Cycling tours View from the Sithonia Peninsula to the Gulf of Athos
s r. liko Ga
Tagarades Ag. Paraskevi Souroti
M. Ag. Anastasias Farmakolitrias
Galarinos Ag. Adonios
GULF OF IERISSOS
Ag. Triada N.Epivates
Hrisi Akti Kalivia Varvaras
N. Kerasia (Emvolo)
Redina Ano Stavros
Cape Meg. Karabournou
Kato Vrasna DO KE MA EBI T
Mikra Volvi L. Volvi
P. THESALONIKIS Evosmo Stavroupoli Pefka Menemeni Polihni Abelokipi Neapoli Asvestohori Sikes Kalohori Ag. Pavlos
Nea Triglia Vergia
Georgikos Stathmos Halkidikis
S. Ag. Dimitriou
GULF OF ATHOS
Ag. Nikolaos Livrohio Ormos Panagias Latoura
M. Simonos Petras
Cape Xifaras Karidi
M. Osiou Grigoriou
M. Ag. Pavlou
S. Ag. Anis S. Ag. Triados
Isl. Kelifos (Helona)
Moles Kalives Kaloutsikos
Ag. Ioanis N. Skioni
Ag. Paraskevi Paliouri
Cape Psevdokavos Cape Ag. Nikolaos
S. Timiou Prodromou Megistis Lavras
M. Megistis Lavras
M. Agiou Dionisiou
M. Iviron S. Tim. Prodromou Iviron
S. Ag. Padeleimonos
Isl. Diaporos Diaporos
Kounia Cape Kastro
S. Evag. Theotokou M. Koutloumousiou
Isl. Ag. Isidoros
M. Dohiariou M. Xenofodos
M. Ag. Padeleimonos
M. Padokratoros S. Prof. Ilia
Evagelismos Theotokou Vatopedio Metohi
Cape Ag. Theodori M. Esfigmenou
N. Roda Tripiti Metohi Ag. Pavlou
Ag. Ioanis Prodromos
Cape Drepanon (Abelos)
Cape Pines (Nimfeon)
Cape Akrathos (Ag. Oros)
Tours overview Distance
To one of the southermost extremes of the Kassandra Peninsula
Into the southwest of the Kassandra Peninsula
Over the Camel's Hump to KASSANDRINO
Through the olive groves to KASSANDRIA
To the excavations at OLYNTHOS
Along the coast to the beekeepers' village of NIKITI
To the AGIOS PAVLOS Springs
To the highest point on the Sithonia Peninsula
Coastal tour in the south of the Sithonia Peninsula
From Toroni into the untamed hinterland of the Sithonia Peninsula
Over the ridges of the Sithonia Peninsula
Through the vineyards of PORTO CARRAS
Tour around the charcoal burners' village of TAXIARCHIS
The woods around OLYMPIADA
The IERISSOS boatyards
TOURANOUPOLI and the Athos boundary
En route from Metangitsi to Keli 2
On the Sithonia Peninsula above Vourvourou 4
En route to Kassandrino Front cover photo: Back cover photo:
View from the Paliouri Hills to a bay in the Toroneos Gulf, South Kassandra The oldest village square in Nikiti.
Nadine Sidiras, Ludger Vinke, Porto Carras Archive
Halkidiki Sports and MAVROGENIS S.A. Graphic Arts
Translation from German to English language:
Lexicon Translation Services S.A.
All tours laid out in this cycling guide are described to the best of the author's knowledge and belief. Use of the cycling guide is at personal risk. No responsibility can be accepted for possible accidents or damage of any kind. Text and photos may not be disseminated to third parties or published without the author's express permission. This book is copyright. All rights established thereby remain reserved, with especial regard to translation, plagiarism, copying of illustrations, broadcasting, reproduction by photographic, mechanical or similar means and storage on data processing systems, whether for use in whole or in part.
1st edition 2006
Foreword Halkidikiâ€Ś. a large peninsula jutting far out into the Aegean Sea, with the three prongs of KASSANDRA, SITHONIA and ATHOS. With a coastline over 800km long and numerous fine sandy beaches, at first sight it seems only of interest as a beach holiday destination. Yet its actual potential lies in a unique combination of mountains and sea, with a temperate climate all year round. Thus Halkidiki offers endless opportunities for active holidaymakers and ambitious cyclists, no matter what the season. This cycling guide was compiled as a supplement to a tourist guidebook, and is limited to the detailed description of cycling tours. It describes 16 tours of varying levels of difficulty ranging over the entire Halkidiki Peninsula. In the centre of the peninsula the HOLOMONDAS Mountains beckon, with their oak forests and unspoilt mountain villages. In contrast, the north of the Kassandra Peninsula is covered by large cotton and corn fields, while the pine-clad ridges in the south command unforgettable views of the deep blue sea. The Sithonia Peninsula is a real treat for sports cyclists, with an enormous range of bike trails in its wild, rocky interior. Only the greater part of the ATHOS Peninsula, with its monastic republic, remains off limits to cyclists. Since the hilly landscape of the Halkidiki Peninsula necessitates several somewhat lengthy climbs on most tours, this book is directed at sports cyclists with a basic level of fitness. Together with sufficient knowledge of fundamental riding techniques, every tour described in the guide will be a unique holiday experience that brings the cyclist a great deal closer to the unforgettable charms of the Halkidiki Peninsula. The wonderful natural environment described above still remains intact. Cyclists should help to protect it by using the routes described and not causing any damage on either side of the paths. Set off gently, riding a little more slowly and carefully, let your gaze wander, sit with the locals in the coffee house and enjoy the day! Have fun cycling round Halkidiki Ludger Vinke
Planning tours Choice of routes Great care was taken when selecting routes to ensure that the tours pass through as many varied regions of Halkidiki as possible, so as to offer cyclists the opportunity to admire different types of landscape and vegetation every time. Every route thus has its own individual character. Tours have been selected as achievable day trips for fit cyclists. Less experienced and fit riders will have to push part of the way over the more difficult sections - fun and enjoyment of nature should be the main priorities. TIP: Start slowly with shorter tours to allow yourself to get used to the unfamiliar climate and surroundings. Halkidiki is of course a wonderful place for more extreme bike tours. Those keen to go on them would do well to contact the local bike guides, since routes in the hinterland of the peninsulas go through very isolated areas where other people are very rarely encountered. Although the tours generally avoid busy main roads, care should still be taken, especially with regard to buses and heavy goods vehicles. As a rule, tracks and trails are used by the locals as the shortest routes between villages. Farm trucks and other vehicles may suddenly appear, even at totally unexpected points. Traffic is heavier in the following months: June / July (grape harvest); September (cotton harvest); October / November (olive harvest); October to March (hunting season). RULE NUMBER ONE: Even on tracks and trails, stay on the right and be especially careful when approaching bends. From late September onwards, bear in mind that night sets in early and rapidly.
Bicycle type Mountain bikes have the most to offer. These should have a triple crank with a minimum of 18 gears, and wide tyres with a rough tread. Apart from the coast roads there are few asphalt roads on the peninsulas, so the range of trekking bikes is severely limited.
Bring your own bike or hire one In principle, all airlines will carry your bike on payment of a surcharge. A hard top case for transportation has much to recommend it. Let your travel agent know you are bringing your bike with you, otherwise there may be problems having it transported from the airport to your accommodation. Hire bikes and guided tours are offered on location â€“ names and telephone numbers are given in a separate appendix to this bike guide.
Clothing and equipment Every biker's basic equipment should consist of A HELMET, CYCLING GLASSES, 8
GLOVES, shorts and top. In autumn and spring don't forget to bring a waterproof windcheater and long trousers. Cycling shoes or well-soled shoes are also recommended. N.B. Be sure to bring a water bottle or hydrator and a daypack. Few hire bikes have a bottle holder, so you'll have to carry your water along with everything else in your daypack. A toolkit consisting of a spare inner tube, puncture repair kit, pump and universal spanner is absolutely essential on all trips. Depending on the season, thorns are very common once off the asphalt. It is thus vital that you stay on car tracks even when cycling on dirt roads. Never head off sideways into fields or through sand - in such cases it is better to push.
Drinking water and food Since there are very few springs in the hinterland of Halkidiki, and villages are few and far between, it is advisable to carry at least 1.5 litres of water per person with you. Bottled water and food are available at supermarkets, where you can stock up on tasty nut bars as emergency rations. There are tavernas in most villages, but before leaving read the tour description carefully to check whether there are any en route. N.B. Taverna and supermarket opening hours can vary considerably according to season.
The weather Most dirt roads are to be avoided after rainfall. Within a very short distance the clay surface will form a thick rim around the outside of your tyres, blocking your brakes and gears.
En route Several areas in the HOLOMONDAS Mountains and elsewhere in the peninsulas are nature reserves, so as to protect the abundant local flora and fauna. This calls for consideration on the part of cyclists, who should stick to roads and trails and never ride cross-country. The BEES are an integral part of the natural environment, making Halkidiki one of Greece's prime honey producing areas. WHAT TO DO: Ride past beehives at walking pace, to prevent bees from getting caught up in your clothing and stinging you. DOGS are quite simply part and parcel of life in Greece. Most of them grow up in the wild and have an instinctive fear of human beings. Many of them are harmless, even if they have a loud bark. WHAT TO DO: Here again, ride past at walking pace. If necessary, dismount and push for a while. In extreme cases it may also help to pick up a stone and threaten to throw it. Never attempt to ride away - dogs are usually faster than you.
How to use this bike guide Advice on tour descriptions Colour key to tours Since the tours are scattered throughout the whole of the Halkidiki Peninsula, this has been divided up into 4 areas. Page margins and titles have been colour coded to help find the tours quickly. The colour key is clearly identifiable in the tour summary on the first page of the cycling guide. KASSANDRA: green, SITHONIA: yellow, HOLOMONDAS: red, ATHOS: blue.
Essential tour data with each tour description Tour descriptions begin with a brief profile of each tour and essential data: Route length in km, altitude in m, difficulty level and suitable cycle type. Evaluating the difficulty level and consequent demand on stamina is extremely difficult. Information given is purely by way of general guidelines. These data should be compared with those from regular tours done at home, adding in higher outside temperatures and a handicap for the trails, which are very rough in places. In this way, everyone should be able to find the tours to suit themselves and their bike. Wherever possible, the departure point for tours is at well marked spots offering ample parking, either in or near to villages. Likewise, in almost all cases tours end back at the departure point. In the rather more detailed tour description that follows, readers will find the real places of interest and highlights of each tour, such as beautiful viewpoints, beaches etc.
Route description The route description gives the precise course of the route, beginning from 0.0 km at the departure point. Care has been taken to ensure that the route is easy to find without an odometer; cycle signs have been placed at critical turnings to mark the way For measuring purposes, the author used a new a 26 x 2.0 size tyre and entered 2060mm into the odometer. Any differences with other odometers should be corrected before and during tours. Measurements may differ as a result of alterations in cycling techniques on wide trails, e.g. by zigzagging uphill, riding round ruts or other obstacles.
Route maps The route of each tour is shown on the route map. With the places marked, this serves rough orientation purposes. The best supplement to this is a 1:125 000 map of Halkidiki.
Altitude diagrams Altitude diagrams give an overview of the inclines and descents in each tour. Nevertheless, since not all minor altitude differences are shown, the route profile often appears gentler than it actually is. With regard to route conditions, a basic distinction is drawn between: black: Asphalt roads in good condition red: Stone or sand surfaced forestry roads and trails, clay surfaced tracks. .
To one of the southernmost extremes of the Kassandra Peninsula
To one of the southernmost extremes of the Kassandra Peninsula Length: 41 km 541m 531m Road surface: 67% asphalt 33% trail Difficulty level: moderately difficult Suitable for: Mountain bike, trekking bike on shorter version. Brief description: A coastal tour with wonderful views to the sea and plenty of opportunities for swimming and snorkelling. One of the highpoints of this tour is the chapel of Saint Nikolaos at the natural harbour of the same name. This miniature paradise on the Toroneos Gulf is reached by taking the coast road past the fine natural harbour at PEFKOHORI, followed by a narrow country road. Endless olive groves line the route, fading into evergreen pine forests in the hills. The gravel tracks call for some degree of fitness and cycling know-how, but the continual ascents and descents pale into insignificance compared to the fine views from the hills down to the Thermaic Gulf to the west and the Toroneos Gulf to the east. A snorkelling stop in Agios Nikolaos and a last dip in the crystal clear waters at Golden Beach will add something really special to this day.
