Thessaloniki , in the Greek district of Central Macedonia, is, at about a million inhabitants, the second largest city in the country. More importantly, it is a city with a continuous 3000-year history, preserving relics of its Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman past and of its formerly dominant Jewish population. Its Byzantine churches, in particular, are included in UNESCO's World Heritage list.
By nighttrain from Athens (Larissa station), about 6 h. Costs 20€-31€ (depending on the train), or about €50 if you want a sleeping compartment to yourself. Alternatively the slower 60x services are 15€ departing daily with the last train at 23:59.
Daily trains from Athens take 4h 15 min (intercity express trains), 6h(normal trains) cost about 50 euros first class. A very good option are the 500/501/502/503 trains, delivering excellent quality of travel at a low price, costing about 14 euros (11 for students and people up to 26) and take only 5h 45min. Unfortunately for smokers, smoking is banned in all but a few trains. The last train at night departs at around 01:50.
There is also a night train (sleeping car) from Istanbul, departure every day at 20.00. It arrives 08.00 next morning and costs 48€.
When you are under 26, you get a discount for 25 % on most trains.
To/From Skopje, - direct link: Skopje to Thessaloniki train is 20€ RT with young person discount, 20% more without. Train leaves from Skopje at 8:00 a.m. Thessaloniki to Skopje train leaves at 4:15 p.m. (Suggest being on the dock by 3:30 on Friday to fight the "Student Traffic" of students going home for the weekend.) Both trains take about 4 hours. You can check the time table at the Macedonian Railways website . The Cyrillic version of Thessaloniki is Солун, so it will be easier to look it up in the time table, since there is no English version of the website.
There are also direct train connections to Sofia (at 06:16 and 17:39, take 6 hours), Belgrade (12 hours), Istanbul (12 hours-every evening-arriving next morning), Budapest and Ljubljana (24 hours) via Zagreb (21 hours). But please mind: The trains from Ljubljana arrive usually more than two hours too late in Thessaloniki.
You can buy Balkan FlexiPass tickets for 50€ in the train station international office.
There is a bus  every morning at 7am from Skopje's central bus station. This costs MKD1280 (approx. €21)
A number of local travel agencies in Skopje also arrange transport to Thessaloniki daily by car or minibus. These generally leave around 5am, and cost around €25 for a day return (returning at 5pm) or a single (i.e. €50 if you want to come back on a different day from when you leave!) The travel agent at the back of the shopping mall by the Central Square arranges this departing from beside the Holiday Inn. Others depart from the bus station, or other locations around the city.
Note that although it is fairly easy to find a taxi driver in Thessaloniki who is willing to drive you to Skopje, the reverse is much less true, as the citizens of Republic of Macedonia need a visa to enter Greece, whereas EU citizens can enter Republic of Macedonia without one.
Thessaloniki has an International airport called "Makedonia", connected to Athens, Belgrade, Milan, Rome, Zurich, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Munich, Frankfurt, Dortmund, Moscow, London, Paris, Vienna, Larnaca, Prague, Budapest, Bucharest. Olympic and Aegean Airlines offer direct 50 minute flights from Athens from 49 euros one-way including taxes. In addition, there are several flights to Aegean and Ionian islands.
Connection to the City Centre
If your goal is to get out to the airport, hop on bus 78. It connects the airport with the bus station ("Ktel"), passing by the train station ("OSE") and a ticket costs 0.50€ if you buy it from the kiosk (0.60 if you buy it from the automatic ticket vendor, exact change needed). It's about a 25 minute ride. You can take this same bus back from the airport. There is also a night bus (numbered 78N) that takes the same route, and it runs all night every half an hour, for the same ticket price.
A taxi ride from the city center costs about 10-12 euros - it's hard to find one during peak hours (7-8 am, 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm), so plan early!
From Athens about 5 hours (Highway)
From Istanbul about 8 hours
From Belgrade about 7 hours
From Sofia about 4 hours.
From Constanta about 8 hours.
