OURANOUPOLI AND ATHOS
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 — 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.
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 cafés. The start point at TRIPITI is easy to reach from here, lying only about 3.5 km further on.
THE WOODS AROUND OLYMPIADA
Distance: 50.2km 959↑ 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.