Through the olive groves
View from Agios Nikolaos to the Sithonia Peninsula
Tips: Take sufficient water with you. Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Take your swimming things with you. There are supermarkets and tavernas in PALIOURI. During and after rainfall, soft clay makes tracks impassable. Wait a few days until the clay is dry. 13
To one of the southernmost extremes of the Kassandra Peninsula Start point: The info kiosk right at the entrance to PEFKOHORI, a village on the east coast of the southern Kassandra Peninsula. Getting there: From KALLITHEA, head past HANIOTI and on to PEFKOHORI. The info kiosk is on the right at the entrance to the village. Adequate parking space is available. 0.0 km Start at the Pefkohori info kiosk and follow the main road STRAIGHT AHEAD through the village. Leave by the coast road, going past the natural harbour and continuing STRAIGHT AHEAD towards Paliouri. The road there climbs rather more steeply; leave the coast road just before the petrol station at the village entrance. 10.2 km Just before the petrol station, turn LEFT off the coast road, following the asphalt road signposted “ÊÜíéóôñï 2”. After a tough ascent the road leads back down to the sea, and then parallel to the coast through endless olive groves on its way further southwards. 15.8 km The asphalt road turns into a wide dirt road heading straight on down to the sea. Shortly afterwards you will come to the headland on which the chapel of Agios Nikolaos lies. 18.3 km The chapel is one of the southernmost reaches accessible on the Kassandra Peninsula, and marks the turning point of the tour. Go round the small plateau surrounding the church and back along the same road you came. The dirt road winds its way slowly back uphill to the asphalt. Note: Those on trekking bikes are advised to go back to Paliouri on the asphalt road. The section described below is only suitable for mountain bikes. A few metres further on, at 21.5 km there is an important turning to the LEFT. Just before an electricity pylon, a dirt road forks off at a sharp angle to the LEFT. Follow this through the olive groves, staying on the main track and taking care not to bear off left downhill. After a sharp bend, a steep gravel incline leads past a water tank (23.2 km). Go RIGHT at the next intersection at the end of the climb, heading first gently downhill and then steeply back up. As before, stay on the main track and look out for any signs marking the route. 26.6 km Turn and ride STRAIGHT AHEAD along a track coming from the right behind you and leading gently uphill. Keep going straight along this wide track. 27.6 km Here you will come to a fork in the road, with a fenced-in plot of land and concrete pillars to your left. Head gently uphill past this. At the next fork go HALF LEFT on through the fields towards a small white chapel. Continue on gently uphill and head STRAIGHT ON at the next turning. The houses in Paliouri should come into view shortly afterwards. 29.5 km At the next fork turn RIGHT and head towards the village of Paliouri. The dirt track joins the main asphalt road, leading shortly afterwards to the village square. 30.0 km Paliouri village square. Continue in the same direction, and turn RIGHT at the first street after the square, then LEFT again. The coast road is a few hundred metres further on. Turn RIGHT onto the coast road and head towards the sea and PEFKOHORI. A few kilometres further downhill there is a signpost pointing to Golden Beach (a great spot for swimming and snorkelling).
To one of the southernmost extremes of the Kassandra Peninsula 41.0 km You now find yourself back at Pefkohori and the start point at the info kiosk. At a number of crucial points en route, the right direction is clearly indicated by specially posted bicycle signs.
Tour 2 Into the southwest of the Kassandra Peninsula
Interesting erosion patterns
Into the southwest of the Kassandra Peninsula Distance: 37.90 km 802m 780m Road surface: 48% asphalt 52% trail Difficulty level: moderately difficult Suitable for: Mountain bike Brief description: Breathtaking views from the cliffs out to sea, fascinating gorges inland. Longer ascents on tarmac roads alternate with invigorating ascents on gravel. This ride leads into the still mostly uninhabited southwest of the Kassandra Peninsula and its hidden beauties. You'll be taking on much rougher gravel and a few steep ascents. A solidly built road leads from the information kiosk at the entrance to PEFKOHORI through the old village up into the surrounding hills, arriving at the mountain village of AGIA PARASKEVI after an ascent of about 5km. The village lies high above the sea, commanding a wonderful view of a considerable part of southwest Kassandra. Leaving the asphalt, the route follows gravel tracks into the south of the peninsula. The route goes through pine forests and past cornfields to reach a ridge road a short way beyond, leading through wild gorges dotted with grotesque looking outcrops. This is yet another seldom visited area. The following trail along the cliffs of the Thermaic Gulf is another highpoint of this tour. Isolated coves invite you to swim and relax, before reaching AGIA PARASKEVI via a lengthy ascent on asphalt. From there follow the hill road back northwards ascent. The tour ends with a pleasant descent down to HANIOTI. Bike group on the cliffs
Tips: Take sufficient water with you. Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Take your swimming things with you. There are supermarkets and tavernas in HANIOTI AND PEFKOHORI. During and after rainfall, soft clay makes tracks impassable. Wait a few days until the clay is dry.
View of Agia Paraskevi
Into the southwest of the Kassandra Peninsula Start point: The info kiosk at the entrance to PEFKOHORI, a village on the east coast of the southern Kassandra Peninsula. Getting there: From KALLITHEA, head past HANIOTI and on to PEFKOHORI. The info kiosk is on the right at the entrance to the village. Adequate parking space is available. 0.0 km Start at the Pefkohori info kiosk and head straight on towards the centre of the village. 1.0 km At the roundabout turn RIGHT, following the signposts for Agia Paraskevi and the Atrium Hotel through the narrow alleys. Once out of the village, the road leads past the Atrium Hotel and on uphill through pine forests. 5.3 km At the end of the climb stay, on the asphalt road heading downhill to Agia Paraskevi. At the roundabout by the village entrance, turn LEFT on the village road leading uphill out onto the B-road. 6.3 km Turn LEFT onto the coast road and follow the sign to Nea Moudania. You will then go past the traditional style Akritas apartment complex. 8.4 km Care! Important turn! About a kilometre after the apartment complex, turn RIGHT onto a gravel road, following the sign marked “ÊÁÌÐÏÓ ÊÁËÁÌÁÊÉ” along a rutted trail past a large goat pen and into the hinterland of the south Kassandra Peninsula. After several climbs and descents you will get to a ridge road along which the route continues. 11.6 km Stunning views of the overgrown gorges in the south of the Kassandra Peninsula. Further along the ridge, STAY ON THE MAIN TRACK. Then head downhill on gravel past an isolated house towards the sea below. Ignore any dirt roads coming from the left, following the track STRAIGHT AHEAD in a northwesterly direction PARALLEL to the sea. 15.5 km After a lengthy climb, go LEFT along the route back in the direction of the cliffs. Directly above the cliffs there are wonderful views out to sea. 18.2 km At the crossroads go HALF LEFT DOWNHILL and follow the track right down into the valley. 19.4 km At the next intersection turn SHARP LEFT and follow the brook in the gorge heading towards the sea. Go up and down alongside the rocky riverbed, never turning off towards the mountains, until you reach the coast road. To the left there are fine views towards the hot springs at Loutra. 22.6 km Follow the coast road UPHILL to the RIGHT towards Agia Paraskevi. Go past the first houses, remaining on the B-road until you see a large blue sign on your right, with an arrow pointing to the left marked Agia Paraskevi. 26.8 km 100m after the sign turn LEFT and head downhill into the village. At the roundabout take a HALF RIGHT and follow the wide asphalt road uphill out of the village. 27.7 km Shortly before you reach the summit there is a dirt road bearing LEFT. At the turning there is a large sign marked Department of Forestry. Leave the asphalt road, admiring the wonderful views as you follow this sandy mountain track. 33.4 km At the crossroads with a tarmac road, follow the tarmac DOWNHILL to the RIGHT. 37.9 km You will reach the coast road at the entrance to HANIOTI. Heading left, follow the coast road via Polihrono on to Hanioti and then to the right, back to the tour start point at the Pefkohori info kiosk. At a number of crucial points en route, the right direction is clearly indicated by specially posted bicycle signs. 18
Into the southwest of the Kassandra Peninsula
The mountain village of Kassandrino
Over the Camel's Hump to Kassandrino
Wonderful views over the olive groves to the sea
Over the Camel's Hump to Kassandrino Distance: 33.5 km 584m 582m Road surface: 53% asphalt 47% trail Difficulty level: moderately difficult Suitable for: Mountain bike & trekking bike Brief description: A very hilly tour with some steep ascents and descents on sand and gravel tracks. Unique views from the so-called Camel's Hump out over the Halkidiki coastline. From the small hamlet of POLIHRONO, a sand road runs parallel to the dark blue sea, leading southward to the village square in HANIOTI. Tavernas and kafeneia (Greek coffee houses) are clustered around the square - fortified with a Greek coffee, follow the solidly built asphalt road towards NEA SKIONI. The road winds gently and then more steeply through shady pine forests high up into the mountains until it intersects with a mountain road. This comes from AGIA PARASKEVI to the left, and leads on to KASSANDRINO to the right. This wide sandy track is known as the Camel's Hump, since it goes constantly up and down over the Kassandra mountains. Fast descents alternate with invigorating ascents, with breathtaking views down to the Toroneos Gulf to the right and the Thermaic Gulf to the left. On a clear day, many places on the Camel's Hump afford a view of the small island of Kelifos and beyond to the Sithonia Peninsula, the middle prong of Halkidiki. The route is lined with colourful beehives, and every now and again there are pine trees sapped by resin collectors. The resin collected in small cups is important in the production of the typical local retsina Here begins the wonderful descent down to KASSANDRINO, one of the most untouched mountain villages in the Kassandra Peninsula. Time to take a good break and replenish water supplies in one of the small tavernas. Once rested, head out to the village exit on a solidly built asphalt road leading at first rather steeply and then onto flatter ground through a verdant valley. Walnut trees and fields set the scene until the road gets somewhat steeper, going up over a last hill before the turquoise waters of the Toroneos Gulf heave into view. Another fast descent through olive groves takes you back to the hamlet of POLIHRONO.
Tips: Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Take sufficient food and water with you. There are supermarkets and tavernas in POLIHRONO and HANIOTI. There are also tavernas in KASSANDRINO, though they are mostly closed on weekdays in low season. Ride slowly or push past beehives. After rain, most tracks produce a sticky red mud that can block your gears and brakes in seconds. Care is advised; it's better to push a little. Bienenstรถcke und Harzbeutel
Over the Camel's Hump to Kassandrino Start point: The church in POLIHRONO, a small village lying on the east coast of the Kassandra Peninsula. Getting there: From KALLITHEA head along the east coast road towards HANIOTI. The second village after KRIOPIGI going towards HANIOTI is POLIHRONO. Turn LEFT at the first set of traffic lights and then immediately RIGHT again at the next crossroads. This road leads straight to the church. 0.0 km Ride along the village street from the church heading south towards Hanioti. At the next fork in the road beyond a small chapel, go HALF LEFT and stay on the village road, which soon heads out of the village parallel to the sea towards Hanioti. 4.7 km The village square in Hanioti. Immediately after the kiosk, turn RIGHT and ride uphill to the next intersection with the coast road. Then turn left onto the coast road and follow it until you see a petrol station to your left. 5.2 km Opposite the petrol station follow the sign to Nea Skioni, turning RIGHT and going along the solidly constructed tarmac road. 7.0 km Here there is a spring with drinking water â€“ follow the road further uphill. 9.7 km important crossroads! A wide sandy track coming from the left leads on further right. Leaving the asphalt, turn RIGHT and go follow the sand trail. To the right there is a Department of Forestry sign with a roadmap of the Kassandra Peninsula. 13.3 km Go straight past a house with a large garden and stay on the rutted mountain road, never turning left or right or riding down to the coast. 21.7 kmTo the right of the track there is a large water pumping station with a blue door, and a table and benches to the left, offering a view of the west coast and the village of Moles Kalives. About 200m further on there is an important crossroads at 21.9 kmTo the left, a gravel path from Moles Kalives leads up past a concrete watering trough for goats. Further on it climbs steeply, and to the right in the angle of the road there is a sign with a map of the Kassandra Peninsula. Turn SHARP RIGHT at this crossroads, heading along this road DOWNHILL to Kassandrino. 24.7 kmTurn RIGHT in front of the Kassandrino graveyard, ride over a small bridge and then immediately LEFT to a spring and a tree with a light stonewall surround. The road forks here. Follow the stone flagged path into the village of Kassandrino. Once in the village an asphalt road follows. 25.2 kmAt the fork at the village exit follow the asphalt road HALF RIGHT going STEEPLY UPHILL and stay on it, going briefly downhill and then gradually on up. 30.4 kmGo over the top of a ridge down towards the sea (care, heavy goods vehicle traffic may be encountered). 32.3 kmOn reaching the coast road, turn RIGHT and ride up to the traffic lights. Turn LEFT, then RIGHT again at the next crossroads and at 33.5 kmyou will find yourself back at the start point, at the church in Polihrono. At a number of crucial points en route, the right direction is clearly indicated by specially posted bicycle signs.
