greece: Chalkidiki, Mount Athos, Koumitsa campsite
Selfie attempts during underwater gymnastics. Failure.
Seaside in Greece, Athos, Pinterest photo
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These are our favorite places in the publicly available part of Mount Athos. Is there someplace else to add to that list? What makes it special? Share with us in the comments below.

And those are our suggestions for the best beaches on Chalkidiki! 🏖

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10 Responses

  1. Ruchi

    You have mentioned the details so well, crisp and precise. I’m definitely looking forward for those destinations.

  2. As if I needed more reasons to want to visit Greece. These seaside Athos escapes look magical.

    • Yes, Greece may not need more introduction, but Athos peninsula gets underrated sometimes, that’s why we decided to reveal some of its magic 🙂

  3. Your photos are incredible, what a wonderful post. So much wanderlust right now!

  4. Kaila

    Loving those fruit and salad bowls, I haven’t been to Greece yet! Definitely need to make a trip out there to enjoy those beautiful waters and seaside pleasures

    • You should – it’s a delight for all the senses 🙂

  5. Kim

    Wow, so many great hidden spots! Beautiful pictures, I love how you included the behind the scene pictures as well, haha.

    • Haha, it was like repeating the whole struggle to take those photos. It’s really so much fun!