The second largest city in Greece is Thessaloniki, in the far north. It is known for its fabulous food, rich cultural heritage, and beautiful scenery. It is a year round destination, known for its youthful energy, ancient archaeological sites, and bustling port.
Also known as Salonika, or Saloniki, is home to some of the greatest musicians, poets, thinkers, and artists.
First, let’s start each morning with some bougatsa, flaky layers of filo pastry, with warm custard filling, then topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar. The recipes at each bakery are a deep, family secret. But best of all, a cup of strong Greek coffee goes perfectly each morning.
But don’t stop at breakfast. The restaurants here are known for their creative street food, as well as fine dining. The flavors are bold, and pair perfectly with the abundant agriculture surrounding the city. Most restaurants create their own spin on traditional, mixed meze dishes, but always with the local wine.
The big shopping district here is Tsimiski Street, with big brands and boutiques mixed in. Here, jewelry, handbags and unique clothing appeal to the younger set. Bezesteni Market is the place for spices, sweets and kitchen goods.
Somewhat uniquely, Thessaloniki has a museum for every period of their history. For the ancient Greek and Roman period, visit the Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum. The Museum of Byzantine Culture features mosaics and iconography. And the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art emphasizes the creative heart of the city and area.
To my liking, the Promenade is the city’s best asset. The seaside location is perfect for an evening stroll with an ice cream in hand, harbor cruises, and ferries to ports far and near.
Thessaloniki is one of the most beautiful cities in Greece. Eptapyrgio Castle is the perfect place to see the city lights. White Tower on the seafront was a brutal prison, now a museum with stunning views.
Ano Poli, or the Upper Town, is the historic neighborhood that escaped the Great Fires of 1917. Here, many Ottoman era homes remain, along with numerous tavernas, such as Tixo Tixo attract locals and tourists.
But street food is fast, cheap and authentic here. Souvlaki, skewers of pork or chicken, served alone or as a wrap, is the popular choice. A side of tzatziki (yogurt dip with cucumber) or tirokafteri (spicy cheese dip) pair perfectly.
The city boasts a strong Jewish history, with a synagogue and museum. Having once boasted over 50,000 Jewish people, 95% were killed during the Holocaust. The community numbers only about 1500 today.
Speaking of parties, the Valaoritou district is the city’s happening spot for parties and clubbing.
Local wine is found nearby at Ktima Gerovassilou, a vineyard and wine museum with 720 acres. But save yourself for the local tsipouro, a 40-45% alcohol of distilled spirit, a traditional un-aged brandy.
From their website: Thessaloniki is easy to fall in love with – it has beauty, chaos, history and culture, a remarkable cuisine and wonderful, vast sea views! Findings prove that Thessaloniki has been inhabited since prehistoric times, marked by multiculturalism, yet its present-day modernized state is charmingly intertwined with archaeological sites, byzantine churches and other significant monuments from the past!
I think you can tell I will be busy for a few days here. My approach here is simple, a more manageable version of Athens. Everyone says it is a great place to visit!