One of the burdens for visitors and inhabitants alike is finding a parking place, so be prepared to either spend a lot of time looking for a place or pay for space in the parking lot (starting from 4 euros/3 hours). Don't assume you're safe from paying a fine just because locals flagrantly flout parking laws! Traffic congestion is a problem, largely due to double-parked cars, but generally fellow drivers and passers-by are helpful in showing you the way if you're lost.
The city bus company ("called OASTH") runs a total of 70 different bus lines. The fee is €0.50 independent of the route's length, for a duration of 70 minutes. This means that you can actually switch buses using the same ticket (you will have to recancel it on following buses). A 24h ticket costs €2 and a 7-day ticket €10. 1, 3, 6 and 12-month tickets are also available. Maps of the bus lines are available on the company's website .
Museums and Galleries
At the end of Tsimiski street there is a special area in the center of Thessaloniki where you can find many museums:
- State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki 
- Thessaloniki Museum of Photography 
- Museum of Cinematography in Thessaloniki 
- Thessaloniki Technology Park 
- Museum of Science 
- Folklore and Ethnological Museum of Macedonia and Thrace 
- Thessaloniki International Fair 
- Jewish Museum 
- Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art 
- Municipal Gallery of Art
- Teloglion Foundation of Art
- Museum at the White Tower 
- Museum at Aghios Demetrios
- Goulandris Museum of Natural History 
- Attaturk House
It is also useful to keep an eye on the website Museums of Macedonia  that covers the whole region.
The northernmost Byzantine walls of the city and parts of the western walls are still standing, as is the city's symbol - the White Tower, one of the 16th c. AD fortified towers - which is the only surviving tower on the seafront. The rest of the walls are in the picturesque old town (Upper Town) which offers a spectacular view over the bay, especially in the late afternoon. Take a walk along the enormous seafront promenade (about 12 km altogether) with views of the amphitheatrically-built city. See the Archaeological Museum, the new award-winning Museum of Byzantine Culture (2005 - the best Museum of Europe), the Roman Forum excavations.
Visit the upper town for its traditional old houses, small cobbled streets, Byzantine citadel, the Eptapyrgion fort.
On no account should you miss the Byzantine churches built between the 5th and 14th century ACE, such as St Demetrios, (7th c. ACE) and Agia Sophia (Holy Wisdome, 9th c. ACE), and many lovely smaller ones in the upper town (St Nicolaos Orfanos is particularly worth a look for its frescoes), which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. One of them, the Rotonda, started life as a Roman temple of Zeus, built by ceasar Galerius, and is almost as old as the Pantheon in Rome. Next to the Rotonda, see the Arch of Triumph of Galerius and the ruins of his palace.
The city is also known as "the mother of Israel", due to the once flourishing jewish community here, which existed from the Roman period and grew after the Ottoman Empire took in the refugees from Spain ("Sephardis), until World War II when most of the city's Jews were transported to Auschwitz, never to return. However, there are still two Synagogues, and you can see the Jewish Museum.
Also interesting are the Turkish public baths, the Bezesteni (Ottoman closed market for jewellery and precious materials) the Alatza Imaret (Ottoman poorhouse) and Hamza Bey Camii (both restored and used for exhibitions).
The traditional central food market, with hundreds of stalls selling meat, fish, fruit, vegetables (sometimes cheek-by-jowl, an unnerving experience for North Americans), cheap clothes and shoes, flowers, herbs and spices, between Aristotelis Square and Venizelou street.
Aristotelous Square-the biggest of the city-and the promenade with its cafes and restaurants.
Thessaloniki is home to many museums, mostly archaeological and ethnographic. It also has a very active nightlife, as a 2007 New York Times article calls it "Seattle of the Balkans".
For fashion, Proxenou Koromila, Mitropoleos and Tsimiski. You won't find many bargains, but the shopping area is conveniently small and full of cafes when you get too tired. For cheaper clothing, check out Egnatia street.
