ThessalonikiCopyright: Leandros Papakarmezis / unsplash.com
ThessalonikiByzantine churches, crumbling ruins, modern architecture, intense nightlife and the stunning sea — this is the essence of Thessaloniki. The second largest city in Greece, Thessaloniki combines more than 2,300 years of history with young student population. The city is a perfect destination for urban explorers and a gateway to the prefecture of Halkidiki in the southeast, with the characteristic shape of the three 'legs' — Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos — a favorite vacation destination for locals. Pristine beaches and charming villages aplenty.
The CityThe city was established in 316 BC by King Cassander of Macedonia and named after his wife, Thessalonike, half-sister of Alexander the Great. Thessaloniki, in Greek, actually means the "victory of the Thessalians". It was the second most important city of the Byzantine Empire, next to Constantinople. The city has lived through the rise and fall of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires, occupations and earthquakes, and has continuously rebuilt itself adding new layers to its complex structure. These days, Thessaloniki is the capital of the region Central Macedonia and is home to both ancient history and an exciting present. The city centre, as well as local centres of a few districts, is bustling with life and movement. Yet walk a few blocks away from the main streets — and you'll find yourself in the quietest and narrowest streets where you can walk uninterrupted for hours, stumbling upon old churches, ruins and quirky features of vernacular architecture. Large avenues, parks and squares provide nice green spaces, and trees line the commercial streets. There are old houses and Neoclassical buildings that stand side by side with modern constructions. The people of Thessaloniki are known for their friendliness and hospitality throughout Greece and English is spoken by most.
Beach LifeAlthough there is no beach in the city centre, you can visit the nearby beaches of Perea, Nei Epivates, Agia Triada, Nea Michaniona and Epanomi. There are many hotels, marinas, play courts, camping places, taverns, etc. Most of the beaches have been awarded with the blue flags by the European Union thanks to the high standards and the clear waters. The Halkidiki region (also spelled Chalkidiki, Halkidhikí, Chalkidike, Chalcidice or Khalkidhiki) with the characteristic shape of the three 'legs' — Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos — a favourite vacation destination for locals. Pristine beaches and charming villages aplenty. Any list of beaches in this region will be incomplete, so we'll just outline some main attractions.
Do & See
Thessaloniki is home to numerous historic sights, including The White Tower, once a part of the ancient walls that protected the city. The romantic alleyways and streets make Thessaloniki a perfect destination for romantics and explorers of all ages.
Take a walk through the famous Ladadika area, near Aristotelous square, and you will find a number of traditional restaurants, ouzeries and taverns. Enjoy grills and inventive recipes such as kontosouvli, giaprakia and gardoubes with a glass of wine or ouzo. If you are craving seafood, you will be excited to try mussel pilaf, grilled sardine, frutti di mare, shrimp saganaki and stuffed squid in one of the many fish taverns of the town. Thessaloniki caters to a variety of tastes. The service is usually unhurried yet very friendly, and most people are comfortable speaking English. Traditional Macedonian food, Oriental cuisine and European cuisine, as well as many vegan and vegetarian options await you.
The line between cafes and bars is quite blurry in Thessaloniki. You'll find the same place serving coffees all day to a crowd of bookworms and digital nomads only to switch things around towards the evening. Laptops get put away, beers and cocktails magically appear on the bistro tables, the music volume gets turned up a notch or two. When it comes to desserts, the influence of the Ottoman empire is quite noticeable. Honey and filo pastry, nuts and halva — don't miss the chance to try the local versions. Biting into a crunchy and creamy trigona is a must.
Bars & Nightlife
The nightlife of Thessaloniki is well-known all over Greece, with many bars, clubs, music halls and places for all tastes and ages. Ladadika is the hot spot of the town and the meeting place for young ages and, generally, for all locals and foreigners. Eat, drink, and dance without limits!
The centre of Thessaloniki consists of big road axes: Tsimiski, Mitropoleos, Ermou, Egnatia, Agiou Dimitriou and Leoforos Nikis streets, which are interrupted by vertical streets, mainly those of Agias Sofias, Aristotelous, Venizelou and Paleon Patron Germanou. Around these streets, the commercial heart of the town is beating Monday through Saturday. The market of Thessaloniki presents the newest fashion in clothes, shoes, jewels, accessories and furs. Especially in Tsimiski you will find clothes and shoes from the top fashion designers of the world. Here you will find modern shops, some of them really luxury with products for every style and pocket! Outlet malls are another big attraction. Many people travel to Thessaloniki just for a day to take advantage of the excellent variety on offer and democratic pricing.