The majestic and alluring Mount Athos
Mount Athos is the third and most eastern peninsula of Halkidiki. It is a monastic republic, walled off from the rest of Greece. The peninsula has 20 monasteries. Agio Oros is the Greek name of the peninsula, and it means Holy Mountain. It is dedicated to Virgin Mary, who according to tradition was so impressed with the natural beauty of the mountain and asked for it to be her garden. Because of this, Mount Athos has been consecrated as her garden and out of bounds for any other woman. Men can apply for permits in advance to be able to stay with the monks on the peninsula. (see link below) Anybody can enjoy the beauty of the peninsula and see some of the monasteries from a boat tour that takes you along the shore of the Athos peninsula.
Monasteries of Mount Athos
When taking a Mount Athos boat tour from Sithonia, you will have spectacular views of the following historical monasteries on the west coast of Athos:
- Agiou Pavlou
- Ossiou Grigoriou
- Simonos Petras
- Agiou Panteleimonos
Read more about these monasteries on Mount Athos…
Mount Athos cruise
Since no women are allowed to set their foot on Athos and the daily number of male visitors are restricted and have to obtain entry permits in advance – the easiest way to see Mount Athos and the monasteries there is to go on a boat tour. The boat tours depart from Ormos Panagias and are offered by several different companies, one company uses an old-style galleon for an enhanced experience. The boat tour lasts the whole day (9 AM – 5 PM) and is an enjoyable way to see the Athos peninsula.
Read more about Mount Athos boat tour…
Visit Mount Athos, Obtain Entry Permit
Even though men are allowed to visit Mount Athos, a permit has to be obtained in advance and the number of visitors are limited. Permits are issued daily for 10 non-orthodox visitors and 100 Greeks and orthodox visitors. The permit (called a “Diamonitirion”) is valid for a four-day visit and for specific dates. Make a reservation up to six months in advance, the earlier the better.
Read more about how to get a visa or entry permit for Athos…
The small village of Ouranoupolis, located on the northern end of the Athos peninsula is a popular destination for those who decide to take a Mount Athos boat tour. Ouranoupoli – meaning “City of the Heavens” – has managed to escape the mass tourism that the first Halkidiki peninsula, Kassandra, gets and tends to live off the tour boats, which briefly pass through every afternoon. Many pilgrims who are going to the monasteries on Athos also come to this port. With its 14th century tower dominating the harbour, there are many good photo moments to be had.
Read more about Ouranoupolis…