Over the Camel's Hump to Kassandrino
A short break above Kassandrino
Through the olive groves to Kassandria
Spring on the Halkidiki Peninsula
Through the olive groves to Kassandria Distance: 20.3 km 354m 352m Road surface: 52% asphalt 48% trail Difficulty level: easy Suitable for: Mountain bike & trekking bike Brief description: A pleasant, varied tour through the hinterland to KASSANDRIA, with a few short but steep gravel ascents An easy tour through the wider environs of KIROPIGI, alternating between tarmac roads and tracks. The ascent from KIROPIGI high up into the hills is short and invigorating, but the route then leads gently through olive groves and cornfields on to KASSANDRIA. Fine views again to the north, over the flat part of the Kassandra Peninsula known for cereal cultivation. The large grain silo on the slope opposite KASSANDRIA is easy to pick out. The picturesque plateia (square) in the middle of the village invites you to while away the time, or pay a visit to the farmers' market that takes place there every Tuesday morning. Care is needed in the old, labyrinthine alleys in KASSANDRIA, otherwise you will rapidly lose track of the described route. The road leads through a scenic valley lined with ancient walnut trees, to the mountain village of KASSANDRINO beyond. The trees are typical of the area surrounding the village. The walnuts are harvested in October and then dried, mostly to be served with yoghurt and honey as a dessert. The village itself boasts beautiful restored houses and a few pleasant small tavernas.
Tips: Take sufficient water with you. Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Farmer's market on Tuesday morning in KASSANDRIA. Nice cafes and small shops in KASSANDRIA. During and after rainfall, soft clay makes tracks impassable. Wait a few days until the clay is dry. 25
Through the olive groves to Kassandria Start point: The traffic lights in KRIOPIGI, a small village on the east coast of the Kassandra Peninsula. Getting there: KRIOPIGI is the first village on the coast road heading from KALLITHEA towards HANIOTI. 0.0 km The start point is the set of traffic lights at the village entrance on the Kallithea side. From there take a HALF RIGHT onto a narrow tarmac road heading gently uphill towards the centre of the old village. Turn RIGHT at the next fork, going round an S-bend and then onto a cement road leading steadily uphill. At the end of the incline head STRAIGHT ON over the crest of the hill. The cement road then becomes a gravel track leading on uphill to the next fork. 0.6 km At this fork turn RIGHT and follow the sign to Kassandria UPHILL. Ignore the next two dirt roads coming from the left and head on towards a chapel. The road forks just before the chapel â€“ take a HALF LEFT and continue DOWNHILL. This hilly track leads through the olive groves to Kassandria. 6.0 km At the entrance to Kassandria you will be back on asphalt once more. Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD to the centre of the village, and STRAIGHT ON through the pedestrian precinct to a crossroads. There is a chemist's on the corner to the right and a kiosk straight ahead. 6.9 km Care: At the kiosk there are three roads ahead of you. The narrow road to the left leads gently uphill; the one in the middle goes past a kafeneion (coffee house) out of the village; the road to the right leads to the police station. Take the MIDDLE ROAD to the next fork. When you reach it, turn HALF LEFT and then ride uphill out of the village. The next fork is at 8.0 km Turn RIGHT and follow the asphalt road leading GENTLY DOWNHILL. This is the narrow, solidly constructed B-road to Fourka. After a lengthy climb the road goes pleasantly downhill past a chapel to the Kassandrino - Fourka B-road. 11.7 kmAt this B-road turn SHARP LEFT and head on towards Kassandrino. As you ride along the valley, the first houses in the mountain village of Kassandrino will soon come into view. The village itself is reached after crossing a bridge with a yellow parapet, where you will turn later on. In the middle of the village you will find the church opposite a kafeneion. TURN ROUND and ride back out along the same road to the bridge with a yellow parapet. 15.3 kmJust after the bridge turn RIGHT and follow a wide sandy track to where it forks next to a pumping station and an electricity pylon with a transformer. 16.0 kmTake a HALF LEFT and follow the road along a flat section and then a long climb up into the hills. Do not turn off anywhere â€“ stay on the main track (part sand, part gravel) to the crest of the hill, where the wonderful view of the Toroneos Gulf will tempt you to take a short break. Watch out for deep ruts as you go down the rough gravel track heading seawards to the first houses in Kriopigi. 19.2 kmAt the next intersection turn LEFT and continue STRAIGHT ON at the next fork, going uphill round an S-bend and back down towards the village. At the entrance you will come back out onto the cement road leading downhill into the village. 20.3 kmYou find yourself back at the start point, at the traffic lights in Kriopigi. At a number of crucial points en route, the right direction is clearly indicated by specially posted bicycle signs. 26
Through the olive groves to Kassandria
The promenade in Kallithea
Coast to Coast
The cliffs by Sani
Coast to Coast Distance: 42 km 515m 499m Road surface: 59% asphalt 41% trail Difficulty level: moderately difficult Suitable for: Mountain bike & trekking bike Brief description: A hilly route from the west to the east coast through the fields of north Kassandra, with wonderful views of the cliffs. Coast to coast is the byword for this tour. After a stretch of country road past orchards and vegetable gardens, a hilly track leads through extensive cotton fields to Afitos, one of the oldest villages in Halkidiki. The beautifully restored houses and old streets lined with small shops bring typical rural Greece to mind. This is a unique opportunity to enjoy a Greek coffee together with the locals in such surroundings. An asphalt road running right along on the coast leads to KALLITHEA and on to KASSANDRIA, the regional capital of the Kassandra Peninsula. Tracks with a few more demanding inclines lead over the hills back to the area near CAPE SANI. One special highlight of this tour is the view to the Thermaic Gulf from the cliffs on the east coast. Care is needed when descending the cliff track down to the sea below. A further long climb on the road linking Kassandria to Sani awaits you on the way back to the start point.
Agios Nikolaos in Kallithea
Tips: Take your swimming things with you. Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Water and food can be replenished en route in AFITOS, KALLITHEA and KASSANDRIA. Farmer's market on Tuesday morning in KASSANDRIA. During and after rainfall, soft clay makes tracks impassable. Wait a few days until the clay is dry. 29
Coast to Coast Start point: The fork in the road in front of the SANI RESORT. Getting there: Take the 4-lane motorway extension from NEA MOUDANIA, and turn right at the traffic lights where it joins the 2-lane coast road. Follow the large SANI BEACH Holiday Resort sign to a fork in the road. In the angle of the fork there is a taverna with a large car park. This is the start point. 0.0 km START at the large signs marking out this fork in the road (Sani Holiday Resort and Simantro Beach). Follow the B-road back in the direction you came from. The road leads away from the Sani Resort towards the east coast, and traffic is likely to be heavy in July and August. A few kilometres further on you will see a liquor store to the left, and a little further on at 3.4 km there is a turning. A narrow tarmac road leads off at an angle to the right, but you should go SHARP RIGHT onto a wide sandy road heading past a small white bus shelter through the fields. Follow this gently downhill, going STRAIGHT ON UPHILL at the next crossroads. 5.3 km At the next fork in the road continue STRAIGHT AHEAD towards the pine forests. The track now leads you gently uphill. After a short descent and a somewhat steeper climb you will reach a clearly identifiable fork in the road. 7.9 km At the fork there is a small stone wayside cross. Turn LEFT and follow the trail leading gently downhill to the coast road. 10.2 kmCross over the coast road, following a narrow track straight on until you reach the next asphalt road, where you should turn LEFT and head towards the village. The road running through the village centre is paved with flagstones at this point, and arcs round to the right in front of the church. Once you are directly behind the church, take the street leading off to the LEFT and follow the sign for Hotel Afitis. Once down on the cliffs, keep on the tarmac until you get to the hotel. 12.0 km Turn LEFT in front of the hotel and head on next to the beach. A slightly steeper ascent leads you back into the village. Just before the end of the climb, turn LEFT and follow the sign for Thessaloniki. Turn RIGHT at the next street directly behind a bakery and ride up to the next intersecting street. There is a kiosk to your right. Turn LEFT onto this street, follow it round an S-bend and take the next turning to your LEFT. 13.7 km Follow this road to your LEFT heading for the coast. Round the next right hand bend, follow the road leading directly above the cliffs to KALLITHEA. At the village entrance this road joins the main coast road, which you should follow towards the village until you get to the next set of traffic lights. 16.3 kmAt the lights go STRAIGHT ON out of the village. Further downhill, turn RIGHT onto a wide asphalt road immediately after an S-bend. The road becomes a gravel path leading past some discos and on through the fields. At the next intersection turn LEFT and ride on parallel to the B-road linking Kallithea with Kassandria. A short distance further on when you reach the main road, turn LEFT towards Kassandria. 21.7 kmAt the first set of traffic lights at the entrance to Kassandria, turn LEFT into an alley leading to the centre of the village. At the kiosk turn RIGHT into the pedestrian precinct and head through this until you get to a crossroads. There is a chemist's on the corner to the right with a kiosk opposite it. At the kiosk there are three roads ahead of you. The narrow road straight ahead leads gently uphill; the one in the middle goes past a kafeneion (coffee house) out of the village; the road to the right leads to the police station. Take the MIDDLE ROAD past the kafeneion. At the next fork at 22.4 kmtake a HALF RIGHT and ride out of the village until you get back to the B-road. 30
Coast to Coast 23.2 km Cross over the main road. Note: Take care - this is a fast major road with heavy traffic. Keep on the dirt road opposite, going gently uphill and then downhill to a dried up riverbed. Follow the riverbed to the right, turn LEFT at the next intersection and follow the dirt road uphill. The track climbs slightly more steeply and continues for some distance before reaching the asphalt road linking Kassandria with Sani Resort. 26.0 km At the intersection turn LEFT and continue along the tarmac road past the Chapel of Agios Georgios and its nice covered picnic areas. One hundred metres before the Chapel of Agios Raphael at 26.5 km turn LEFT onto a dirt road and follow it to the cliffs. Do not turn off to the left at any point. The Elani Greek holiday village is in the valley below. 30.4 km At a small hamlet right on the cliff top, turn RIGHT onto the wide dirt road above the cliffs and then ride steeply downhill to the sea. Down at the sea turn RIGHT and follow an S-bend around a former campsite. At the next dirt road turn RIGHT again and follow the track inland until you come back onto the asphalt road linking Kassandria with Sani Resort. Turn LEFT here and follow the bends up to the crest and then back down the other side. 37.3 km At the next intersecting asphalt road, turn LEFT and follow the signs to Thessaloniki and Nea Potidea. Turn RIGHT at the next intersection a few hundred metres further on, continuing to follow the signs for Thessaloniki and Nea Potidea. 42.0 km You find yourself back at the tour start point. At a number of crucial points en route, the right direction is clearly indicated by specially posted bicycle signs.
Coast to Coast
To the excavations at OLYNTHOS
To the excavations at OLYNTHOS Distance: 41 km 201m 177m Road surface: 34% asphalt 66% trail Difficulty level: easy Suitable for: Mountain bike & trekking bike Brief description: A pleasant trip through orchards and olive groves around NEA MOUDANIA.. From the starting point in NEA MOUDANIA, ride along a flat stretch leading out of the town parallel to the sea. Continue through expansive apricot and olive groves to the village of PORTARIA, the hub of this rural area. The village is surrounded by olive presses and canneries. Olive harvesting and processing begin in mid-October, offering a unique experience to those who chose to spend their holidays in Halkidiki at that time of year. The next stage runs over a low group of hills to the excavations at OLINTHOS. Open May to October from 9:00 â€“ 15:00 (subject to variation). Continue through vast olive groves to AGIOS MAMAS. This is noted for the numerous nurseries growing various types of olive trees. Impressive pistachio groves are dotted here and there. Back by the sea, on the road running parallel to the gulf, there are plenty of places to stop for a swim. The cafes and tavernas scattered along the route even have fresh water showers. The rough gravel and sand track at this point leads directly to the small harbour at NEA POTIDEA. Turn around and ride inland. At the parish church in AGIOS MAMAS, cross over a small series of hills to reach NEA MOUDANIA a short distance beyond.
