Mt Athos is the religious and cultural point of reference of Chalkidiki. It is the edge of Athos peninsula and is an autonomous region of Greece and the centre of Greek Orthodox Christianity. Mt Athos’ history goes back thousands of years. At present there are monasteries scattered throughout the peninsula’s mountainous regions and its lowlands, while at its centre the mountain, Athos, stands at 2033 metres, the highest point in Chalkidiki.
Mount Athos is also known as the Garden of the Virgin Mary. It has been a unique region for many centuries, with an independent local government characterised by the ascetic life of its monks, its 20 imposing monasteries and its hermits. As the area is dedicated to the Virgin Mary it is a so-called “Abaton”, which means that women are not allowed entry to Mt Athos. Despite this unusual characteristic, one can visit Mt Athos after acquiring the necessary permit, as the monasteries can host a limited number of visitors.
You can access Mt Athos by boat from Dafni harbour, with boats leaving daily. For those who do not wish to stay on Mt Athos there is the option of sailing around the peninsula. The boats setting off on the tours reach very close to the shore. Women are allowed to sail around the peninsula, as this is the only way in which they can visit the area.
For those spending their holiday on Chalkidiki’s third leg, Mt Athos is a special experience and a unique historical, religious and cultural sight that is worth the visit.