Best Things to Do in Thessaloniki

A multicultural hub rich in history, culture, gastronomy and everlasting pub crawl, Thessaloniki is an ideal destination for city break or stopover. The second-largest Greek city, lies in Northern Greece, and combines gracefully rich history, important monuments and relaxed atmosphere full of great culinary options. With history that has lived through the rise and fall of four Great Empires, the city provides world class museums and extensive UNESCO World Heritage Site of Christian and Byzantine monuments. Called the “Bride of Thermaikos gulf”, Thessaloniki is a charming city that will satisfy all tastes.

A multicultural hub rich in history, culture, gastronomy and everlasting pub crawl, Thessaloniki is an ideal destination for city break or stopover

Let’s explore some of the most prominent places in Thessaloniki:

1. Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments (Unesco World Heritage Site)

Thessaloniki was one of the first European cities where Christianity was spread. Visit few of the main Christian monuments and Byzantine churches. The mosaics of the Rotunda and St. Demetrius church are among great masterpieces of early Christian art. Don’t miss to admire main Byzantine churches, like Agia Sofia, with its gorgeous courtyard, the Church of the Acheiropietos and Panagia Halkeon.

2. The White Tower 

Thessaloniki’s signature monument and meeting point for locals to walk on the seafront promenade or to celebrate festivals. The imposing cylindrical White Tower shows up on postcards and souvenirs and is the image many people in Greece call to mind when they think of the city. Today the six-storey tower hosts a museum with historical exhibits and offers stunning panoramic views over the city and its harbour.

3. Museums

With a history dating back thousands of years, Thessaloniki offers impressive ancient artefacts, contemporary art and masterpieces from all major empires that ruled the city. Enjoy exploring its museums that surely cover all tastes. Visiting the Archaeological Museum should be right at the top of your list. You can admire the extensive collection of Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman-era artefacts. Museum of Byzantine culture will travel you back to the Byzantium era, through thematic sections and exhibitions. For contemporary art lovers, the city’s most significant art museum is the State Museum of Contemporary Art. The Jewish Museum celebrates the contribution of Jewish population to the city up to WW II. For families we suggest the city’s premier science museum, the NOESIS, with innovations of the ancient world till a fantastic journey to the future.

4. The Upper City (Ano Poli)

Exploring the stone paths of Ano Poli (Upper City) will take you back in time. Admire charming courtyards and houses with flower pots, Byzantine churches of Agios Nikolaos tou Orfanou and Osios David and the Vlatadon monastery. Wonder around castles and the imposing fortress walls to reach the Trigonio Tower. The best time to arrive here is late afternoon to enjoy the unforgettable sunset behind Thermaikos gulf and the mythical Mt. Olympus (if weather permits). But don’t go away. You should stay and sit in one of the many local restaurants and coffee shops in the Tsinari area to taste great culinary delicacies. 

5. Seafront promenade (Nea Paralia)

The new seafront Promenade is the most popular spot in Thessaloniki for both residents and visitors, who wish to enjoy a relaxing walk along the Thermaikos Gulf and opposite the towering legendary Mt. Olmpus and to admire stunning sunsets. One of Europe’s longest city seafronts is ideal for jogging, cycling, enjoying the various thematic gardens and relaxing at the kiosks and cafes. Don’t miss to take a photo in front of the White tower, the statue of Alexander the Great on horseback and the famous steel sculpture of “Umbrellas”. Don’t miss to take a mini cruise on Thermaikos gulf.

6. The old markets

If you love colourful flea markets, shouting vendors and overcrowded isles full of local products, then Thessaloniki offers many great options for you. The open air Kapani Market in the heart of the city is the oldest one with an array of shops, from fish and meat till vegetables, flowers and even lingerie and clothes. The largest covered market is the Modiano Market, with shops, delicatessen products and bars playing live music, which lies close to the city’s flower market, known as Louloudadika. The Bezesteni market is the city’s great fabric market, with its famous domes and long history. Athonos Square is a small but very lively market, popular for its traditional cafés, excellent taverns and restaurants serving original Greek dishes, greengrocers and shops selling spices, handmade furniture, jewellery and clothes. Lastly, pick Bit Bazaar if you are craving for antique objects before tasting Greek meze at local meze bars.

7. Neoclassical architecture along vibrant avenues & squares

Thessaloniki offers magnificent architectural landmarks along its main avenues and squares. The central Aristotelous Square is surrounded by monumental buildings and many representative Neoclassical buildings and examples of late 19th century eclectic architecture are lined along Vasilissis Olgas Avenue. Don’t miss the Royal Theatre, the Thessaloniki Concert Hall, a magnificent yet austere, multipurpose venue, the YMCA Building, a building of 1924, with a mixture of Neocolonial and Byzantesque architectural elements, the Tyroloi mansion on the old waterfront, the Mandalideio building, the Exarhopoulos mansion.

8. Thessaloniki port warehouses 

Imagine that you are standing on a dock, having the energy of the sea under your feet, looking at the endless Aegean waters. You can find this in the West port, one of the most favorite spots of the Thessalonikians, young and old, and the most vibrant cultural center of the city. The scenery is simple. Wooden floor combined with paths made of stone, small olive trees, benches that look like an anaklindron where you can sit and enjoy the wonderful view of the White Tower and the promenade of Thessaloniki. Nowadays the restored old warehouses house the Museum of Photography, Cinema Museum, Contemporary Art Centre, restaurants and bars. In November, cinema aficionados convene here for the Thessaloniki International Film Festival.

9. Roman, Ottoman, Jewish monuments

The long and rich history of Thessaloniki can be found on every step. Walking the Roman route you can admire many splendid monuments dating back to the reign of Emperor Galerius, like the Roman forum, Roman Palace, the Triumphal Arch (Kamara) and the Hippodrome. Walking the Ottoman route you can admire the market of Bezesteni, the domed hammams, the old residence of Kemal Ataturk, the reformer of the Turks, and the many charming villas, like the villas Ahmet and Mehmet Kapandji, villa Mordoch and villa Hafiz Bey. Walking the Jewish route you can admire the Holocaust monument, the Jewish museum, three Synagogues, the Malakopi arcades  and many luxurious and beautiful mansions in the city


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