Thessaloniki (Greek: Θεσσαλονίκη, Turkish: Selanik, Serbian, Bulgarian, Macedonian: Солун, Solun, Romanian: Salonic) is the capital of the region of Central Macedonia, Greece, and is, at about one million inhabitants, the second largest city in the country. More importantly, it is a city with a continuous 3,000-year history, preserving relics of its Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman past and of its formerly dominant Jewish population. Its Byzantine churches, in particular, are included in UNESCO's World Heritage list.
Thessaloniki lies on the northern fringe of the Thermaic Gulf on its eastern coast and is bound by Mount Chortiatis on its southeast. The metropolitan area, with population of about 1 million, can be divided roughly in 3 parts: The northwestern, the central and the southeastern.
The central part, corresponding to the region that used to be inside the Byzantine walls and can in turn be divided in the "Ano Poli" (Upper City) region which lies on the hillside that is actually the southwest end of Chortiatis, and the part of the city located between the Upper City and the sea.
The later is the "center" of Thessaloniki, as most commercial, entertainment and educational facilities can be found here, while this part of the city remains a dense populated residential area. It is the area surrounded by the seafront to the southwest, Olibiados street to the northeast, Dimokratias square to the northwest and the University campus and the facilities of Thessaloniki International Fair to the southeast. Most places with tourist interest are either in the center or very close to it.
Most roads in the center are either parallel or perpendicular to the coastline. A simple rule that helps the visitor is that if the a street goes downhill, then following it will lead you to the sea. The biggest parallel streets to the sea starting from the sea are Leoforos Nikis, Tsimiski Ioanni, Egnatia, Agiou Dimitriou and Kassandrou. The main vertical to the sea streets, starting from northwest, are Dragoumi Ionos, Venizelou Eleftheriou, Aristotelous, Agias Sofias and Ethinikis Aminis.
There are tourist info and ticket booths at the central bus stations. You can get a free bus line chart there. The tourist information office is at Tsimiski 136, a few minutes from the White Tower. It is open M-F 08:00-20:00, Sa 09:30-16:00 in winter and 08:00-20:00 in summer, Su closed. If you find it closed, walk up to Aristotelous and buy a map from Iannos bookshop. You can also visit the OASTH website.
Thessaloniki is an important rail hub within Greece and it i quite easy to travel here by passenger trains. TrainOSE (ΤραινΟΣΕ) operates up to six daily trains from Athens via Larissa, journey time just over five hours for the full trip. Electrification and straightening of the line is under way and a major boost to travel times is expected in 2020, with reduced travel times to around three hours. There is also one night train plying this route. Additionally, there are trains from Alexandroupoli via Komotini, Xanthi and Serres in Western Thrace region. Regional trains connect with Florina, Kilkis, Kalampaka and several other cities in Northern Greece.
There are normally employees at all major stations to facilitate transportation of disabled persons.
- 1 New Thessaloniki railway station (Νέος Σιδηροδρομικός Σταθμός Θεσσαλονίκης, Neos Sidirodromikos Stathmos Thessalonikis), Monastiriou St 28, ☏ . daily 05:00-00:30.
- 2 TrainOSE travel service (Thessaloniki TrainOSE travel service No. 4), 18 Aristotelous Str., ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M W 09:00-18:00, Tu Th F 09:00-21:00, Sa 09:00-15:00, Su closed. Recorded information about train departures are provided by TrainOSE, call 1440 for domestic departures from Thessaloniki.
Ask for these discounts even if the TrainOSE employee does not mention them:
- Children (ages 4-12) get a 50% discount.
- Youth under 26 and elderly over 65 get a 25% discount (not on ICE).
- Disabled people and their escort get a 50% discount.
- Groups get a 30-50% discount.
- Two-way trips also get a discount.
In addition, European Youth Card holders can get special discounted tickets on the Thessaloniki-Alexandroupoli and Athens-Thessaloniki lines.
Thessaloniki is connected via the intercity KTEL bus network with every corner of Greece.
- 3 Macedonia Intercity Bus Station (Υπεραστικού Σταθμού ΚΤΕΛ Μακεδονία), Giannitson 244 (In the westside of the city), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- 4 Halkidiki Bus Station (Σταθμού ΚΤΕΛ Χαλκιδικής). Buses for Chalkidiki (Halkidiki) depart from here. Located on the east side district of Pylaia, access through Kountourioti St or National Road EO67. You can get there by taking the local bus 45 from the Makedonia Bus Terminal, platform 13.
Prominent long-distance bus connections
- Athens/Volos – KTEL Buses from/to Athens and Volos make the trip from/to Thessaloniki in about 6 hr 30 min and 2 hr 30 min, respectively, the former including a 20-min stop at a roadside restaurant, usually near Lamia, with toilet facilities. Buses are air-conditioned, and some offer WiFi internet access.
- Belgrade – There are a number of weekly departures to Belgrade (Serbia) from Thessaloniki and Athens, in the arrangement of the Greek and Serbian Agency. Ticket price in one direction from Thessaloniki to Belgrade is about €45.
- Istanbul – Regular buses between Istanbul and Athens also call in Thessaloniki.
