Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece. Some of the most important museums in the city are housed in the wider area of the iconic White Tower. These museums are, the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Byzantine Culture and the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art. This also includes important cultural sites such as The Royal Theater, the Society for Macedonian Studies and the garden of Passa.
The city center is beautified by the symbolic Aristotelous Square. Closeby, on Navarino Square is the Galerius Palace Complex which includes the Arch of Galerius and the Rotunta, one of the most emblematic monuments of Thessaloniki constructed in the early 4th century AD and the only in cylindrical construction for the Greek domination.
The Ladadika area famous for its night life, is located on the west side of the center. It reflects the image of Thessaloniki before the rapid reconstruction. Today, the renovated neoclassical buildings of the area host restaurants and entertainment centers, with attract people of all ages.
By choosing the uphill route from Aristotelous Square to the district of Ano Polis, the visitor will reach the Heptapyrgion, a Byzantine and Ottoman era fortress situated on the north-eastern corner of the Acropolis, also known by the Ottoman Turkish name Yedi Kule. The names in both languages mean "Fortress of Seven Towers". Halfway of the route to the fortress, one will find the the Ancient Roman Agora and the church of Agios Dimitrios, the patron saint of the city of Thessaloniki.
The district of Ano Poli is a flashback to the past, that fascinates the visitors with the special architecture of the low houses, the flowered courtyards, the multitude of Byzantine temples and monasteries and the wonderful view. Combine your walk in Ano Poli with a stop in its traditional taverns to try delicious appetizers, with an aroma of oriental cuisine.
It is important to mention that many of the city's attractions are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Local Cuisine & Nightlife
Two very important reasons that rank Thessaloniki in the first places of their holidays, for those who visit it are: the good food with the flavors of the east and the intense night life.
The eating habits of the locals have become entangled and integrated over time. Their love and passion of combining the oriental flavors with European cuisines and their inexhaustible appetite for life is what characterizes the northern Greeks and creates these gastronomic delights.
Every meal in this city lasts for hours and is unforgettable and will gives you a unique tasting experience.
The famous local sweets of Thessaloniki are a separate and exceptional category. Unique and connected with the city's history, you will find the sesame bun, and the traditional bougatsa filled with either cream, cheese, minced meat, or chocolate. Other sweets have roots from Constantinouple whose secret recipes were brought to Thessaloniki by the refugees at the begining of the 20th century like the famous Triangles Panoramatos, the stuffed tsourekia and the baked confectionery drenched with syrup.
Some of the most important universities of Greece are in Thessaloniki. The large number of the student community is the reason why the city’s night entertainment lasts until the morning hours.
The city's rich religious tradition is another reason to choose Thessaloniki for holidays.
For the very important role the city played in the wide spread of Christianity in the Balkans and in the West in general, Thessaloniki was named the "Golden Gate".
The Byzantine architecture of the city's monasteries and churches is a confirmation of this.
Exceptional examples of ecclesiastical art to vist are the church of Agios Dimitrios, the patron saint of the city, the Monastery of Vlattadon, Agios Nikolaos the Orphan, Saint David and Agia Sophia, the Handmade, Agia Aikaterini, Agios Minas and many other churches.
Commercial and cultural center
Throughout the year many events and festivals take place in Thessaloniki.
One the oldest and the most important event is the Thessaloniki International Fair. It’s a yearly fair that takes place in early September and dates as far back as 1926. It is an international trade fair with many cultural events.
Another cultural event that takes place in Thessaloniki is "Dimitria". It is a Trade Fair takes place from September to December each year and is an institution derived from the ancient trade fair and dedicated to the patron saint of the city, Agios Dimitrios. The events that take place within the framework of Demetria are hosted in various cultural places of the city.
The Thessaloniki Film Festival opens its doors every year in November. The holidays of cinema lovers will be perfectly combined with all-day and all-night screenings with films from all over the world, as well as lectures, exhibitions, discussions and much more.
A Book Festival is organized every year on the beach of Thessaloniki at the end of May.
