We had a great time in Thessaloniki and highly recommend visiting this incredible city. Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, is a vibrant and culturally rich destination that offers a unique blend of history, art, and modern urban life. Known for its warm hospitality, delicious cuisine, and lively atmosphere, Thessaloniki is a must-visit for travelers seeking an authentic Greek experience. We’ve visited Thessaloniki three times on various road trips, and of course, we wouldn’t hesitate to go back again. Here are the top things to do in this beautiful city:

White Tower and Statue of Alexander the Great

The White Tower is the most iconic landmark of Thessaloniki. Built in the 15th century, this cylindrical tower offers panoramic views of the city and the Thermaic Gulf. It also houses a museum that presents the history of Thessaloniki through various multimedia exhibits. Adjacent to the White Tower stands the impressive Statue of Alexander the Great, inaugurated in 1974. This statue symbolizes Thessaloniki’s deep connection to the legendary Greek general. Sculpted by Evangelos Moustakas, the statue portrays Alexander on his horse, Bucephalus, and stands 11 meters tall, including its pedestal.

Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki

This museum is one of the most important in Greece, showcasing artifacts from the ancient Macedonian kingdom and other archaeological finds from the region. Highlights include the Derveni Crater and the golden larnax and diadem from the royal tombs of Vergina.

Rotunda of Galerius

Originally built as a mausoleum for Emperor Galerius, the Rotunda is one of the oldest monuments in Thessaloniki, dating back to the early 4th century. The construction of the Rotunda is unique in Greece due to its circular form, which closely follows the architectural style of the Pantheon in Rome.

It stands 29.80 meters tall to its dome, with an interior diameter of 24.50 meters and walls 6.30 meters thick. Constructed using stones, ceramic mortar, and broad bands of bricks, the Rotunda’s roof is tiered in three levels, culminating in a conical dome. Inside, there are eight arched windows and semicircular openings at the base of the dome, providing the primary light sources for the interior.

Ano Poli (Upper Town)

Ano Poli, or the Upper Town, stands as a testament to Thessaloniki’s rich history and resilience. Nestled atop a hill, this ancient quarter miraculously endured the ravages of the Great Fire of 1917, offering visitors a captivating glimpse into the city’s past.

Wandering through Ano Poli feels like stepping back in time. Its labyrinthine cobblestone streets wind their way past beautifully preserved Macedonian houses, adorned with colorful shutters and blooming bougainvillea. Each corner holds a story, inviting exploration and discovery.

For first-time travelers, a stroll through Ano Poli is a must-do experience. Lose yourself in its charming alleyways, where every turn reveals hidden gems waiting to be unearthed. As you meander, take in the panoramic views stretching across Thessaloniki, offering a breathtaking backdrop to your adventure.

The ambiance of Ano Poli is best savored slowly. Pause for a traditional Greek coffee at a quaint cafe, or indulge in mouthwatering meze dishes at a local taverna. Engage with the friendly locals, who are always eager to share their love for their neighborhood and city.

Beyond its architectural splendor, Ano Poli also boasts cultural treasures worth exploring. Visit the Eptapyrgio Fortress, a medieval stronghold that offers insight into Thessaloniki’s turbulent past. Or wander through the cobblestone streets to discover hidden churches and Byzantine monuments, each adding to the area’s allure.

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Byzantine Walls

The Byzantine Walls of Thessaloniki stand as a formidable testament to the city’s fortification prowess and enduring legacy. Constructed in the late 4th century AD, these imposing ramparts once encircled Thessaloniki, serving as a crucial defense against invaders and marauders. Today, they offer a fascinating journey through time, with sections still intact, showcasing intricate masonry and architectural ingenuity.

Walking these ancient fortifications it’s an immersive experience that brings the past to life. Imagine the countless soldiers who once patrolled these walls, standing watch against would-be invaders, or the bustling markets and bustling streets that thrived within the protective embrace of their stone embrace. The Byzantine Walls of Thessaloniki are more than mere remnants of a bygone era; they’re living monuments to the city’s resilience, endurance, and unwavering spirit across the centuries.

Aristotelous Square

Aristotelous Square is the central and most famous square in Thessaloniki. Designed by French architect Ernest Hébrard, the square is lined with impressive neoclassical buildings and is a hub of activity with numerous cafes, restaurants, and shops. It’s a great place to relax and people-watch.

Aristotelous square at Thessaloniki
Modiano and Kapani Markets

Located in the heart of Thessaloniki’s historic center, the Modiano and Kapani markets are vibrant hubs of activity that offer a sensory feast for visitors.

The Modiano Market, named after the Jewish benefactor who funded its construction in the early 20th century, is a bustling covered market filled with stalls selling an array of goods. Here, you’ll find fresh fruits and vegetables, aromatic spices, locally produced cheeses and olives, and an assortment of meats and seafood. The market is also known for its diverse selection of international foods, reflecting Thessaloniki’s multicultural heritage.

Just a stone’s throw away lies the Kapani Market, a lively open-air market that has been a fixture of the city for centuries. This bustling bazaar is a kaleidoscope of colors, scents, and sounds, as vendors peddle their wares amid the hustle and bustle of daily life. Wander through the maze of stalls to discover a treasure trove of goods, including traditional Greek pastries, dried fruits and nuts, handmade crafts, and household items.

Thessaloniki Waterfront (Nea Paralia)

The revamped waterfront area, known as Nea Paralia, is a beautiful place to take a stroll, enjoy a bike ride, or simply relax by the sea. The promenade stretches for several kilometers and features thematic gardens, sculptures, and plenty of spots to enjoy a coffee with a view.

Museum of Byzantine Culture

This museum is dedicated to Byzantine art and culture, featuring an extensive collection of artifacts, including mosaics, icons, frescoes, and jewelry. The museum’s exhibits provide an in-depth look at the Byzantine era and its impact on Thessaloniki.

Ladadika District

Ladadika is a historic district known for its vibrant nightlife and charming atmosphere. Once a bustling commercial area, it has been transformed into a lively neighborhood with a plethora of bars, restaurants, and tavernas. It’s the perfect place to experience Thessaloniki’s nightlife and enjoy some local music.

Church of Saint Demetrios

This 5th-century basilica is dedicated to Saint Demetrios, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most significant religious sites in the city. The church is known for its beautiful mosaics and the crypt where Saint Demetrios was martyred.

Saint Demetrios at Thessaloniki
OTE Tower

The OTE Tower is the only building in Greece that rotates! Located within the premises of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), its construction began in 1968 and was completed in 1970. Designed by architect Alexandros Anastasiadis, this iconic tower features a revolving restaurant at the top, offering the best panoramic views of the city. Reservations are recommended to enjoy a meal while experiencing the stunning vistas.

Culinary Delights

No visit to Thessaloniki is complete without indulging in its culinary delights. The city is famous for its food, from savory dishes like bougatsa (a type of pastry) and gyros to sweet treats like tsoureki (a type of brioche). Be sure to visit local tavernas and restaurants to savor authentic Macedonian cuisine.

Travel Tips

Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Thessaloniki is during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) when the weather is pleasant, and the city is not too crowded.

Transportation: Thessaloniki is well-connected by public transport, including buses and taxis. The city center is compact and walkable, making it easy to explore on foot. For those looking to venture beyond the city limits and explore nearby destinations such as picturesque beaches, charming villages, or ancient ruins, renting a car can be a practical and convenient option. However, if your itinerary primarily focuses on experiencing the rich tapestry of Thessaloniki itself, relying on public transport or walking is highly recommended.

Accommodation: Thessaloniki offers a range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. Staying in the city center provides easy access to most attractions.