- Skopje – A number of local travel agencies in Skopje also arrange transport to Thessaloniki daily by car or minibus. These generally leave around 05:00, and cost around €25 for a day return (returning at 17:00) or a single (i.e. €50 if you want to come back on a different day from when you leave) The travel agent at the back of the shopping mall by the Central Square arranges this departing from beside the Holiday Inn. Others depart from the bus station, or other locations around the city. Simeonidis tours, N⁰ 14, 26th October St. There is one bus daily departing for Thessaloniki from the central bus station in Skopje and it takes about 5 hr to Thessaloniki. It departs at 06:00. Reservations are recommended.
- Sofia – There are at least four daily buses from Sofia, Bulgaria which pass through Thessaloniki, plus several non-daily. Prices are generally around 50 Bulgarian leva. See here for more info.
- Tirana – There are a number of buses to Thessaloniki and Athens every day, departing from most major Albanian cities. You can catch a bus from Tirana or Shkodra and travel all the way south, making stops in most major Albanian and Greek cities. Since buses stop to pick up and drop passengers in most major cities, you can catch the bus at those cities en route.
- 5 Thessaloniki International Airport "Macedonia" (SKG IATA) (lies 15 km south of the city center). The airport sees highly seasonal traffic, peaking in the summer months. International destinations particularly well served include the major airports of Germany, as well as former Soviet Union countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan or Latvia.
The domestic flight network is quite extensive, with most flights provided by either Aegean Airlines or its regional subsidiary Olympic Air, an operator of subsidized public-service-obligation flights to less frequently served destinations. Domestic connections are also partially seasonal and encompass a range of Greek Islands.
Apart from those, the majority of flights are charter and seasonal flights by holiday specialists. There is also substantial low-fare traffic by pretty much all major low-fare carriers in Europe, with Ryanair having a base at the airport and the largest number of connections out of those. When it comes to traditional international airlines, the airport is mainly served by those belonging to the Star Alliance, which also includes Aegean and Olympic, such as Austrian, Turkish and Swiss.
The airport is not as well served as the Athens airport, to which it is connected by multiple daily flights taking around 50 min, provided by multiple airlines. Aegean's frequent shuttle flights are of particular interest, as they can be booked on a common ticket with an Aegean or other Star Alliance flight to other destinations in Europe and beyond.
If you are departing from SKG on an international flight taking you out of the Schengen zone, there are only four passport control booths (with one dedicated solely to EU citizens), so the queues to access the extra-Schengen gates (12 through 19) even when they are all operating can exceed 40 min at peak times, and it is 40 min of shoving and aggravation. Once you are through passport control, facilities are limited, so if you plan to eat, fill a drinking water bottle, or use toilets without queuing, do this before passport control.
A luggage storage room is available on the arrival floor. As of 2016, fees start from €3 (storing a small bag for 6 hr). However, the storage seems only operative during high season when there are people using it.
The airport is 15 km south of the city centre.
- By bus – The public transit connection is provided by bus line 01X, a 24/7 service between the airport, the New Railway Station, and the Macedonia InterCity Bus Terminal. Frequency is between 15 min and 30 min during the day. At night, the bus number changes to 01N and runs every 30 min. A ticket costs €2 for one trip (see Get around / By bus). Tickets can be bought at a vending booth at the airport bus stop or at ticket machines on the buses. However, for these exact change is needed. The ride from the airport to the city centre takes around 40 min. Buses can get very packed so do not expect a very comfortable ride.
- Note that bus number 79 from the airport does not get you to the city centre but to A.S. IKEA bus terminal in the city's east side. However, from there you can take another bus (ask the counter), and the double ticket (stamped once in 79 and another time in the next bus) is just €1.20— in case you want to spare 80¢.
- By taxi – A ride from the city centre costs about €15-20. It's hard to find one during peak hours (07:00-08:00, 14:00-16:00 and 19:00-21:00), so plan early.
- On foot – If you'd like a panoramic trail, after or between your flights, you can spend this time on a fairly pleasant river and sea-side trail. It starts about 600 m from the terminal, where the 1 airport's main access road crosses a small river. From there, a trail follows the river's right (NE) bank toward the north-west for about 1 km, until the river enters the sea; watch for water birds. From the river's mouth, the trail follows the sea coast to the NE and N for about 1 km, until it reaches the mouth of another little river. While not an official beach, swimming in the sea is possible. From that point, one can continue east for about 500 m along a small residential street named Floridas, until reaching the main highway (Leoforos Georgikis Scholis) just south of the 2 Lidl store. From there, two shopping centers, Hondos Center and IKEA (both with air conditioning, soft chairs, food, and free Wi-Fi) are within walking distance. From the 3 IKEA bus terminal you can take one of the bus lines to the city center (e.g. bus number 2) paying the standard one journey ticket price which is cheaper than taking the bus 01X/01N directly from the airport (see Get around / By bus). The trail takes about 1 hr one-way and of course can be done in the other direction if you are arriving from the city center at the IKEA bus terminal and have some time to kill before your flight.
- Athens about 5 hr (Highway A1, E75)
- Belgrade in Serbia about 7 hr (A1, E75)
- Istanbul in Turkey about 8 hr (A2, E90)
- Tirana in Northeastern Albania about 6 hr (Α29 and Α2)
- Sofia in Northwest Bulgaria about 4 hr (Α25, Ε79)
- Constanta in Romania about 8 hr.