Fresh olive oil
Tips: Take sufficient water with you. Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Take your swimming things with you. Good shopping is to be had at the farmers' market in NEA MOUDANIA on Wednesday mornings. In early September there is a large fair at AGIOS MAMAS parish church outside the village. Apricot harvest is in June; olive harvest begins in mid-October. During and after rainfall, soft clay makes tracks impassable. Wait a few days until the clay is dry. 35
To the excavations at OLYNTHOS Start point: NEA MOUDANIA. In the town centre there is a small green space with a taxi rank in front, opposite a wide street leading into the square. The National Bank is on one corner and a kiosk on the other. The kiosk is the start point. There is a car park nearby, right by the sea. 0.0 km Set off from the kiosk towards the sea, turn RIGHT at the first street and ride between the cafes on the seafront, heading towards the harbour. Go round the right angle bend a few hundred metres further on, then LEFT at the first intersection and ride out of the town parallel to the sea. 0.8 km The harbour entrance is on the right at the next sizeable crossroads. Ride STRAIGHT AHEAD along the promenade leading out of the town, directly past the Ociania Hotel. Approximately one kilometre after the Ociania Hotel there is a beach bar in the middle of a large area of greenery. Turn RIGHT in front of the bar and go round an S-bend to the coast road. 3.0 km Follow the coast road LEFT over a bridge and then immediately RIGHT. Follow the dirt road running alongside an irrigation ditch. 4.7 km Intersection right next to the motorway. Turn RIGHT and then immediately left under the motorway and continue STRAIGHT ON up a small incline. Then follow the dirt road to the right of the irrigation ditch. 5.3 km Cross over the B-road linking Nea Moudania to Nea Triglia and continue STRAIGHT ON past a fish factory and on through the orchards. 6.5 km Turn left on the B-road and ride on a few hundred metres until you see a cement ford leading through a wide irrigation ditch. Turn LEFT, cross the ford and continue along the dirt road parallel to the B-road. 8.5 km At the entrance to Portaria turn RIGHT and cross the bridge, then immediately LEFT and follow the main street through the village. Go past the plateia (village square) and follow the sign for “ÏËÉÍÈÏÓ ÐÁÍÔÅËÅÇÌÏÍÁÓ” to the RIGHT at the third street after the square. Follow this street past some large fruit warehouses to an intersecting street coming from the right and leading further left. Here at 9.5 km turn LEFT. The tarmac later gives way to an uphill stretch on a gravel track. Follow the main track into the hills until you reach Olynthos some while later. TAKE CARE: the gravel is extremely coarse in places. 13.3 km The track now becomes a cement road leading to the centre of the village. Cross over the main street and continue STRAIGHT ON along a wide asphalt road. Bear LEFT at the next fork. 13.8 km Continue STRAIGHT ON at the next crossroads and follow the B-road out of the village. At 14.5 km you will come to the excavations at Olynthos. From May to October these are open 09:00 – 15:00. Turn around and follow the B-road back into the village until you reach the main street. Turn LEFT here, heading past the church and out of the village. 16.8 kmYou now come to the coast road, which you should cross over and head STRAIGHT ON. The road then becomes a track. Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD at the next fork and ride through the olive groves to the village of Agios Mamas. 18.6 kmAt the village entrance you are back on a tarmac road leading STRAIGHT AHEAD into the village. At the traffic island about 100 metres further on, turn LEFT and follow the 36
To the excavations at OLYNTHOS road to the next intersection. Then turn LEFT and follow the B-road towards the sea until you get to the beach. 21.0 km Turn RIGHT onto the tarmac beach road and ride along parallel to the sea. The detached wooden building to your left on the beach is a cafe. This is a great place for a swim, as there are fresh water showers right next to the building. Stay on the beach road until you reach a military depot a short way on. Follow the right angle bend to a traffic island, turn LEFT in front of it and go past the depot entrance onto a gravel track heading back to the coast. 23.3 km At the next crossroads turn LEFT and then immediately RIGHT at the first junction, and follow the gravel track next to the sea. 28.7 kmYou are now at the small fishing harbour of Nea Potidea. Turn round under the bridge and ride a short way back along the road you came on. At the next fork, instead of heading right towards the beach, go STRAIGHT ON below the holiday homes. This track leads to a church situated on a rise, visible from a distance on account of its large domes. Directly in front of the church leave the track and turn LEFT. After a short climb you will reach the B-road. 34.3 kmTurn LEFT onto the B-road and ride up to the next track joining from the right. At the intersection there is a street lamp and a solitary house on a large plot of land. Leave the Broad and turn RIGHT onto the track. At the next intersection by a small pump house turn LEFT and ride on to a larger pumping station with a tool shed. 36.7 kmTurn SHARP RIGHT opposite the pumping station and ride on downhill, then uphill towards Nea Moudania. A short while later you will reach the B-road, which you should cross over and take the track leading on towards the town. 39.0 kmNea Moudania. Turn LEFT onto the main street and follow this STRAIGHT AHEAD. Further on downhill you will come to the beach road with the cafes, the car park and the kiosk at the tour start point. At a number of crucial points en route, the right direction is clearly indicated by specially posted bicycle signs.
A fishing boat in the Toroneos Gulf
To the excavations at OLYNTHOS
View of Mount Athos (Agion Oros)
The Monastery of Agios Ioannis
Along the coast to the beekeepers' village of Nikiti.
View from Agios Georgios to Nikiti
Along the coast to the beekeepers' village of Nikiti. Distance: 55.3 km 772m 760m Road surface: 66% asphalt 34% trail Difficulty level: Section A to Nikiti easy, Section B difficult Suitable for: Section A trekking bike & mountain bike, Section B mountain bike only Route type: The first section to Nikiti is a gentle coastal tour with plenty of opportunities for swimming; the second section is for rather fitter cyclists, who are rewarded with lots of wonderful views. The Monastery of VATOPEDIOU lying next to the orchards of ORMILIA is the prelude to this tour. Opening times differ considerably depending on the time of year. A solidly built asphalt road leads to the small hamlet of VATOPEDI and on through olive groves down to the coast. The small, little used road runs close the coast via Metamorfosi to the beekeepers' village of NIKITI. On the way, numerous isolated coves entice you to take a dip in the crystal clear waters of the Toroneos Gulf. The hallmark of NIKITI is beekeeping, making the village a real treasure trove for honey lovers. In recent years the old part of the village has been extensively restored. Here again, in the centre there are typical old style kafeneia where you can enjoy a coffee with the locals. Following this, the ascent to the small church of AGIOS GEORGIOS is very steep and strenuous, but the unique view from the top makes up for all the effort. On a clear day you can see far beyond the village of NIKITI and the Toroneos Gulf to the Kassandra Peninsula beyond. From here, a gravel track leads diagonally inland up to the Chapel of PROFITIS ILIAS above the village of METANGITSI. The chapel affords further stunning views, this time towards the Gulf of ATHOS, the fishing village of PIRGADIKIA and the ATHOS Peninsula. Next comes a wonderful descent on a new asphalt road down towards METAMORFOSI. Just before you get there, follow a trail to the Monastery of AGIOS IOANNIS. From there, ride a short way down to the village and then back along the coast to return to the start point.
Tips: Take sufficient food and water with you. Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Fresh fruit is available from the fruit stands right on the coast road behind PSAKOUDIA There are supermarkets and tavernas in NIKITI and METAMORFOSI. The old village of NIKITI is worth seeing. When inland, beware of flocks of goats and dogs. Dismount and push your way slowly past. During and after rainfall, soft clay makes tracks Honey, the hallmark of Nikiti impassable. Wait a few days until the clay is dry. 41
Along the coast to the beekeepers' village of Nikiti. Start point: VATOPEDIOU Monastery near ORMILIA. Getting there: Follow the coast road from NEA MOUDANIA heading towards SITHONIA / NIKITI. After the village of PSAKOUDIA, drive past a turnoff signposted â€œOrmiliaâ€œ. Just after a petrol station a few kilometres further on, turn LEFT towards Vatopedi. Drive through VATOPEDI to crest of the hill, turn LEFT at the intersection in front of the church and follow the B-road downhill. A few kilometres further on you will arrive at the VATOPEDIOU Monastery. Ample parking space is available. 0.0 km The monastery car park. Ride back along the solidly built asphalt road to the village of Vatopedi. Climb up the hill into the village, turn RIGHT on the crest and follow the village road down to the coast road. 2.8 km Cross STRAIGHT OVER the coast road and ride on towards the sea. The road winds through olive groves down to the sea a few kilometres further on. This hilly stretch runs parallel to the sea, and to go from cove to cove you will have to go up and down several inclines. 6.2 km Go up past the holiday camp and turn HALF RIGHT at the next fork, continuing back down along the coast. On your way to the village of Metamorfosi you will pass the Blue Dolfin and Sargani hotels and a few campsites. 10.0 kmAt the entrance to Metamorfosi the road goes round a SHARP LEFT HAND BEND. Follow this round and turn RIGHT at the first street. You are now riding through the village parallel to the sea, though at some distance from it. Go down and then back uphill until you reach the coast road. 10.7 km At the coast road turn HALF RIGHT onto the asphalt road running parallel to it. A short distance further on the road turns to the RIGHT following the sign to Martha's House. 11.5 km From here onwards the road surface changes more often, alternating between asphalt and gravel as it leads through pinewoods parallel to the coast road. After the Porfi Hotel you will come to an intersecting road running just below the coast road. Turn RIGHT here and go down and then back up towards the coast road. When you get there turn HALF RIGHT onto the asphalt road leading away from the coast road to the sea. This follows the coast before turning slightly inland. 15.3 km Care: important crossroads!! At this point the asphalt road ends, leading on to a gravel track. To the left another asphalt road branches off up towards the coast road. Ignoring the gravel straight ahead, turn SHARP RIGHT onto a track going back down towards the sea. Once you get there, turn immediately LEFT and ride on along by the beach. 17.1 km On reaching the main asphalt road in Nikiti, head right to the small amphitheatres at the quay. Turn round here and ride inland along the main street with your back to the sea. Cross STRAIGHT OVER the coast road at the traffic lights and continue uphill towards the centre of the village. Go STRAIGHT AHEAD at the next crossroads and follow the road HALF LEFT towards the old village. At the next intersection with a stop sign turn RIGHT and ride on to the next fork in the road at a taverna. Care: Less fit cyclists on trekking bikes should turn round and head back the way they came, riding comfortably back via Metamorfosi to the tour start point. Any other cyclists who are not daunted by steeper ascent and trails should turn HALF LEFT at the fork in the road, and follow the stone flagged village road. After a flat stretch this leads more steeply uphill. Continue straight on past any other intersections and follow the gravel track heading uphill. This includes several very steep ascents that are partly surfaced in ribbed concrete to improve grip. 19.7 km Care: important turn!! To the left are an isolated bench and a pine tree. Opposite 42
Along the coast to the beekeepers' village of Nikiti. these are two roads, one leading downhill and the other sharp right gently uphill. Turn SHARP RIGHT onto the uphill road. 19.9 km You find yourself at the Chapel of Agios Georgios, where there is a fantastic view out over Nikiti and the Toroneos Gulf. RIDE BACK from the chapel to the isolated bench and pine tree, and then follow the gravel track on UPHILL. 21.8 km At the crossroads head STRAIGHT ON, staying on the wide track. This runs along a valley, winding its way gently uphill. A large quarry is visible in the distance, high up in the mountains to the left. At the next intersection on a ridge at 27.4 km turn LEFT, then RIGHT at the next fork in the road and ride on below a goat pen. 28.6 km You now reach a gravel track coming from below on the right and leading uphill towards the quarry. Turn LEFT onto this. Care: Important turning about 500m further on!! Where the wide gravel road goes round a sharp left hand bend, turn RIGHT onto a small gravel track, and follow it along the mountain until you come to a B-road. 31.6 km Turn RIGHT onto this B-road linking Metamorfosi with Metangisti and continue gently uphill. A short distance further on you will see a chapel on a rise. Turn LEFT a few metres further on and ride up to the chapel. Tip: on a clear day there are wonderful views out over the Athos Gulf towards the holy mountain. HEAD BACK to the B-road, turn RIGHT and ride downhill on a wide asphalt road leading to Metamorfosi. Where the coast comes into view, and you can see a large monastery (Agios Ioannis) to the right, there is another important turning at 39.5 km At this point the B-road is joined by a gravel track to the left, and a clay track coming from the Monastery of Agios Ioannis to the right. Leave the asphalt and turn RIGHT heading towards the monastery. When you reach the next fork in the road at 41.6 km turn LEFT onto a road climbing steeply until it ends. High up at the next intersection turn LEFT again, past a water cistern to the car park and monastery gate. Then follow the asphalt road running directly below the monastery wall and on downhill towards Metamorfosi. 44.6 km Cross STRAIGHT OVER the coast road and ride through Metamorfosi. At the village exit bear RIGHT and then immediately LEFT down to the sea. The road runs along the coast in a northerly direction back towards Vatopedi. 52.4 km Cross over the coast road and head into the village of Vatopedi, go up to the crest of the hill and turn LEFT to the monastery. 55.3 km You find yourself back at the monastery car park.
