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Thessaloniki Sightseeing; Explore the best of Greece

'Thessaloniki sightseeing- Promenade and the marvelous water front'

Thessaloniki sightseeing plays an ideal role in completing your Greece Travel Diaries. Thessaloniki (erstwhile Salonica) is the country’s second-biggest city after Athens. Tourists may explore beautiful churches, heritages sites, monuments, temper tastebuds with delicious greek delicacies and explore fabulous seafront. Multi-cuisine restaurants, bars are part of vibrant nightlife giving the city a modern touch.

In this blog, we will explore all that Thessaloniki has to offer to the world.

Best places to explored in Thessaloniki

Promenade and the marvelous waterfront, Thessaloniki

While you will walk on the Thessaloniki’s seafront you will get a chance to explore various monuments. These add a special angle to Thessaloniki’s sightseeing. White Tower of Thessaloniki, is a historic monument and museum. During the rule of the Ottoman Empire, this tower became a notorious prison and scene of mass executions, therefore named as the Red Tower or Tower of Blood. Later on, the Hellenic State took over Thessaloniki. Post that the tower was whitewashed as a symbolic gesture of cleansing and that’s when it was renamed as ‘White Tower’.

The White Tower Erstwhile Red Tower or Tower of Blood

'Thessaloniki sightseeing- The White Tower Erstwhile Red Tower or Tower of Blood'
The White Tower Erstwhile Red Tower or Tower of Blood
Promenade and the marvelous water front, Thessaloniki, Greece
Promenade and the marvelous water front

Statue of Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia, Thessaloniki

An impressive statue of Alexander the Great on his horse Bucephalus is a center of attraction in the promenade. Its noticeable that Thessaloniki was founded in 4thcentury BC and was named after the half-sister of Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia, Persia, Babylon, and Asia.

'Thessaloniki Sightseeing; Statue of Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia'
Statue of Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia

Thessaloniki Sightseeing on decorated pirate boats for free on Sea-Front

Another attraction of Thessaloniki Sightseeing is the magnificent view of the city from the sea. Multiple decorated boats are parked on the promenade to offer you free rides. While you may have a drink or coffee during the sail, the rides are absolutely free. The best time would be morning or sunset the boats start every 45 minutes starting from 10.00 am till 9.30 pm.

'Thessaloniki Sightseeing.-Explore the seafront on decorated pirate boats for free'
Decorated pirate boat
'Thessaloniki Sightseeing.-Explore the seafront on decorated pirate boats for free'
Inside View of Decorated pirate boat

View of the city from the sea, Thessaloniki

'Thessaloniki Sightseeing; View of the city from the sea'
Thessaloniki Sightseeing; View of the city from the sea
Thessaloniki Sightseeing; View of the city from the sea
Thessaloniki Sightseeing; View of the city from the sea

A view of the harbour from the sea

The commercial oil ships, machinery are parked amidst water.

'Thessaloniki Sightseeing; A Must buy list; A view of the harbour from the sea
A view of the harbour from the sea

Exploring the best of City on Hop on and Hop Off Bus

Hop-On and Hop-Off bus cover all important sites of Thessaloniki Sightseeing, you can board the bus on any of the stops as per maps. The tickets will cost you EUR 10 for unlimited rides from 9.30 am – till 5.30 pm and are valid for two days.

Thessaloniki Sightseeing; The Religious Side

If you really wish to soak in the culture of any city in the world, you must explore the religious places that may be Church, Shrine, Mosque or temples. You will see Christianity and Islamic values are at par in Thessaloniki because the city has been ruled by various empires having different religious values.

Byzantine Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, Thessaloniki

My first hop-off was the beautiful church of Saint Demetrius. The Church of Saint Demetrius or Hagios Demetrios exists since the time Byzantine Empire. It has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1988. 

'Thessaloniki Sightseeing; Byzantine Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, Thessaloniki, Greece'
Church of Saint Demetrius

The Crypt inside the Church of Saint Demetrius, Thessaloniki, Greece

The ancient remains kept in the part called ‘The Crypt’. In this part underneath the Church of St Demetrios is the place where St Demetrios, along with other Christians of the early Roman period, were martyred. The Crypt displays a collection of sculptures from the 5th century, capitals, closure slabs, and vessels.