Finding parking is difficult: be prepared to spend a lot of time looking for a place or to pay for space in the parking lot (starting from €4 for 3 hr). Don't assume you're safe from paying a fine just because locals flagrantly flout parking laws. Traffic congestion is a problem, largely due to double-parked cars, but generally fellow drivers and passers-by are helpful in showing you the way if you're lost.
The city's bus company is called OASTH and runs a total of 80 different bus lines, which are the only public transportation within the city. Maps of the bus routes are available on OASTH's website. Bus services usually operate from 05:00 until just after midnight.
Bus number 50 ("cultural line") follows a figure-of-8 route past all the major tourist sights. There is an English speaking guide aboard, who provides you with maps and information. The whole route takes 50 min, and it departs every hour on the hour from the White Tower. The connection to the airport is provided by bus 01X, which runs as 01N in the night (the only night bus line in the city).
This being Greece, the bus drivers go on strike occasionally. Notices about strikes may appear (in Greek only, naturally) at the bus stops information panels.
Tickets can be bought at OASTH's ticket outlets and at machines on the buses. Certain types of tickets (see below) are also available at various other sales points. There are five types of tickets available:
- One journey ticket: €1; valid for one journey on all lines except 50, 01X and 01N.
- Two journey ticket: €1.20; valid for two journeys on all lines except 50, 01X and 01N, the second journey starting within 70 min of the first.
- Three journey ticket: €1.50 from OASTH's ticket outlets or on the bus; valid for three journeys on all lines except 50, 01X and 01N, the third journey starting within 90 min of the first.
- Four journey ticket: €2 from OASTH's ticket outlets or on the bus; valid for four journeys on all lines except 50, 01X and 01N, the fourth journey starting within 120 min of the first.
- Airport line (01X/01N) / Cultural line (50) ticket: €2 from OASTH's ticket outlets or on the bus; valid only on these lines.
Students, persons aged over 65, and persons with over 67% disability get a 50% discount if they have the documents required by OASTH to prove it. Accompanied children under the age of six ride for free.
1-, 3-, 6- and 12-month cards for unlimited journeys on all lines (including the Airport line 01X/01N and the Cultural line 50) are also available. They are valid from the first day of the month the where issued until the last day of the month, third month, sixth month, or year. A photo-ID and a recent photograph are required to issue such cards. An one-month card costs €30.
Bicycle lanes often do not exist, even on main roads. Sometimes, there are bicycle lanes on the pavement. You should always be very careful.
ThessBike is a bike sharing system with stations mainly near the center of the town. More stations located in other areas are being planned. You can either become a subscriber or pay per hour. In general, expect to pay €1 per hour.
The northernmost Byzantine walls of the city and parts of the western walls are still standing, as is the city's symbol - the White Tower. The rest of the walls are in the picturesque Upper Town which offers a spectacular view over the bay, especially in the late afternoon.
The city is also known as "the mother of Israel", due to the once flourishing Jewish community here, which existed from the Roman period and grew substantially after the Ottoman Empire took in Jewish refugees expelled Spain, Portugal, and Spanish territories in Italy; these Jews are known as "Sephardim". Sephardi Jews formed a significant percentage of the city's population and infrastructure until World War II, when, in spring 1943, almost all were deported by the Nazis to the extermination camp at Auschwitz, never to return. However, there are still two Synagogues, and you can see the Jewish Museum.
Also interesting are the Turkish public baths Bey Hamam, the Bezesteni (Ottoman closed market for jewellery and precious materials) the Alatza Imaret (Ottoman poorhouse) and Hamza Bey Camii (both restored and used for exhibitions).
Seafront and lower town
- 1 White Tower, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Summer 08:00-20:00, winter 08:00-16:00. A 16th-century fortified tower, part of the city's erstwhilse Byzantine walls - the only surviving one on the seafront. Apr-Oct €6 and €3 reduced, Nov-Mar €3.
- 2 Aristotelous Square. the biggest of the city-and the promenade with its cafes and restaurants.
- The bustling Modiano and Kapani markets - see "Buy" below for details.
- 3 Roman forum. 09:00-16:00. Excavations and a very interesting museum underneath. €4.
Visit the upper town for its traditional old houses, small cobbled streets, Byzantine citadel, the Eptapyrgion fort. Next to the Rotunda, see the Arch of Triumph of Galerius and the ruins of his palace.
Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments
On no account should you miss the Byzantine churches built between the 5th and 14th centuries, some of which are on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
- 4 Rotunda, St. George Square. Started life as a Roman temple of Zeus, built by Caesar Galerius, and is almost as old as the Pantheon in Rome. The monument has a diameter of 24.5 m and its dome reaches a height of 30m. It was converted into a Christian church during the Early Christian era, and its interior was decorated with magnificent mosaics. However some inside frescoes are a work of the British artist Alexander Rossi (1840-1916). In 1591 the Rotunda was converted into a mosque, and a tall minaret still stands beside the monument. Frequent earthquakes from the early 7ᵗʰ century until 1978 caused several damage. The latter caused the destruction of the dome section. After being restored, the monument reopened to the public in 1998.
