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Best things to do in Thessaloniki

Historic Site
“The old watch tower, turned prison, turned museum is the emblem of Thessaloniki.”
96local recommendations
History Museum
“For many the most important of the city’s museums, as Thessaloniki is arguably the city that has the most intense Byzantine character and beauty. The museum is housed in modern facilities that include advanced, well-organized conservation laboratories and storerooms. Hundreds of unique exhibits and artifacts throughout the entire Byzantine period are displayed in several different rooms. It has a rather imposing atmopshere while the presentations are well organized and informative. Discovering Thessaloniki’s Byzantine past It is divided in several different thematic sections and collections that cover a wide time period of the city’s Byzantine past. Wonderful mosaics and wall paintings, Byzantine icons and religious architecture, impressive jewellery, rare books and scripts await you there. A café restaurant, a small amphitheater and a separate section that hosts outdoor exhibitions are some of the extra features available for the visitors. It is considered one of the best designs of public architecture in Greece, as it successfully combines the Greek architectural heritage with modern elements while using modern materials in a really clever way. The Museum of Byzantine Culture has been awarded the Council of Europe’s Museum Prize for the year 2005. For years it remains one of the favorite destinations of the city for the majority of the visitors! For info concerning the main, reduced and combined tickets click here: MBC Tickets Catalogue. You won’t have a hard time finding the museum as it is right next to the Archaeological museum in the center of the city.”
38local recommendations
History Museum
“An incredible collection of historical artefacts in the heart of Thessaloniki.”
42local recommendations
Neighborhood
“Following the most popular shopping street of Thessaloniki, Tsimiski Avenue, right after Platia Eleftherias (Freedom Plaza), you will discover “Ladadika” district, a beautiful walkable area which is one of the favorite destinations for both local and tourist visitors and the city’s college community. Ladadika is one of the hot spots of Thessaloniki when it comes to entertainment. It is located in a central area right opposite to the port’s central gate and within a five-minute walk from Aristotle’s square. The colorful buildings are two-story with wide, rectangular windows and, along with the paved alleys, they exhale the spirit of old Thessaloniki. Here the old merges with the new. Great music, food and chill atmosphere Beautiful Bistro’s and cafes, bars and pubs, clubs and after can be found all over Ladadika The word Ladadika literally means the shops that sell oil and its products. The area used to be the central market and bazaar of the city during the ottoman occupation or even earlier. It was also known as “Egyptian Market”. It hosted numerous shops and stores but since the Great Fire of 1917 and afterwards, it began to decline and some decades later only the oil selling shops remained open. This was until the late ’70s when the area was fully abandoned. In 1985 it was declared a historical monument by the Ministry of Culture; the entire area was protected by law in order to preserve its original style and character. Ladadika soon came back to life, when small taverns, bars and restaurants opened and reoccupied the once abandoned and now renovated old buildings and welcomed the locals and tourists of all ages. Experiencing Thessaloniki’s nightlife The colorful historic buildings and the traditional small plazas turn Ladadika into one of the most beautiful destinations Since the 1990s, the local restaurants and taverns used to be well known for their cheerful, friendly and vibrant atmosphere; even on weekdays and noons the spontaneous dances and small parties between locals and tourists were frequent and the alcohol flowed.. Nowadays, despite the financial crisis, Ladadika still feature one of the most frequently visited places of the city both by locals and by visitors. Espresso bars, coffee shops, tavernas, beer stores and so on can be found here. The colors, sounds and smells of Ladadika will give you a fair taste of Thessalonian entertainment. The entire area is for pedestrians only, thus giving you the chance to take your time, walk around and take a look until you spot the perfect place for you. Make sure you don’t miss Ladadika during your stay in Thessaloniki. If you’d like to discover some similar destinations, be sure to check Valaoritou district and Bit Bazzar as well! While most destinations are considered reasonable and affordable, there are certain places that are more expensive than the average. Looking for quality accommodation near Ladadika? Check our accommodation offers! ”
