Halki Town: Eating, Swimming & Relaxing in Beautiful Emborios

In this trip report we cover the sights of Emborios, the main town on the island of Halki (Chalki) in Greece.

Halki

After the short ferry crossing from Kamiros Skala on the island of Rhodes I found myself on the small island of Halki, which would be home for the next three nights.

Having checked into my Halki apartment, it was time to explore the surroundings and see what this small, barren island just off the coast of Rhodes has to offer.

For what it’s worth, in this article I will use ‘Halki’ as the name for the island, although you will often find it written as Chalki or Chalce as well (in the Greek alphabet it’s written as Χάλκη).

The island of Halki measures just 27 square kilometres and consists of only one town. Halki Town itself is divided into two separate settlements: the main port of Emborios (also written as Emporios – from the Greek Εμποριό meaning ‘market’) and the old hilltop capital of Horio (or Chorio, from the Greek Χωριό) which now lies almost completely abandoned.

This chapter focuses solely on the sights of Emborios, while in the next chapter I will hike to Horio and visit some of Halki’s beaches. To get a full impression of the island of Halki, I would thus recommend you to read both chapters.

halki town
The ferry from Rhodes arrives right in the heart of Halki Town, so make sure you are standing on deck for some stunning arrival views. ©Paliparan
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View from my apartment over Halki Town. ©Paliparan

A walk along the waterfront

As I had almost three full days on Halki, I decided to take it easy during the remaining afternoon hours on my first day. From my apartment, I walked the short distance down the steps towards the Emborios waterfront.

Apart from the access road to the ferry dock, which zigzags up on the hill through the town, the entire waterfront is fully pedestrianised. Halki Town’s waterfront is not only gorgeous but certainly peaceful and quiet as well despite it being the epicentre of island activity.

Only at moments when a ferry arrives there is some hustle and bustle on the dock as a few dozen people walk to and from the boat and some cargo is unloaded. Right after the ferry departure, it seems that Halki immediately regains its sedated vibe.

The serene atmosphere and beautiful views over the deep blue waters of the Aegean Sea just invites you to sit down and linger for a while at one of the many cafés, which was exactly what I did.

halki steps emborios
Walking down the steps from my apartment to the waterfront of Emborios. ©Paliparan
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Halki Town as seen from the ferry dock. ©Paliparan
halki town
Halki Town. ©Paliparan
halki waterfront
Halki Town’s pedestrianised waterfront is lined with inviting cafés and restaurants. ©Paliparan
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View from a waterfront tavern. ©Paliparan
halki seaside
Halki Town has such a lovely seaside setting. ©Paliparan
greek fishing boat
Traditional Greek fishing boat. ©Paliparan
fishing boat
Fishing boat. ©Paliparan
waterfront cafe emborios emporios
After a short walk, I sat down for a coffee in one of the waterfront cafés. ©Paliparan
freddo espresso emborios halki
Freddo espresso time. ©Paliparan
koen emborios
My first impressions of Halki were certainly good. ©Paliparan

Seafood dinner

Time went by fast chilling at the waterfront terrace while reading a book. Without me even realising it the sun was already starting to set. As I was getting hungry at this point having skipped lunch entirely, I decided to find a place on the waterfront for an early dinner.

Emborios has several tavernas right on the waterfront and judging by their popularity and online ratings you cannot really go wrong choosing any of them.

In the end, I settled for a tavern called ‘Black Sea Restaurant’. As there were some freshly caught octopuses drying on a line high above the tavern it seemed like a good choice for dinner.

Being hungry, I also ordered some ‘gavros’ (fried anchovies) which I paired with some ouzo. The dinner certainly didn’t disappoint, nor did the view over Halki Town from the waterfront tavern.

