What better way to spend the day than sailing over the Aegean, stopping at beaches and islands along the way? That’s the score on this cruise to Sithonia, the middle of Halkidiki’s peninsulas. First up, you’ll board a galleon-style ship, lazing on deck as it cuts through the waters and passes by green islands. Top up your tan or join in the games organised by the friendly crew. Then, you’ll drop anchor at Toroni Bay, where a stretch of sand melts into shallow waters. Spend a couple of hours here soaking up the sun and swimming in the sea before rejoining your ship for lunch and a glass of wine. Next, your boat will cruise on to Turtle Island, a pine-wooded island that’s shaped like a sleeping turtle. Here, you’ll get another chance to swim or snorkel or lounge on deck before the crew call time up and you sail back to port.
When it comes to Greece’s landmarks, Mount Athos is right up there with the Acropolis in Athens. Halkidiki’s easternmost peninsula, it’s the world’s one and only monastic republic, ruled over by the black-robed monks of its medieval monasteries. And such, access to it is restricted, with women even forbidden to set foot on its shores. All of which makes this cruise the best way to see it. Sit back and soak up the sun as your boat sails along the peninsula, giving you close-up views over the monasteries perched on its cliffs and wooded slopes. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the monks’ secret world. And make sure you snap photos of 6,500-foot Mount Athos. This huge mountain rises up from the peninsula’s southern tip. Afterwards, your boat will arrive at Ouranopoli, where you’ll have time for lunch before sailing home. There’s a Greek band on board to entertain you on the return leg, too.
Thessaloniki is the cultural capital of Greece and you’ll see its best side on this trip. You’ll get here in the early evening, just as the city is gearing up for the night. Your time is your own on this trip, so you can follow your own master plan. If you want to ease yourself into the night, start with a shopping trip. Begin on Tsimski Street to tap into high street brands like H&M and Zara, and work your way up to Proxenou Koro, which is lined with designer label boutiques. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the Kastra area of the city and duck into one of the tavernas. Meat skewers called souvalaki and fresh fish are always on the specials boards here. After dinner, take a walk along the promenade. This walkway wriggles with the activity of street performers and street food sellers. You don’t have to be back on the coach until 11pm, so you might even have time to catch a show at one of the city’s many theatres.
Trips can be booked with several companies in Hanioti