Frescoed Byzantine churches, Roman remains, beaches and an energetic nightlife make Thessaloniki one of Greece’s most fascinating tourist destinations. Visit the second-largest city in the country for its relaxed coastal atmosphere and proud display of more than 2,000 years of history.
Get acquainted with the city by walking the cobblestone streets of the upper town and admiring the traditional Greek and Ottoman houses. Appreciate the sculptures that decorate the imposing 4th-century Arch of Galerius. Stop for coffee and some bougatsa, traditional pastries with a savory or sweet filling, at one of the city’s numerous bougatsa stores.
Savor the sights, sounds and tastes of the Modiano Market at stalls heaped with cheeses, spices, vegetables and fish, and barrels filled to the brim with olives. Join locals on their evening stroll, called a volta, along the 3-mile (5-kilometer) seaside promenade. Cruise the harbor on a small boat.
Thessaloniki was founded in 315 B.C. and has been ruled by Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Echoes of these civilizations can be felt in the buildings they left behind. Tour the city’s ancient sites including the Byzantine walls, the 16th-century White Tower and the Roman Forum. Visit Byzantine churches that are more than 1,000 years old and see the 15th-century Hamza Bey Mosque.
The sea is close at hand. Sunbathe and enjoy watersports at Agia Triada, Perea, Epanomi and Nea Michaniona, all within 18 miles (30 kilometers) of the city center.
For evening entertainment, start with a drink in a waterfront bar, then move on to a traditional taverna. Catch live music at a downtown bouzoukia club and dance at a late-night spot in Ladadika Quarter.
Reach Thessaloniki by flying into Macedonia International Airport, 11 miles (17 kilometers) south of the city. Alternatively, make the 320-mile (516-kilometer) trip from Athens by train, bus or rental car. Get around by bus, taxi, car or on foot. With one of the best Mediterranean climates, Thessaloniki’s coast, culture and history can be enjoyed year-round.