About 85km southeast of Thessaloniki, Afytos on Kassandra's east coast, just north of Kallithea, sits 50 meters above Toroneaos Bay. Its panoramic view of the water, and prominent use of native stone as a building and paving material has caused people to refer to it as "Halkidiki's stone balcony".
Afytos is home to about 1500 year-round residents. It is a traditional village with some, but not a great deal, of tourism. That means it provides a more authentic Greek experience. Its stone-paved streets and alleys in the village center are lined with two-story stone, plaster and timber homes, most of which date back to the 1800's and before. Arvanites, a sub-culture of Albanian immigrants who came to Greece during the Middle Ages and speak their own dialect of Albanian, hauled much of the stone of the village and helped the Greek residents in its building during the early 1800's.
The church of St. Dimitrios, 1858, is the only domed church in the region. There are tavernas and restaurants which overlook the water, and a beach reachable by a steep path. There are a few clubs in the village but its atmosphere is one of a traditional Greek mountain village, although it is actually on the sea.
The Folklore Museum, housed in a dwelling in the village center dating from 1889 and donated to Afytos by its former owners, the Aletras family. A highlight is the collection of shadow theatre puppets known as Karagiozis. Eastern European shadow puppetry dates from the 16th century and are a sort of Mediterranean version of Punch and Judy. Karagiozis is a hunch-backed Greek villager living under Ottoman rule and most of the stories are traditional, handed down from the 400 years of Ottoman occupation in Greece. Often the plot revolves around the attempts of Karagiozis to fool the local Vizer, or Ottoman ruler. The collection in the Afytos Folklore Museum belonged to well-known puppet master Evgenios Spatharis.
The museum also has displays of domestic utensils, agricultural tools, and examples of local pottery work.
Afytos is home to a thriving creative arts scene, with many artists making their home there. It's a great place for a quiet getaway and a taste of Greece from another century.