With its popularity slowly increasing, Greece’s second city is becoming more familiar to backpackers. The culture and revamped seafront area make it an attractive place to visit. Known as a student city (it was the 2014 European Youth Capital), there is good nightlife and a vibrant, multicultural population. More refined than Athens, Thessaloniki has an of abundance of theatres, cafes, and bars, while the past history with both Greek, Turkish and Roman rulers give it a buzz of times gone by. Expect to find numerous excavated ruins as you wander around the streets.
Thessaloniki is one of the best places in Greece to eat ; its multi – ethnic population is reflected in the food served. Modiano market has all types of fresh produce on sale and is a must visit for food lovers. Bakeries sell seeded breads, and Bougasta pastries (similar to burek) are around €2.. These shops usually close by lunch, so visit in the morning. For a sit in meal, check out the local cafes… they generally have better prices than the waterfront city restaurants.
Thessaloniki has a distinct lack of traditional style hostels, but there are rooms, studio’s and apartment’s to rent. For a single traveller, finding a bed will be more expensive than other areas of Greece but couples should be able to find a good value room. If your arriving in the city on the spur of the moment, local people with rooms to rent sometimes appear at the bus station, so haggle and get a good deal.
Thessaloniki should by now have had a usable Metro system, but it has suffered delays due to an underground ancient city being discovered – so for now the best way to get around is by bus. A single journey ticket within the city is less than €1. International trains go to Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Serbia. Buses depart the main station to all bordering countries and Serbia. Check out the travel planner for the cheapest travel routes in the Balkans. Thessaloniki is linked by ferries to the Greek islands, with most of the destinations being in the North Aegean Sea.
• Go to Aristotelous Square – the main hub of street life, there are cafes, bars, and shops. It makes a good people watching spot to grab a coffee and something to eat.
• Visit the White Tower – Probably the most famous building in Thessaloniki. Right on the waters edge, the tower is a former prison that has seen both Ottoman and Greek rulers. Nowadays, the interior displays the story of the city’s long history.
• Look inside Agios Dimitrios Church – Take a free visit to this ancient church ; named after a famous saint of Thessaloniki. It has been both a church and a mosque in the past. There’s an underground crypt which is now used as a small museum.
• Walk the promenade – Stretching for a few km’s along the seafront, it’s a good way to spend the evening as the sun sets. There are parks along the promenade, that fill with life as the day draws to a close.
• Enjoy the Bit Bazaar – A flea market during the day selling anything and everything, at night it comes alive as a student hangout. The bazaar area is a popular place and has a good atmosphere – drinks are good value, and bar snacks tasty and cheap.
• Go to the beach – Epanomi beach is under an hour away by bus, and is clean with good facilities, although it can get busy at peak times of the year. Remember to get bus 69 from the central station.
• Wander past Attaturk House – The founder of Turkey was born in Thessaloniki and his house is now a museum. There is nothing much to see inside but it is an interesting slice of history if your walking the streets. It is on Apostolou Pavlou street.
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