Ouranoupolis is ideal starting point of discovering Halkidiki and especially monasteries of Mount Athos. Ancient town is full of history and culture but even its name is interesting because city of sky or heaven when you translate it from greek words ,,Ouranou,, and ,,Polis,, It is surrounded by a wonderful forest which is ideal for walks and exploration, offering unique views to the village and Mount Athos. Inevitably Ouranoupoli is the last stop for all pilgrims who wish to visit Mount Athos since the boat to the Holy Mountain departs from the harbour. In Ouranoupoli the visitors apart from the hospitality and the friendly spirit of the residents, have the unique chance to savour fresh fish caught in the Mount Athos Golf in traditional fish taverns, to relax in pleasant cafes or bars drinking cocktails on the beach watching the amazing sunset.
During the day, the activities give unique opportunities for swimming or fishing at exotic beaches across Ouranoupoli, on the small isles, which can be visited either by renting a small boat (which you don’t need a license) or join one of the daily tours. There are boats which daily set off from the harbor for the Mount Athos cruise. Diving, sea sports, cars and motorbikes for rent are being at the disposal of the visitors. It’s a pleasant, friendly place with a lively center and some excellent tavernas, hotels and guesthouses.
Ouranoupolis, a village built by refugees just after 1924 whose land was owned by the Vatopediou Monastery as early as 1018, known as Prosforion; after 1946 it changed into Ouranoupolis to commemorate the ancient city which once stood nearby. The tower of Prosforion is the landmark of Ouranoupolis located next to its harbor. It’s the largest and best-preserved tower in Halkidiki built in the 14th century.
Drenia is a complex of little islets located opposite Ouranoupolis, about 2 miles away from the mainland and east of Ammouliani island. Drenia is the largest islet and Tigani, Pontiki, Feti, Penna and Artemis are the smaller ones. One will find only one organized beach with umbrellas, sunbeds, refreshment stand etc. You can reach them by boat from Ouranoupolis (daily), rent a private boat (no license needed) or paddle your own canoe to explore every islet and its beaches one by one.
Any visit to Mount Athos area is not complete without touring the complex of islets, known collectively as the Drenia islands. All around it, there is a collection of uninhabited rocks basking in the midday sun, a haven of hidden inlets and golden beaches. It is considered to be one of the most virgin and untouched places in Halkidiki. Keep in mind that the locals refer to Drenia as “Gaidouronisia” or “Donkey islands” as legends have it that it was where the earlier inhabitants of the island used to bring their donkeys to rest in peace.