Athletic activities and festivals are organized in the city all year round, such as the Night Half Marathon, the Alexander the Great Marathon, the Naked Cycling Race, the Thessaloniki Pride, and the Reworks Festival, which each year gather more and more participants, making Thessaloniki an attraction for tourists.
The traditional markets of Modiano and Kapani are also among main tourist attractions of the city. Both markets are located within walking distance of each other and very close to the Aristotelous Square. In both markets there is a plethora of shops that sell fresh seafish, meat, vegetables, spices, bakeries, confectioneries but also traditional cafes, souvenir shops, clothing and food wear.
Halkidiki is the number one holiday destination during the summer for the people of Thessaloniki.
Furthermore, Halkidiki has the largest coastline in Greece with the most beautiful beaches that combine the green of the pine with the blue of the Aegean. Halidiki is divided into three perfectures. The perfecture of Kassandra, with its the intense nightlife, mainly attracts younger crowds. However, the perfecture of Sithonia is known more for quiet family vacations in hotels or organized campsites.
The third prefecture of Halkidiki is Mount Athos or otherwise known as "Garden of the Virgin". To this day Mount Athos is prohibited for all females. The male visitors of Mount Athos must follow the simple daily life of the monks in order to experience the power of spirituality.
For whatever reason you visit Thessaloniki, take time to discover the small secrets of the city that are hidden in every neighborhood. Thessaloniki is not only its sights, nor the intense night life, but above all, it is its people, who with their characteristic relaxed mood will guide you in their daily lifestyle.
Near Thessaloniki are several ski resorts, of which the most famous are, Kaimaktsalan, Tria Pente Pigadia and Seli and are waiting for you to enjoy the snowy landscapes and test your skills in winter sports.
The smaller cities around Thessaloniki have been inhabitated since antiquity and in most, you will find important sights and monuments dated back not only from the early historical years but also from the Byzantine period.
For example, in the historical city of Vergina, the Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos dicovered the tomb of Macedon King Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. Many other archaeological treasures and sites from the Macedonian Kingdom were discovered in the areas of Dion, the area of Pella, the area of Amphipolis and the area of Philippi in the perfecture of Kavala.
Furthermore, various Byzantine monasteries and churches survive to this day in the city of Veria and Serres.
The history of the Jewish Community
It is believed that the first Jews arrived in Thessaloniki around 140 BCE from Alexandria, Egypt. The members of this Community, the so-called "Romaniotes", adopted the Greek language while preserving several elements of their Jewish or Aramaic origin, as well as the Hebrew alphabet. When Apostle Paul visited the city around 50 AD., he preached in the synagogue for 3 consecutive Saturdays.
Today, more than 60 years after the end of World War II and the Holocaust, the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki maintains three synagogues, a community center for cultural events, a nursing home, a primary school, a choir, a museum and a Spanish-Jewish language center.
In 1983, the Athens Academy honored the Greek Jewish Community for privately funding "The House of Greece" at the University of Jerusalem. Furthermore, in 1986 the Thessaloniki Municipality honored the community for its continuous contribution to the economy, the social and the cultural life of the city.
On November 23, 1997, the then President of the Republic Mr. Stefanopoulos in the presence of ministers, deputies, and prominent personalities from Greece and abroad, unveiled a monument dedicated to the 50,000 Greek Jewish killed by the Nazis. The monument was designed by the Glid brothers and is in Eleftherias Square, at the junction of Niki Avenue and El. Venizelou.
In 1986 the Municipality of Thessaloniki has also dedicated a square's name in the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The "Jewish Martyrs Square" is located on Papanastasiou Street between Priamou and M. Mitsaki Streets.
Within walking distance from the area of Ladadika on Agiou Mina Street, is the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki which is housed in a neoclassical building. Here the visitor can learn the history of the Greek Jews and how it is linked with the the course of the city over the centuries. The renovation of the neighborhood, which was completed in 2019, brought to light the tram lines that operated in the city until 1957.