- 5 Saint Demetrios (Agios Demetrios). Constructed in the mid-7th century on the ruins of a Roman bath complex, in honor of Demetrius, a Roman officer who was imprisoned and martyred here in 303 AD. An earlier small church, built on the site of martyrdom, burned down during the earthquake of 620 and a new large basilica was erected at expenses of Leontius, the Byzantine prefect of Illyricum and the Bishop of Thessaloniki. The new church of S. Demetrios became one of the most famous centers of pilgrimage for Orthodox Christians until its Muslim conversion in 1492. In the Great Fire of Thessaloniki of 1917 the basilica was gutted. The work of restructuring the church lasted fifty years. Most of the ancient mosaics in the western wall and in the inner central aisle survived the heat from the fire. free.
- 6 Church of the Acheiropoietos (Panayia Acheiropoietos), Agias Sofias 56. A 5th-century church included in Thessaloniki’s UNESCO World heritage.
- 7 Latomou Monastery.
- 8 Hagia Sophia (Agia Sofia). 9th Century, one of the oldest churches in the city still standing today. World Heritage Site. free.
- 9 Panagia Chalkeon.
- 10 Saint Catherine.
- 11 Saint Panteleimon.
- 12 Church of the Holy Apostles.
- 13 Saint Nicholas Orphanos. Particularly worth a look for its well-preserved early 14th Century Byzantine frescoes. See if you can spot one of the turtles in the garden. free.
- 14 Church of the Saviour.
- 15 Vlatades Monastery.
- 16 Church of Prophet Elijah.
Museums and galleries
Thessaloniki is home to many museums, mostly archaeological and ethnographic. The two big archaeological museums are in the city centre, under the OTE Tower at the CHANTH Square. It is possible to obtain a pass for €15 which allows entry into five museums (valid for three days): Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum, Museum of Byzantine Culture, White Tower, Archaeological Site and Museum of the Roman Agora, and Galerian Complex. Note that Winter opening times are shorter than Summer opening times.
- 17 Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum. Summer 80:00-20:00. Andronikou st 6. Covers the history of Thessaloniki from prehistory to Roman times. Adults €8, children free.
- 18 Museum of Byzantine Culture, Leoforos Stratou 2, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 09:00-16:00 (winter) and 08:00-20:00 (summer). Stratou ave 2. Award-winning museum (2005 - best Museum of Europe). €8 (reduced price for students and during low season Nov-Mar).
- 19 [formerly dead link] Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Egnatia St 154 (Inside Thessaloniki International Fair area near the OTE tower). Th-Su. €4.
- 20 [dead link] Teloglion Foundation of Art (Upperside of the Aristotel University Campus Agiou Dimitriou St). M-F 09:00-14:00, Sa Su 10:00-18:00. €5.
- 21 Olympic Museum (Tritis Septemvriou & Agiou Dimitriou St. (300 m to the east of Teloglion Foundation of Art)). Sports related.
- 22 Atatürk House, Agiou Dimitriou St (entrance at the back of the Turkish consulate), ☏ . 10:00-17:00. The house where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was born. free.
- Museum at Aghios Demetrios, Agiou Dimitriou St.
- 23 State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki, Kolokotroni 25, Stavroupoli district.
- 24 Museum at the White Tower, ☏ . 08:00-20:00. Platia Lefkou Pyrgou. Summer €6, winter €3, free under 25.
- 25 Museum of Ancient Greek, Byzantine, and Post Byzantine Musical Instruments, Katouni 12 (in the Ladadika neighbourhood).
- 26 Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, Harbor, Warehouse A.
- 27 Museum of Cinematography in Thessaloniki, Harbor, Warehouse A. €2.
- 28 Museum of Science.
- 29 [formerly dead link] Folklore and Ethnological Museum of Macedonia and Thrace, Vassilisis Olgas St 68.
- 30 Jewish Museum, Agiou Mina St 13, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Su 10:00-14:00, M-F 09:00-14:00, W also 17:00-20:00. €7.
- 31 Municipal Gallery of Art, Vassilisis Olgas St 162.
- 32 War Museum of Thessaloniki, Grigoriou Lampraki St 4, ☏ . €4.
- 33 Museum for the Macedonian Struggle, Proxenou Koromila 23, ☏ . M Tu Th F 09:00-14:00, W 09:00-20:00, Sa 10:00-14:00. €4 (regular), €2 (reduced).
- Take a walk along the long seafront promenade (about 12 km altogether).
- Thessaloniki has a very active nightlife, as a 2007 New York Times article called it "Seattle of the Balkans".
- The very lively and youth-oriented international film festival is held in November, the International Trade Fair in September.
- 1 Thessaloniki Concert Hall, "25 Μartiou" Str. (near the Posidonio Athletic Center of Thessaloniki - Kalamaria). The venue includes a main hall of 1,400 seats, designed by the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki and inaugurated on 2 January 2000. The Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra plays Italian Operas and works of Greek composers. Current events listed on in their website.
- 2 Waterland. A large water park near Tagarades Hill. Free bus service starting at the city centre.
- Watch football . The city has two teams playing in the Super League, the top tier of Greek football. PAOK FC play at Toumba Stadium, capacity 29,000, two km southeast of city centre. Aris Thessaloniki FC play at Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium, capacity 22,800, a further km south.
