Thessaloniki, the second largest city of Greece. Popular to the younger crowd for its hip and vibrant dining and nightlife scene. A city rich of history and culture, you’ll never run out of things to do here. I go to Thessaloniki almost every year as this is The Greek Mister’s hometown. I’ve personally tried all of the establishments mentioned on this post as a paying customer (unless otherwise stated) and these are my own personal recommendations. You may click on the live links for a separate blog post that I’ve written.
Country: Greece Airport Code: SKG Currency: EUR Area Code: +30 Time Zone: UTC+02:00
WHERE TO STAY:
The old historic district of Ladadika is my favorite place in Thessaloniki. Here you will get a taste of the city’s vibrant dining and nightlife scene with the preserved buildings and cobblestone streets around you. It is where the old merges with the new in Thessaloniki.
Highly recommended hotels:
Oplopiou 2, Thessalonika 546 25
+30 231 050 6500
Colors Central Ladadika
Oplopoiou 1 & Katouni, Ladadika 54625
+30 2316 007676
The waterfront promenade of Thessaloniki pulls the biggest crowd specially during sundown. From the sights and sounds of the bustling Aristotelous Square to the White Tower, the emblem of the city. A stroll along this area is something you shouldn’t miss, a good exercise to burn all the gyros eaten for the day.
Highly recommended hotel:
Electra Palace Hotel
Aristotelous 9, Thessaloniki 546 24
+30 231 029 4000
WHAT TO SEE:
Aristotelous Square is Thessaloniki’s main city square and is one of the most impressive squares in Greece which offers an amazing view of the Thermaikos Gulf. It boasts numerous monumental mansions which has been designed after the devastating fire in 1917. Coffeeshops are lined up in this area and is a great place to just sit, relax and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.
The emblem of Thessaloniki is the White Tower. It was a prison and a place for mass executions during the Ottoman Empire. Now, the White Tower is a museum which holds an exhibit showing the history of Thessaloniki. The observation deck gives you an unobstructed view of the whole stretch of Nea Paralia. Absolutely worth the climb!
Entrance Fee: EUR4 per person.
The Rotunda was constructed in the 4th century as a mausoleum for Emperor Galerius. It was then converted as a Christian church and when the Ottoman Turks ruled Thessaloniki, the Rotunda was converted as a mosque. Don’t forget to look up as you can find marvelous Byzantine mosaics in its ceiling.
Entrance Fee: EUR2 per person.
WHERE TO EAT
Katouni 15, Thessaloniki 546 25
Tel No. +30 231 050 8509
A taverna in Ladadika which serves traditional Cretan dishes. I had my first taste of fava here which is a traditional Greek dish of yellow split peas.
Leof. Vasilissis Olgas 211, Thessaloniki 546 46, Greece
Tel No. +30 231 042 7339
The cheapest meal I’ve ever had in a taverna is in Baxtses. Try out their gyros on a plate, ammmmazing!
31 Ionos Dragoumis Street, Thessaloniki, Greece
Tel No +30 231 055 5952
Molyvos offers a vintage dining experience with a modern cuisine in the heart of the city. Try out their tigania.
I KANTINA TIS ANNOULAS
Konstantinou Karamanli stin Periochi Nea Krini
Tel No. +30 698 030 8069
I Kantina Tis Annoulas is a foodtruck turned to a proper small restaurant. Packed every early mornings by patrons who are all looking for good ‘ol gyros to satisfy their hungry stomach after a nightout.
Aristotelous 8, Thessaloniki, Greece
Tel No. +30 231 023 0762
Ouzeri Aristotelous is a hidden gem only the locals are supposed to know (they don’t have English signage outside the building that they’re in). If you’re lucky enough to find it, try out their amazing seafood dishes paired with traditional ouzo.
TREIS KI EXINDA
Agias Theodoras 7, Thessaloniki 546 23
+30 231 027 9595
If traditional gyros is what you’re looking for but are too cautious to try out a kantina, head over to Treis Ki Exinda which offers the best (semi gourmet-style) gyros I’ve ever had.
WHERE TO DRINK
A lot of boat bars are docked along Nea Paralia which sets off to sail every so often. Sail away during sunset as you sip your drink with the view of Thessaloniki to entice you.
AIGLI GENI HAMAM
Agiou Nikolaou 3 Kassandrou, Thessaloniki 54633, Greece
Tel No. +30 231 305 9024
A Turkish hamam turned bar/restaurant, Aigli Geni Hamam is possibly the most unique bar I’ve ever been to. Their cocktails are all superb!
CASTRA CAFE BAR
Eptapirgiou 122, Thessaloniki, Greece
Tel No. +30 231 020 7277
Castra Cafe Bar offers an unobstructed view of the whole city of Thessaloniki and the Thermaikos Gulf. Catch the sunset from here and make sure your camera battery’s fully charged!
