Thessaloniki, or Slonica, may feel like Athens little sister but should definitely not be underestimated.
Greece’s second largest city and capital of the state of Macedonia is located almost 500 km from Athens in a bay at the Thermatic Gulf. Named after Alexander the Greats’ sister, the cities history began in 316 BC and led its inhabitants through the Roman period, the Byzantine era and the Ottoman period to its independence in 1912. Today, Thessaloniki and its people beam with hospitality and kindness. This is one of the reason friends of mine who own Zone Garage Calgary decided to make this the first stop on their recent trip to Greece.
It is very easy to navigate the city and it only takes a good 30 minute walk from the waterfront at the lower end to the hilly higher end. As the different historic periods left their marks, there is quite a lot to discover and it is easy to forget time when you walk through Ano Poli, the upper town, and it´s steep, labyrinth streets and stop at its hidden cafes and impressive ruins. The Jewish community influenced areas in the lower town settling in Thessaloniki in the 15th and 16th century. This contributes to its diversity until today with an awe-inspiring synagogue, remarkable mansions and moving exhibitions at the Jewish Museum.
When you feel like recharging your batteries, do not forget about Modiano Market. Local vendors offer fresh fruits and vegetables, delicious Greek olives, tempting sweets and traditional drinks, you simply cannot resist!
The rather easy-going Greek lifestyle invites visitors to get an iced Frappe Coffee and take a rest at one of the squares, watching the hustle and bustle of the city or stroll past the White Tower and enjoy the stunning view over the sea.
Those looking for indoor activities will not be disappointed by the cities countless museums and churches or find themselves drawn into one of the many shops selling local arts and craft work.
You can end your day in one of the modern bars or traditional tavernas with some finger licking dishes, sweet indulgences like revani (a syrupy semolina cake), ouzo or raki and a mesmerizing sunset.
It is all too easy to spend day after day, strolling around the city, discovering yet another hidden treasure in the streets of Thessaloniki, getting carried away by imagining what life must have been like in the ancient times.
If you think these reasons aren´t good enough to check for the next flight to Thessaloniki right away, there is more!
Just a short ride from the city the popular peninsular Halkidiki enchants its visitors with dazzling beaches and lovely towns. And if you drive down the opposite side of the coastline, Mount Olympus challenges you to a hike and rewards you with a stunning landscape and a unique view over the sea.
So if you want to get away and enjoy a relaxing holiday on your own, with your partner or a group of friends, while having every option to explore a vibrant city, UNESCO monuments, culinary delights and a pulsating nightlife as well a inviting cafés, blue flag winner beaches and picturesque landscapes for wandering and hiking, Thessaloniki should be top of your list!