Thessaloniki is a city that has something for everyone. Whether you are looking for history, culture, gastronomy, nightlife, or nature, you will find it in Greece’s second largest city. Thessaloniki is easy to fall in love with – it has beauty, chaos, history and culture, a remarkable cuisine and wonderful, vast sea views. This is Greece’s second city, which, like the rest of the country, has suffered the hit of the economic crisis, but the streets remain full of life and vibrancy. The different neighbourhoods are little worlds unto themselves, and when you climb up to the Byzantine walls and take in the whole of Thessaloniki at sunset, you see what a sprawling, organic city it is. Old and new cohabit wonderfully: the Arch of Galerius, an intricate 4th-century monument, overlooks the busy shopping drag of Egnatia, while Thessaloniki’s most famous sight, the White Tower, anchors a waterfront packed with cocktail bars. The revamped waterfront area breathes life and is great for walking and cycling. By night, the city reverberates with music and nightlife.
In this blog post, I will share with you some tips on how to enjoy Thessaloniki according to your travel style and preferences. Whether you are a history buff, a foodie, a party animal, or a nature lover, you will find something that suits you in this amazing city.
If you are interested in the rich and diverse history of Thessaloniki, you will not be disappointed. The city has been inhabited since the 3rd millennium BC and has been ruled by various civilizations, including Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, and Greeks. You can see the traces of these cultures in the many monuments and museums that dot the city.
Some of the must-see attractions for history buffs are:
- The Archaeological Museum, which displays artifacts from Macedonia’s prehistory, Hellenistic and Roman periods. You can see impressive mosaics, statues, coins, jewelry, and more.
- The Church of Agios Dimitrios, which honors Thessaloniki’s patron saint. A Roman soldier who was killed here in AD 306 for his Christian faith. The church is built on the site of a former Roman bath and has beautiful frescoes and relics.
- The Museum of Byzantine Culture, which showcases the art and culture of the Byzantine Empire that ruled Thessaloniki for over a thousand years. You can admire icons, manuscripts, mosaics, ceramics, and more.
- The White Tower, which is the symbol of Thessaloniki. It was built by the Ottomans in the 15th century as a fortification and a prison. It now houses a museum that tells the story of the city from ancient times to modern days.
- The New Waterfront, which is a modern urban project that transformed the seafront of Thessaloniki into a lively and attractive area. You can walk or cycle along the 5 km promenade that connects various landmarks, such as the Umbrellas sculpture by Zongolopoulos, the Music Hall by Isozaki, and the Alexander the Great statue.
If you love food, you will love Thessaloniki. The city is famous for its gastronomy, which reflects its multicultural heritage and its proximity to the sea. You can find delicious dishes from Greek, Turkish, Balkan, Jewish, and Mediterranean cuisines. You can also enjoy fresh seafood, local wines, and mouthwatering desserts.
Some of the best places to eat in Thessaloniki are:
- The Kapani Market, which is one of the oldest and most colorful markets in Thessaloniki. You can find everything from fruits and vegetables to cheese and meat. You can also taste some street food specialties like koulouri (sesame bread rings), bougatsa (custard pie), or souvlaki (grilled meat skewers).
- The Ladadika District, which is a former oil market that has been transformed into a trendy area full of restaurants and bars. You can find traditional tavernas that serve mezedes (small plates) like tzatziki (yogurt dip), dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), or saganaki (fried cheese). You can also find modern fusion restaurants that offer creative dishes with local ingredients.
- The Athonos Square, which is a charming square surrounded by neoclassical buildings and filled with cafes and ouzeries. Ouzo is a Greek anise-flavored liquor that is usually served with mezedes. You can sip some ouzo and enjoy the live music and the friendly atmosphere.
- The Modiano Market, which is another historic market that sells fresh fish, meat, cheese, spices, and more. You can also find some of the best pastry shops in Thessaloniki, such as Elenidis, which is famous for its trigona panoramatos (triangular pastries filled with cream and syrup).
- The Navarinou Square, which is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. You can find some of the best gyros (pita bread with meat, fries, salad, and sauce) in Thessaloniki, such as at Giannis or Ellinikon. You can also find some of the best ice cream in Thessaloniki, such as at Tsoungari or Pagoto.
If you like to party, you will like Thessaloniki. The city has a vibrant and diverse nightlife scene that caters to all tastes and budgets. You can find bars, clubs, live music venues, and festivals that will keep you entertained until the early hours.
Some of the best places to party in Thessaloniki are:
- The Ladadika District, which is not only a great place to eat but also a great place to drink and dance. You can find bars and clubs that play all kinds of music, from Greek pop and rock to international hits and electronic beats. Some of the most popular spots are Valaoritou, Thermaikos, and Mylos.
- The Valaoritou District, which is another former industrial area that has been converted into a nightlife hub. You can find more alternative and underground bars and clubs that play indie, rock, hip hop, reggae, and more. Some of the most popular spots are Berlin, Rover, and Block 33.
- The Bit Bazaar, which is a flea market by day and a bohemian hangout by night. You can find cozy and quirky bars that serve cheap drinks and snacks. You can also find some live music venues that host local bands and artists. Some of the most popular spots are To Pikap, To Palio Hamam, and To Koutouki Tou Antoni.
- The New Waterfront, which is not only a great place to walk but also a great place to drink and dance. You can find stylish and sophisticated bars and clubs that offer stunning views of the sea and the city lights. You can also find some festivals and events that take place throughout the year, such as the Thessaloniki International Film Festival or the Thessaloniki Night Half Marathon.
- The Kamara District, which is a student area near the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. You can find lively and cheap bars and clubs that attract a young crowd. You can also find some cultural venues that host theater, cinema, or art shows. Some of the most popular spots are Eightball, Gaia Live Stage, and Olympion.
If you love nature, you will love Thessaloniki. The city is surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes that offer plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. You can enjoy the sea, the mountains, the forests, or the lakes within a short distance from the city center.
Some of the best places to enjoy nature in Thessaloniki are:
- The Halkidiki Peninsula, which is a paradise for beach lovers. It has three legs that extend into the Aegean Sea: Kassandra, Sithonia, and Athos. Each one has its own character and charm. You can find sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, pine forests, fishing villages, ancient sites, monasteries, and more.
- The Municipality of Delta, which is a wetland area near the mouth of Axios River. It is home to many species of birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and plants. You can explore it by boat or by bike. You can also visit the Environmental Information Center or the Archaeological Site of Aigai.
- The Ossa Mountain, which is also known as