Tour 12 - Sithonia - MTB

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.

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.

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.