If you ask most people about visiting Greece, chances are they’ll mostly be familiar with the stunning Greek Islands like Mykonos, Santorini, and Crete. If asked about visiting any cities in Greece, they will likely have only considered visiting Athens. However, the country’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, is a worthy destination on its own, especially for those who are interesting in history, delicious food, and a look at modern Greek living. Here’s what you can do with three days in Thessaloniki, the capital of the region of Macedonia.
Start out your trip with the city’s iconic White Tower, which is the symbol of Thessaloniki. Located on the edge of the city’s coastline, the White Tower is a monument and museum that was once an old Byzantine fortification. Next, you can head to the Archeological Museum of Thessaloniki which is full of artifacts collected from the Prehistoric, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman periods as well as ancient Macedonia and give us a glimpse into the past.
Next, head over to Ano Poli, the “upper town” of Thessaloniki that is historic and still lively and fun. It survived the Great Fire of 1917 that ravaged the rest of the city due to the fact that it’s located high above the main part of town. Ano Poli is therefore the only area that hasn’t been rebuilt, and gives you a look at what the rest of the city used to look like.
You can enjoy several authentic restaurants in the area, one of which is Taverna Igglis, which proudly serves traditional dishes with a modern take, giving a fresh update on foods that honor their roots.
Continue on your second day by visiting the Rotunda, which was once a Roman temple and was later used as a church. The UNESCO World Heritage site is perfect for history buffs, but is so lovely to visit that antone will enjoy it. Nearby you’ll by the Galerius Arch, also known as the Kamara, which was erected in 303 AD to commemorate the victory of Galerius over the Sassanid Persians. Next, visit the main square of the city called Aristotelous Square. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy some coffee and people watch with an amazing view of the water.
Lastly, you’ll absolutely want to spend some time along the bright blue waterfront of the Thermaic Gulf. You can take a walk on the promenade from one end of the city to the next. Another way to take in the local culture is by visiting the buzzing markets like Kapani and Modiano. You can purchase local treats here for very fair prices.
Of course, no trip to Thessaloniki would be complete without enjoying the culinary delights. Make sure to try bougatsa, a pastry that can be either sweet or savory and is often enjoyed for breakfast. The sweet version is filled with semolina custard and powdered sugar is sprinkled on top. The savory is filled with mizitra cheese.
If you have some more time and you’re interested in a day trip to nearby attractions, consider visiting the ancient city of Pella or the monastic complex of Mount Athos.