- Join the amazing World Naked Bike Ride in Thessaloniki every year in June. A celebration of Cycling, Environment, Body Freedom!
Thermaikos Gulf is a challenging place for yachting and sailing. Many days there are strong North winds but with low waves making sailing a fun and joy for all sailors. There are three sailing clubs in Thessaloniki and world championships take place here every year. Thessaloniki has several marinas with a new one containing 182 mooring places under construction in the centre of the city and next to Aistotelous square. There are many yacht charter companies renting sailing yachts.
- Discovery Yachting, Thermaikou 21, ☏ , , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Bareboat charter or skippered sailing yacht, also night time tours.
- [formerly dead link] Nautilia Yachting, Leoforos Karamanli Konstantinou 145, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Nautilia Yachting is based in Thessaloniki, Greece, officially licensed by the Greek National Tourism Organization and specialized in organizing yacht charters in Greece.
For fashion, Proxenou Koromila, Mitropoleos and Tsimiski. You won't find many bargains, but the shopping area is conveniently small and full of cafes when you get too tired. For cheaper clothing, check out Egnatia street.
Books and maps in various languages can be bought in stores such as:
- Ianos bookshop, Aristotelous Sq (in the city centre). Books & art-objects, cultural events.
- Traveler map store
- Maliaris-Pedia bookstore
Also in the 9th International Book Fair, that is held annually in late spring.
You can buy local food products, such as olive oil, sometimes at significantly lower prices than in nearby countries.
For eating out, see the "Eat" section below
- 1 Modiano market. The traditional central food market, with hundreds of stalls selling meat, fish, fruit, vegetables (sometimes cheek-by-jowl, an unnerving experience for North Americans), cheap clothes and shoes, flowers, herbs and spices, near Aristotele Square.
- For food specialities, go to Modiano market and try the Terpsis and Omega delicatessens (the most famous is Kosmas, but it specialises in Asian food). Any Greek will expect you to bring back sweets from Salonica, so try tsoureki, plaited sweetened breads for which Terkenlis is famous, and desserts (baklava and galaktoboureko) e.g. or Nikiforou on Venizelou street. The most famous of the baklava joints is Hatzis, but fame has not made it any better - it's become overpriced and not as good as in previous years.
- For a morning or late-night snack, try Bougatsa pies: cream (sweet) or cheese (savoury) filling.
Sweets and pastry
If you like sweets, there are 3 typical pastry shops you should try, typical of this city:
- Chatzis. Is famous for its collection of Greek Asia Minor sweets (politika glyka) originating from Constantinople.
- Terkenlis. Is famous for its variety of "tsoureki", a sweet bread much like brioche but containing spices too, covered and filled with several combinations of chocolates, creams, and nuts.
- Elenidis. It is considered the expert in "trigona" (triangles made of sfoglia, filled with cream).
Best winter dessert: baked quince.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
|Splurge||€20-€30 and up|
Greeks consider Thessaloniki a gourmet city - but bear in mind that this refers to the excellent local specialities and cheap-and-cheerful ouzo taverns rather than to haute cuisine or a range of foreign restaurants. The latter are best avoided in Thessaloniki.
- Try a crepe in one of the numerous crepe shops patronised by the student population at Gounari St, near Navarinou Sq.
- There are plenty of shops selling gyros. Usually there are pork and chicken gyros. This is the best calories per money option, since with less that €3 you get a meal that, although not that healthy, can keep you going for many hours.
- During the winter you can try roasted chestnuts (kastana in Greek) that are sold from carts.
- During the summer one can buy boiled or roasted corn on the cob that is sold from carts. Cost €1-2.
- You can try stafidopsomo, a small bread with raisins, or koulouri a donut-shaped small bread with sesame. You can find them sold in a bakery or on carts. Cost: €0.50.
- For breakfast you can have a bougatsa, a type of cream pie, that Thessaloniki is famous for. You can accompany it with a cacao milk or coffee.
- For a carnivore's treat, try soutzoukakia: minced meat pellets either grilled (at the central market or rotisseries) and topped with chilli pepper flakes, or cooked in tomato and cumin sauce (Smyrna-style).
- For a late night (or early morning) meal try patsas (Tripe soup).
- Seafood: gemista kalamarakia (stuffed squid), mydopilafo (rice with mussels) or mydia saganaki (mussels in tomato sauce).
Go for a meal in one of the many central ouzo restaurants (ouzeri). Accompany your ouzo or tsipouro with a battery of small dishes - by far the best way to eat in Salonica. Particularly good are the fava beans, octopus either grilled or in wine sauce and mussels (fried, or in pilaff, or with a hot cheese sauce, saganaki). If you see "boiled vegetables' on the menu in wintertime, you'll be amazed at how good they taste. Another typical winter salad is politiki, a combination of shredded cabbage and pickles.
Many fast food options are found on the Dimitriou Gounari Street (between Rotonda and the sea).
- 1 Agora, Kapodistriou 5 (Off Ionos Dragoumi). Ouzo restaurant (ouzeri) in one of the most interesting old downtown areas.
- Ano Poli (Tsinari-(Ano Poli)). Tavern.
- Ellinikon (Ladadika, Morichovou Sq). In the old warehouse area near the port, around Morichovou Sq, chock-full of restaurants, bars and clubs. Offers "appelation d'origine" local delicacies.
