Greece’s second city is unlike anywhere else in the country. It is both a sprawling urban centre and a cultural melting pot, where dreams, ideas, visions and trends percolate in an alternative, avant-garde scene. Its history is written upon everything that surrounds you: the White Tower, Nikis Avenue, Aristotelous Square, Mitropoleos Avenue, Tsimiski Avenue, the Ladadika district, Modiano Market, Bit Bazaar and the Old City. Just as you’ll enjoy the atmosphere in the cafes and bars, you’ll adore the choice of traditional tavernas and gourmet restaurants.
Walking around Thessaloniki, you can trace the civilisations and people that have left their mark on this great city. The Palace, Triumphal Arch and impressive Rotunda (which formed the city’s administrative and religious centre in Roman times) offer an insight into the reign of emperor Galerius Maximilianos in the early 4th century AD. Meanwhile, the Jewish Museum recreates the life of the Jewish community in pre-war Salonica. And don’t forget to visit the former home of Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey.
Spend as long as you can exploring the narrow lanes of Ano Poli, one of the oldest districts of Thessaloniki, above the modern town. You’ll find numerous attractions, most notably castles and religious monuments: the Trigoniou Tower and Eptapyrgio fortifications, Ottoman monuments, the Vlatades Monastery and the Byzantine churches of Osios David and Agios Nikolaos Orfanos. This is the best-preserved district of the old city, with views of the Thermaic Gulf and (on clear days) Mt Olympus.
Whether you’re visiting the iconic White Tower, shopping on Tsimiski Street, bar-hopping on Valaoritou Avenue, attending the International Film Festival in one of the warehouses of the port, listening to live music at a Ladadika eatery or walking through the vaulted arches and open-air markets… you’ll understand why Thessaloniki is an ideal city-break destination.
The atmosphere is filled with youthful energy, day and night. With every step, you’ll discover a hidden treasure: historic cafes, cosy bars, as well as clubs with impressive designs in renovated industrial spaces, hosting live rock concerts. Nightlife is one of the city’s strengths. Follow the locals to their favourite haunts, sure to satisfy all styles and tastes. Fun is a local tradition, just like the warm soup you’ll be served when the sun comes up.
Leaving Thessaloniki, you’ll take with you thousands of memories and a few (worthwhile) grams of weight. High-end restaurants and trendy dining options, as well as out-of-the-way ouzeries, tavernas and all-day restaurants, offer a feeling of foodie heaven. Istanbul and Pontos, the Balkans and the Mediterranean, Macedonia and Thrace… all these cultures will make their way onto your plate.
Thessaloniki’s cuisine is known for its meze (small plates intended for sharing) that the 1920s refugees brought with them from Asia Minor. They also brought the tradition of patsa (tripe soup) and Thessaloniki’s famous bougatsa (a sweet-cream breakfast pastry).
Several major exhibitions and conferences are held here each year, including the Thessaloniki International Exhibition. Your off-duty needs will be well-covered with great food and entertainment options, including a selection of internationally renowned and easily accessible archaeological sites, including Philippi, Pella, Ancient Dion and Vergina.
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