Last updated on May 31st, 2019 at 11:16 am
After our amazing time in the islands of Mykonos and Santorini in Greece, we decided to visit Athens and the monasteries in Meteora. Our last stop in Greece was Thessaloniki. If ancient stories and historic places fascinate you, Thessaloniki is the best place for you with a lot of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and more than 30 museums in the city. Thessaloniki is located in the Northern part of the country and the second-largest city in Greece. There are a lot of things to do in Thessaloniki and you can feel its east meets west vibes from markets to ruins, tasty cuisines and many more. In this post, we will let you know about the best things to do in Thessaloniki. Please continue reading to learn more in this Thessaloniki travel guide!
Read here for more things to know before visiting Greece!
Thessaloniki Travel Guide
How to get to Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki is easily accessible by all means of transportation wherever you will come from. It is known for Port of Thessaloniki, a major transportation hub for Greece and Southeastern Europe.
How to get to Thessaloniki by plane
If you are traveling around Europe, there are cheap flight companies going to Thessaloniki like Ryanair to different European destinations. In our case, we flew from Thessaloniki to Paris.
How to get to Thessaloniki city center from the airport
The airport is located 13 kilometers far from city center. There are buses 78, 78A and 78N lines going to the city and the journey time is around 30-40 minutes. Price for a single ticket is €2. If you prefer more comfort, you can get a taxi to the city and it will cost you €20 for a 25 to 30-minute ride.
How to get to Thessaloniki by bus
Buses coming from Athens will take 6 hours and it costs €35 for one-way and €55 for a return ticket. Also there are buses coming from Trikala and Kalampaka, which is a 3-hour journey and it costs €20 for a single ticket, a great itinerary to follow in Greece after visiting Meteora going to Thessaloniki, North part of Greece. Check this link for the bus schedule from Athens to Thessaloniki.
How to get to Thessaloniki by train
Slow train from Athens will take 6 hours and it costs €25. The fast train, however, costs €50 and it takes 4 hours and 20 minutes to reach Thessaloniki. If you are coming from Meteora like we did, trains from Kalampaka and Trikala costs €14 for 2-hour journey. There are similar prices for train and buses and you can just choose the option that you like more or the one matching with your schedule. Check this link to know the schedule from Athens to Thessaloniki.
How to get to Thessaloniki by sea
There are ferries connecting Kavala to Athens and bus to Thessaloniki. However, they suspended ferry services from the islands in Greece to Thessaloniki.
Transportation around Thessaloniki
We usually rode buses to move around Thessaloniki. You can buy prepaid cards in shops and also from vending machine inside the buses. The standard ticket is €1 for one journey and you can also get unlimited journeys for a few hours moving around Thessaloniki.
There are also taxis if you want more comfort to move around Thessaloniki. Distances aren´t big if you are staying in city center. You can even go walking to most of the places to visit in Thessaloniki.
Best time to visit Thessaloniki
Temperatures in Thessaloniki vary greatly. Throughout the year, the weather feels nice most of the year, excluding some cold weeks in the winter. It has a Mediterranean climate, meaning that the winter is warm and rainy, while summer is hot.
The best time to visit Thessaloniki is somewhere in between June to July. Country’s spring and autumn are not that hot. November to March is the period where you want to avoid going because it’s the time where the country receives most of its rain.
ATM’s And Currency in Thessaloniki
Euro is the currency in most of the countries in Europe, including Greece. €1 is equivalent to $1.16. Click here to know the exact exchange rate. There are also foreign currency exchangers in Thessaloniki just in case you are bringing cash.
Swipe cards are accepted all over and there are ATM´s everywhere in Thessaloniki and most of the shops, restaurants, and hotels accept payments with card.
Daily Budget in Thessaloniki
You can spend €3-7 for a meal, also going for gyros and souvlaki. We got addicted to them! Chicken, pork, with salad and french fries served as our quick snacks while visiting Thessaloniki. For transportation you can spend around €2 per day or even nothing if you are staying in city center and you decide to walk around. You also have to add entrance fees for museums or any attractions you want to visit in Thessaloniki.
There are many budget options in Thessaloniki for accommodation. You can sleep in a dorm or a room from €10-25. There are also Airbnb for €20-40 and you can get $30 USD off your first booking with AirBnB when you sign up with us!
Things to do in Thessaloniki
1. Explore the district of Ladadika
It is one of the hot spots of Thesaloniki when it comes to entertainment. It’s full of colorful buildings! Here is where the old merges with the new. The colors, sounds and smells of Ladadika will give you a taste of Thessalonian entertainment. It is most frequently visited both by locals and foreigners. There are a lot of available shops and stores that you might want to try and enjoy.
2. Visit the White Tower
It is the most recognizable spot of Thessaloniki. With its distinctive cylindrical shapes, this six-story building became the city’s trademark. It has become a meeting point and a good place for a walk. You can go to the viewing platform located at the top of the Tower. It is an extension of the exhibition center.
3. Learn about history in Rotunda
A fascinating piece of history in the heart of Thessaloniki. It is a mausoleum for Galerius, and also it is where you’ll be able to admire the artworks of Roman and Byzatine Era, the most magnificent remains from the Early Christian. Entrance fee is only €2.
4. Visit Hagia Sofia
It is one of the oldest churches in Thessaloniki and one of the World Heritage Sites on the UNSECO list. Hagia Sofia is a beautiful “Domed Basilica” style temple, a really astonishing architecture.
5. Walking around Aristotelous Square
It is the beating heart of Thessaloniki. The place is lined with shops, restaurants, bars and hotels. As one of the city’s center’s only open outdoor space, it is frequently chosen as the site for large public events. Holiday season is one of the best time to visit the square because it hosts enormous celebrations throughout that month.