72local recommendations
Establishment
“The Arch of Galerius (Kamara) is perhaps the most distinctive and interesting roman structure of Thessaloniki. It is also one of the most popular destinations of the city along with the White Tower for both locals and tourists. The arch was commissioned as a triumphal monument by emperor Galerius in order to celebrate the victorious campaign against the Sassanid Persians in 298 A.D. and the capture of their capital Ctesiphon. A monument that has many stories to tell As an excellent sample of the roman monumental architecture of the 4th century A.D., it has wonderfully crafted marble panels on each pillar. They have decorative and narrative characteristics. The sculpted decoration still impresses, while representations of certain events can be easily viewed and studied. While the purpose was to emphasize the triumph of Rome, it is of no surprise that the center of the scenes depicted is the emperor and the imperial family. Emperor Galerius (Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus Augustus) is presented mounted while attacking, as an eagle bearing a victory wreath approaches him. The panel expresses the power of the Roman Caesar, a basic and crucial element of the Roman political theory. The Persian soldiers are depicted significantly smaller in size while they can be easily distinguished by their oriental dressing. The emperor’s figure is dominant and the majority of the scenes is reffered to the battles and triumphs of the campaign. The presence of elephants and especially camels in the Northern pillar of the arch is a rather exotic addition that helps the viewer localize the events. Caesar’s forgiveness and mercifulness (clementia) is also present as a virtue while the emperor is appeared to forgive the defetead enemies. Roman Arch of Galerius (Kamara) Thessaloniki 4th century AD. The Arch of Galerius was an impressive building that would definitely surprise every visitor of the Roman city of Thessalonica Discovering Thessaloniki of the Roman period As part of a larger architectural complex that also included the Palace of Galerius, and the impressive circular structure of Rotonda into one unified entity, it clearly reminds us of the long, rich roman history of the city. Located near ancient Via Egnatia, it was originally forming a triple arch connecting the above structures with the main street. Today in a similar way it is near the modern Egnatia Street, while it remains in a straight line, next to the palace located in Navarino Square in the South, and the Temple of Rotonda in the North. In its initial form the Arch had four main pillars and four secondary, two in the North side and two in the South. Today only two of the main pillars and one of the secondaries are still present and restored. What the Roman citizens of Thessaloniki were able to see in Via Regia (the main street of the city), was an identical building like the present Arch into one single architectural entity. Thessaloniki during the 4th Century AD – Roman period. The Arch of Galerius was located right at the center of the Roman Thessaloniki. It was the connecting element between the Galerian Palace and the temple of Rotonda in the North Always keep in mind that Thessaloniki is a city full of treasures! Sometimes popping up in front of us, sometimes remaining hidden, they will be revealed to those who will look closer and feel the whispers that can still be heard… Being one of the most recognizable and characteristic monuments of the city, ”Kamara” is a landmark for most local residents and a commonly accepted meeting point for the majority of the city’s college students. It is easily accessible, while the majority of the most interesting places worth seeing are within a relatively small walkable distance. After visiting the monument you can relax in one of the several café, located around it. ”
34local recommendations
Plaza
“Aristotle Square is one of the central squares of Thessaloniki. It starts from the semicircular buildings to the north of Mitropoleos Street, which crosses it to this point, and continues up to Niki Avenue, in the sea. The square is a popular spot for tourists and locals, with many refreshments and cafes and is a place for political gatherings and various artistic events. The above imposing buildings of Mitropoleos street house a hotel and the cinema "Olympion".”
37local recommendations
Road
“The biggest shopping street in the north half of greece, with brands from around the world!”
