Thessaloniki: 10 Things To Do And 5 to Avoid
Thessaloniki is one of Greece’s most popular cities, known for its bustling nightlife, vibrant culture, and unbeatable cuisine. The city has a lot to offer, from historical sites and grand monuments to great restaurants and lots of shopping. Whether you’re visiting the city for a few days or looking for a more permanent relocation, there are countless experiences worth having. Here’s our guide to the 10 best things to do in Thessaloniki and the five best places to avoid.
1. Visit The White Tower of Thessaloniki
The White Tower of Thessaloniki is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. Located on the waterfront, this 16th century tower was once used as a prison, but today it stands as a museum full of history and culture. Inside you’ll find artifacts and interactive displays detailing the city’s past, present, and future. There’s also a viewing platform at the top of the tower, offering stunning views of the sea and the city skyline.
2. Explore Galerius Palace and Rotunda
Galerius Palace and Rotunda were built in the 4th century by Roman Emperor Galerius and served as a palace, mausoleum, and fortress. Today, the complex has been converted into a museum, giving visitors the chance to explore ancient ruins and learn about the city’s imperial past. There’s also an art gallery and a cafe inside the palace grounds.
3. Stroll Through Aristotle Square
Aristotle Square is one of Thessaloniki’s most lively spots, lined with cafes, bars, and restaurants. During the day, you can enjoy a leisurely walk around the square, admiring the nearby monuments, such as the Statue of Alexander the Great and the Ancient Agora. In the evening, the square comes alive with locals and tourists alike, enjoying a night out on the town.
4. Visit the Byzantine Museum
The Byzantine Museum of Thessaloniki houses one of the most extensive collections of Byzantine art in the world. Inside you’ll find artefacts and relics from the Middle Ages, including frescoes, sculptures, coins, and illuminated manuscripts. You’ll get a chance to explore the city’s cultural past and understand its influential role in shaping modern-day civilization.
5. Check Out the Monuments at Heptapyrgion
Heptapyrgion, also known as the Fortress of Thessaloniki, is a 14th-century fortification located in the city’s centre. The fortress is made up of seven towers, all connected by walls, gates, and passages. Inside are monuments and remains of the city’s past, like the Monument of Freedom and the bust of Alexander the Great.
6. Spend the Day Shopping
Thessaloniki is a great place to go shopping and there are plenty of stores to choose from. Whether you’re looking for designer labels or local boutiques, you’ll find it all here. Be sure to check out the flea market at Modiano, a popular spot for finding vintage items and handmade souvenirs.
7. Try the Local Cuisine
Thessaloniki is renowned for its diverse and delicious cuisine. From traditional Greek dishes like souvlaki and spanakopita to mouthwatering seafood dishes, there’s something for everyone. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, head to one of the city’s many street food vendors and try some freshly made delicacies.
8. Enjoy the Nightlife
Thessaloniki is a great destination for nightlife, offering everything from chic bars and nightclubs to relaxed pubs and lounges. If you’re in the mood for live music, you can catch a show at one of the many venues around town. Or, if you’re looking for something more low-key, there are plenty of casual bars along the waterfront where you can sip cocktails while watching the sunset.
9. Visit the Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki offers a comprehensive look at the city’s past, from prehistoric times to the Byzantine era. Inside you’ll find ancient artifacts, statues, coins, pottery, and more. Be sure to check out the children’s section, which includes interactive exhibits and activities.
10. Take a Trip to Mount Olympus
Located just southwest of Thessaloniki is Mount Olympus, the highest peak in Greece. A visit to this majestic mountain offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the Aegean Sea. You can even hike up the mountain if you’re feeling adventurous!
5 Places to Avoid
1. The Lower City
The Lower City of Thessaloniki is a district best avoided, as it’s known for its high crime rate. If you do decide to venture into this area, be sure to stay vigilant and keep your belongings close.
2. Katerini Beach
Katerini Beach is a popular spot during the summer months, but it’s also known for being overcrowded and dirty. If you’re looking for a beach experience, it’s best to opt for another one of Thessaloniki’s beaches that are more secluded and less polluted.
3. Makriyianni Market
Makriyianni Market is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, but it’s not always the safest place. In recent years, there have been reports of pickpockets and other criminals operating in the area, so it’s best to steer clear.
4. Thessaloniki Town Center at Night
Thessaloniki’s town center is usually busy during the day, but it’s best avoided at night. This area has a reputation for muggings and other petty crimes, so it’s best to stick to other parts of the city after dark.
5. The Port of Thessaloniki
The port of Thessaloniki should be avoided, as it’s known for its high levels of crime, especially theft and drug-related activity. If you’re passing through the area, it’s best to stay alert and keep your belongings close.