6. Anno Poli
It is the upper part of Old Town, the unique style of the structure in the area will make you feel like traveling back to the city’s Byzantine past. You can reached the top by walking or by bus. Take a stroll on the graphic stone paced little streets surrounded by a small beautiful ottoman houses.
7. Τhe Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki
It is one of the largest museums in Greece and the central museum of the Northern Greece. A museum for all, all visitors are welcome to experience its unique collection of ancient artifacts. Admission fee is €4.
More Things to do in Thessaloniki
8. Museum of Byzantine
The museum is a scientific function institution, open to the public with exhibits and study of the works and objects of the early Christian, Byzantine.
9. Nightlife in Thessaloniki
The area around Valaoritou Street is the perfect destination if you want to experience nightlife in Thessaloniki. There are many bars and it´s full of people especially at midnight on weekends. People in Thessaloniki go out late and the place is ideal for party people. Parties start around 11 o’clock or even midnight. Along the streets of Syggrou and Valoritou is where you will find more rock and alternative bars. The party can last until next day, so be ready for this!
10. Culture Hamams
Bey Hamam is the oldest of all the Ottoman in Thessaloniki and it is one of the most important buildings in the country. It is an architectural jewel at the center of the city where you’ll be able to view arts and decoration that are considered unique for their impressive colorful designs and wall paintings.
11. Navarinou Square
It is known for the great variety of people that hang out on the square. You can see the ruins of the Palace of Galerius, but unfortunately, only a small part is saved . Navarinou square is known, apart form other things, for the crepes with sweet and salty fillings and is considered to be the best in town.
12. Kapani Market
It is one of the traditional markets of Thessaloniki that serves consumers’ needs ever since Ottoman occupation. There are varieties of products available in the market, such as meat, fish, fruits, vegetable and many more at a low price.
13. Try Koulouri
A delicious Greek bread rings covered with toasted sesame seeds are the most popular street food one can find in Greece. These famous Koulouria are sold almost everywhere and sold along with a cup of coffee.
14. Vlatadon Monastery
The monastery of Vlatades is a Holy Royal Patriarchal. Located at Ano Poli of Thessaloniki, it is considered the chief Byzantine Monastery of the city. It is still in use and it offers visitor a spectacular view of Thermaikos bay in Thessaloniki.
15. The Ruins of Rentina
It is an important castle in North Greece, on the top of the hill with a very beautiful landscape. It is a big castle that is very close to the road which has heavy traffic. It is not easily visible and currently not open to the public.
16. Visit Mount Olympus
The shoreline at the foot of Mount Olympus, a 70km coastline, residence of the twelve Gods. Area is known as Pieria, has a 16 pristine beaches that will make you want to swim and relax. You can enjoy exotic bays, beaches with golden sand and as well as pebbly shores.
Where to stay in Thessaloniki
Our choice was Antigon Urban Chic Hotel in the heart of the city. The location of this Boutique hotel is great and our stay was amazing. Once you stay at Antigon Urban Chic Hotel, you will realize why is part of The Leadings Hotels of the World and why in Booking.com it has a rating of 9.6.
The breakfast and brunch (it´s amazing they give you the option of eating anytime in the morning) were great! You can have your breakfast and you can look through the ground with the views of ruins. That´s amazing because you can feel the vibes of the history of Thessaloniki first thing in the morning.
Our room was so cozy and we loved it so much! Another awesome part is the jacuzzi on the top floor! Breakfast was amazing apart from the views the food was tasty and we loved it so much!
Check out our experience in the pictures below:
Foods to try in Thessaloniki
Souvlaki and Gyros
Our favorite ones for a quick snack when walking around Thessaloniki were Gyros and Souvlaki . The difference of the two is that gyros comes from turned meat and souvlaki is grilled from the stick. Both are delicious and are served with salad, sauce and french fries. Prices start from €2-3.
Thessaloniki is famous for its pastries and one in particular is the semolina custard pastry, bougatsa. You can find this at every corner of the streets in Thessaloniki. It can be made by different ways depending on the place where you are. It is served with light custard, with hand-rolled croissants.
A classic dessert from the Byzantine ages and Constantinople is Kazan Dibi. It is a burnt-milk pudding, a type of caramelized pudding of a Turkish dessert. It is traditionally made by burning the bottom.
It is a bread ring coated with sesame seeds. The dough is slightly sweet and you can also find larger, thinner rings that are much more crispy and toasty in flavor. This is available from street vendors.
Festivals in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki International Book Fair
Thessaloniki has become the focal point for the book world in Greece and in 2003, it has grown as the leading cultural event for books in Greece.
It is a three-month-long festival named after St. Demetrius, the patron Saint of the city. It has become an institution for the city and very popular one with the locals. The festival includes musicals, theatrical performances, street shows and many more. It is organized and overseen by the Municipality of Thessaloniki.
This festival attracts film makers all over the world. The main program focuses on the documentaries that explore global social and cultural developments. The Festival aims to offer the public an annual gathering in Thessaloniki. It was also made for others to explore its people and landscapes through documentaries.
Thessaloniki was our last stop in our Greece trip after visiting Mykonos, Santorini, Athens and Meteora before going to Paris for a week in our Europe trip. After visiting Ibiza, Malta, Lisbon, Algarve, Nice, Marseille before going back to Madrid.
Are you going to Thessaloniki soon? How did you like our favorite things to do in Thessaloniki? Please share this Thessaloniki travel guide to your friends if you think this is helpful!