Is Thessaloniki Worth Visiting?

Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece, situated on the edge of the Thermaic Gulf of the Aegean Sea. A significant portion of the city was destroyed in a fire in 1917 and has since been rebuilt giving the region a 20th-century modern European layout.

Thessaloniki is worth visiting either for the day if you’re staying in one of the resorts nearby or for a couple of nights if you’re island hopping in Greece.

With a fantastic mix of architecture and history along with incredible gastronomy and nightlife opportunities, Thessaloniki has something for every type of traveller.

How Long To Spend In Thessaloniki

Depending on what you’re looking to experience in Thessaloniki you could easily spend between one day and a week here in the city.

If you’re staying in the nearby resorts of Halkidiki then a day trip to Thessaloniki is enough to see the highlights of the city – especially on a guided tour.

However, if you’re looking to experience the nearby Mount Olympus, the incredible beaches, gastronomy delights and the nightlife that the city has to offer then I’d recommend extending your stay to two or three days.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking to use Thessaloniki as a jumping-off point to other regions then consider extending your stay in the city to a week.

Some of the best regions close to Thessaloniki include;

  • Meteora
  • Mount Olympus
  • Dion
  • Pella
  • Vergina
  • Edessa
  • Chalkidiki

You can easily book a tour to each of these areas or hire a driver to take you there instead.

What Is Thessaloniki Famous For?

Thessaloniki is known as the cultural capital of Greece and boasts an extensive range of festivals and events throughout the year.

The city has a population of more than one million, with four Universities the local gastronomy has evolved significantly with more than 5,000 businesses offering food services.

The city has 15 registered UNESCO heritage sites including;

  • Basilica of Aghios (St.) Demetrius
  • Basilica of Panagia Acheiropoietou
  • Byzantine Bath
  • Church of Aghioi Apostoloi
  • Church of Aghia Sophia
  • Church of Panayia Chalkeon
  • Church of Aghios Nikolaos Orphanos
  • Church of Aghios Panteleimon
  • Church of Metamorphosis Tou Sotiros
  • Church of Profits Elias
  • Rotunda
  • Church of Hosios David (Latomou Monastery)
  • Vlatadon Monastery
  • The Walls
  • Church of Aghia Ekaterini

The majority of these historical sites are within walking distance of one and other and therefore can easily be visited in just one day.

Things To Do In Thessaloniki

Of course, visiting the UNESCO heritage sites isn’t the only thing you can do in Thessaloniki.

Instead, some of the other most popular things to do in the city include;

  • Cycling along the waterfront
  • Visiting the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki
  • Climbing the White Tower of Thessaloniki
  • Watching a football match at the Toumba Stadium
  • Hanging out in Aristotelous Square
  • Photographing the monument of Alexander The Great
  • Exploring the local food market
  • Visting the Museum of Byzantine Culture
  • Wandering Ani Poli (Thessaloniki Old Town)
  • Drink in the bars of Kamara / Rotunda
  • Dine in Ladadika

How To Explore Thessaloniki

Depending on your interests and your budget there are a number of ways you could choose to explore Thessaloniki.

If you’re visiting from the nearby resort areas in Halkidiki for example, then we’d recommend booking a tour that includes transport to / from your hotel and a tour guide while you’re in the city.

Meanwhile, if you’re spending a couple of nights in Thessaloniki or prefer to travel more independently then you could look to purchase a guide to the city and walk the streets yourself, join a walking tour or even board the hop-on hop-off bus.

What’s great about Thessaloniki is that so many of the city’s major attractions are within walking distance.

Ferries & Flights From Thessaloniki

If you’re looking at visiting other islands while in Greece then Thessaloniki is a fantastic jumping-off point.

From Thessaloniki airport (located 13km southeast of the city) you can fly both internationally and direct domestically to regions including;

  • Crete
  • Santorini
  • Athens
  • Kos
  • Chios
  • Rhodes
  • Mytilene

Meanwhile, direct ferries from the port of Thessaloniki visit;

  • Alonissos
  • Skiathos
  • Chora
  • Mantoudi
  • Chios
  • Karlovassi
  • Piraeus
  • Mytilene
  • Limnos
  • Vathi
  • Syros
  • Mykonos
  • Fournoi
  • Evdilos

The majority of ferries operate 3 – 4 times per week during the peak summer season (June to September) and can be booked online in advance or in person at the port.

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