Tour 9 - Sithonia - MTB
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From the fishing village of NEOS MARMARAS to the summit of SITHONIA, you'll be riding uphill almost all of the way. The route starts with a solidly constructed tarmac road up to the mountain village of PARTHENONAS, and continues on gravel tracks into the untamed hinterland. This is an impressive ride through vastly differing landscapes. The way up to the summit is lined with olive groves, pine forests and broadleaf woodland amid bizarre rock formations, all of which will leave a lasting impression on you.
In compensation for the lengthy ascents, the fire watchtower on the summit offers a fantastic panorama of several areas across the whole of Halkidiki: the KASSANDRA PENINSULA to the west, MOUNT HOLOMONDAS to the north, the monastic republic of ATHOS (with a summit of 2033m) to the east, and the SITHONIA PENINSULA at your feet. The return - one of the real treats of this tour - is endless downhill fun, back via PARTHENONAS to NEOS MARMARAS. Care: Even on narrow gravel tracks, count on meeting vehicle traffic.
Time for one more coffee down by the sea, to round off what's been a memorable day.

Tips: Always wear a helmet and cycling glasses when riding. Take sufficient food and water for the trip with you. The only supermarkets on this tour are in NEOS MARMARAS. Thursday morning is market day in NEOS MARMARAS.
A few tavernas in the village are open all year round. In the hinterland there are large flocks of goats and cattle watched over by dogs. Ride slowly and quietly by, and push for a while if necessary.
Ride slowly past beehives, otherwise bees are liable to get trapped under your glasses and helmet and sting you. During and after rainfall, soft clay makes tracks impassable, especially above Parthenonas. Wait a few days until the clay is dry.

Start point: The kiosk opposite the football pitch in NEOS MARMARAS.

Getting there: NEOS MARMARAS is a fishing village on the west coast of the Sithonia Peninsula, about 20km south of NIKITI. The best way of getting to the football pitch and kiosk is to drive along the coast road from NIKITI a short way past the village of MARMARAS. The coast road goes up over a rise and down to two petrol stations, one on each side of the road. After the petrol stations there is a right hand bend followed by a turnoff to the right signposted Neos Marmaras. Turn right off the coast road and follow the road up to the football pitch, where there is ample parking space. The kiosk is opposite the football pitch right on the beach.

0.0 km With your back to the kiosk, ride along the beach out of the village. At the first fork in the road away from the beach, turn HALF LEFT to reach the coast road a short distance further on.

1.3 km Turn LEFT onto the coast road, ride past the two petrol stations and up a lengthy ascent until you are above Marmaras. Before the road goes back down, at

3.4 km the road forks off RIGHT towards the mountain village of PARTHENONAS. Take this rather steeper road and follow the sign towards Parthenonas. Take care: There may be heavy goods traffic at the cement factory. The road leads through olive groves on uphill.

8.7 km You find yourself in the mountain village of Parthenonas. Continue on along the paved street, past a chapel and on through the village going uphill. After a left hand around a taverna you will come to the village exit, at which point the road turns to gravel. Follow this wide main trail up and down, gradually climbing. Do not leave the track at any point – ignore any turnoffs.

14.5 km Turn RIGHT when you come to a wide intersecting sand trail. The gentle climb at first is followed by a steeper lengthy ascent. A short distance further on there is a spring to the left. Ride on uphill past this on the wide trail until you come to a fork in the road.

18.4 km At the fork take the road going UPHILL TO THE RIGHT. From here on stay on the wide uphill trail, following the signs mark ed       (fire watchtower). Shortly after a very steep section you will reach the fire watchtower. o

20.0 km The 360 panorama from this, the highest point on the Sithonia Peninsula (approx. 800m above sea level), is quite simply magnificent.
Ride back a short distance from the watchtower along the way you came. 100m further back, turn SHARP LEFT onto a road running along a gorge. Follow this steeply downhill through the woods, taking care to avoid lumps of rock and deep ruts.
At the next fork in the road go STRAIGHT AHEAD along a flat stretch, then over a number of ridges on a stony sand trail which then winds down through the rocks. Continue STRAIGHT ON DOWNHILL past any turnoffs until you reach a wide intersecting track.

25.7 km This is the same track that leads out from the village of Parthenonas on the left and goes high up into the mountains. Turn LEFT and go back along the same road you followed at the beginning of the tour, until you come to Parthenonas and the asphalt road. Next comes a pleasant descent down well-built hairpin bends leading straight back to Neos Marmaras. Care: Shortly after the hairpin bends you should leave the asphalt road once again.

28.0 km To the right there is a small white ROADSIDE SHRINE, with an isolated house a short distance behind it. JUST BEFORE the shrine, turn HALF RIGHT onto a gravel track leading gently uphill. On the crest of the hill go right around the curve and on back downhill. Cycle round a few bends through a mainly dried-up riverbed on to a fork in the road.

28.6 km Turn HALF LEFT at the fork and continue on along the slope. The road now leads on downhill through olive groves. Stay on the rutted gravel track until you meet the coast road at

33.0 km ,then turn LEFT onto the coast road and ride on towards Neos Marmaras.

34.5 km You are now at the signpost for Neos Marmaras. A little further on there is a petrol station to the left. Opposite this is a turnoff to the right. Leaving the coast road, turn RIGHT onto the road leading directly to Neos Marmaras. After a short climb, follow the main street to the right and then back down to the sea. Continue on through the village parallel to the sea until you reach the kiosk at the tour start point.

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