- Evi Evan, Olympou 68 (Bit-Bazaar).
- Glykia Symoria, Ioustinianou and Zaliki 1 (Bit-Bazaar).
- Goody's. It is the Greek fast-food chain. You will find classic hamburgers, also souvlaki, pasta and salads.
- Makedoniko (Kastra (Ano Poli)).
- Pyrgos (Kastra (Ano Poli)). A brasserie.
- Selini (Bit-Bazaar), ☏ .
- To Floro Ke To Laio, Baltadorou 11 and Benizelou (Bit-Bazaar).
- Apo Dyo Horia (Navarinou Sq). Cretan and Pontian restaurant. Here, order raki rather than ouzo or tsipouro.
- Kamaras (Near Rotonda). Great traditional dishes.
- Lila Cafe Bistro, Diogenus 23 (Ano Toumba district), ☏ . Traditional pies and sweets, croissant and dishes accompany the coffee or your drink. Porcelain miniatures and collective drinks are available for original gifts.
- Myrsini (Behind the state theatre Etairia Makedonikon Spoudon). Good Cretan restaurant.
- 2 Ouzo Melathron, Karipi 21.
- 3 Pire kai vradiazei (Πήρε και βραδιάζει), Omirou 7 (Off Theagenio Hospital). Great taverna, unique style, good food and some days (Th-Su) live music.
- Pizza da Pepe, Stefanou Tatti 10 (Side street off Egnatia, near Aghia Sophia Church), ☏ . For the best pizzas in town head here.
- 4 Toicho-Toicho, Polydorou 1 (Ano Poli (Kastra)). An hipster hang-out, nice atmosphere, very expensive for the quality.
- Tombourlika (Τομπουρλίκα), Navmachias Limnou 14 (Off Vardaris Sqare), ☏ . Great traditional ouzeri, with fresh fish and meat dishes and live rembetico music.
- 5 Tsarouchas (Τσαρούχας), Olymbou 78 (Off Ancient Forum). 24/7. For those with adventurous tastes, preferably go after a hard night's drinking, for a "patsás" (tripe) soup - a delicious way to prevent a hangover.
- 6 [dead link] Nea Diagonios, Nik. Plastira 89, Kalamaria (Take the bus 5 from Aristotelous square stop at Akaion Station), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 12:30-00:00. Here you can eat pork gyros and soutzoukakia from executive chef Ioannis Chantakis €15.
- Heavy Melon (Vary Peponi, Βαρύ Πεπόνι), Apellou 4, ☏ . 14:00-00:00. Traditional Greek, Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern recipes. Also, a selection of desserts.
- 7 Omilos The Beach Club (Omilos), Leof. Meg. Alexandrou 12 (in Sailing Club of Thessaloniki), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 10:00-00:00. Regional Greek ingredients.
- Krikelas, Ladadika (Near Morichovou Sq).
- Odos Aristotelous (Lepen), Odos Aristotelous. Most Salonicans know it as the "Lepen".
- Zythos-Dore (White Tower Square). An upmarket brasserie with a wide range of specialties and interesting ambiance.
Thessaloniki is by far the liveliest city in Northern Greece- maybe even the whole country. Most of the trendy bars at the old sea-front (Nikis Ave.) and around, many of the tavernas are either downtown or in the old city (Kastra). You can also find numerous bars and tavernas at Krini, an area in eastern Thessaloniki. If you want to check out what the whole bouzoukia scene is all about, try the clubs Pyli Axiou and Mamounia, at Vilka. You will also find a lot of night clubs, bars and restaurants in Ladadika, the neighbourhood with the old warehouses next to the port. The student area is around Kamara (the Arch of Galerius), with many cheaper cafes and bars.
If you will be in town during summer, take a ride on the floating bars plying the harbour. Every 2 hr or so they leave from the White Tower area for a short evening trip (30 min) in the Gulf of Thessaloniki. They play mostly ethnic and alternative foreign music.
A beer would cost you €3-7, an alcohol drink €5-10 and a coffee €2.50-5.
Among the most popular places to drink a coffee or a beer are:
- Aristotle Sq (Aristotelous) - The most popular tourist cafés and bars lie in the central square of the city and the homonymous street. One can find quiet cafes or noisy ones usually preferred by the young. Breakfast is also served, some restaurants are also available.
- Nikis’ Av - The centre’s seafront avenue is full of cafeterias usually crowded around the clock, available for coffee in daytime and beer or drink at night.
- Proxenou Kroromila St - Parallel to the seafront Nikis avenue is Pr. Koromila street with some cafés and bars.
- Iktinou pedestrian - Another place in the city with cafes and bars and a couple of restaurants. The last two years a "street beer" culture has been created by both locals and students. People just buy beer from the kiosks and hang out on the surrounding benches. This is probably one of the most economic ways to drink some Retsina and socialize with locals.
- Ladadika district - At the west side of the center lies the picturesque neighbourhood of Ladadika (meaning: oil stores). Named this way by the many stores selling oil arrived from the adjacent harbour. This district used to be notorious but has been renovated, and many stone build warehouses now host the most known nightclubs with all sorts of music including traditional Greek bouzoukia.
