Travel the World with Travel to GREECE with
GREECE Discover Greece Greece Travel Greece Hotels Of Interest
Mainland Greece
Travel to
Getting There
Of Interest

Thessaloniki, Coolest City in Greece

Thessaloniki, Northern GreeceI have always loved Thessaloniki. Its a very different city from Athens but no less sophisticated and (some might say) culturally superior. The influence of the east is more pronounced, not just in the delicious food, but in the relaxed lifestyle. It's a big city with an almost college town feel, like Boston or Austin, but Greek.

The nightlife is exceptional, the bars and clubs play great music. The restaurants and ouzeries are among the best in Greece. There are many cinemas showing first-run English language films. The city is also the site of the renown Thessaloniki Film Festival in October-November. The women, considered the most chic in Greece, support a high-fashion industry that rivals Athens so if you like to shop for clothes, shoes and jewelry you will be quite happy here.

There are not a large number of ancient ruins within the city but there are enough Roman and Byzantine sites to keep any visitor happy, plenty of museums and of course the ruins of Vergina which include the tomb of Phillip, father of Alexander the great. It's also a good starting point for seeing some of the best beaches and most beautiful spots in Greece in the region known as Macedonia.

Thessaloniki ChurchThe city was rebuilt in the 1920s and today Thessaloniki is a lively modern city bustling with life and movement. Large avenues, parks and squares, lines of trees that frame commercial streets with showy shop windows. Old houses, neoclassical buildings, stand side by side with modern dwellings which makes a walk through any section of the city an interesting journey. The past and present merge at old taverns, "ouzeries", restaurants next to hotels and luxury bars, "bouzouki halls" (Thessaloniki is the cradle of modern Greek popular song, "rembetiko"), cinema halls, theaters and sidewalk cafes on street pavements and squares. Small family run taverns and basement pastry shops offer a delicious variety of famous Macedonian specialties, next to stalls of ice-cream sellers for busy pedestrians.

The main squares of Thessaloniki are Platia Elefterias and Platia AristotelousThe main squares are Platia Elefterias and Platia Aristotelous, both on the waterfront and alive with cafes and restaurants, children playing or people just strolling. The Lefkos Pyrgos, or White Tower is the symbol of the city and is close to the University area with its clubs and bars, and the International Trade fairgrounds are located is nearby as is the excellent archaeology museum. The White Tower itself is also a museum of art and history. It was built in the 15th Century and was at one time a prison for insubordinate Janisaries, the soldiers of the sultan who had been taken from their Christian parents as children and molded into his elite storm troopers.

remains of 19th century Thessaloniki and the walls that surrounded the cityAbove the lively city is he world of the Epimenidou or Kastra, an area of old neighborhoods with narrow streets and lovely small gardens with children playing in front of wide open doors. Popular songs from old gramophones fill the air along with the sweet smell of flowers that emit their incredibly beautiful aromas at night. This is the old Turkish quarter of the city and is the remains of 19th century Thessaloniki and the walls that surrounded the city are still standing.

A must-visit place is Moudiano, the meat market, in a restored old building full of energy, smells, and some of the most famous old ouzeries in Thessaloniki, some of them with live rembetika music and spontaneous parties.

Port of Thessaloniki Every year in September the INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIR is held in Thessaloniki, exhibiting Greek and foreign products of every description. After the International Trade is over the GREEK SONG FESTIVAL takes place as well as the very popular Thessaloniki Film festival. Saint Demetrios, the patron of Thessaloniki has his name day celebrated throughout the city on October 26th. During the year, trade fairs for special interest groups are organized by the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair administration. Almost all of the major hotels have convention facilities.

If you have a few days to spare and you like cities then come to Thessaloniki. Take a visit to Pella, the birthplace of Alexander. Visit the nearby beaches or wander around the city and see the Archeology museum which is according to Frommer's, one of the best in the world. But be sure to save enough time to the cafes, restaurants, bars and ouzeries of the city where you will really feel the flavor of life in what is surely one of the most interesting and hippest places in Europe.

Thessaloniki is also the birthplace of modern Greek basketball, home of the team Aris and Greece's superstars Nick Gallis (former Seton Hall), Panagiotis Yannakis, Panagiotis Fassoulis (NC State), Yannis Ioandidis and others.

Discover Macedonia Travel to Thessaloniki Thessaloniki Hotels Of Interest on in Thessaloniki

Used with permission from Matt Barrett's Greece Travel Guide