At a number of crucial points en route, the right direction is clearly indicated by specially posted bicycle signs.
Along the coast to the beekeepers' village of Nikiti.
View of the hinterland from Agios Georgios
…a short break
To the AGIOS PAVLOS springs
Over the ridges of the Sithonia Peninsula
To the AGIOS PAVLOS springs Distance: 18.8 km 361m 345m Road surface: 11% asphalt 89% trail Difficulty level: difficult Suitable for: Mountain bike Brief description: A short trip around the AGIOS PAVLOS springs, with a few steep ascents and descents that call for some degree of fitness and cycling know-how. Part asphalt, part trail, the start of this tour takes you at a leisurely pace along the west coast of the Sithonia Peninsula. Enjoy the wonderful views of the deep blue sea, as the numerous small coves entice you to swim and relax. Yet just a little way further on, you leave the coast to head up into the inland of the Sithonia Peninsula. The climb may only be about 300 metres, but it has all you could ask for. Rough gravel alternates with rock and sand, and the gradient on some of the inclines you'll face is easily over 20%, calling for fitness and cycling know-how. Reward comes often, in the form of fabulous views over the rugged landscape, relieved only by the surrounding green pine forests. Note: Take special care on descents. Many bends have deep sand-filled craters in them, and sudden deep ruts are liable to crop up. Having crossed a few hills in the Sithonia Peninsula, a pleasant descent through dense woodland leads down to the springs and chapel of AGIOS PAVLOS. The spring water is excellent; many locals get their drinking water from here. With the sea before you, the route runs along a solidly built asphalt road back down to KALOGRIA Beach on the coast.
Endless wonderful views
In the hinterland of the Sithonia Peninsula
Tips: Take sufficient food and water with you. Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Water is only to be had at the AGIOS PAVLOS springs. 47
To the AGIOS PAVLOS springs Start point: An isolated villa on the beach at KALOGRIA. Getting there: From the traffic lights in NIKITI, drive on along the B-road towards the SITHONIA Peninsula. About 1.5 km further on, follow the sign to NEOS MARMARAS, turning RIGHT onto the SITHONIA coast road. Then another 4.5 km further on, follow the sign to KALOGRIA at the beginning of a right hand bend, turning RIGHT down towards the beach. A few hundred metres further on there is an isolated villa to your right; this is the tour start point. 0.0 km Setting out from the villa, follow the track along the beach heading south. Some distance further on, the track joins the coast road, which you should follow STRAIGHT ON for another few kilometres. A few metres after a solidly constructed S-bend there is a bus stop to the left, and a sign to the Athena Palace Hotel to the right. 2.0 km Follow this sign RIGHT, turning onto a narrow asphalt road which runs along the coast. 3.5 km At this point the road becomes a gravel track. Do not turn off at any point; continue riding PARALLEL to the coast road and the sea. Some distance further on the gravel track joins the coast road once again. Follow this STRAIGHT ON around the next left hand bend, until you see a petrol station to your left. 7.4 km About 50 metres before reaching the petrol station turn LEFT down a narrow asphalt road. 7.8 km Turn RIGHT onto a track, LEFT onto the next track following a riverbed, cross the river and ride on uphill. There are a number of steep ascents on this trail, which starts out on rough gravel and continues on rock and sand with occasional ruts. Stay on the trail. 12.4 km Further on uphill you will come to a wide sand trail. Turn LEFT onto this and stay on the surprisingly wide main trail. 13.1 km At a fork in the road, follow the sign to â€œAgios Pavlosâ€œ DOWNHILL TO THE LEFT, cross over a narrow tarmac road a few kilometres further on and you will get to the Agios Pavlos springs. Tip: Replenish your drinking water from the spring, which has excellent water. Ride back up from the springs to the tarmac road, turn LEFT and go down the bends back to the coast road. Go straight on along this, then turn LEFT a few hundred metres further on, onto a track leading straight back to the coast at Kalogria. 18.8 km You find yourself back at the tour start point. Tip: The beach and rocks in the sea are a mini snorkelling paradise. At a number of crucial points en route, the right direction is clearly indicated by specially posted bicycle signs.
To the AGIOS PAVLOS springs
To the highest point on the Sithonia Peninsula
Refreshing spring water on the climb to Itamos
To the highest point on the Sithonia Peninsula Distance: 36.6 km 967m 965m Road surface: 41% asphalt 59% trail Difficulty level: difficult Suitable for: Mountain bike Brief description: A demanding tour for fit, experienced cyclists. The ultimate highpoint is the panoramic view from the highest point on the Sithonia Peninsula. From the fishing village of NEOS MARMARAS to the summit of SITHONIA, you'll be riding uphill almost all of the way. The route starts with a solidly constructed tarmac road up to the mountain village of PARTHENONAS, and continues on gravel tracks into the untamed hinterland. This is an impressive ride through vastly differing landscapes. The way up to the summit is lined with olive groves, pine forests and broadleaf woodland amid bizarre rock formations, all of which will leave a lasting impression on you. In compensation for the lengthy ascents, the fire watchtower on the summit offers a fantastic panorama of several areas across the whole of Halkidiki: the KASSANDRA PENINSULA to the west, MOUNT HOLOMONDAS to the north, the monastic republic of ATHOS (with a summit of 2033m) to the east, and the SITHONIA PENINSULA at your feet. The return - one of the real treats of this tour - is endless downhill fun, back via PARTHENONAS to NEOS MARMARAS. Care: Even on narrow gravel tracks, count on meeting vehicle traffic. Time for one more coffee down by the sea, to round off what's been a memorable day.
Tips: Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Take sufficient food and water for the trip with you. The only supermarkets on this tour are in NEOS MARMARAS. Thursday morning is market day in NEOS MARMARAS. A few tavernas in the village are open all year round. In the hinterland there are large flocks of goats and cattle watched over by dogs. Ride slowly and quietly by, and push for a while if necessary. Ride slowly past beehives, otherwise bees are liable to get trapped under your glasses and helmet and sting you. During and after rainfall, soft clay makes tracks impassable, especially above Parthenonas. Wait a few days until the clay is dry.
To the highest point on the Sithonia Peninsula Start point: The kiosk opposite the football pitch in NEOS MARMARAS. Getting there: NEOS MARMARAS is a fishing village on the west coast of the Sithonia Peninsula, about 20km south of NIKITI. The best way of getting to the football pitch and kiosk is to drive along the coast road from NIKITI a short way past the village of MARMARAS. The coast road goes up over a rise and down to two petrol stations, one on each side of the road. After the petrol stations there is a right hand bend followed by a turnoff to the right signposted Neos Marmaras. Turn right off the coast road and follow the road up to the football pitch, where there is ample parking space. The kiosk is opposite the football pitch right on the beach. 0.0 km With your back to the kiosk, ride along the beach out of the village. At the first fork in the road away from the beach, turn HALF LEFT to reach the coast road a short distance further on. 1.3 km Turn LEFT onto the coast road, ride past the two petrol stations and up a lengthy ascent until you are above Marmaras. Before the road goes back down, at 3.4 km the road forks off RIGHT towards the mountain village of PARTHENONAS. Take this rather steeper road and follow the sign towards Parthenonas. Take care: There may be heavy goods traffic at the cement factory. The road leads through olive groves on uphill. 8.7 km You find yourself in the mountain village of Parthenonas. Continue on along the paved street, past a chapel and on through the village going uphill. After a left hand around a taverna you will come to the village exit, at which point the road turns to gravel. Follow this wide main trail up and down, gradually climbing. Do not leave the track at any point â€“ ignore any turnoffs. 14.5 km Turn RIGHT when you come to a wide intersecting sand trail. The gentle climb at first is followed by a steeper lengthy ascent. A short distance further on there is a spring to the left. Ride on uphill past this on the wide trail until you come to a fork in the road. 18.4 km At the fork take the road going UPHILL TO THE RIGHT. From here on stay on the wide uphill trail, following the signs marked (fire watchtower). Shortly after a very steep section you will reach the fire watchtower. 20.0 km The 360o panorama from this, the highest point on the Sithonia Peninsula (approx. 800m above sea level), is quite simply magnificent. Ride back a short distance from the watchtower along the way you came. 100m further back, turn SHARP LEFT onto a road running along a gorge. Follow this steeply downhill through the woods, taking care to avoid lumps of rock and deep ruts. At the next fork in the road go STRAIGHT AHEAD along a flat stretch, then over a number of ridges on a stony sand trail which then winds down through the rocks. Continue STRAIGHT ON DOWNHILL past any turnoffs until you reach a wide intersecting track. 25.7 km This is the same track that leads out from the village of Parthenonas on the left and goes high up into the mountains. Turn LEFT and go back along the same road you followed at the beginning of the tour, until you come to Parthenonas and the asphalt road. Next comes a pleasant descent down well-built hairpin bends leading straight back to Neos Marmaras. Care: Shortly after the hairpin bends you should leave the asphalt road once again. 28.0 km To the right there is a small white ROADSIDE SHRINE, with an isolated house a 52
To the highest point on the Sithonia Peninsula short distance behind it. JUST BEFORE the shrine, turn HALF RIGHT onto a gravel track leading gently uphill. On the crest of the hill go right around the curve and on back downhill. Cycle round a few bends through a mainly dried-up riverbed on to a fork in the road. 28.6 km Turn HALF LEFT at the fork and continue on along the slope. The road now leads on downhill through olive groves. Stay on the rutted gravel track until you meet the coast road at 33.0 km ,then turn LEFT onto the coast road and ride on towards Neos Marmaras. 34.5 km You are now at the signpost for Neos Marmaras. A little further on there is a petrol station to the left. Opposite this is a turnoff to the right. Leaving the coast road, turn RIGHT onto the road leading directly to Neos Marmaras. After a short climb, follow the main street to the right and then back down to the sea. Continue on through the village parallel to the sea until you reach the kiosk at the tour start point. At a number of crucial points en route, the right direction is clearly indicated by specially posted bicycle signs.
…a well-earned coffee at the end of the tour
Coastal tour in the south of the Sithonia Peninsula
along by the coves
Coastal tour in the south of the Sithonia Peninsula Distance: 41.0 km 545m 541m Road surface: 73% asphalt 27% trail Difficulty level: moderately difficult Suitable for: Mountain bike & trekking bike Brief description: Coves with crystal clear water and wonderful untouched countryside are the absolute highlights of this tour. A swimming tour for pleasure-seekers, manageable by all who set a day aside for it. The first lengthy ascent through the vineyards of PORTO CARRAS begins right behind NEOS MARMARAS. But the reward is not long in coming; as soon as you reach the summit, wonderful views extend out over the vineyards to the sea beyond. Beyond the island of Kelifos, it's even possible to pick out the neighbouring Kassandra Peninsula. This unique and memorable vista accompanies you over several more kilometres to come. From TRISTINIKA, the gravel track back along by the sea calls for a degree of cycling know-how. Less experienced riders might even be advised to push for a while, but the small coves more than make up for the effort. Except in high season (mid-July to late August), everyone can find their own private cove for a swim somewhere along this stretch. A visit to the PORTO CARRAS wine cellars and a nice cafĂŠ on the beach at Marmaras are just the way to round off the day.
