Thessaloniki Mini Guide
What can you tell me about Thessaloniki?
It is a very important Greek city, the second largest after Athens, and prides itself on having been the co-capital of the Byzantine Empire with Byzantium/Constantinople. It is one of Europe’s oldest cities with a history stretching back over 2,300 years and has many archaeological and historical monuments evidencing its important past. Today it is a vibrant city, considered to be the cultural capital of Greece and home to the largest university in the country. It’s the major port city for the Balkans and a hub for road and rail transport in South Eastern Europe.
How do I get to Thessaloniki?
Thessaloniki International Airport, ten miles from the city centre is the best entry point. It accepts many seasonal charter flights from all over Europe and the Middle East as well as scheduled flights from the UK
from BA and budget carriers, easyJet and Ryanair. Nearly 6.7 million passengers used the airport in 2018.
What is there to see and do in Thessaloniki?
There’s a wide variety of things to see in Thessaloniki. Begin in the Upper Town, the oldest part of the city, where narrow cobbled streets give way to small squares with Byzantine churches ready to welcome you in to see their treasures. Many are UNESCO designated sites. If you only visit one, make it either St Nicolaos Orfanos with its beautiful frescoes or the Rotunda, built on an ancient Roman Temple dedicated to Zeus. Near there you’ll find the Arch of Victory, built by the emperor Galerius. You can walk sections of the old city wall on the seafront leading to the White Tower, the 16th century symbol of the city. If you don’t want to stay in the city you can choose the popular nearby resort of Chalkidiki with its long sandy beach and less eclectic attractions.
What should I buy in Thessaloniki?
The city is renowned for fashion bargains, academic books (mostly in Greek!) and art, including sculptures, ceramics and paintings. There are many smaller shopping districts which sell these items more cheaply than the tourist areas so search them out for a traditional, reasonably priced treasure to take home with you.
What do people eat in Thessaloniki?
There are a number of local specialities including, interestingly, crepes. These can be filled with sweet or savoury fillings and are often sold on the street as fast food to take away. The city is also famous for its bakery products including cream stuffed breads and pastries such as tsoureki and trigona. Baklava is especially good in the city.
And what do people do in the evenings?
Lonely Planet lists it as the world’s fifth best party city and with good cause. It has more bars and clubs per head than any other city in Europe and the multicultural and young population adds a stimulus to the party scene. For those interested in culture, it hosts several top theatres and an opera, dedicated in 1997 following the city’s stint as European Capital of Culture.