Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city is a place where history, culture, hospitality, and gastronomy meet. It’s a destination that caters to all and will definitely satisfy any taste.
Even though 48 hours is not enough to fully experience the beauty of Greece’s co-capital, the guide below highlights the best things you can do during a weekend getaway or a few days’ stay.
Kick-start your day by trying the most popular delicacy in Thessaloniki, the ‘bougatsa’ pastry, which consists of cream, cheese, or minced meat between the different phyllo layers. Thessaloniki has the best’ bougatsa’ I have ever tried. Make sure to visit Yannis at Mitropoleos Street to enjoy this slice of heaven. It’s a small, local pastry shop, always serving fresh bougatsa and other delicacies.
Then, head over to Aristotelous Square, the most central part of the city. Olympion, one of Thessaloniki’s cultural landmarks is also a must-visit.
After your morning coffee and bougatsa, it’s time to explore! Start with visiting Kapani and Modiano, traditional markets, where merchants used to arrive from the Mediterranean. The markets are still vibrant to this day, giving this part of the city the essence of a bygone era.
Louloudadika is another stop you have to make. It means ‘flower area’ in Greek and got its’ name from the florists that gathered here. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes and you will come across the old Ottoman baths called ‘Yahudi Hamami,’ and are now used to host cultural exhibitions.
Go to Aficionados restaurant in the Kalamaria suburb to get a taste of excellent cuisine; Mediterranean flavours with sophisticated twists, it’s set in a beautiful, renovated historic villa.
Walk down Nikis Street, one of the main strips, and have a coffee in one of the many cafes overlooking the sea. Café Nikis 35 is one of my favourites, as it’s a laid-back place where the locals go.
Later on, continue walking on Nikis Street, towards the famous White Tower, which was once used for the city’s fortification, and is now a museum.
If you are still up for some more strolling, continue walking at Nea Paralia until you reach ‘Ompreles,’ the beautiful piece of art made by Greek artist Georgios Zogolopoulos. At the golden hour, it looks mesmerising – don’t forget to take a photo!
Make sure to try one more delicacy that will excite your taste buds; ‘trigona.’ It’s a local specialty that consists of layers of phyllo filled with cream and folded into a triangle shape. Elenidis in Dimitriou Gounari street has the best trigona in Thessaloniki!
The word ‘night’ in Thessaloniki is well-connected to the area of Ladadika, where the nightlife pulse beats. Ladadika is full of tavernas that serve excellent food accompanied by live music and bars where you can continue afterwards, for drinks and cocktails.
Start your day by buying a ‘koulouri‘ from a street vendor, the famous bread ring covered in sesame, and get ready for some exploring.
Wander around the most picturesque area of Thessaloniki, Ano Poli; approximately a 20-30 min walk from Aristotelous Square. Ano Poli is located on the highest point of the city, in Agios Dimitrios, and is a place that escaped the devastating 1917 fire. Get lost in the little alleys and travel back in time while taking in the peaceful atmosphere and beautiful views.
Nearby lies the UNESCO World Heritage Site Agios Nikolaos Orfanos Church and also, the Trigonion Tower.
If you are a culture aficionado, then pay a visit to the Teloglion Foundation of Art. Created in 1972, the Museum showcases works of significant Greek and European artists of the 19th and 20th centuries and a library that features a variety of books.
Alternatively, you can visit the Museum of Byzantine Culture, the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, where you can find artifacts, mosaics, and sculptures, or the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art.
When in Thessaloniki, it’s worth enjoying pleasant walks by the sea. Start from Pier A, also known as ‘Apothikes,’ where old warehouses serve as venues for the Thessaloniki Film Festival. There, you can also visit the Thessaloniki Cinema Museum and Museum of Photography. If you wish to take a quick break, go to Kitchen Bar, a café-restaurant overlooking the sea.
For some delicious fish bites, head to the suburb of Kalamaria for lunch. There are plenty of tavernas offering great food. Alternatively, go to Duck restaurant, a family-owned place that serves excellent food, has lovely décor and an open kitchen.
You must have learned by now that food in Thessaloniki plays a crucial role, and you simply have to taste everything! One more thing you should try is ‘tsoureki’- the sweet yeast bread- and more specifically, ‘tsoureki’ from Terkenlis, one of the oldest and most popular places in the city. If you are into chocolate, then take the tsoureki that is filled with chocolate. There are plenty of other options for you to choose from.
Later on, and if you love fashion, head to Tsimiski, Mitropoleos, and Proxenou Koromila streets, the main shopping streets.
Being in Thessaloniki and not enjoying a night out is a shame. Valaoritou Street is vibrant, with plenty of bars offering creative cocktails and drinks.
The city of Thessaloniki is a lovely place with amazing people, delicious food, and rich history. Enjoy your time here!