The peninsula of Halkidiki with its highly distinctive shape, reminiscent of three ‘fingers’ of land pointing out into the Aegean Sea, is renowned for its beautiful coves and bays, rocky headlands, secluded white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. Its climate is typically Mediterranean, with warm, sunny autumns meaning that swimming and sunbathing is good until late into the year.
With conditions the way they are in autumn, it’s almost a wonder anyone bothers going there in the summer. The countryside takes on an autumnal glow and the earth begins to deliver its Mediterranean bounty of oil, grapes and wine. When the burning heat has subsided, the resorts quieten down so they’re yours alone, and the reddy-orange glow of the woods in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mount Athos are a joy.
The region has a great deal to offer anyone with an interest in culture and history. It is home to Mount Athos, the Holy Mountain, created, according to Greek legend, after the giant Athos threw an enormous rock at the father of the gods, Zeus. Mount Athos, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, has been an Orthodox spiritual centre since 1054 and has enjoyed an autonomous statute since Byzantine times.
Head for the breathtaking beauty of the archaeological site at the Petralona Caves, containing prehistoric settlements some 7,000 years old, and check out the locals gathering in the olives on the endless groves en route; then back down to the empty beaches to chill in the warm water in the afternoon. Greece in autumn is a once-in-a-lifetime experience you can enjoy every year.