In the north of Greece lays the countries second largest city. Overflowing with ancient and byzantine history, the port side city of Thessaloniki is often overpassed by travellers moving between Istanbul and Athens. Much more laid back than the hustle and bustle of Athens, the locals here know how to relax and enjoy life. Relatively untouched by the tourism bug that plagues its sister city in the south, Thessaloniki will give you an inside glimpse into the real Greece.
With Thessaloniki holding the title of ‘European Youth Capital’ for 2014 this student city is overflowing with culture and these are the reasons you need to spend some time there on your next trip to Greece:
Thessaloniki is famous for its shopping and Tsimiski street is where you need to be. This street is packed full of big names, chain stores and local Greek fashion designers as well.
The Old Town:
Located high above the city is the old town of Thessaloniki named ‘Ano Poli’. This traditional old town is quite a hike to get to up some steep roads, but once there you have stunning views of the city across the port and of the mountains. There are numerous traditional Greek tavernas and restaurants located around the old city wall where you can sit, relax and take in the beautiful view.
If you are a history buff then Thessaloniki is the place for you. The city is full of museums explaining the interesting history of the region. Part of the old trade routes are between the east and west and the city is located in the heart of the Balkans.Thessaloniki has always been an important crossroads for different civilizations and religions and the remains can be seen throughout the city as modern day buildings are crammed around Byzantine and ancient ruins. If museums are not your thing, then simply taking a walk around the city will lead to you pass countless ruins. It feels like there is history on literally every street corner.
If you want to drink a traditional Thessaloniki ‘frappe’ coffee then the cafes that fringe the harbour are where you need to be. The myth abounds that the Thessalonikians created the strong frappe coffee to make the stressed Athenians have to sit down and enjoy a coffee. Beware – this coffee is strong, but in order to drink it properly, sit back, relax and let three hours pass you by the way the locals do.
The Sea Front:
Thessaloniki is located on the Agean Sea and this means that there is always a refreshing coastal breeze all year round. Locals cram into the street side cafes to be seen and to enjoy a coffee, one of many for the day. The famous White Tower is located on the harbour and is the heart of the city. In the evening street performers, food vendors and young and old converge in the shadow of the White Tower to watch the sun set and to soak up the atmosphere. This is the perfect place to come before going on to a traditional Greek dinner.
With a large student and youth culture, its no wonder the city is the European capital of youth, Thessaloniki is known for its wicked night life. Bars and clubs abound in the city with your choice of anything from upmarket clubs to student budget bars located in old abandoned buildings. If you happen to be traveling through during the university semester, then head to the main university campus where there are often night time festivals or parties held within the university buildings. With the real nightlife not getting started until at least midnight, make sure you have an evening nap before heading out.
If you are planning on traveling to Greece next summer don’t forget to stop in and check out a truly untouched part of Greece.