For food specialities, go to Modiano market and try the Terpsis and Omega delicatessens (the most famous is Kosmas, but it specialises in Asian food). Any Greek will expect you to bring back sweets from Salonica, so try tsoureki, plaited sweetened breads for which Terkenlis is famous for, and desserts (baklava and galaktoboureko) e.g. or Nikiforou on Venizelou street. The most famous of the baklava joints is Hatzis, but fame has not made it any better - it's become overpriced and not as good as in previous years.
Ianos bookshop is a good place for coffee-table books. Art related books, CDs etc can be found also in Bastart (Grigoriou Palama 21. Metropolis is one of the few remaining CD shops, now branching out into DVDs.
Other Greeks consider Thessaloniki a gourmet city - but bear in mind that this refers to the excellent local specialities and cheap-and-cheerful ouzo taverns rather than to haute cuisine or a range of foreign restaurants. The latter are best avoided in Thessaloniki.
For a morning or late-night snack, try Bougatsa pies: cream (sweet) or cheese (savoury) filling
For a carnivore's treat, try soutzoukakia: minced meat pellets either grilled (at the central market or rotisseries) and topped with with chilli pepper flakes, or in tomato and cumin sauce (Smyrna-style).
Go for a meal in one of the many downtown ouzo restaurants (ouzeri) - some of the best are Agora (off Ionos Dragoumi, one of the most interesting old downtown areas); Odos Aristotelous off Aristotelous Square; Vrotos, off Athonos; Bit-Pazar and Selini in the Bit-Pazar area. Accompany your ouzo or tsipouro with a battery of small dishes - by far the best way to eat in Salonica. Particularly good are the fava beans, the octopus either grilled or in wine sauce and mussels (fried, or in pilaff, or with a hot cheese sauce, saganaki).
There are also a couple of good Cretan restaurants: Myrsini (behind the State Theatre) and Apo Dyo Horia (near Navarinou). Here, order raki rather than ouzo or tsipouro.
If you see "boiled vegetables' on the menu in wintertime, go ahead and order them- you'll be amazed at how good they taste.
Another typical winter salad is politiki, a combination of shredded cabbage and pickles.
If you like sweets, there are 3 typical pastry-shops you should try, typical of this city:
- Chatzis.  is famous for its collection of Greek Asia Minor sweets (politika glyka) originating from what was known before as Constantinople (today, Istanbul).
- Terkenlis.  is famous for its variety of "tsoureki", a sweet bread much like brioche but containing spices too, covered and filled with several combinations of chocolates/creams/nuts, etc.
- Elenidis.  is considered the expert in "trigona" (triangles made of sfoglia, filled with cream).
Best winter dessert: baked quince
For something quicker, try the crepe shops patronised by the student population at Gounari street, near Navarinou square. "Goody's" is the greek fast-food chain. You will find classic hamburgers, but also souvlaki, pasta, and salads.
Those of you with adventurous tastes should go to Tsarouhas, preferably after a hard night's drinking, for a "patsás" (tripe) soup - a delicious way to prevent a hangover.
Traditional fast food include sandwiches with gyros (pork meat), souvlaki or soutzoukaki (meat balls) offered in many stores for a little over 2€.
Popular budget places to eat can be found in:
Athonos sq.: Preferred by the many students of the city, Athonos square is full of basic Greek taverns mostly serving meat and/or fish accompanied by, wine, retsina (traditional low cost wine) and ouzo. Some feature live Greek music.
Bit Pazar: This area is another lively (and noisy) student hang-out that gets crowded on warm nights. The best ouzeris here are Bit-Pazar and the quieter Selini.
Kastra (Ano Poli): Up the city’s hill, next to the Byzantine walls you can find many nice restaurants with views over the city.
Tsinari: An old district in Ano Poli hosting the eponymous tavern, along with some others.
Ladadika: The old warehouse area near the port, around Morichovou sq., is chock-full of restaurants, bars and clubs. The classiest are Krikelas and Ellinikon, which offers 'appelation d'origine' local delicacies.