Themistokli Sofouli 108
Thessaloniki – Kalamaria
Tel. No. 2310420600
If a seaview is what you’re looking for while having your morning coffee, Les Zazous is the place to be. This restaurant/lounge/bar/cafe offers a modern dining experience with a sophisticated but very relaxed ambiance.
12 Megalou Aleksandrou Av, Thessaloniki
Tel No. 2310 869950
Located at Nea Paralia, Omilos offers a beautiful seaview as you enjoy your coffee or cocktails.
ORIZONTES ROOF GARDEN
Electra Palace Thessaloniki
9 Aristotelous Square, 54624 Thessaloniki, Greece
Tel No. (+30) 2310 294 000
Set atop the Electra Palace Hotel, Orizontes Roof Garden offers an unbeatable view of Aristotelous Square down below. Perfect for afternoon coffees or a romantic dinner.
With a great atmosphere and music, To Diorofon is a favorite place to hangout by The Greek Mister and his friends. It is a 3-story cafe/bar which includes a rooftop seating.
THE LOCO BUS
Komninon 3, Thessaloniki 546 24
Tel No. 2310 224433
With a very vintage, 1950’s design and a hippie bus in the middle of the restaurant – The Loco Bus immediately became one of my favorite bars in Thessaloniki. Try their cucumber smash cocktail, refreshing!
Pylaia, Thessaloniki, Greece
Tel No. +30 231 047 7497
Away from the bustling city center of Thessaloniki is Boheme, an ultra-modern and sophisticated dining and drinks venue by the beach of Pylea. Be warned though, it gets seriously trendy at night (dress code kind).
DAY TOURS YOU CAN DO FROM THESSALONIKI
Driving time: 2.45hrs
Meteora is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen and should be in everybody’s bucket list. 14th-century monasteries built on top of the rocks, it will definitely leave anyone in awe and wonderment.
Photo credit: DiscoverGreece
Driving time: 1hr
Travel back in time and see the King’s mausoleum and the famous museum with finds of the Tombs of King Philippos II, father of Alexander the Great.
Driving time: 1.30hrs
If a beach weekend getaway is what you’re looking for, Chalkidiki is your best bet from Thessaloniki. The pristine beach and turquoise colors of the sea will definitely take your stress away.
Driving time: 1.30hrs
If you want to take a break from the bustling city life of Thessaloniki, head over to the mountain village of Palaios Panteleimonas and be transported back in time. Have a meal in one of the tavernas while being surrounded by stone houses and cobblestone streets.
BASIC GREEK WORDS
Geia sou (pronounced as Ya sou!) : Hello/Goodbye
Kalimera : Good morning
Kalispera : Good afternoon
Kalinikhta : Good night
Efharisto : Thank you
Parakalo : You’re welcome/Please
Nai (pronounced as Neh) : Yes
Oxi (pronounced as Ohi) : No
Sygnomi (pronounced as Seegnomi) : Sorry/Excuse me
THESSALONIKI TIPS AND TRICKS
Getting Around. Taxi is your best bet to go around Thessaloniki. They do have buses as well however, it might be hard for a tourist to use it specially if you’re not sure of the route of the bus. Walking around is also very feasible as it’s a very pedestrian-friendly city. It’s just not recommended though during summer. Renting a car is also a good idea however, bear in mind that parking is such a hassle in this city.
Crossing The Street. Forget about the traffic lights, here in Thessaloniki you really have to stop, look and listen. They do drive crazier than normal here and the traffic lights (specifically the yellow and red) are merely suggestions for them.
Learn The Basics. Greeks are very nationalistic and they do appreciate it if you at least try to greet them in their language. I’ve received discounts for coffee and souvenirs just because I tried to speak Greek so you never know what you’ll get if you do.
Sundays, Off Days. During Sundays, most of the shops are closed (except for the souvenir shops). So if you’re planning to do some shopping, make sure that you set a day for it before or after Sunday.
Time Difference. Greeks are generally laidback people, don’t be offended if someone shows up late as they won’t mind as well if you do the same. Lunch is at 2pm and dinner is at 9pm. Siesta time is between 4-6 so don’t call anyone between those times.
Mind Your Fives. Avoid raising your hands to someone with your palms and fingers open. This is a very offensive gesture called moutza, equivalent to giving them the middle finger. If you need to demonstrate the number 5 with your hand, do it with your palms facing you.
It’s A Chimney. Every single person I met in Greece are smokers and even if there’s a non-smoking sign in the restaurant or bar you’re in, they will find a way to be able to smoke. Just a bit of warning to the non-smokers out there.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert of Thessaloniki and I don’t claim to be. The above guide is based on my experiences during my numerous visits in this city. This is not a complete guide as I’ve only featured the ones that I have personally visited (specially for the tourist spots). There are much more things Thessaloniki has to offer and I’d be updating this post whenever I discover something new.
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