Back from the catch in the harbour at Neos Marmaras
Part of a wine trail is on today's agenda
Tips: Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Take sufficient food and water for the trip with you. Pack your swimming things and sunscreen. The only supermarkets on this tour are in NEOS MARMARAS. Thursday morning is market day in NEOS MARMARAS. 55
Coastal tour in the south of the Sithonia Peninsula Start point: The kiosk opposite the football pitch in NEOS MARMARAS. Getting there: NEOS MARMARAS is a fishing village on the west coast of the Sithonia Peninsula, about 20km south of NIKITI. The best way of getting to the football pitch and kiosk is to drive along the coast road from NIKITI a short way past the village of MARMARAS. The coast road goes up over a rise and down to two petrol stations, one on each side of the road. After the petrol stations there is a right hand bend followed by a turnoff to the right signposted â€œNEOS MARMARAS â€œ. Turn right off the coast road and follow the road up to the football pitch, where there is ample parking space. The KIOSK is opposite the football pitch right on the beach. 0.0 km With your back to the kiosk, ride along the beach out of the village. At the first fork in the road away from the beach, turn HALF LEFT to reach the coast road a short distance further on. 1.3 km Turn RIGHT onto the coast road, which heads south to the fishing harbour at Porto Koufo. Some distance further on you will ride past the Porto Carras hotel complex golf course, after which you have a rather lengthy ascent to deal with, though the higher you get, the better the view of the Porto Carras vineyards. 5.9 km At the end of the ascent there is a car park to your right directly below the Villa Galini. This affords wonderful views of the Toroneos Gulf and the neighbouring Kassandra Peninsula. From here on follow the coast road above the sea. After a long descent you will pass a bridge, and two descents later you will see a sign for TRISTINIKA on your right. Turn RIGHT here at 17.0 km and follow the narrow asphalt road, staying on it as you go through the village of Tristinika. On the way out of the village you will have a view over expansive wetlands to the pinnacles of Porto Koufo, which tower over the coast. 20.0 km At this point the asphalt road becomes a gravel trail; head on STRAIGHT AHEAD, taking care on the extremely rough gravel and sand holes on bends. You will now head north next to the coast, passing past countless small coves. You will face several short climbs, running over the neck of each cove and on to the next one. At the wide sandy beach by the Posseidon hotel complex the trail joins a solidly constructed asphalt road. Tip: there is a phone box at this point. 29.9 km Continue on STRAIGHT AHEAD uphill and then downhill, going STRAIGHT ON at the next left hand turnoff. You now come to two campsites. A small taverna called TONI just behind the second one (STAVROS Camping) offers excellent food only 30 metres from the beach. Following a further rather longer tough ascent still on asphalt, the most beautiful side of the island of KELIFOS will come into view, looking very like a tortoise from this point. Stay on the asphalt road as it winds its way along the mountains between the Villa Galini and the coves. Some distance further on, the Port Carras hotel complex and large yacht marina come into view below the road to the left, and slightly further on you will join the coast road once more. Turn LEFT onto the coast road and ride downhill towards Neos Marmaras. The entrance to the Porto Carras winery is on the right a few hundred metres further on. Tip: You can drop in here for wine tasting, and acquaint yourself with the best wines in Greece. This is well worth it! Further downhill, go back past the Porto Carras golf course and on a little way, then turn 56
Coastal tour in the south of the Sithonia Peninsula LEFT just after the next bridge and ride on towards the centre of Neos Marmaras. 41.0 km You find yourself back at the football pitch which was the start point for this tour. At a number of crucial points en route, the right direction is clearly indicated by specially posted bicycle signs.
â€Śyou'll meet them everywhere and anywhere in the hinterland
From Toroni into the untamed hinterland of the Sithonia Peninsula
Large goat pens
From Toroni into the untamed hinterland of the Sithonia Peninsula Distance: 24.6 km (A) 510m 509m Road surface: 40% asphalt 60% trail Difficulty level: difficult (version A), moderately difficult (version B) Suitable for: Mountain bike (version A), trekking bike & mountain bike (version B) Brief description: Short but partly very demanding tour with wonderful views. The small fishing village of PORTO KOUFO is the start point for this tour. When the fishermen return with their catch early in the morning, it is worth spending some time watching the lively hustle and bustle on the pier. Leaving the village, warm up on the flat coastal road before riding on sand and gravel high into the interior of the peninsula. The long ascent over the next 5 km is somewhat relieved by a few flatter stretches. If you use these as short recovery stops, you'll have time to let your gaze wander out to sea or over the barren hinterland. The east coast and the village of SIKIA are visible from the small chapel above. From there it's downhill towards SIKIA, outside which there is a choice of two routes to continue the tour. Version B is easier though longer in terms of distance. It leads through the village to the coastal road and back to PORTO KOUFO. Fitter and more experienced riders will certainly see the challenge in opting for version A, which is the more difficult inland route. This is a true riders' paradise; once up on the ridges, the route offers unique panoramas over a large part of the south Sithonia Peninsula to the Athos Peninsula beyond, with the Holy Mountain itself rising steeply and imposingly from the sea to its summit 2033m above. A solidly constructed sand trail leads from here over the ridges of the southern Sithonia Peninsula back to the coastal road. The route passes right by a number of large goat sheds; take care not to ride past too fast, otherwise the goats will scatter in all directions, angering the goatherds and their dogs. The shed architecture and herdsmen's simple dwellings are interesting to look at. The wonderful long descent on the solidly constructed coastal road back to PORTO KOUFO will reward you for all the steep uphill trails inland. Shortly before reaching the port, the pinnacles clearly marking the harbour entry to PORTO KOUFO heave into view.
Tips: Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Take sufficient food and water for the trip with you. The good fish tavernas in PORTO KOUFO are well worth visiting in October, when fresh tuna fish is available. 59
From Toroni into the untamed hinterland of the Sithonia Peninsula Start point: The petrol station on the road just before PORTO KOUFO. Getting there: Drive along the coast road on the west of the Sithonia Peninsula from NEOS MARMARAS further south. The small fishing port of PORTO KOUFO lies beyond the villages of Tristinika and Toroni. Shortly before the village entrance there is a petrol station with a few shaded parking spaces. 0.0 km Leave the petrol station and ride back along the coast road away from Porto Koufo towards Toroni. The first houses in Toroni will soon come into view; just before the coast road begins a long ascent you will leave them behind. 2.7 km Turn RIGHT and follow the asphalt road that runs gently downhill parallel to the coast road. At the point where the road turns left through a tunnel under the coast road, turn RIGHT onto a sand track. At the next fork in the road go half right UPHILL. Follow this wide, easily passable trail on uphill, staying on it until you see a chapel to your left. 7.7 km Ride past the chapel on its downhill side, go round a sharp left hand bend and follow the trail DOWNHILL. The route now continues downhill with a view towards the village of Sikia. Note: The simplified version B of this tour involves riding down into the village, then heading towards the coast road and along it past Kalamitsi back to Porto Koufo. Route A described below is for fitter riders well versed in riding technique. The trail through the hinterland is extremely narrow in places, on a rough gravel surface with numerous deep ruts and some extremely steep ascents. 9.8 km After a gentle S-bend you will come to a rubbish dump. Leave the gravel descent at this point and turn RIGHT onto a track that winds its way along the mountainside, leading steadily uphill around narrow hairpin bends. The next goat pen is a short distance away; go past this and on along the narrow trail. Turn RIGHT at the next crossroads and then LEFT uphill at the following intersection, riding on until you come to a wider trail. Here at 12.6 km turn LEFT and follow the mountain road. Some distance further on you will come to an intersection by a small red brick hut. Turn LEFT here and follow the trail over the ridges of the Sithonia Peninsula. The road becomes somewhat wider at this point and leads along the mountain ridge, passing right next to a number of large goat pens. After the pens at 14.0 km bear HALF LEFT at the fork in the road, straight on past a waterhole and the rubbish dump and you will come to an isolated largish white house. From here you will be able to see the coast road, which you will reach a short while later. 17.5 km Turn LEFT onto the coast ride and ride on a few hundred metres to a viewpoint and a small taverna. From here there is a sweeping view over the south of the Sithonia Peninsula, the Gulf of Athos, the monastic republic and Mount Athos, which rises almost vertically from the sea. Turn round at the viewpoint â€“ do not ride further on downhill â€“ and follow the coast road back towards the mountains. Stay on this road on a wonderful long descent until you arrive back at the fishing village of Porto Koufo. 23.2 km At the village signpost turn LEFT off the coast road, following the narrow asphalt road right by the beach towards the centre of the village and the port. Opposite the port there are several tavernas huddled next to each other. Just in front of the first taverna there is a small connecting road leading up to the RIGHT. Take this and follow it up to the coast road. Then turn LEFT, ride on a few hundred metres and at 60
From Toroni into the untamed hinterland of the Sithonia Peninsula 24.6 kmyou will find yourself back at the petrol station. At a number of crucial points en route, the right direction is clearly indicated by specially posted bicycle signs.
Tour 12 Heather grows in abundance, and is important in honey production
Over the ridges of the Sithonia Peninsula
Boats off Vourvourou
Over the ridges of the Sithonia Peninsula Distance: 32.4 km 533m 537m Road surface: 41% asphalt 59% trail Difficulty level: moderately difficult Suitable for: Mountain bike Brief description: An impressive trip through the bizarre rocky landscape of the Sithonia Peninsula, with breathtaking views. The first third of this tour is from VOURVOUROU along the coast, on a lengthy but gentle uphill climb that shouldn't present any serious difficulty. Note: This stretch should be avoided on weekends, when traffic is very heavy. The ascent up to the “honey factory“ high in the hinterland and the ridge road thereafter call for previous experience on sand and scree. This is the only way to enjoy the highlight and real reason behind the selection of this tour – the breathtaking views. Even as you climb, the towering pinnacles to the left and right are bound to impress. Once on the ridge, there are several points affording a full 360o panorama: the HOLOMONDAS mountains to the north, the numerous small islands off VOURVOUROU to the east with ATHOS as a backdrop, and the Kassandra Peninsula to the east. Numerous beehives line the route. The bees find plenty of food in the scrub and surrounding pine forests, which reach down near to the trails, affording some shade. The descent that follows once again places some demands on steering technique, since the steeper parts are heavily sanded in places and deep ruts also crop up. Just behind the start point back in Vourvourou, there is a wide sandy beach where you can round off the day by relaxing for a while in the clear waters of the Aegean Sea.
View down to the islands off Vourvourou
On the ridge road over the Sithonia Peninsula
Tips: Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Don't forget your sunscreen. Take sufficient food and water for the trip with you. There is nowhere to stock up on provisions en route. The only exception to the above is at Ormos Panaghia towards Nikiti, where you may be able to buy fresh fruit from the farmers on the country roadside, but this is heavily dependent on the season. 63
Over the ridges of the Sithonia Peninsula Start point: The turnoff leading from the coast road to the village of VOURVOUROU. Getting there: Drive along the coast road from NIKITI past the turnoff for NEOS MARMARAS, heading straight on towards Ormos Panaghia and VOURVOUROU. A few kilometres beyond Ormos Panaghia you will come to the turnoff for VOURVOUROU. This is a wide asphalt road leading off from the left of the coast road towards VOURVOUROU. To the right of this road there is a roadside chapel. The small car park at the turnoff is the start point. 0.0 km Ride back along the coast on the route described above. Go past Ormos Panaghia and on towards Nikiti. Fruit can be bought from the roadside stalls along the way. After a lengthier but gentle climb you will come to the turnoff for the west coast of the Sithonia Peninsula. 11.1 km The turnoff is a short distance beyond a sawmill. Turn LEFT and follow the sign for SITHONIA and MARMARAS. At the next turnoff bear LEFT again and head towards a large factory building. This is the factory where apiarists bring their honey for processing. Tip: Visitors are welcome. The tarmac road then becomes a track, which you should follow on downhill. Down at the bottom, ride on alongside a mostly dried up riverbed, then turn RIGHT and cross over it before the road goes back up. The rough gravel path winds its way uphill past a makeshift rubbish dump towards a clearly visible water tank. 13.7 km Continue on uphill past the water tank, passing impressive rock formations to your left and right. Stay on this track, going uphill and down dale until you reach the main ridge road over the Sithonia Peninsula. Doubling as a firebreak, this wide sand and gravel track leads on up and down over the ridges, offering unique views over a large part of the whole of northwest Halkidiki. Ignore any turnings and stay up on this trail. 22.0 km Following a brief steep climb you will come to a wide intersecting road. Turn RIGHT uphill, following the sign to LIVADIA. 300 metres further on, bear LEFT downhill at the turning at 22.3 km and at the next fork in the road, take the turnoff HALF LEFT and follow the wide trail to the following turnoff at 24.2 km ,then bear LEFT again and ride on downhill towards the sea. Care: this is a particularly bad stretch, pitted with deep ruts and sand. At the next crossroads at 25.0 km turn LEFT, then STRAIGHT AHEAD at the following crossroads, riding on along the slope until you come to the next intersection. 28.7 km At this point a broad intersecting road comes down from the left and leads off downhill to the right. Turn RIGHT and follow the bends downhill towards the sea. 31.0 km On arriving at the coast road, turn LEFT and head back to the tour start point, which you will reach at 32.4 km At a number of crucial points en route, the right direction is clearly indicated by specially posted bicycle signs.
