Tour 13 - Sithonia - MTB

PORTO CARRAS is a large hotel resort and vineyard estate rolled into one, making it unique throughout Greece. The route from the sea up to the highest point in the area goes through the vineyards almost all of the way. Wine connoisseurs will fully appreciate the fact that the excellent signposting enables you to learn precisely which grape variety is growing on which slope. Part of the route runs on extremely rough gravel trails; you'll be riding almost exclusively uphill until you reach the highest point on the tour. But there are no overly steep inclines, and the fine views offer some variety on your way up. Once you arrive at the top of Melitonas, the uniquely beautiful view is guaranteed to take your breath away. The PORTO CARRAS hotel complex lies at your feet, flanked by the hamlet of NEOS MARMARAS. The ITAMOS mountains are also easy to pick out, with the two pinnacles marking the harbour at PORTO KOUFOS to your left, in the south of the peninsula. Following the lengthy climb, reward now comes in the form of a fantastic descent back through the vineyards down to the coast. The trip is perfectly rounded off with a ride past the coves in the Porto Carras nature reserve. The wonderfully clear blue water makes each cove more beautiful than the next – and there are about 30 of them on this five-kilometre stretch to the yachting marina at the hotel complex.

Tips: Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Take sufficient food and water for the trip with you. There is nowhere to stock up on provisions en route. Count on meeting oncoming traffic in the vineyards, especially during the grape harvest. A visit to the winery is recommended. Information on visiting hours is available at the hotel complex. During and after rainfall, soft clay makes some tracks impassable. Wait a few days until the clay is dry.

Start point: The large blue advertising sign for the GRAND RESORT Porto Carras Casino, right in front of the hotel complex itself. The complex is near to the village of MARMARAS on the west coast of the Sithonia Peninsula.

Getting there: Drive south along the peninsula from NEOS MARMARAS. The entrance gate to PORTO CARRAS is on the right hand side a few kilometres further on.

0.0 km START at the fence just in front of the GRAND RESORT Porto Carras Casino advertising sign. In front of you is the coast road leading from Neos Marmaras further south to Porto Koufo. Turn left onto this wide, solidly constructed road and head towards Neos Marmaras. Care: Just round the next long left-hand bend there is a small blue distance marker with the number 58.5. A few metres beyond this at

0.9 km you should leave the coast road and turn RIGHT onto a wide gravel track. This trail leads over a small bridge up into the vineyards. Note: You need not pay any attention to the one-way street signs. At the next fork in the road, turn HALF RIGHT and ride further uphill, bearing LEFT at the next crossroads. This gravel trail winds its way along the vineyards up inland and then follows the course of a deep gorge to a crossroads.

4.2 km Here you will come to a crossroads with a large pine tree. Turn LEFT and follow the course of the gorge, going up and down around several narrow bends to a fork in the road.

5.8 km Take the LEFT-HAND trail when you reach the fork.

7.5 km Following a short, steep ascent you will come to a wide intersecting road. Turn LEFT onto this and ride on through the vineyards. Care: Just before the wide road goes downhill, at

7.9 km turn RIGHT onto a narrower trail and follow it uphill. Ride STRAIGHT ON past the next turnoff and follow the hairpin bends on uphill along the vine-covered slope.

8.9 km Where the road forks on a bend, follow the trail to the LEFT leading on uphill away from the lower slope.

10.1 km You now come to a large crossroads on a rise. Turn LEFT and ride on UPHILL.

11.1 km You are now on the summit of MELITONAS. Ride round it once and then go on up a few metres to the fire watchman's small hut. Turn round here and follow the same road back downhill to the last crossroads.

12.0 km At the crossroads turn RIGHT and follow the gravel trail further on downhill. Go STRAIGHT ON past the next turnoff to the left and STRAIGHT ON again at another turnoff to the right. The trail runs along the edge of the vineyards. Go round the next sharp left-hand bend in the rutted road at

15.1 km and do not head straight ahead downhill through the vineyards. The gravel trail climbs a short way, and after a lengthy descent joins a wide intersecting road.

16.5 km Turn left onto this wide intersecting road and ride a few hundred metres on uphill until you come to the next turnoff at

16.7 km Here you should turn RIGHT onto a track leading through the vineyards. At the next fork in the road, bear HALF RIGHT and follow the bends DOWNHILL, ignoring any turnoffs until you reach the coast road.

17.9 km Turn RIGHT onto the coast road. The isolated building visible some distance to your left is the Μελίτων taverna.
Leave the coast road DIRECTLY IN FRONT of the driveway to the taverna, turning LEFT onto a gravel trail. Care: the first part of this trail leads steeply downhill over extremely coarse gravel. Turn LEFT at the next crossroads, ignoring any other turnoffs until you reach a wide intersecting road a short while later.

19.4 km Turn LEFT onto this wide intersecting road and head on downhill to the shore road.

20.8 km Turn RIGHT onto the asphalt shore road and ride on uphill.
Care: Important turning a short distance further on!! AT THE POINT where the road leads uphill round a sharp right-hand bend, there is a wide EARTH WALL on the opposite side of the road. Leave the road at this point and cross over the earth wall. You are now inside the Porto Carras Resort at the start of a solidly constructed gravel trail. Note: Ramblers and cyclists are allowed to use this road and pass any barriers Follow this trail past amazingly beautiful coves towards PORTO CARRAS.

24.3 km The trail becomes an asphalt road.

25.2 km The through road is fenced in, but there is a small gate especially for ramblers and cyclists.

26.2 km You now come to the harbour at Porto Carras.

At a number of crucial points en route, the right direction is clearly indicated by specially posted bicycle signs.