- Aretsou - Aretsou is in the southeast part of the city, in the Kalamaria District. In the seafront Plastira Av. are restaurants which change to bars during night featuring loud music and hosting many young.
- Karabournaki - A place in Kalamaria district hosting delicate bars, restaurants and pizzerias. All of them along Sofouli street next to the seashore.
- Boat bars - Quite interesting are the boats near the white tower’s seafront, which make a short trip around Thermaikos gulf where you can enjoy a late night city view. Most of them play ethnic and alternative foreign music.
- 1 Vilka (The area around the old trains station) - A set of high-range café, bars, restaurants, disco, ouzeris some with live music at the city’s west.
- Valaoritou and Syggrou - A lot of Thessaloniki's nightlife has moved here. The old industrial centre has become a place for entertainment for everybody. Many bars, clubs and cafes may remind you of Berlin, or English pubs.
- 2 Mylos Club, 56 "Andrea Georgiou" Str., ☏ . Hosting concerts, events, exhibitions, music bands, famous Greek artists etc. Venue can change. Check their page on Facebook.
- 1 Little Big House Hostel, 24 Andakidou St, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. This is a new hostel in Thessaloniki run by a brother and sister who are hosts. They have five rooms in a reconstructed house, each room with private bathroom and kitchenette and big lockers. There is also a common room and kitchen, and a nice, cozy garden area with tables and chairs. Welcome drink, maps of the city, wifi and linens, tea and coffee, all free. Laundry and breakfast for €2. €17 for bed in 6-person dorm, €19 for bed in 4-person dorm.
- Backpackers Refuge, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Near the city centre (5-min bus ride) and the water front (7 min on foot) is well connected to the train station, bus station and the airport. 24 hr hot water, free linen, washing machine, kitchen, free city map, info available about Thess, and activities in northern Greece. Pick up and other transport options, free internet. Only a small capacity and advanced booking is recommended-staff is not present around the clock. 6 bed dorm €15.
- 2 Studios Arabas, Sachtouri 28 (Σαχτούρη 28), ☏ . €11.50 for dorm.
- 3 [dead link] The Tourist Hotel, 21, Mitropoleos St (Right in the center), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 2-star hotel, cheap, clean and welcoming. Single, double or triple rooms. Free WiFi. Parking with an extra charge of €15 per day. €75 for a double room including breakfast.
- 4 Rex Hotel, Monastiriou 39, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheap hotel opposite the train station towards the centre. Only a 5-min walk from train station. Not great, but adequate. Two-bedroom in peak season €60.
- Hotel Acropoli. Close to the train station. Clean but shabby rooms, most with a balcony. A triple costs €80 or €60 for a double.
- 5 Alexandria Hotel, 18 Egnatia St (there is a bus stop outside, buses link to train station, bus station and airport), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-out: 12:00. Bang in the centre of Egnatia Str., with easy bus connections. Friendly staff. Price includes private bathroom, A/C, WiFi, fridge and TV. Snacks and laundry for extra charge. €33 for twin room.
- 6 RentRooms Thessaloniki, Konstantinou Melenikou 9, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 11:00. Travellers and backpackers hostel. Nice & clean rooms and dorms with balconies. Cafeteria garden for drinks and snacks near a green park. It is in city centre's university side, overlooking "Rotonda" UNESCO World Heritage Roman monument site. Cozy atmosphere and friendly staff really helpful. Available breakfast and bicycles. Free internet stations, WiFi in rooms and common areas.
There are many hotels in the area a few blocks north of Aristotelous. Some of these are a bit upmarket, but if business is slack it is worth shopping around - they might give you a good discount rather than turn you away.
- 7 Heaven Hotel, Tagarades, Thessaloniki, Macedonia, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Between the hills of Tagarades with panoramic views of the city and Thermaico's gulf.
- 8 Zaliki Boutique Hotel (Zaliki hotel in the center of Thessaloniki), 6 Gr. Zaliki St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Boutique hotel in Thessaloniki city center in a neo-classical building offering free wi-fi, free parking and free pick-up from airport.
- 9 El Greco Hotel (Hotel in Thessaloniki city center), 23 Egnatia Street., ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 3-star hotel in the heart of Thessaloniki. Free parking lot, VIP taxi service and free WiFi.
- 10 City Hotel, 11 Komninon St, ☏ . 4 star.
- Kinissi Palace, 41 Egnatia and Syngrou St, ☏ . 4 star.
- 11 Rotonda (Rotonda Hotel in the entrance of city), 97 Monastiriou St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 3-star hotel entering the city of Thessaloniki. Free parking lot, VIP taxi service and free WiFi.
- 12 Le Palace, Tsimiski (2 blocks N of Aristotelou). Very nice double rooms The price posted in the room is over €180, although it is possible to haggle down to as low as €60 including breakfast if business is slack.
- 13 Hotel Luxembourg, Komninon 6, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 3-star hotel in neoclassical building next to the Thessaloniki seaside and Aristotelous square
- 14 Hotel Olympia, Olympou 65, ☏ . Boutique hotel in the centre of Thessaloniki.
- Hotel Anessis, 26th October 20, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 3-star hotel next to Thessaloniki seaside and port with free Wi-Fi.