'The Crypt inside the Church of Saint Demetrius, Thessaloniki, Greece'

Church of Hagia Sophia, Thessaloniki, Greece

The Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki, Greece, is one of the oldest churches in that city and has been listed as a World Heritage Site on the UNESCO List. This church was also converted into a mosque during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. The motifs on the ceiling give us a hint of the Mosque.

'Thessaloniki Sightseeing- Church Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki, Greece'
Church of Hagia Sophia

The chandelier, colors, the pattern of designs, round curvature and dome-shaped ceilings are inspired by Byzantine and Ottoman times.

'Thessaloniki Sightseeing- Church Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki, Greece'
Church of Hagia Sophia

Thessaloniki Sightseeing; Historic Monuments

Rotunda, Central Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece

I explored most of the sights by walking around. Rotunda has seen multiple changes in different reigns. Rotunda was built in 306 AD on orders of Roman Emperor Galerius, it was supposed to be his mausoleum. Later on, it was made a Church and during the reign of the Ottoman empire it was converted into a mosque and a minaret was added to the structure.  Once again during the Greek rule, it was again converted into a Church. At present, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

'Thessaloniki Sightseeing- Rotunda, Central Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece'
Rotunda, Central Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki Sightseeing has a special angle to it as most of the monuments in Thessaloniki have been transformed multiple numbers of times depending on the religion of prevailing rulers

Thessaloniki Sightseeing.-Rotunda, Central Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece
Rotunda, Central Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece

Night View of The Rotunda, Thessaloniki, Greece

'Thessaloniki Sightseeing- Night View of The Rotunda, Thessaloniki, Greece'
Night View of The Rotunda, Thessaloniki, Greece

Arch of Galerius or Kamara, Thessaloniki, Greece

Arch of Galerius or Kamara that was constructed in early 4th-century AD. It is notable that the arch was built in 298 to 299 AD and dedicated in 303 AD to celebrate the victory of the tetrarch, Galerius, over the Sassanid Persians at the Battle of Satala. 

'Thessaloniki Sightseeing; A Must buy list; Arch of Galerius or Kamara, Central Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece'
Arch of Galerius or Kamara, Central Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece

Night view of Arch of Galerius,Thessaloniki, Greece

'Thessaloniki Sightseeing; Night view of Arch of Galerius'
Night view of Arch of Galerius Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki Sightseeing; The Walls (Fortress), Acropolis & Ano Poli

The Walls of Thessaloniki are surrounding the city since the Middle Ages, large parts of these walls were demolished by the Ottoman empire. The city was fortified from its establishment in the late 4th century BC, but the present walls date from the early Byzantine period.

'Thessaloniki Sightseeing; The Walls (Fortress), Acropolis & Ano Poli'
The Walls (Fortress), Thessaloniki, Greece –Acropolis & Ano Poli

These walls covered the northern side of the city, the Acropolis, and descended the eastern and western sides down to the sea, where they continued along the seafront. 

These are one of the gates of the Fortress in the stretch of the wall you can climb up the stairs to be on top to get the view of the whole city.

'Thessaloniki Sightseeing; The Walls (Fortress), Acropolis & Ano Poli'
The Walls (Fortress), Thessaloniki, Greece –Acropolis & Ano Poli

View of Ano Poli from Walls Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki’s Upper Town called Ano Poli is the highest part of the city and is dominated by the city’s acropolis, a Byzantine and Ottoman-era fort known as the Eptapyrgio.

'Thessaloniki Sightseeing; View of Ano Poli from Walls'
View from Ano Poli, Walls, Thessaloniki, Greece

During the Ottoman period, Ano Poli was the main district for the Turks (Muslims) of the city while Greeks, western Europeans, and Jews lived below around the port. Other areas monuments you may explore are the church of Profitis Elias, the Church of Saint Nicholas Orphanos, the Byzantine bath, the Church of Saint Catherine, the Vlatades Monastery. 

Night View of The Walls (Fortress), Thessaloniki, Greece

'Thessaloniki Sightseeing; Night View of The Walls (Fortress)'
Night View of The Walls (Fortress), Thessaloniki, Greece

The City Centre- Aristotle Square, Thessaloniki, Greece

Aristotle square is the city’s main square and is located bang on the waterfront. A French architect Ernest Hebrard designed it in 1918.

