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The scenic Greek port city of Thessaloniki offers a striking contrast of modern buildings and ancient architecture dating back to Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman times. After the tragic Great Fire of 1917, many precious old buildings were lost and replaced with modern ones.
Thessaloniki is also a university city, with Aristotle University being the largest in Greece and the Balkans. This means a youthful crowd adds to the city’s vibrant art scene, nightlife, and uplifting mood.
The best time to visit Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece, is from the middle of August to mid-October, when you can see many festivities along with great weather.
Keep this in mind when you book your flight to Thessaloniki, which will land at Thessaloniki Airport, officially known as Thessaloniki Airport Makedonia (formerly Mikra Airport). There are many airlines, including Air Canada offering flights to Thessaloniki and other cities in Greece.
Thessaloniki is full of accommodation options ranging from budget to mid-range and luxurious. Room rates are reasonable all year round, and you can find a charming stay without spending outrageous amounts of your travel budget. Here are some accommodation options we highly recommend.
The Caravan is a charming bed and breakfast with bright decor and a coffee shop that is open until late. In the historical centre of Thessaloniki, it makes a great base for busy travellers.
Makedonia Palace Hotel with gorgeous sea views makes a nice place to stay if you want to be near the waterfront. Rooms are modern and airy, and there is an award-winning chef in the restaurant who specializes in innovative seafood dishes. Relax in the hammam with a Turkish bath experience after a long day of sightseeing.
Antigone Urban Chic Hotel has stylish rooms that live up to the hotel’s name. This converted townhouse blends traditional Greek style with modern vibes in the most effortless way. The level of customer service is exceptional. Five-star boutique stays never looked so good!
Spend some time wandering around the old town and soaking up the old-worldly atmosphere. Upper Town Thessaloniki is the oldest area of the city that is estimated to be about 2300 years old. The city’s main square, Aristotle’s Square, features a statue of the ancient Greek philosopher who was from the local area. There are beautiful restaurants, shopping and some accommodation options around the square.
Climb to the top of the Thessaloniki White Tower for wonderful views of the city and see informative history displays on each floor. The tower was constructed in the fifteenth century after the defeat of Thessaloniki to the Ottomans in 1430. Another sky-high view is at the Heptapyrgion, a Byzantine and Ottoman-era fortress with jaw-dropping views of Thessaloniki overlooking the ocean.
You can see fascinating street art around the city. Contemporary murals adorn the walls with colourful and eye-catching designs created by talented painters and graffiti artists. From modern to historical, many museums tell stories of past eras related to Thessaloniki.
There are natural surroundings around the city. The Kalochori Lagoon is where you can find a nice wetland, park and gardens just 8 km from the main city area. A big attraction is the large flocks of flamingos you can see at certain times of the year. Axios National Park is another place you can often see these exotic pink birds and other wildlife.
With so many religious sites and stunning Orthodox Christian churches all around Thessaloniki, you have to make a note of the best ones. The Church of Saint Demetrius is dedicated to the patron saint of the city, Saint Demetrius. A UNESCO site since 1988, it is a beautiful church with stained glass windows and grand arches and chandeliers. Vlatadon Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in the 14th century during the late era of the Byzantine Empire. It is beautiful and worth a visit to see the place where scholars and academics met. The monastery was built by monk brothers Dorotheos and Markos Vlatis. The Agia Sophia and Agios Demetrios are not-to-be-missed Byzantine churches, and we are sure you will find many more beauties.
The food in Thessaloniki is wonderful, with many seafood and traditional dishes being served up by talented city chefs. From street food to cafes to fine dining restaurants, you will never go hungry in this Greek city. Try cream-filled bougatsas, juicy gyros, pork souvlaki and fresh salads filled with feta and olives. For that fancy dining experience that every vacation needs, try Opsopoion Maganeiai that is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner. Their steaks are famous, and they are happy to recommend wine pairings if the wide selection overwhelms you.
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