Thessaloniki is the second biggest city after Athens, yet it sees little tourism. It’s a tourists paradise – honestly. The amount of signs telling you the history of all the monuments, the sign posts telling you how many minutes to walk somewhere (some even have the amount of calories you’ll burn lmao!) and the amount of things you can see and do even on a budget!
I loved Thessaloniki, so i’m calling it ‘the heart of Greece.’. Delphi may be the centre, but Thessaloniki stole the heart. As our tour guild said; Thessaloniki is what it is hiding, not what it is showing.
The history of Thessaloniki is strong, in 1917 a fire left 70,000 people homeless and destroyed 9,500 houses.  It was a place that people called home, as nobody is without a home as long as Thessaloniki exists. The word you’ll read/hear the most is UNESCO – and you’ll surely see why by reading this, and when you visit.
If you would like to know “How to fall in love with Thessaloniki.” click ‘read more’
In this article, you’ll find: (click to be taken there)
The Basics: How to get there.
Getting Around: Transport Options
My Top Choices: What you should see.
My Recommendations: Where to eat & drink, What to listen to & read.
Where to Stay: Where I stayed or where friends stayed.
What I did: My diary entry.
Other Recommendations: Things we missed.
All my posts have a key:
⏰ Opening Hours. 📍 Location 🕒 Distance
💰Cost 🎫Ticket 📝 To note. 🎒What to bring.
♿ Accessibility 🌱Vegan / Veg Options.
- Free Entry Days: 06 March | 18 April | 18 May | 28 October | Last weekend of September | First Sunday November 1st > March 31st.
- Closed Days: 01 January | 25 March | 01 May | 25 + 26 December | Good Friday | Easter Sunday |
- You can drink the tap water in Thessaloniki.
- A lot of sites have free entry for EU Students (with a valid ID.)
- Do not accept bracelets or trinkets such as tissues, roses etc unless you wish to pay for them.
- If you’re not a meat eater, ask for “nistisimo” and they will offer you no meat options.
Getting to Thessaloniki.
✈ FLY to Thessaloniki.
Depending on where you’re flying from – It’ll vary hugely in price.
|USA / CAN||If you fly via Iceland, it can often be cheaper.|
Check: Norwegian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Icelandic Air, WOW Air, British Airways, Finnair, Aegean Airlines.
|AUS / ASIA / NZ||Jetstar, Qantas, Scoot Airlines, Virgin Airlines, Etihad, Turkish Airlines, Aeroflot, Oman Air.|
|EUR / UK||easyJet, Ryanair, AirSerbia, Alitalia, Wizz, Aegean, British Airways, Norwegian Airlines, SAS, Jet2 flights, British Airways flights|
TUI flights, Thomas Cook Airlines
+ 🚌 Bus from AIRPORT
💰= € 2,00 (need exact change)
🕒40 Minutes + time to hotel/hostel etc.
The NR. X1 + N1 (night service) run every 30 minutes towards the City Bus Station in which you can get the No.12 or No31 with the same ticket to get directly into the City Centre.
🚕 Taxi from AIRPORT
A taxi will cost you around €20
🚌 Bus from Athens.
💰€39.00 | $61.65 AUD| $43.69 USD | £ 33.51 GBP.
KTEL Thessalonikis offer daily departures. You can check the timetable here. It will drop you off at the Station Monastiriou, in which you can take the No.12 or No.31 for a €1.00
🚌 Bus from Skopje.
💰€20.00 | $31.52 AUD| $22.45 USD | £17.20 GBP
🕒3,5 – 4 hours.
Simeonidis Tours offer direct buses from Skopje To Thessaloniki.
They leave Thessaloniki 08:30am and leave Skopje 17:00 (local time)
Get there half an hour before. I am not joking, they can leave before that time, and they want everyone on the bus already. Get your hostel to call before to book seats.
– You can get non-direct for a bit cheaper, but you’ll have to consider times / which days of the week they run etc.
Getting Around in Thessaloniki:
Tickets are based on Time Restrictions. It’s best to plan your bus trips if you’re going to be using them.
1 Journey: Valid for one (1) journey. |€1.00
2 Journeys: Time restricted 70 minutes. |€1.20
3 Journeys: Time restricted 90 minutes. |€1.50
4 Journeys: Time restricted 120 minutes. |€2.00
⏰ 16:00 Daily.
📍Meeting Points:Upper Town: Church Profitis Ilias | City Centre: the palm tree in front of Electra Palace Hotel
💰Based on Tips = € 5,00 | $8.00 AUD | $5.66 USD | £ 4.28 GBP.
📝 Check the facebook page for dates and locations.
♿- I would suggest messaging Giorgio via facebook to see if he can accommodate you for the city centre tour.
Giorgio’s Walking Tour is the best one I’ve been on, and let me tell you, I’ve been on a lot. He manages to mix in history, facts, music, politics, economics, culture, people and all with his personal entertaining style. He’s got so much amazing knowledge and advice to share, he’s also super lovely and genuinely loves his city.