Near the White Tower: Zythos-Dore, an upmarket brasserie with a wide range of specialties and interesing ambience.
You can enjoy a meal with house wine in a mid-range restaurant for about 15 €, 20-30€ in a higher-class one.
- Agora, off Ionos Dragoumi.
- Bit-Pazar, Prosfygikis Agoras (between Olympou, Venizelou and Filippou). a great place to eat "meze" and drink,a student hangout.
- Vrotos, off Athonos. Athonos is also full of restaurants, but not as good as this one
- Odos Aristotelous, Odos Aristotelous. most Salonicans know it as the "lepen"
- Myrsini, behind the theatre of the Etairia Makedonikon Spoudon (Macedonian Studies).
- Apo Dyo Horia, off Navarinou square (site of Galerius's palace).
- Kamaras, near Rotonda. great traditional dishes.
- Lila Cafe Bistro, Diogenus 23 Ano Touba, ☎ +0310 947377. Traditional pies and sweets, croissant and cold made dishes accompany the coffee or your drink. Porcelain miniatures and collective drinks are available for originally gifts.
- Pizza da Pepe, Stefanou Tatti 10(side street of Egnatia, near the Aghia Sophia Church), ☎ 2310 242407. For the best pizzas in town head here, but don't tell them you're an Aris Saloniki (football)fan :-)
You won't wonder where to get a drink in a town with this many bars!
Thessaloniki is by far the liveliest city in Northern Greece- maybe even the whole country. Most of the trendy bars at the old seafront(Nikis ave.) and around, many of the tavernas are either downtown or in the old city(kastra). You can also find numerous bars and tavernas at Krini, an area in eastern Thessaloniki. If you want to check out what the whole bouzoukia scene is all about, try the clubs Pyli Axiou and Mamounia, at Vilka. You will also find a lot of night clubs, bars and restaurants in Ladadika, the neighbourhood with the old warehouses next to the port. The student area is around Kamara (the Arch of Galerius), home to many cheaper cafe's and bars.
If you will be in town during summer, take a ride on the floating bars plying the harbour. Every 2h or so they leave from the White Tower area for a small trip (30') in the Gulf of Thessaloniki in the evening. They play mostly ethnic and alternative foreign music.
Among the most popular places to drink a coffee or a beer are:
Aristotle sq (Aristotelous): The most popular tourist cafés and bars lie in the central square of the city and the homonymous street. One can find quiet cafes or noisy ones usually preferred by the young. Breakfast is also served, some restaurants are also available.
Nikis’ av: The center’s seafront avenue is full of cafeterias usually crowded around the clock, available for coffee in daytime and beer or drink at night.
Proxenou Kroromila st.: Parallel to the seafront Nikis avenue is Pr. Koromila street with some cafés and bars.
Iktinou pedestrian: Another place in the city with cafes and bars and a couple of restaurants
Ladadika district: At the west side of the center lies the picturesque neighbourhood of Ladadika (meaning: oil stores). Named this way by the many stores selling oil arrived from the adjacent harbour. Formerly notorious district, recently renovated with many stone build warehouses now host the most known nightclubs with all sorts of music including traditional Greek bouzoukia. Although not the favorite by Thessaloniki’s highest class (modern bouzoukia are not considered a classy kind of entertainment) worth a visit. Quite controversial, some delicate restaurants and greek taverns are located in Morichovou sq., popular during lunch time.
Aretsou: Aretsou is located in the east of the city, part of Nea Krini suberb right next to Kalamaria District. In the seafront Plastira av. one can find delicate cafeterias which change to bars during night featuring loud music and hosting many young.
Karabournaki: A place in Kalamaria district hosting delicate bars, restaurants and pizzerias. All of them along Sofouli street right next to the seasore.