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Walking along the waterfront in search of a restaurant. ©Paliparan
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At both far ends of the pedestrianised waterfront you can find houses right on the sea. ©Paliparan
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Halki Town waterfront. ©Paliparan
octopus tavern drying
Octopuses hanging out to dry on a washing line above a tavern. ©Paliparan
halki town tavern
Sunset view from the tavern over the waterfront. ©Paliparan
octopus gavros ouzo greek food dinner halki town
Octopus, gavros and ouzo for dinner. ©Paliparan
dusk view sea
After the dinner, I headed back to my apartment for a nightcap while admiring the lovely view over Halki Town. ©Paliparan

Breakfast

The next morning I woke up relatively early, ready to explore the rest of Emborios at a leisurely pace, leaving the other sights on the island for my last day on Halki.

Dimitri’s Bakery, located on Halki Town’s main waterfront square, is a great place to get some freshly baked pastries and a good coffee.

halki chalki town emborios
The streets of Halki in the early morning. ©Paliparan
bakery greece
Dimitri’s Bakery is a great place to buy some pastries and coffee for breakfast. ©Paliparan
freddo espresso apple pastry breakfast greece
Freddo espresso and an apple pastry for breakfast. ©Paliparan

Climbing uphill

I started my walk through Emborios on the main waterfront square right next to the dock. There was quite some activity going on as an ANEK ferry had just arrived in Halki.

On the main square, you can find a small statue of Greek Army lieutenant Alexandros Diakos, who on 1st November 1940 was the first Greek officer to be killed in World War II.

Even though the Emborios waterfront is an inviting place and many travellers don’t venture far too from it, it is well-worth it to walk up on the hill for some fantastic views and picturesque streets.

As there is only one road leading away from the dock and across the island of Halki, most of the streets in Emborios are small alleys, steps and pedestrian streets by default.

alexandros diakos
Alexandros Diakos statue. ©Paliparan
anek ferry halki
ANEK ferry calling at the port of Halki. ©Paliparan
anek halki town
ANEK ferry sailing away from Halki Town. ©Paliparan
halki town emborios emporios
As there is only one road on the island and there aren’t many cars, the streets and alleys of Emborios are certainly quiet and peaceful. ©Paliparan
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Exploring Halki Town. ©Paliparan
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It’s good fun climbing up through the small alleys and steps. ©Paliparan
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Climbing further up the road. ©Paliparan

Clock tower

One of the main sights of Emborios is its beautiful stone clock tower. This hilltop landmark rises up high above Halki Town and can be seen from almost everywhere. The construction of the tower was funded by Halki emigrants living in Florida.

Although the stone tower itself seemed to be in tip-top condition, the same couldn’t be said of the actual clocks as some of them were completely missing and others completely neglected and dysfunctional.

The clock tower stands right opposite the whitewashed town hall of Halki, which certainly is a pretty building as well with its symmetrical grand staircase at the front.

halki clock tower
The Halki clock tower. ©Paliparan
chalki clock tower
The beautiful clock tower rises high above Halki Town and can be seen from far away. ©Paliparan
halki town hall
The clock tower is located next to the equally beautiful town hall. ©Paliparan
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The twin stairs leading to the main entrance of the town hall. ©Paliparan
halki town emborios
View from the Halki town hall over the barren island. ©Paliparan
halki town clock tower
The Halki clock tower. ©Paliparan
sea view aegean
There are some great views over the town and sea from the higher streets of the town. ©Paliparan
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Halki Town. ©Paliparan
clock tower
Clock tower seen from a bit further away. ©Paliparan

Saint Nicholas Church

The Saint Nicholas Church is another important landmark in the town of Emborios and is the most important church on the island of Halki. The tower is the tallest of all the Dodecanese islands and its columns are remnants of an ancient temple of Apollo.

Unfortunately the church itself was firmly shut when I visited, although it was possible to climb up the belfry for some beautiful views over Halki Town and the Aegean Sea.

saint nicholas church halki
Entrance to the courtyard of the Saint Nicholas Church. ©Paliparan
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The pebbled courtyard of the St Nicholas Church has a fine motif. ©Paliparan
st nicholas church
St Nicholas Church. ©Paliparan
stairs belfry
You can climb to the up the belfry of Saint Nicholas Church. ©Paliparan
church bells
Church bells. ©Paliparan
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From the belfry, you have a great view over Emborios. ©Paliparan
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Emborios houses. ©Paliparan
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Belfry view over Halki. ©Paliparan
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St Nicholas Church courtyard as seen from the belfry. ©Paliparan

Backstreets

From Saint Nicholas Church I ventured again into the backstreets of Emborios. Part of the charm of the town is simply wandering around and enjoying the fine stone mansions, bougainvillea and fabulous views over Halki and the Aegean.