Over the ridges of the Sithonia Peninsula
Through the vineyards of PORTO CARRAS
Through the vineyards of PORTO CARRAS Distance: 26.2 km 594m 634m Road surface: 11% asphalt 89% trail Difficulty level: moderately difficult Suitable for: Mountain bike Brief description: Vineyards, terrific views and small coves ideal for swimming. The pick of the landscape around PORTO CARRAS makes this an absolute must for all bikers. PORTO CARRAS is a large hotel resort and vineyard estate rolled into one, making it unique throughout Greece. The route from the sea up to the highest point in the area goes through the vineyards almost all of the way. Wine connoisseurs will fully appreciate the fact that the excellent signposting enables you to learn precisely which grape variety is growing on which slope. Part of the route runs on extremely rough gravel trails; you'll be riding almost exclusively uphill until you reach the highest point on the tour. But there are no overly steep inclines, and the fine views offer some variety on your way up. Once you arrive at the top of Melitonas, the uniquely beautiful view is guaranteed to take your breath away. The PORTO CARRAS hotel complex lies at your feet, flanked by the hamlet of NEOS MARMARAS. The ITAMOS mountains are also easy to pick out, with the two pinnacles marking the harbour at PORTO KOUFOS to your left, in the south of the peninsula. Following the lengthy climb, reward now comes in the form of a fantastic descent back through the vineyards down to the coast. The trip is perfectly rounded off with a ride past the coves in the Porto Carras nature reserve. The wonderfully clear blue water makes each cove more beautiful than the next â€“ and there are about 30 of them on this five-kilometre stretch to the yachting marina at the hotel complex.
Tips: Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Take sufficient food and water for the trip with you. There is nowhere to stock up on provisions en route. Count on meeting oncoming traffic in the vineyards, especially during the grape harvest. A visit to the winery is recommended. Information on visiting hours is available at the hotel complex. During and after rainfall, soft clay makes some tracks impassable. Wait a few days View of Porto Carras and Neos Marmaras until the clay is dry. 67
Through the vineyards of PORTO CARRAS Start point: The large blue advertising sign for the GRAND RESORT Porto Carras Casino, right in front of the hotel complex itself. The complex is near to the village of MARMARAS on the west coast of the Sithonia Peninsula. Getting there: Drive south along the peninsula from NEOS MARMARAS. The entrance gate to PORTO CARRAS is on the right hand side a few kilometres further on.
0.0 km START at the fence just in front of the GRAND RESORT Porto Carras Casino advertising sign. In front of you is the coast road leading from Neos Marmaras further south to Porto Koufo. Turn left onto this wide, solidly constructed road and head towards Neos Marmaras. Care: Just round the next long left-hand bend there is a small blue distance marker with the number 58.5. A few metres beyond this at 0.9 km you should leave the coast road and turn RIGHT onto a wide gravel track. This trail leads over a small bridge up into the vineyards. Note: You need not pay any attention to the one-way street signs. At the next fork in the road, turn HALF RIGHT and ride further uphill, bearing LEFT at the next crossroads. This gravel trail winds its way along the vineyards up inland and then follows the course of a deep gorge to a crossroads. 4.2 km Here you will come to a crossroads with a large pine tree. Turn LEFT and follow the course of the gorge, going up and down around several narrow bends to a fork in the road. 5.8 km Take the LEFT-HAND trail when you reach the fork. 7.5 km Following a short, steep ascent you will come to a wide intersecting road. Turn LEFT onto this and ride on through the vineyards. Care: Just before the wide road goes downhill, at 7.9 km turn RIGHT onto a narrower trail and follow it uphill. Ride STRAIGHT ON past the next turnoff and follow the hairpin bends on uphill along the vine-covered slope. 8.9 km Where the road forks on a bend, follow the trail to the LEFT leading on uphill away from the lower slope. 10.1 km You now come to a large crossroads on a rise. Turn LEFT and ride on UPHILL. 11.1 km You are now on the summit of MELITONAS. Ride round it once and then go on up a few metres to the fire watchman's small hut. Turn round here and follow the same road back downhill to the last crossroads. 12.0 km At the crossroads turn RIGHT and follow the gravel trail further on downhill. Go STRAIGHT ON past the next turnoff to the left and STRAIGHT ON again at another turnoff to the right. The trail runs along the edge of the vineyards. Go round the next sharp left-hand bend in the rutted road at 15.1 km and do not head straight ahead downhill through the vineyards. The gravel trail climbs a short way, and after a lengthy descent joins a wide intersecting road. 16.5 km Turn left onto this wide intersecting road and ride a few hundred metres on uphill until you come to the next turnoff at 16.7 km Here you should turn RIGHT onto a track leading through the vineyards. At the next fork in the road, bear HALF RIGHT and follow the bends DOWNHILL, ignoring any turnoffs until you reach the coast road. 17.9 km Turn RIGHT onto the coast road. The isolated building visible some distance to your left is the Ìåëßôùí taverna.
Through the vineyards of PORTO CARRAS Leave the coast road DIRECTLY IN FRONT of the driveway to the taverna, turning LEFT onto a gravel trail. Care: the first part of this trail leads steeply downhill over extremely coarse gravel. Turn LEFT at the next crossroads, ignoring any other turnoffs until you reach a wide intersecting road a short while later. 19.4 km Turn LEFT onto this wide intersecting road and head on downhill to the shore road. 20.8 km Turn RIGHT onto the asphalt shore road and ride on uphill. Care: Important turning a short distance further on!! AT THE POINT where the road leads uphill round a sharp right-hand bend, there is a wide EARTH WALL on the opposite side of the road. Leave the road at this point and cross over the earth wall. You are now inside the Porto Carras Resort at the start of a solidly constructed gravel trail. Note: Ramblers and cyclists are allowed to use this road and pass any barriers Follow this trail past amazingly beautiful coves towards PORTO CARRAS. 24.3 km The trail becomes an asphalt road. 25.2 km The through road is fenced in, but there is a small gate especially for ramblers and cyclists. 26.2 km You now come to the harbour at Porto Carras. At a number of crucial points en route, the right direction is clearly indicated by specially posted bicycle signs.
Panorama tour around the charcoal burners' village of TAXIARCHIS
Panorama tour around the charcoal burners' village of TAXIARCHIS Distance: 19.30 km 541m 508m Road surface: 66% asphalt 34% trail Difficulty level: moderately difficult Suitable for: Mountain bike & trekking bike Brief description: A short trip through the HOLOMONDAS Mountains, far off the beaten tourist track. Pure landscapes and people. The route high up into the HOLOMONDAS Mountains starts from the plateia (main village square) in the mountain village of TAXIARCHIS. A short stretch on asphalt roads is followed by gravel tracks, leading past smoking charcoal burners' stacks and through dense oak and chestnut forests to two remote tavernas. Tip: this is the only place where unique wild boar steaks and delicious chestnut honey are available. Cycling further on, the numerous fir plantations reveal another source of income for the mountain farmers. This is where Holomondas fir trees are planted for sale throughout Greece as Christmas trees. As you make your way along the mountain slopes, there are plenty of spots affording unforgettable views of the endless HOLOMONDAS forests. Pure enjoyment follows in the form of the solidly constructed asphalt road from the mountain ridges straight down to the village of TAXIARCHIS. On the way down there is plenty of time to take in the magnificent panoramic view towards the village and its environs. In the village itself, there is a bakery about 200m to the left of the plateia (main village square) with a tree growing up from the inside through its roof. The village church is also well worth a visit.
Charcoal stacks around the mountain village of Taxiarchis
Tips: Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Take sufficient food and water for the trip with you. The only supermarkets on this tour are in TAXIARCHIS. Do not ride into the Holomondas Mountains if the weather looks likely to change for the worse. Downpours and thunderstorms can be extremely ferocious, inundating all roads in a matter of minutes. 71
Panorama tour around the charcoal burners' village of TAXIARCHIS Start point: The kiosk in the plateia (large square) in the centre of TAXIARCHIS. Getting there: Take the NEA MOUDANIA â€“ NIKITI coast road and then head via ORMILIA and VRASTAMA on to TAXIARCHIS. If you are already inland, this charcoal burners' village is on the POLIGIROS â€“ ARNEA B-road which leads over the Holomondas Mountains. The turnoff for TAXIARCHIS is clearly signposted. Follow the signpost for the CENTRE from the village entrance until you reach the kiosk in the plateia. Next to it there is a striking statue dating from the Wars of Independence. 0.0 km Head past the bench next to the kiosk and STRAIGHT ON down from the square, following the road down a gentle slope. A few metres further on, turn LEFT into the first alleyway and head steeply uphill. At the next fork in the road bear HALF RIGHT and ride on uphill through the village. In a short while you will come to the sports field and the first charcoal stacks. 1.2 km Just behind the first stacks there is a large goat watering trough on your right. Here you should turn RIGHT onto a gravel trail which winds its way uphill, passing below a water sump and on through oak forest. Keep on the main trail, turning HALF LEFT uphill at the next fork in the road. 2.7 km At the next turnoff do not head straight on downhill; turn LEFT UPHILL onto the rougher trail. 4.0 km On reaching the B-road linking Poligiros to Arnea, turn LEFT and ride to two tavernas situated opposite the Chapel of Profitis Ilias. This is a great place to drop in for a typical local meal. After your break head a short way BACK in the direction you came, turning LEFT onto the first track after the second taverna. This gravel trail leads on downhill through the gigantic oak forests of the Holomondas range. 5.7 km Turn SHARP RIGHT at the next intersecting road, and at 7.0 km you will come to a turnoff by a rock marked with a red cross. Head STRAIGHT ON uphill, then bear HALF LEFT back downhill at the next fork in the road up on the hilltop. Turn RIGHT at the next intersecting road and you will come to a new, solidly constructed asphalt road. 8.2 km Turn LEFT onto the asphalt road and follow it. Though there are a few pleasant descents, this stretch actually leads gently uphill. 12.3 km Important crossroads!! The road to the left heads to Arnea; the one ahead leads straight back to Taxiarchis; the road on the right goes to Poligiros. Turn RIGHT towards Poligiros. This road leads uphill over one of the highest points in the mountains and then snakes its way back down. On one of the next sharp right-hand bends, at 15.1 km there is a junction with a wide new asphalt road. Turn LEFT onto this, then LEFT again at the next intersecting road a short distance beyond and follow the sign to TAXIARCHIS. 18.0 km Above the village of Taxiarchis you will come to an intersecting road with a stop sign. There is also a road sign pointing left uphill to ARNEA, but you should turn RIGHT DOWNHILL and follow the sign to TAXIARCHIS, heading back to the memorial in the plateia. At a number of crucial points en route, the right direction is clearly indicated by specially posted bicycle signs. 72
Panorama tour around the charcoal burners' village of TAXIARCHIS
â€Śfresh water â€“ at last!
The woods around Olympiada
The east coast of the Halkidiki Peninsula viewed from the forest
The woods around Olympiada Distance: 50.2km 959m 954m Road surface: 56% asphalt 44% trail Difficulty level: difficult Suitable for: Mountain bike Brief description: A physically demanding tour for experienced riders, through the fascinating woods around OLYMPIADA. Situated on the east side of Halkidiki, OLYMPIADA is famous for its excavations. The extensive unearthed ruins of ancient STAGIRA are an impressive spectacle. From here, you follow the solidly constructed coastal road towards STRATONI. Letting your gaze wander out over the sea, you will soon pick out the large mussel farms next to the coast. Mussels are a special delicacy in this region, and are sold fresh on the roadside. This seaside stretch undulates slightly, but after a long, rather steeper incline you will leave the coast road to follow a gravel trail high up into the mountains. 27 kilometres of trail in shaded broadleaf woodland come next. Although there are frequent downhill stretches, the route climbs steadily to an altitude of 584m above sea level. Large piles of freshly cut wood line the way, and partly dilapidated woodcutters' huts are dotted here and there. Just before you reach the country road, at the highest point on the tour, there is a small spring. This is your first opportunity to replenish your water and take a brief rest. Once again, you can savour the absolute peace and quiet in the middle of this large uninhabited expanse of woodland. Back on the country road, it's time for pure downhill fun, as you wind your way round numerous bends back down to the east coast of Halkidiki, taking in the magnificent views towards the sea.