THE PORT + PROMENADE
📍Thessaloniki 546 24
♿Fully accessible from the square all along the port walk.
The port of Thessaloniki is one of the largest in the Aegean Sea. It services the needs of 15 million inhabitants of it’s international mainland. The most incredible part of the port is that to tackle climate change it’s chosen to support Green Award certificate holders – those who demonstrate environmental performance. Read about it here.
📍Thessaloniki 546 24
💰€4.00 | $6.35 AUD | $4.50 USD | £3.30 GBP.
Reduced winter price €2.00
♿no wheelchair access, lots of stairs.
The Tower itself is a historical monument, dating back to the 15th century. At one point it was used a prison for those with life sentences. The view is the main selling point for sure but for something so important to Thessaloniki, it’s interesting that the only english signs are on the outside. You can receive an audio guild with identification for a few languages which is great. Start at the top and work your way down.
📍Ermou 34, Thessaloniki 546 23, Greece
💰Free to enter the main area.
📝 Website is in Greek.
♿steps to the take a closer look at the byzantine frescos but entry, yes.
“The only surviving building was the bell tower of the temple, which was built in the late 19th century” Source  Everything else had been destroyed in the fire of 1917. The Monastery sits within the busy streets of Thessaloniki, and from the outside you might miss it entirely. The most interesting fact is that it was not converted into a Mosque during the Ottoman Empire. It also has some beautiful byzantine frescoes.
⏰ 09:00 – 15:45 | Closed Monday
High Season: 08:00 – 20:00
📍Pl. Agiou Georgiou Rotonta 5,
💰€ 2.00 (there are talks of increasing this price.)
📝 – advised to semi-yell something in the middle to hear your echo.
♿There is wheelchair access available, ask the staff for help at the back gate.
Over the sixteen centuries of the Rotunda’s existence it’s been a pagan monument, christian church and muslim house – all of which have left their markings. It was deemed a UNESCO world heritage site in 1988. There are many english signs within and around so you can learn a bit more of it’s history.
⏰ Church: 6:00 – 22:00
Crypt: Tue-Thu 08:00-15:00 | Fri: 08:00-13:30 & 19:00-22:00 |
📍Agiou Dimitriou st, 546 33 Thessaloniki
📝 – take these hours as what’s posted but i wouldn’t rely on them.
♿- no access into the crypts, the church is accessible via the left (same as the cars.)
St. Demetrios Church is one of the two places that you are able to see a crypt (underground room/vault beneath a church) within Thessaloniki. They say it’s one of the most important churches within the city for religious, artistic and historical reasons. Dating back to the 4th century, the church was turned into a Mosque (as where most religious buildings) during the Ottoman rule. With the 1917 fire, it destroyed a large part of the church, especially the older mosaics. Since then – restoration has been a prime goal in the preservation of this church.
⏰ 08:30 – 15:30
📍Thessaloniki 546 21, Greece
💰€ 4.00 | $6.35 AUD | $4.50 USD | £3.30 GBP.
♿Connecting slopes, wheelchair accessible.
11 spaces/rooms depicting Byzantine history. a collection displaying Byzantine history, with information panels relating details to bring together artefacts and their significance. I personally did this museum in under an hour, purely because I had somewhere to be – but if you were to read every bit of information – you could easily
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE OF THE ROMAN AGORA.
⏰ 09:00 – 16:00 | Closed Monday
📍Olimpou 75, Thessaloniki 546 31,
♿It has access, but not for all areas of the area.
Previously the centre of political and public life, it was active during the 2nd, 3rd and 4th century AD. I thought the ruins were cool and the museum actually goes pretty in depth into what they found within the site, as well as what happened within the 1917 fires.
⏰ 11:00 – 01:00
📍 32, Irodotou, Thessaloniki 546 34,
🌱Vegetarian friendly, Vegan No.
Located within the upper city within an old tavern is Igglis. They have a changing menu and some great local wines and beers. The food itself is amazing and you’ll just need to read google reviews to see how many people say “one of the best meals of my life.”
🥘 Falafeleria Vegetarian Food
⏰ 12:00 – 01:00
📍25is Martiou 14, Thessaloniki 546 46
🌱Vegan & Vego friendly!
This has been my favourite falafel in Greece, and believe me – that’s mostly what I was eating. It had fresh spearmint which was a nice touch! They have an english menu in print also.
⏰ 07:00 – 19:30 | Sat: 08:00 – 17:00 | Closed Sunday
📍 Eth. Aminis 13, Thessaloniki 546 21
🌱 Almond & Soy milk available.
Speciality coffee, excellent espresso and a brilliant range of tea.
⏰ 20:00 pm – 4:00 am
📍 22 Valaoritou, Thessaloniki 546 25, Greece
Great 80s / 90s music bar – really good tunes constantly playing.
Cheap beers. Smoking allowed inside.
