Deciding where to stay in Halkidiki, Greece can be an adventure all on its own because there are so many options. Accommodations range from backpacker-budget to absolute luxury. So, where does the budget-conscious family begin to look when planning a Halkidiki beach vacation? My recommendation is to look no further than Philoxenia Bungalows in Psakoudia.
In short, Halkidiki is a peninsula in the north of Greece that is made up of three smaller peninsulas (or “legs”): Kassandra, Sithonia, and Athos. Each leg has its own unique identity and is worth visiting. Philoxenia Bungalows isn’t exactly on one of Halkidiki’s legs; rather, it is on the main peninsula, roughly halfway between Kassandra and Sithonia.
The entire Halkidiki peninsula is lovely and should be explored and staying at Philoxenia Bungalows in Psakoudia will allow for just that. The nightlife of Kassandra and the secluded beaches of Sithonia are short car rides away. Not keen to rent a car (though I recommend it; possibly the easiest way to get around Halkidiki)? There are buses that run between towns and one of the stops is directly in front of the entrance to Philoxenia Bungalows.
While the property is not directly located on the beach, Psakoudia public beaches are just a few minutes away by foot. The same route to the beaches also leads to cafes, restaurants, and bars, as well as stores selling everything you need for the beach, from sunscreen to oversized, inflatable floats.
Possibly the greatest feature at Philoxenia Bungalows for families on a budget is that breakfast and dinner for all guests are included in the room rate (otherwise known as “half board”). This is a godsend for families with picky eaters or those for whom adventurous or gourmet dining is not a priority. Breakfast and dinner are served during set times at the property’s dining room which overlooks the pool area. There is indoor and outdoor seating but a word of caution: smoking is allowed at the outdoor tables. If you have any kind of issue with cigarette smoke, I highly recommend grabbing a table inside.
As for the food, it isn’t gourmet, but it’s perfect for the family that is more concerned with taking an affordable beach vacation than high dining. I should probably mention that both breakfast and dinner are all-you-can-eat buffets. Breakfast offerings include various cereals, granola, yogurt, fresh fruit, meats and cheeses, different types of bread, hard-boiled eggs, sausages, and typical Greek pastries. The main dinner entrees are different each night of the week, but the sides are constant: salads, soup, bread, and cheeses. Alcoholic beverages are available, including Philoxenia’s own wines, and are not included in the half-board plan. Simply pay for the drinks at the end of the meal.
Nothing says guests must eat ALL included meals at Philoxenia Bungalows. If you are willing to spend a little bit extra to try the local cuisine, by all means, check out an area restaurant.
Property details and amenities
All this talk about breakfast and dinner might leave you wondering, “Well, what about lunch?” Chances are you’ll be at one of the area beaches and will pick up a bite at a local taverna or beachside cafe. But if a pool day is on your itinerary and you need some midday nourishment, the on-site bar has a modest lunch menu which includes pub snacks and full entrees, as well as beer, cocktails, and wine.
Speaking of the pool, it’s a nice size and is surrounded by enough sun chairs and umbrella tables for everyone. There is a mini-arcade in the pool area with air hockey and a ping-pong table, as well as a small playground for the wee ones.
In the evening, the pool area doubles as an outdoor bar, though guests may choose to sit inside (the bar area is just downstairs from the dining room). Pick up a deck of cards or a board game from the bar and have yourselves a fun little family game night by the pool (and Mom and Dad can have some cocktails in the process).
What about the rooms? They are quite basic – nothing fancy – with refrigerators, air conditioning, televisions, and private balconies. But you’ll be spending almost all of your time at the beach or by the pool anyway. The rooms also are immaculately clean (the whole resort is, actually).
There is complimentary wifi at Philoxenia Bungalows; however, it is not available in the guest rooms. Wifi can be accessed only at the pool and bar areas. I’m as addicted to gadgets and technology as the next person so I found this to be somewhat inconvenient. However, for families looking to disconnect and spend quality time together, then mission: accomplished.
While Philoxenia Bungalows isn’t for everyone (again, food snobs and luxury travelers should look elsewhere), it definitely is an excellent choice for families who want a beautiful, fun and relaxing beach vacation without having to spend their life’s savings.
Disclosure: As a member of the International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association, I was on assignment in Halkidiki, and my accommodations at Philoxenia Bungalows were complimentary. Be assured that all opinions contained herein, as always, are 100% my own.