Although the island of Halki is mostly barren, it being dominated by grey rocky hills, Emborios does have a bit more flora as besides the ubiquitous bougainvillea you will come across several types of cacti, trees, plants and shrubs giving a lot more colour to the town.

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There are lots of bougainvillea adorning the town houses and streets of Halki. ©Paliparan
halki town
Halki Town. ©Paliparan
emborios street
The streets of Emborios. ©Paliparan
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The backstreets of Halki Town are full of lovely bougainvillea and other flowers and plants. ©Paliparan
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Colourful streets of Halki. ©Paliparan
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Walking through Emborios. ©Paliparan
emborios
The backstreets of Emborios, Halki. ©Paliparan
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Walking through Emborios. ©Paliparan
steps stairs
Colourful steps between some stone mansions. ©Paliparan
bougainvillea greece
Plenty of bougainvillea and other flowers and plants adorn the streets and alleys of Emborios. ©Paliparan
halki mansion bougainvillea
Another fine Halki mansion being adorned by pink bougainvillea. ©Paliparan
garden emborios
A garden in Emborios overlooking the sea. ©Paliparan

Time for a swim

As I was visiting Halki at the height of summer and temperatures were obviously high, exploring a town like Emborios is best done in the morning or early evening and not in the afternoon when the sun is at its highest point.

Therefore, I decided it was time to walk downhill again to the waterfront for a swim. With every step down, the sea became even more inviting.

halki town
Walking down the steps towards the Halki Town waterfront. ©Paliparan
emborios sea
The deep blue waters of the Aegean Sea surely looked inviting after my little tour of Emborios. ©Paliparan
seaside halki
Almost there! ©Paliparan
waterfront emborios
Walking the last few steps down to the waterfront. ©Paliparan
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The Emborios waterfront. ©Paliparan

Swimming in Emborios

Even though Halki has some beautiful beaches, none of them are right in the middle of the town of Emborios, which means that you have to walk for 20-30 minutes to reach them.

However, if you don’t need an actual beach as it’s all about the swimming for you, then there is absolutely no reason to head out of Emborios.

The town has some swimming platforms which allows you to dive directly into the sea from the waterfront. If you walk across the Emborios waterfront from north to south, you will come across many of them – so just pick whatever location looks best.

As Emborios is built on a sheltered bay facing eastwards, the water is calm and clear and thus perfect for a quick dip. Only when a ferry arrives in port, there might be some minor waves.

By all means, take some sunscreen and a book with you if you want to put out your towel on the stone quay and sunbath for a while longer.

halki waterfront swimming
The Halki Town waterfront has numerous swimming platforms from where you can dive into the bay. ©Paliparan
halki sea
The sea water around Halki certainly looks inviting for a swim. ©Paliparan
aegean sea
The clear blue waters of the Aegean Sea. ©Paliparan
aegean sea
If you just want a quick dip into the sea, you really don’t have to leave Halki Town for one of the island beaches. ©Paliparan
stairs water
Most of the swimming platforms have stairs into the water, making it easy to get in and out of the sea. ©Paliparan
windmills halki
View over Halki and the sea from one of the swimming platforms. Note the old windmills on top of the hill! ©Paliparan
saos ferries
A SAOS Ferries ship arriving in port. ©Paliparan
emborios waterfront
Emborios waterfront. ©Paliparan

Lunchtime

After the great swim, it was time to grab some lunch somewhere in Emborios. After walking to the dock to snap a picture of the departing SAOS Ferries ship, I sat down at Taverna Maria.

