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Dating back more than 2,000 years, Greece’s second largest city of Thessaloniki has weathered a stormy history as an important commercial port and political centre. Today, with its bustling student population and cosmopolitan areas lined with trendy bars and glossy restaurants, it’s become a culture and lifestyle hub for both locals and tourists.
In 2013 National Geographic magazine named the northern city as one of its top destinations and with a combination of 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 29 museums, ancient sites and beaches, it’s not hard to see why. Thessaloniki is also renowned for its many festivals that run throughout the year. From the three day summer Urban Picnic festival to the famous Thessaloniki International Film Festival, you’ll have plenty of events to choose from whenever you visit.
More about Thessaloniki/Halkidiki
If you’re taking a break in Thessaloniki you have the perfect opportunity to visit Halkidiki. This beautiful area covers three peninsulas stretching into the Aegean Sea, with the western side the family-friendly Kassandra, the quiet middle of Sinthonia and the unspoilt eastern peninsula of Athos.
With its forested hills, the region is at its best in spring when the wild flowers come into full bloom and the sea is warm enough to swim in. There’s plenty to do here to keep everyone entertained. From energetic resorts and trendy beach bars to water sports and cycling trails winding deep into the hills.
Top five things to do in Thessaloniki
Sundowners at the Electra Palace Hotel
Make an early evening visit the Electra Palace Hotel and head to the top floor roof terrace for alfresco sundowners and views stretching out over the gulf.
Relax on a beach in Halkidiki
Take a trip to the jutting peninsulas of Halkidiki with their many soft sandy beaches, busy resorts, beach bars and water sports.
Coffee in Aristotelous Square
Mix amongst the locals in this beautiful corner of the city. Here you can enjoy an ice cream with views over the harbour in the shade of one of the many cafes and restaurants.
Climb the White Tower
Thessaloniki’s historical White Tower is the city’s most famous monument and well worth a visit for the spectacular panoramic views from the top.
Catch a show at the Concert Hall
The city’s magnificent concert hall hosts a full schedule of everything from opera to ballet and is a fantastic night out for all culture vultures.
10 facts about Thessaloniki
The city was founded by Kassandros who named it after his wife Thessaloniki, the sister of Alexander the Great.
It is host to an astounding 15 UNESCO World Heritage listed sites.
Thessaloniki is the capital city of northern Greece.
It enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year.
Ruins across the city vary from Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Balkan, and European origin.
An earthquake in 620 was so strong that it levelled the city and another in 1978 caused damage to many of the Byzantine monuments.
Excellent bus links make the city a fantastic base for exploring the rest of northern Greece.
The Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra is one of the leading symphonic orchestras in Greece.
It has a great night-life scene, with after-hours cafes and jazz bars open late into the night.
There are three sailing clubs and several marinas in Thessaloniki and world championships take place here every year.