“In 1948, the body of an American journalist is found floating in the bay off Thessaloniki. A Greek journalist is tried and convicted for the murder . . . but when he’s released twelve years later, he claims his confession was the result of torture.
Flash forward to modern day Greece, where a young, disaffected high school student is given an assignment for a school project: find the truth.”
A beautiful and epic novel that spans nearly a hundred years, The Thread is a magnificent story of a friendship and a love that endures through the catastrophes and upheavals of the twentieth century–both natural and man-made–in the turbulent city of Thessaloniki, Greece.”
WHERE TO STAY
For ♿Hostels – Try Stay Hybrid Hostel which has a 9.2/10 rating on Booking.com.
⏰Check-In: 14:00-00:00 | Check-Out: 11:00
📍3a Veikou Street, Makrigianni, Athens
📝 – I would recommend booking this particular hostel.
I stayed in a mixed dorm room.
The Staff at this hostel instantly make you feel at home, or that your visiting your friends parents house as a kid. They offer you a free drink on arrival while they take a copy of your documents. The wifi is great in the common areas, less so in the rooms. The breakfast will have you full, and a range of options. The locals come and hang out here for the cafe function which is nice to see.
|🍽Breakfast||Free Breakfast (which might be the best breakfast I’ve ever had) which consists of cereal, bread, yoghurt, juice, jams, honey and fruits. They offer small kitchenettes in rooms with kettle, stovetop and microwave.|
|🛁Bathrooms||Each bedroom has a private bathroom with toilet, shower and basin. I would recommend using the larger, shared shower. They come with free towels.|
|Comfy beds, nice linen, lockers with key. |
Powerpoint and light for each individual bed.
|🎲Facilities||Free computer, free printing for flight tickets. Book Exchange, games and large socialising area inside and out.|
|🍺Bar||Cafe and Bar located within the hostel hosting a range of Greek beers, coffee, cakes and they have the option of|
⏰Check-In: 13:00 | Check-Out: 11:00
📍54635, Konstantinou Melenikou 9
📝 I stayed in a mixed dorm room.
The Staff were friendly and happy to answer any questions. They are also in a really, really great location.
|🍽Breakfast||Free Breakfast, choice of options from 1>6 between 08:30 – 10:30|
|🛁Bathrooms||Private bathrooms adjoined to dorm rooms with shower, toilet & basin. Large area. Free towels.|
|🛏Rooms||bed linen, duvet provided. AC. comfy beds, if not a bit squeaky.|
|🎲Facilities||Large book swap, TV in rooms, good wifi.|
|🍺Bar||They have a Garden Cafe and sell beers, cokes etc.|
WHAT I DID
I firstly started at The Port and did a walk from Aristotelous Square along the water front to the Thessaloniki Concert Hall. It’ll take you about an hour, but along that way you’ll see The White Tower, The Alexander the Great Statue, Zongolopoulos Umbrellas and The Water Garden. I found it really scenic, lovely and I listened to a couple of Reply All podcast episodes.
Along the White Tower, someone did try and grab my attention, but they also tried to physically grab me. I pulled away and yelled “Don’t touch me” – in which they quickly stopped (also called me crazy like okay dude i don’t want a stranger to touch me). I’m not saying that’ll happen to you but just be wary of people trying to sell you things.
My second day, as the walking tours start at 16:00 – I decided to walk around and stumbled upon The Galerian Complex which is essentially a tiny room looking out into some ruins. They’ve also got some examples of the ruin’s previous wall decorations. Look, it was a weird little thing. The Agia Sophia Church which have frescoes dating back to the 11th century. It was this walk that I stumbled upon the Monastery of Saint Theodora and is probably still my favourite one in Greece.
The Triumphal Arch of Galerius is down from the Rotunda and was the original entrance towards it. Another good space to see Ottoman-era fortresses is the old Castle Ruins. (I cannot find it on maps, nor re-call it’s name… but – it’s free entry and the walking tour city tour will end there.) I for sure needed more time to explore the Upper City – and I guess it just means I’ll need to go back. The walls, the little streets and everything inbetween would have been brilliant to just wander.
- Hiking Mount Olympus : I wanted to do the hike but I didn’t have the right gear (also I was a tad hungover on my last day which is a more logical excuse.) If you wish to see a post on someones experience: click here for an easy one and here for a hard one.
- Bey Hamam – Paradise Baths-. Built in 1444 by a Sultan, these baths continued in operation until 1968. Now they’re used as an exhibition venue. Information here.
- YeniCami – An exhibition space in which their large courtyard also holds a large collection of marble sculptures but the architecture itself is interesting.
- Tower of Trigonion – For some reason I didn’t realise you could actually go inside. I thought it was just the walls lmao. However, some reviews have advised it’s always closed. I did go up north within the walking tour of the upper city and it had amazing views.
- Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, War Museum of Thessaloniki and State Museum of Contemporary Art
Have you been to Thessaloniki?
What did you see / eat / do?
Let me know below.
As always, stay cool.