Mediteranean Cosmos Mall: Located 12km east of the city near the Airport
Boat bars: Quite interesting are the boats near the white tower’s seafront, which make a short trip around Thermaikos gulf where you can enjoy a late night city view. Most of them play ethnic and alternative foreign music.
Mylos and Vilka: A set of high-range café, bars, restaurants, ouzeris some with live music at the city’s west. Also hosting concerts, events, exhibitions, music bands, famous greek artists etc.
Also many bars and cafeterias are spread across the city’s center.
Prices: a beer costs 5-6€, an alcohol drink 7-10 € and a coffee 3-4 €.
The Youth Hostel in Thessaloniki, situated in the city center (Alexandrou Svolou St.), is now permanently closed. Backpackers, students and travellers with a low budget can contact email@example.com where dorm beds cost 15€.
- The Tourist Hotel, Mitropoleos Street. Right in the center, cheap, clean and welcoming. In June 2008 a double room was 75 euros including big breakfast.75 euros for a double room incl good breakfast.
- Easyflat. Basic apartments in the city center. Up to 4 or 6 guests per apartment. Average price €50.
- Rex Hotel. Cheap hotel opposite the train station towards the center. Only a 5 minute walk from train station. Not great, but adequate. Two-bedroom in peak season was 60€.
- Hotel Acropoli. Very cheap hotel close to the train station. Clean but shabby rooms, most with a balcony. A triple costs €80 or €60 for a double.
- El Greco Hotel, 23 Egnatia Street., ☎ +30 2310 520 620(firstname.lastname@example.org), . 3-sup star hotel located right in the heart of Thessaloniki,providing you with quality accommodation along with high-end services such as wi-fi internet, parking lot service. Due to its location you can easily and quickly access Aristotelous "piazza", the shopping center of the city, the train station and the international exhibition center of Helexpo. Moreover,it is close to the Aristotle University, the port of the city and next to the historical old city.
- City Hotel, 11 Komninon Street., ☎ +30.2310.269421, . 4 star.
- Kinissi Palace, 41 Egnatia and Syngrou Street, ☎ 231-0508081. 4 star.
- Hotel Luxembourg, Komninon 6, ☎ +30 2310 252600, . 3 star.
- Olympia Hotel. 3 star.
- Tobacco Hotel, Aghiou Dimitriou street, . 4-star boutique hotel (formerly a tobacco warehouse).
- Queen Olga Hotel. east thessaloniki.
- Kapsis Hotel, 2, Oplopiou & Katouni Streets, ☎ +30 2310 232221. 5 star.
- Hotel Philippion, Seich Sou Forest, ☎ +30 231 0203320(email@example.com). The four-star Hotel Philippion is located in the heart of the thickly wooded Seich-Sou Park, overlooking spectacular views of Thessaloniki and Thermaikos Golf. http://www.philippion.gr/3/142/%22
- Park Hotel, 81 Ionos Dragoumi, ☎ +30 2310 524121, . Good breakfast buffet and reasonable prices. Located near the old Administration building.
- Hotel Byzantio, West Peripheral of Thessaloniki, ☎ +302310 690000(firstname.lastname@example.org), . In an all green setting with sparkling water from the surrounding mountains, just a few meters from the water mills, on an area of 5.5 acres, Byzantio Hotel has been designed with much care in detail, aesthetics and functionality.
- Hyatt Regency Thessaloniki, 13 kilometres Thessaloniki-Perea, ☎ +30 231 040 1234(email@example.com), . 5 star hotel with 2 ballrooms, 5 meeting rooms and 3 boardrooms. 2km from the largest casino in Europe.
- Porto Palace Hotel, 65 26th October Avenue, ☎ +30 231 0504504. At the west entrance of the city, near the new harbor/port district. It has direct access to the new financial district and it is just 5 min away from the city center and the shopping area.