My meal of goat stifado (stew) was of decent quality and certainly filling, although by no means one of the culinary highlights of the trip.

emborios waterfront
Walking across the Emborios waterfront in search for a place to eat. ©Paliparan
halki town emborios
The Halki Town waterfront is such a beautiful place that you really don’t mind walking across it over and over again. ©Paliparan
greece island
During lunchtime the waterfront was still calm and quiet. ©Paliparan
halki town
Halki Town. ©Paliparan
greek fisherman
A Halki fisherman arranging his fishing nets. ©Paliparan
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The SAOS Ferries boat departing from the port of Halki. ©Paliparan
saos chalki
The SAOS Ferries boat departing from the port of Halki. ©Paliparan
halki town
View from the dock over Halki. ©Paliparan
taverna maria
Sitting down at Taverna Maria for lunch. ©Paliparan
goat stifado
The stifado was decent. ©Paliparan

Eating and drinking

In the end, I spent most of my time on Halki just eating and drinking, whether this was in one of the many cafés and taverns of Emborios or on the balcony of my apartment.

There are a few small supermarkets in Emborios which have everything you need for self-catering, although do not expect a large assortment of foods like you would find on bigger islands like nearby Rhodes.

For dinner, I headed this time to Remezzo Restaurant for a (tasty!) pizza after solely eating Greek food for the last couple of days.

balcony greece
The balcony of my apartment was an excellent place to sit down with a glass of wine and a book. ©Paliparan
emborios dusk
Heading out for dinner at dusk. ©Paliparan
greek cat
Cute Halki cat. ©Paliparan
koen halki emborios
Sitting down at Remezzo Restaurant at the Emborios waterfront for some pizza and wine. ©Paliparan
pizza remezzo restaurant
The pizza at Remezzo was certainly good! ©Paliparan

Conclusion

Halki’s main town of Emborios is a lovely place to linger for a while. The waterfront has a picture-perfect backdrop with the clear blue Aegean Sea contrasting beautifully with the barren island interior

Exploring the backstreets of Emborios with its fine mansions and bougainvillea-lined alleys is another highlight of Halki.

Although there are some good beaches to be found outside of the town of Emborios, you don’t have to walk across Halki for a quick dip as the waterfront has some great swimming platforms from where you can dive straight into the inviting waters of the bay.

Whether you are visiting Halki as a day trip from Rhodes or are staying on the island for a while longer, you certainly won’t regret making the boat trip to this lovely Dodecanese island.

Trip report index

This article is part of the ‘A Dodecanese Dream: Summer Island Hopping in Greece‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:

1. Back in the Skies – My First International Flight in the Age of Corona
2. Review: Kimon Hotel, Athens, Greece
3. Exploring Plaka: Through the Winding Streets of the Old Town of Athens
4. Climbing up the Acropolis: Visiting Athens’ Most Famous Sight
5. Review: Skyserv Melina Merkouri Lounge Athens Airport
6. Review: Sky Express Athens to Naxos (ATR 42)
7. Review: Studios Zafiri, Naxos Town, Greece
8. Naxos Town: The Gorgeous Historic Heart of the Cyclades
9. Review: Blue Star Ferries Naxos to Astypalaia
10. Review: Belvedere Studios, Astypalaia Town, Greece
11. Astypalea Town: The Unknown Crown Jewel of the Aegean Sea
12. Astypalea Island Guide: Exploring the Butterfly of the Aegean
13. On a Night Boat in Greece – Astypalea to Kastellorizo With Blue Star Ferries
14. Review: Traditional Apartments Alexandra, Kastellorizo, Greece
15. Kastellorizo: A Look Around Greece’s Easternmost Island
16. Hiking on Kastellorizo: Two Sunset Hikes Detailed
17. Review: Olympic Air (Dash 8-100) Kastellorizo to Rhodes
18. Guide: How to Travel From Rhodes to Halki by Ferry
19. Review: Dorothea Apartments, Halki, Greece
20. Halki Town: Eating, Swimming & Relaxing in Beautiful Emborios (current chapter)
21. A Hike to Horio: Exploring Halki’s Old Abandoned Capital
22. Guide: The Best Beaches on the Island of Halki

** rest of the chapters to follow soon **

Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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