'Thessaloniki Sightseeing; The City Centre- Aristotle Square'
The City Centre- Aristotle Square, Central Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece

Most of the buildings in the square were constructed in the 1950’S. You will see a curvature being formed with two buildings; The Electra Palace Hotel and the Olympion Theatre. Being a city center this square is a focal point for large political rallies, public announcements & Christmas celebrations. A chain of bars, bakery, and restaurants offering a wide range of authentic Greek delicacies keeps the square lively till late at night.

Famous Fresh Food Markets, Thessaloniki, Greece

Both the markets Modiano and Kapini are near Aristotle Square and are open till late for shopping.

Modiano Market

The most famous and traditional market in Thessaloniki is Modiano, designed and constructed in 1922 by Eli Modiano. It has food stores that sell fish, meat, exotic spices, cheeses, and fresh fruits and vegetables. I picked up flavored olives, olive oils, biscuits, and a few spices and a bottle of fresh wine.

Kapani Market

Kapani Market is the city’s oldest market for utensils, household essentials, fresh vegetables. I walked down through the narrow alleyways to purchase some beautiful souvenirs like fridge magnets, wall clocks, miniature statues here.

Excellent hospitality by Hotel Porto Palace, Thessaloniki, Greece

During my trip, I stayed at Hotel Porto Palace. The stay was comfortable and the best part was the breakfast buffet that had options of authentic Greek Cheese and deserts.

Must buy things from Thessaloniki- Shopping time

  • Greek Halwa– A great desert available in multiple flavors like apricot, nuts, pear, pineapple, and orange
  • Wine – The fresh and flavored ones
  • Olive Oils- Harvested oil, Extra Virgin one
  • Fresh Olives- Flavoured Olives of Thessaloniki give a tough competition to Spanish Olives
  • Souvenirs– Wall Clocks (Specially designed in Plaster of Paris), Magnets, statues if your luggage limit permits
  • Clothes/Malls – These are available all over the world, therefore, you should not invest much time in shopping for clothes, etc.

Must do things in Thessaloniki, Greece

  • Gastronomy- Greek food has all the flavors for food lovers. It is spicy, savory, crunchy and includes fresh ingredients. I loved the desserts part including Greek Delicacy ‘Halwa’, Baklawa, dark chocolates.
  • Nightlife near the waterfront- A series of restaurants and bars are open till late near the White House and provide great ambiance and food.
  • Exploring the Walls, While House at Night- The whole area is well lit throughout the night, especially the walls. Many local eateries open up for serving the guest. The city view is amazing at night.

Best mode of transport in Thessaloniki

  • Tourist Buses (Hop-Off and Hop-On)– The City Hop on and Hop-Off is a must recommendation for the tourists. The buses cover important tourist spots and also have recorded commentary in multiple languages.
  • Public Buses– The preferred choice is the public buses as the frequency and network are good and the tickets cost around EUR 1 to 1.5. All the buses have ticket vending and validation machines. 
  • Taxi– These are not metered taxi and they don’t have a card swipe facility also the drivers don’t carry change.
  • Walking is a great way to get around Thessaloniki because most of the city’s sights and attractions are located at close distances. 

Why you should visit Thessaloniki?

  • Greece’s second city Thessaloniki is a destination worth visiting – the New York Times named it one of their top destinations for 2016.
  • Thessaloniki was voted as one of the ‘top tourist destinations in the world’ by National Geographic magazine.
  • The city has close vicinity to Athens, Turkey, Bulgaria, etc. and also direct flights all round the year.
  • If you want to explore Europe and have doubts about wasting more time in getting a Schengen visa, file it through Greece. You will get a visa in 3-4 days.
  • It is home to numerous notable Byzantine monuments, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as several Roman, Ottoman, and Sephardic Jewish structures.
  • Thessaloniki has many beaches such as Perea Beach, Agia Triada Beach, Epanomi Beach, Asprovalta Beach.
  • It is a culinary paradise for food lovers.
  • Thessaloniki has been regarded as a safe place and there is only a low level of crime within the city.
  • The University of Thessaloniki, Aristotle University, is the largest in Greece and the Balkans.

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