- Consulate of Albania: 10 Odysséos Street, Tel. 2310 546656
- Consulate of Australia: 46 Kifissías Street, Kalamaria, Tel. 2310 482322
- Consulate of Belgium: 4 Dodekanísou Street, Tel. 2310 538137
- Consulate of Bulgaria: 1 Abbot Street, Tel. 2310 829210
- Consulate of Canada: 17 Tsimiski Street, Tel. 2310 256350-1
- Consulate of the Czech Republic: 8 Plutarchou Street, Tel. 2310 266415
- Consulate of Chile: 6 Karólou Dil Street, Tel. 2310 237272
- Consulate of the Cyprus : 37 Nikis Avenue, Tel. 2310 260611
- Consulate of Denmark: 26 Komninón Street, Tel. 2310 284065
- Consulate of Finland: 7 Thessaloniki-Oraiokastro Road, Oraiokastro, Tel: 2310 697302
- Consulate of France: 8 Makenzy King Street, Tel. 2310 244030
- Consulate of the Germany: 4a Karolou Dil Street, Tel. 2310 251120
- Consulate of India: 12 Prasakaki Street
- Consulate of FYR of Macedonia: 43 Tsimiski Street, Tel. 2310 277347-8-9
- Consulate of Hungary: 3 Fragkon Street, Tel. 2310 555049
- Consulate of Japan: 45 Fillipou Street, Tel. 2310 286390
- Consulate of Latvia: 34 Mitropoleos Street, Tel. 2310 277463
- Consulate of Lithuania: 8 Komninon Street, Tel. 2310 268110
- Consulate of Luxemburg: 26 Komninon Street, Tel. 2310 248065
- Consulate of Mexico: 311 Monastiriou Avenue, Tel. 2310 270206
- Consulate of The Netherlands: 26 Komninon Street, Tel. 2310 284065
- Consulate of Norway: 12 Makenzy King Street, Tel. 2310 526333
- Consulate of Peru: 192 Monastiriou Avenue, Tel. 2310 566737
- Consulate of the Philippines: 22 Dodekanisou Street, Tel. 2310 556161
- Consulate of Portugal: 3 Vassileos Konstantinou Street, Tel. 2310 228138
- Consulate of Romania: 16 Santas Street, Tel: 2310 340088
- Consulate of Russian Federation: 5 Dimosthenes Street, Tel: 2310 257507
- Consulate of Serbia: 4 Komninon Street, Tel: 2310 244266
- Consulate of Sweden: 26 Komninon Street, Tel: 2310 284065
- Consulate of Switzerland: 47 Nikis Avenue, Tel: 2310 282214
- Consulate of Spain: 9 Victor Hugo Street (Victoros Hougo), Tel: 2310 2310 515391
- Consulate of Turkey: 151 Agiou Demetriou Avenue, Tel: 2310 248452
- Consulate of the United Kingdom: 21 Aristotelous Square, Tel: 2310 278006
- Consulate General of the United States of America: 43 Tsimiski Street, Tel: 2310 242900
The classic trips out of Thessaloniki are:
- the 500 km of wonderful beaches on the two first fingers of Halkidikí peninsula, where many Salonicans (and tourists) spend their holidays. (The third finger is the monastic community of Mount Athos.) In the summer, the Armenistis campground (Sithonia peninsula) stages concerts and other events. Also check out the jazz and classical concerts in Sani (Kassandra peninsula). Try to schedule your visit in summer so that you're not driving back to the city on Sunday evening!
- the Mount Olympus coast, towards Platamonas, a very scenic region which has fallen out of favour with the trendy set but has lost no business - it is now mainly catering to tourists from Eastern Europe.
- Pella, the Macedonian capital during the time of Alexander the Great
- Vergina, the spectacular site of the Macedonian royal tombs
- Dion, a beautiful archeological site near Mount Olympus.
- The Prespa and Doirani lakes near the borders with Albania and Republic of Macedonia respecitvely, the Prespas especially offering an austere and evocative Balkan landscape and plenty of birdwatching.
This page was last edited at 09:46, on 24 March 2009 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by Andreas Routsias, Wikitravel user(s) Local hero and AHeneen, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.