- 15 Tobacco Hotel, Aghiou Dimitriou St. 4-star boutique hotel (formerly a tobacco warehouse).
- 16 [formerly dead link] Capsis Hotel, Monastiriou 16, ☏ . 5 star.
- 17 Hotel Philippion, Seich Sou Forest, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 4-star hotel in the heart of Seich-Sou Park, overlooking Thessaloniki and Thermaikos Golf.
- 18 Park Hotel, 81 Ionos Dragoumi, ☏ . Good breakfast buffet and reasonable price near the old Administration building.
- 19 Hotel Byzantio, West Peripheral of Thessaloniki, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. In an all-green setting with sparkling water from the surrounding mountains, a few metres from the water mills, on an area of 5.5 acres (2.2 hectares).
- Amalia Hotel, 33 Hermou St, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 2-star hotel, in the centre of Thessaloniki, close to Aristotelous Square, all rooms with balcony and free WiFi.
- 20 a.d. Imperial Palace Thessaloniki Hotel (a.d. Imperial Palace hotel in centralThessaloniki), 13 Andigonidon st, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Boutique hotel in the city centre in a neo-classical building offering free wi-fi, free parking and free pick-up from airport.
- 21 Electra Palace Hotel Thessaloniki, 9, Aristotelous sq., ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. 5-star hotel in the heart of Thessaloniki. 130 rooms and 8 suites, some of then with view to Aristotelous square and the sea. The "Orizontes Pool Bar & Restaurant" provides superb view of Thermaikos gulf.
- 22 Makedonia Palace, 2, M. Alexandrou Av, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. One of the most prestigious hotels in Thessaloniki, on the waterfront.
- 23 Hyatt Regency Thessaloniki, 13 km Thessaloniki-Perea, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 5-star hotel with 2 ballrooms, 5 meeting rooms and 3 boardrooms. 2 km from the largest casino in Europe.
- 24 Porto Palace Hotel, 65, 26th October Ave, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. At the west entrance of the city, near the new harbour/port. It has direct access to the new financial district and it is 5 min away from the city centre and the shopping area.
- 25 [dead link] Domotel Les Lazaristes Hotel, Kolokotroni 16, 56 430, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Nearby the major cultural centre of the city. The State Museum of Contemporary Art inspired its design philosophy.
- 26 Mediterranean Palace Hotel, 3, Salaminos & Karatassou Streets, 54626 Thessaloniki, Greece, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. 5-star hotel with views of Thermaikos Bay.
Most coffee shops and restaurants offer free WiFi to their customers. You can also find free public hotspots in central locations such as Arisotelous Square or the Thessaloniki International Fair area.
Watch your pockets and travel documents as there are pickpockets, especially in buses during rush hour.
Some people may feel very uncomfortable walking in the areas near the railway station at night, as there are several brothels there.
Police number: 100
Tap water is safe to drink. In some places in the city centre you might get a slight "taste" from the water. That means that the pipes in the building are getting old, so you might want to buy bottled water.
Greece is a sunny place, and if your skin is light-coloured, intense sunlight can be a serious danger. Use sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses.
Emergency phone number: 112
The suburb of Panorama is well heeled and has good restaurants, and spectacular views over Thessaloniki - especially at sunset.
The classic trips out of Thessaloniki are:
- Serres – The second largest city in Greece's Macedonia region and close to the Bulgarian towns of Melnik and Bansko and Pirin National Park.
- Kavala and Philippi – About 160 km east of Thessaloniki is Kavala, one of the most beautiful cities of Greece and is especially recommended to visit. The ancient site of Philippi is particularly known by Apostle Paul and the first Christian baptism in Europe.
- Island Thasos – A green island with high mountains and wonderful beaches. You can visit the island on a day trip but its definitively worth to spent more days. There are ferry boats from Kavala harbor and Keramoti.
- Halkidikí peninsula – There are 500 km of wonderful beaches on the two first fingers of this peninsula, one of the main tourist destinations of Greece. The first "finger" from the West is called Kassandra and its the place where many Salonicans (and tourists) spend their holidays. The second "finger" called Sithonia is the most beautiful place of Halkidiki both in landscape and beaches. In the summer, the Armenistis campground (Sithonia peninsula) stages concerts and other events. Also check out the jazz and classical concerts in Sani (Kassandra peninsula). Try to schedule your visit in summer so that you're not driving back to the city on Sunday evening. The third finger is the monastic community of Mount Athos. Mount Athos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This peninsula houses over 1,700 monks in 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries. The visit is strictly controlled and only male visitors are allowed. Tourist require a visa. But there are also sightseeing boats that offer tours around the peninsula (without landing). These do not require permits and are the only option for women who want to see Mount Athos. The boat tours start in Ouranopolis from about 10:00.
- Mount Olympus coast (towards Platamonas) – A very scenic region which has fallen out of favour with the trendy set but has lost no business - it is now mainly catering to tourists from Eastern Europe.
- Pella – The Macedonian capital during the time of Alexander the Great.
- Vergina – The spectacular site of the Macedonian royal tombs.
- Dion – A beautiful archaeological site near Mount Olympus.
- Prespa and Doirani lakes – Near the borders with Albania and North Macedonia, respectively, the Prespas especially offering an austere and evocative Balkan landscape and plenty of birdwatching.