Fresh mussels right on the coast road
Tips: Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Take plenty of water and sufficient food for the trip with you. There are hardly any opportunities to stock up on provisions en route Caution! This area is entirely uninhabited. Ride very carefully, as no help will be available in the event of an emergency. Do not ride into the mountains and forests if the weather looks likely to change for the worse. Downpours and thunderstorms can be extremely ferocious, inundating all roads in a matter of minutes. 75
The woods around Olympiada Start point: The roundabout at the south entrance to the village of OLYMPIADA. Olympiada is on the east coast of Halkidiki. Getting there: From Holomondas: ARNEA -Stagira (Aristotle monument)- Stratoni - OLYMPIADA. From the south: IERISSOS - Stratroni - OLYMPIADA. From the north: STAVROS â€“ OLYMPIADA. If coming from STRATONI, leave the coast road about 1 kilometre before Olympiada, turn right and follow the signs to OLYMPIADA. The roundabout is at the entrance to the village. If coming from STAVROS, turn off the coast road shortly before the village and follow the signs to OLYMPIADA. Drive through the village to the roundabout on the other side. Plenty of parking spaces are available. 0.0 km The roundabout is right next to a small chapel. If you stand with your back to the chapel, there are three roads leading off the roundabout: the one to the left leads along the coast to the excavations; the one to the right leads back into the village. Opposite you, a third road heads gently uphill towards Stratoni. Follow this to the coast road a short distance beyond. Turn LEFT onto this wide road and ride along by the sea. 7.0 km From here on there is a lengthy climb of about 4 kilometres. Care: Important turnoff. After the lengthy ascent and before the next descent you will come to a long right-hand bend. To your right is a high rough stone wall with grit loading chutes. At the point where the wall ends, a gravel track coming from the right joins the coast road. 11.1 kmTurn right onto this trail and ride on uphill past a large goat pen. 12.5 kmHead STRAIGHT ON at the turnoff. The road goes up and downhill, but the overall tendency is uphill on this stretch. 18.3 kmAt a fork in the road there is a narrow road leading off downhill to the right. Continue on HALF LEFT on the wide trail, and when you come to the next turnoff at 19.5 kmbear HALF LEFT again. 20.2 kmAt the fork in the road head STRAIGHT ON gently downhill, and STRAIGHT ON downhill once more at the next fork, which you will reach at 20.6 km Here there are huge piles of freshly felled wood on either side of the road. 21.8 km You will come to a green wooden hut used by woodcutters as an emergency shelter. Turn LEFT directly opposite the hut onto a track leading further on UPHILL. 33.0 km The trail becomes a tarmac road. Keep on this. 37.0 km Spring with drinking water. 38.6 km You will now reach the B-road linking VARVARA to OLYMPIADA. Turn right onto this and continue on downhill towards Olympiada. Tip: Some while later you will come to 6 springs gushing excellent drinking water. The next stretch is a wonderful descent with several interesting viewpoints. Once you are back down, head STRAIGHT OVER the next crossroads to reach the coast road a short while beyond. 48.3 km Cross STRAIGHT OVER the coast road. The next intersecting road is a B-road leading off to the right over a bridge to Olympiada. Turn RIGHT and follow the B-road into Olympiada. 50.2 km At the village exit you will arrive back at the roundabout. 76
The woods around Olympiada At a number of crucial points en route, the right direction is clearly indicated by specially posted bicycle signs.
A restored mansion built in the typical Macedonian idiom
The Ierissos boatyards
One of the many boatyards in Ierissos
The Ierissos boatyards Distance: 20.6 km 262m 257m Road surface: 68% asphalt 32% trail Difficulty level: easy Suitable for: Mountain bike & trekking bike Brief description: A pleasant trip round the north of the Athos Peninsula, with plenty of opportunities to swim and relax. A ferry runs from the small harbour at TRIPITI to the island of AMOULIANI. Starting out from the harbour, the route leads mainly over gravel trails and tracks straight along the coast in a northwesterly direction. For the whole of this stretch the shoreline of AMOULIANI is visible to the left, a short distance from the mainland. The numerous isolated beaches are ideal swimming spots, with the profuse olive trees providing shade almost everywhere. A gravel trail leads from here to the country road high above. This is the only steep part of the entire tour. Next comes a pleasant descent on a solidly constructed asphalt road down to IERISSOS. This more sizeable town even boasts a bank and several shops. On reaching the promenade, follow this to the left heading south. Even from a distance, the boatyards that are the hallmark of IERISSOS are immediately recognisable. Wooden boats of all sizes are hand built here in the traditional way. From here, take the coast road over the hill back to NEA RODA, and round off your trip in one of the beach cafĂŠs. The start point at TRIPITI is easy to reach from here, lying only about 3.5 km further on.
Watering troughs for goats in a shady spot
Magnificent boats are still built here in the traditional way
Tips: Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Take sufficient water for the trip with you. There are tavernas and supermarkets in IERISSOS and NEA RODA. Be sure to visit the boatyards. During and after rainfall, soft clay makes some tracks impassable. Wait a few days until the clay is dry. 79
The Ierissos boatyards Start point: The ticket kiosk next to the telephone box by the entrance to the port at TRIPITI, where the ferry link to the island of AMOULIANI is. Getting there: TRIPITI lies between IERISSOS und OURANOUPOLI at the neck of the Athos Peninsula. Follow the signs to the FERRY BOAT 0.0 km Ride up from the telephone box and ferry ticket kiosk to the coast road. Turn LEFT onto this and follow it a short way to the first right-hand bend. On the left hand side of the road a track comes out onto a parking lane. Leave the coast road and turn LEFT onto the track. Starting out on tarmac, follow this road, heading STRAIGHT AHEAD at the next turning and then LEFT at the first fork after it. Go up a short climb to an asphalt road and follow this to the LEFT. It soon becomes a gravel trail leading down to the sea. Continue along by the sea until you come to a hamlet, staying on the main street as you ride through it. Care: Important point!! In the middle of the hamlet you will come to a covered well. Ride STRAIGHT ON past this well heading for the sea. Once down by the beach turn RIGHT and follow the trail along it. 5.7 km The gravel trail joins the beach at this point. The sand is so deep that you will have to push for a short stretch. Go past a shaded spring until you come to a small landing stage belonging to a private house. Shortly after this there is a wide footpath leading to a track up to the right. Follow this footpath UP TO THE RIGHT and then LEFT onto the track heading further along the coast. Do not turn off at any point. The track then turns away from the coast and heads inland up some very steep inclines. At the end of the climb you will come to the B-road linking GOMATI to IERISSOS. Turn RIGHT onto this and you will be at the top of a pleasant descent to Ierissos. 10.5 km You are now at the sign marking the entrance to Ierissos. Ride on into the village. Cross STRAIGHT OVER the crossroads at the traffic lights and ride past the large village church towards the promenade. Turn RIGHT and follow this along the beach until you get back to the coast road. Tip: Some distance off you will now be able to see the impressive boatyards at Ierissos, where fishing boats are still hand crafted. A short distance beyond the boatyards, the coast road goes over a rise to the village of Nea Roda. You can either make a brief detour here (there are nice beach cafes), or return to the tour start point via the coast road. To take the detour, turn LEFT just after the petrol station at the village entrance and head towards the sea. Then follow the promenade RIGHT, turning RIGHT again at the end of the village to get back onto the B-road. 18.8 km You are now at the B-road. Turn LEFT onto this and ride out of Nea Roda on towards Ouranoupoli. 20.6 km You find yourself back at the port at Tripiti. At a number of crucial points en route, the right direction is clearly indicated by specially posted bicycle signs.
The Ierissos boatyards
Chapel on the Athos boundary
Ouranoupoli and the Athos boundary
Ouranoupolis and port
Ouranoupoli and the Athos boundary Distance: 21,0 km 378m 375m Road surface: 33% asphalt 67% trail Difficulty level: moderately difficult Suitable for: Mountain bike Brief description: An exacting round trip for fit bikers. A few very steep ascents, but fantastic panoramic views from the ridges of the north Athos Peninsula. The start point for this tour is at OURANOUPOLI, the border town of the monastic republic of Athos. The route begins very comfortably on asphalt, followed by a coastal track leading to the Athos boundary. The very steep ascents thereafter call for fitness and riding technique. The numerous fantastic views from the top more than compensate for all the effort. The sand and gravel mountain road follows the west coast over the ridges of north Athos. The route leads uphill and downhill, past vineyards belonging to small settlements through very primitive landscape. You may be in for a treat: depending on the position of the sun, the pyrite rich stone transforms the trail into a glittering sea of crystals. A sensational descent leads back down to the east coast. But beware â€“ the first downhill stretch past a large goat pen is teeming with large, edgy billygoats. Once on the coast you will meet a wide, solidly constructed gravel road. This leads straight along the east coast back to NEA RODA
Roadside crosses in all manner of colours and variations
View from the ridge road to Gaidouronisi (Donkey Island)
Tips: Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Take sufficient food and water for the trip with you. The only supermarkets are in OURANOUPOLI and NEA RODA 83
Ouranoupoli and the Athos boundary Start point: The Byzantine tower that is the hallmark of OURANOUPOLI. Getting there: Drive along the coast road from NEA RODA to the small town of OURANOUPOLI, border town for the monastic republic of Athos. OURANOUPOLI lies on the west coast of the Athos Peninsula. 0.0 km Head off from the tower along the shore, continuing down the main street towards the Athos boundary. A short while later you will come to a large car park for tour buses, at which point the asphalt road becomes a gravel track. Shortly after this you will arrive at some excavations and the actual boundary with Mount Athos. A small gate symbolically blocks off access to the monastic republic. Turn LEFT just in front of a small info kiosk and follow a narrow path running along by a riverbed around the excavations. 2.7 km Take the first road leading STEEPLY UPHILL TO THE LEFT. Once up at the top, turn RIGHT onto a track at a fork in the road at 3.3 km This starts gently, but then leads steeply uphill towards the woods above. When you reach the crest of the hill you will have to cross a small vineyard. Note: please close the gate properly behind you. 5.1 km When you come to an intersecting road, turn LEFT and ride straight on past a fenced-in plot of land. 5.3 km Turn RIGHT onto the next wider intersecting road, which is a sand and gravel trail, and head on gently downhill. 5.6 km Bear LEFT at the next turnoff. This rather narrower sand trail leads past a small church to a ridge road. 6.7 km You are now at the ridge road, which comes from the left and crosses over the trail you are on. Turn RIGHT onto it and ride on parallel to the sea. This new trail includes several steeper ascents and descents, but compensates you with fantastic views over the northern part of the Athos Peninsula up to the island of Amouliani. 9.0 km Turn RIGHT at the next intersecting road and head on downhill. Immediately after this, bear LEFT at the next turnoff. Care: this gravel descent is on very coarse scree. Head past a large goat pen and on along the narrow trail, which soon becomes a more negotiable sand track. 12.4 km Turn RIGHT at the next intersecting road, and at 12.9 km you will come to another wide intersecting road. Opposite the junction there is a white house with an extension and a water tank on the roof. Turn RIGHT onto this wide sand and gravel track and ride on to the next fork in the road. Turn LEFT at the fork and head past the campsite to the beach. The nice beach invites you to take a well-earned rest, especially if the campsite beach cafĂŠ is open. The remaining stretch involves riding back past the campsite. Head STRAIGHT ON at the next fork to return to the trail on which you came. This wide gravel trail leads up and downhill along the coast straight to Nea Roda. Take care on descents!! The trail is so wide that it will tempt you to race, but the gravel surface is extremely slippery in places. 14.6 km At this point you will come to a new asphalt road, which leads over the last hill to the entrance to Nea Roda. Turn LEFT at the start of the promenade and ride away from the beach up to the coast road. Turn LEFT and follow the coast road. 21.0 km You find yourself at the port at Tripiti. Follow the coast road straight to Ouranoupoli to return to the tour start point. 84
Ouranoupoli and the Athos boundary At a number of crucial points en route, the right direction is clearly indicated by specially posted bicycle signs.
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