Things to do in Thessaloniki – Greece

Greece, is undeniably one of the most famous travel destinations worldwide. It provides the traveler with unique landscapes and experiences. Although Greece is mostly famous for its islands, there are also mainland cities showing absolutely no lack of beauty.

Thessaloniki, is the second largest city of Greece (following Athens) and is known as the co-capital among the Greeks.

Due to its strategic location, the city had many conquerors. Each one leaving his own footprint in the city, which in turn contributes to the diversity of the city’s landscape.

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The city is also known for its very artistic ‘character’, organizing a lot of music and art festivals during the year. Thessaloniki hosts the “Thessaloniki International Film Festival” every summer.

The city center is quite ‘condensed’ meaning it’s easily explorable via walking. Get ready for the journey of one million colours, in Greece’s city of art!

Must Do

Visit the White Tower, the city’s most iconic landmark. The 34m (111ft) tower was built in 1535 next to the sea, and served, initially, as a fortress and later as a prison.

Now it hosts the White Tower Museum, dedicated to Thessaloniki’s history starting from the Roman Era, until today. From the top floor of the tower, one can have a 360 degrees view of the city and the sea. On days with a clear sky you can see the ‘mountain of the 12 Gods’, Olympus, standing tall in the horizon.

What do you like best about Thessaloniki?

Without the need to think, it’s the artistic spirit that dominates the city. Street musicians scattered around the city, you’ll find artistic graffiti, that colours the landscape.

Walking the streets you’ll find countless public acts (dances, small theatric plays etc).

You’ll find a combination of old and new architecture (old monuments next to modern buildings). Thessaloniki makes you ‘overflow’ with inspiration.

Best Walk in Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki’s waterfront

Undoubtedly, the most famous choice among the locals and, of course, among the visitors, is the city’s waterfront. It’s actually a 5km (3,1mi) walk right next to the sea. The walk starts from the ‘Old Port’ of Thessaloniki, and goes up to the ‘Concert Hall’. The road is only for pedestrians, it’s full of street artists and has a bicycle lane going all the way ,

Walking through the waterfront, starting from the ‘Old Port’ one can see many restaurants and bars. These bars are frequented mostly by locals, making the place very vivid. Next, follows the ‘White Tower’ which rises next to the sea, like it’s still guarding the city.

A few meters from the ‘White Tower’, there are boats that take you for a 30min journey along the coastline. It gives you the chance to take a look at the city from a different perspective.

There’s no boarding ticket, but you’re obligated to get something to drink or eat while on board (it’s not pricey though).

Continuing, the walk you’ll reach the impressive statue of ‘Alexander the Great’, a famous meeting point among locals, and a spot that’s used usually from skateboarders.

Next up, is a famous metallic sculpture called, ‘The Umbrellas’, and inside the sea, mostly visible during the night (due to its lighting), is another famous sculpture, named ‘The Crescent Moon’.

Following the sculptures, after a few meters, you’ll discover some beautiful themed parks created from the students of Agriculture Department of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Gardens

These gardens are:

  • Garden of Alexander the Great
  • The Garden of the Afternoon Sun
  • Garden of Sand
  • The Garden of Sculptors
  • Garden of Sound and Water
  • The Garden of the Mediterranean

Among these gardens there’s a small skatepark, basketball courts and childrens playgrounds.

Walk a little more, and you’ll reach the end of the promenade which is the city’s ‘Concert Hall.

You can rent a bicycle to do this promenade. I personally would suggest, walking because only with this way you’ll absorb better the unique optical and acoustical stimulants.

Aristotelous Square

Walk though city’s most famous square. Named after the great Greek philosopher, Aristotle the square starts from the waterfront and ends up, deep into the city. While walking, one can see a lot of shops and visit the traditional market ‘Kapani’ for some local food and drinks.

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Best Restaurants in Thessaloniki

Greece is considered a food paradise both by locals and from a lot of visitors and of course Thessaloniki makes no exception to this reputation. There’s a great diversity of food restaurants, and most of them have locations inside the city center in a district called Ladadika. I would recommend ‘Ergon Agora’ for some traditional greek food (a little pricey but worths it), ‘Full tou Meze’ for traditional greek food and sea food (a less pricey but absolutely decent alternative) and ‘Roots’ for vegeterians and vegans.

Best Music/Festival in Thessaloniki

As already mentioned, Thessaloniki is a super-artistic city having a lot of festivals, concerts etc through the year. But if you have to choose one festival to attend to, that is of course the ‘Thessaloniki International Film Festival’ which happens every summer. People from all over the world travel to compete or simply participate in the biggest celebration of cinema in Greece. If you find yourself in Thessaloniki during the festival, it is an experience that’ll surely remain unforgettable!

Best Nightlife in Thessaloniki

With the second biggest University in Greece. The university is located in the city, be sure that the city has more nightlife that you can imagine. For mainstream, clubbing music, visit the district of ‘Ladadika with a lot of options to choose from.. For more ‘rock’n’roll and blues situations’ which of course include beer, visit ‘Valaoritou’ street. If you want wine and chill music combined with a nice environment, I would certainly recommend ‘Noel’ during winter, and ‘Fragile Bar’ during summer.

Best Day Trip out of Thessaloniki

The city is located in mainland Greece so it gives you the opportunity to travel in a lot of beatiful places. One good choice might be mountain ‘Olympus’ (the highest mountain in Greece), which is almost 1,5hour driving from Thessaloniki. The waterfalls, the crystal clear waters and the hiking paths under the mountain and inside the forest, will certainly leave you dazzled.

Another, place which includes driving is Chalkidiki. Chalkidiki is famous for the countless beaches (so it’s better to visit during summer).

In the occasion that driving is not on the table, you can visit ‘Platanakia’ a beautiful park a few minutes outside Thessaloniki, available via public transport. Moreover, depending on the season, there’s a number of train routes in nearby villages and other cities.

Something that Not Many Travellers Would Know About Thessaloniki

Every city has its secrets or its ‘hidden treasures’. For Thessaloniki I would recommend ‘Ano Poli‘, which translates to ‘Upper Town’. This is a district right next to the city centre, but for some reason, it is not known among travelers. It’s the district where the city’s richest people used to live, and work. Now it remains a traditional district with colourful houses and small flower gardens, a lot of old churches and narrow paved roads. It’s one of the most picturesque places in the city, as it’s like from another century!