Tour 7 - Sithonia - MTB

The Monastery of VATOPEDIOU lying next to the orchards of ORMILIA is the prelude to this tour. Opening times differ considerably depending on the time of year. A solidly built asphalt road leads to the small hamlet of VATOPEDI and on through olive groves down to the coast. The small, little used road runs close the coast via Metamorfosi to the beekeepers' village of NIKITI. On the way, numerous isolated coves entice you to take a dip in the crystal clear waters of the Toroneos Gulf. The hallmark of NIKITI is beekeeping, making the village a real treasure trove for honey lovers. In recent years the old part of the village has been extensively restored. Here again, in the centre there are typical old style kafeneia where you can enjoy a coffee with the locals. Following this, the ascent to the small church of AGIOS GEORGIOS is very steep and strenuous, but the unique view from the top makes up for all the effort. On a clear day you can see far beyond the village of NIKITI and the Toroneos Gulf to the Kassandra Peninsula beyond. From here, a gravel track leads diagonally inland up to the Chapel of PROFITIS ILIAS above the village of METANGITSI. The chapel affords further stunning views, this time towards the Gulf of ATHOS, the fishing village of PIRGADIKIA and the ATHOS Peninsula. Next comes a wonderful descent on a new asphalt road down towards METAMORFOSI. Just before you get there, follow a trail to the Monastery of AGIOS IOANNIS. From there, ride a short way down to the village and then back along the coast to return to the start point.

Tips: Take sufficient food and water with you. Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Fresh fruit is available from the fruit stands right on the coast road behind PSAKOUDIA There are supermarkets and tavernas in NIKITI and METAMORFOSI. The old village of NIKITI is worth seeing. When inland, beware of flocks of goats and dogs. Dismount and push your way slowly past. During and after rainfall, soft clay makes tracks impassable. Wait a few days until the clay is dry.

Start point: VATOPEDIOU Monastery near ORMILIA. Getting there: Follow the coast road from NEA MOUDANIA heading towards SITHONIA / NIKITI. After the village of PSAKOUDIA, drive past a turnoff signposted “Ormilia“. Just after a petrol station a few kilometres further on, turn LEFT towards Vatopedi. Drive through VATOPEDI to crest of the hill, turn LEFT at the intersection in front of the church and follow the B-road downhill. A few kilometres further on you will arrive at the VATOPEDIOU Monastery. Ample parking space is available.

0.0 km The monastery car park. Ride back along the solidly built asphalt road to the village of Vatopedi. Climb up the hill into the village, turn RIGHT on the crest and follow the village road down to the coast road. 2.8 km Cross STRAIGHT OVER the coast road and ride on towards the sea. The road winds through olive groves down to the sea a few kilometres further on. This hilly stretch runs parallel to the sea, and to go from cove to cove you will have to go up and down several inclines.

6.2 km Go up past the holiday camp and turn HALF RIGHT at the next fork, continuing back down along the coast. On your way to the village of Metamorfosi you will pass the Blue Dolfin and Sargani hotels and a few campsites.

10.0 km At the entrance to Metamorfosi the road goes round a SHARP LEFT HAND BEND. Follow this round and turn RIGHT at the first street. You are now riding through the village parallel to the sea, though at some distance from it. Go down and then back uphill until you reach the coast road.

10.7 km At the coast road turn HALF RIGHT onto the asphalt road running parallel to it. A short distance further on the road turns to the RIGHT following the sign to Martha's House.

11.5 km From here onwards the road surface changes more often, alternating between asphalt and gravel as it leads through pinewoods parallel to the coast road. After the Porfi Hotel you will come to an intersecting road running just below the coast road. Turn RIGHT here and go down and then back up towards the coast road. When you get there turn HALF RIGHT onto the asphalt road leading away from the coast road to the sea. This follows the coast before turning slightly inland.

15.3 km Care: important crossroads!! At this point the asphalt road ends, leading on to a gravel track. To the left another asphalt road branches off up towards the coast road. Ignoring the gravel straight ahead, turn SHARP RIGHT onto a track going back down towards the sea. Once you get there, turn immediately LEFT and ride on along by the beach.

17.1 km On reaching the main asphalt road in Nikiti, head right to the small amphitheatres at the quay. Turn round here and ride inland along the main street with your back to the sea. Cross STRAIGHT OVER the coast road at the traffic lights and continue uphill towards the centre of the village. Go STRAIGHT AHEAD at the next crossroads and follow the road HALF LEFT towards the old village. At the next intersection with a stop sign turn RIGHT and ride on to the next fork in the road at a taverna.
Care: Less fit cyclists on trekking bikes should turn round and head back the way they came, riding comfortably back via Metamorfosi to the tour start point.
Any other cyclists who are not daunted by steeper ascent and trails should turn HALF LEFT at the fork in the road, and follow the stone flagged village road. After a flat stretch this leads more steeply uphill. Continue straight on past any other intersections and follow the gravel track heading uphill. This includes several very steep ascents that are partly surfaced in ribbed concrete to improve grip.

19.7 km Care: important turn!! To the left are an isolated bench and a pine tree. Opposite these are two roads, one leading downhill and the other sharp right gently uphill. Turn SHARP RIGHT onto the uphill road.

19.9 km You find yourself at the Chapel of Agios Georgios, where there is a fantastic view out over Nikiti and the Toroneos Gulf. RIDE BACK from the chapel to the isolated bench and pine tree, and then follow the gravel track on UPHILL.

21.8 km At the crossroads head STRAIGHT ON, staying on the wide track. This runs along a valley, winding its way gently uphill. A large quarry is visible in the distance, high up in the mountains to the left. At the next intersection on a ridge at

27.4 km turn LEFT, then RIGHT at the next fork in the road and ride on below a goat pen. 28.6 km You now reach a gravel track coming from below on the right and leading uphill towards the quarry. Turn LEFT onto this. Care: Important turning about 500m further on!! Where the wide gravel road goes round a sharp left hand bend, turn RIGHT onto a small gravel track, and follow it along the mountain until you come to a B-road.

31.6 km Turn RIGHT onto this B-road linking Metamorfosi with Metangisti and continue gently uphill. A short distance further on you will see a chapel on a rise. Turn LEFT a few metres further on and ride up to the chapel. Tip: on a clear day there are wonderful views out over the Athos Gulf towards the holy mountain. HEAD BACK to the B-road, turn RIGHT and ride downhill on a wide asphalt road leading to Metamorfosi. Where the coast comes into view, and you can see a large monastery (Agios Ioannis) to the right, there is another important turning at

39.5 km At this point the B-road is joined by a gravel track to the left, and a clay track coming from the Monastery of Agios Ioannis to the right. Leave the asphalt and turn RIGHT heading towards the monastery. When you reach the next fork in the road at

41.6 km turn LEFT onto a road climbing steeply until it ends. High up at the next intersection turn LEFT again, past a water cistern to the car park and monastery gate. Then follow the asphalt road running directly below the monastery wall and on downhill towards Metamorfosi.

44.6 km Cross STRAIGHT OVER the coast road and ride through Metamorfosi. At the village exit bear RIGHT and then immediately LEFT down to the sea. The road runs along the coast in a northerly direction back towards Vatopedi.

52.4 km Cross over the coast road and head into the village of Vatopedi, go up to the crest of the hill and turn LEFT to the monastery.

55.3 km You find yourself back at the monastery car park.

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