42local recommendations
History Museum
“Built in 306 A.D. by the romans, Rotunda is one of the oldest religious sites of the city. Going back to the late 3rd century A.D., after a number of long devastating wars, the romans decided to divide the Empire into 4 regions, each with its own provinces , thus leading to the creation of a new form of leadership, the Tetrarchy. The administrative needs of the Tetrarchy led Galerius to the construction of the Imperial complex in Thessaloniki because of its importance as one of the capitals, after he came into power being one of the 4 rulers. Galerius Arch (kamara) and Rotunda were basic elements of the palatial complex. Original intensions were predicting its use as a mausoleum, although many archaeologists believe it was initially used as a roman temple. The dimensions of the main structure are quite impressive. Unique mosaics and Roman architecture A central dome (30m high) crowns the structure while the original design was implementing an “Occulus” similar to the one in Pantheon, Rome. A beautifully decorated street, filled with columns was connecting this important cylindrical building to the triumphal Arch in the south. It was turned into a Christian temple around 400 A.D., while decorated at the same time with some wonderful paleo-christian mosaics depicting saints and martyrs. The mosaics that decorate the inside of the building are truly impressive! They have wonderful details and bright colors that surprise most visitors The unusually thick walls of the building reveal the reason rotunda survived a number of devastating earthquakes throughout the centuries. Despite being a Christian temple for 1200 years, it was converted into a mosque in 1590 A.D., during the Ottoman occupation period. Today several discussions are being held regarding its use as a museum, or a church. In December 18, 2015 Rotonda reopened its doors to the public after extended restoration and preservation work, so nowdays everyone will have the chance to enjoy the monument and get a glimpse of its old glory. All around the monument you will discover several places to eat or drink, including coffee shops, little taverns and cozy bars. Because of its location next to the Aristotle University, the place is filled with college students, while the prices are more than reasonable. ”
35local recommendations
Bar
$$$
“You can enjoy your drink or lunch here right next to the seafront in a nice environment with all the old seaside in front of you. Tip: They offer free parking in their establishment! You should expect to pay around 5 € for coffee, 5-10 for drink and 20 for lunch, approximately.”
41local recommendations
Bridal Shop
“Agios Dimitrios is arguably considered the most important church of Thessaloniki by the majority of the locals for religious, historical and artistic reasons as well. Devoted to the patron Saint of the city, it has a long and rich history that pretty much depicts some of the city’s most important events of that shaped its identity. The temple is a fine sample of Byzantine religious architecture of the late early period of the Empire (7th century A.D.). The initial architectural design and interior decoration was significantly deteriorated, due to continuous reconstructions, additions and several disasters that occurred throughout the centuries. Dated back to the 4th century A.D., a small chapel was constructed over the ruins of older roman baths. More than a century later, the initial structure was replaced by a three aisled Basilica, by a prefect named Leontios, while finally reconstructed in 629 – 634 A.D., as a five aisled basilica. During the Ottoman occupation period, the church was turned into a mosque as Thessaloniki was captured by the ottomans. A number of mosaics and wall paintings were destroyed (1430 A.D.). A wonderful temple full of Byzantine treasures A number of different styles applied to the church, make Agios Dimitrios unique in terms of religious art. The church’s unusual hexagonal shrine (ciborium),is of special interest, while the older 5th century mosaics are of special value and beauty. Another interesting event was the fire that nearly destroyed the building in 1917. One of the side effects of this disaster was the revelation of a number of older mosaics dated back to 7th century AD. These mosaics were either created or reconstructed after an older disaster in ~ 630 A.D. This was only a chapter of the tragedy, as the fire of the 1917 destroyed a huge part of the city center as well. After the fire, massive restoration efforts took place that lasted for many years. The place attracts many guests and religious art specialists, especially from central and eastern Europe and many orthodox countries as well. The Crypt The secrets beneath the temple.. The wonderfully crafted, detailed capitals of the columns, the colorful Byzantine mosaics and the underground Crypt will turn your visit into a unique experience! Perhaps the most famous and interesting part of the temple, is the underground ancient “Crypt”. The crypt was re-discovered after the fire of 1917 and was finally restored as an exhibition/museum in 1988. According to the Christian Tradition, the saint was imprisoned here and died in 303 A.D. It is a well-designed and restored ancient building that surprises most visitors because of its atmosphere and exhibits. For more info and photos of the temple’s Crypt click here to view our Facebook page! It is said that the ancient crypt under the temple is just a small part of a huge tunnel system that connects the Roman Palace of Galerius with The Arch of Galerius, Rotunda and the City Walls…. Behind the shrine of the temple you can still see some columns (kiones) from the ancient structures that were later used as material incorporated to the first church, in 4th/5 century A.D. ”
39local recommendations
Gourmet Shop
$$
“Greek cuisine and delicatessen in one big place. Interesting experience! www.ergonfoods.com”
21local recommendations
Electronics Store
“Here you can enjoy your shopping in a facility that contains a lot of famous brands in discount prices”
18local recommendations
Historic Site
“At the heart of the modern city, at the center of Thessaloniki lies a museum that is literally hidden in plain sight, waiting to be discovered! A hidden museum within the Forum Inside the Ancient Agora in one of the busiest places of Roman Thessaloniki awaits you a museum that is located…underground! Most visitors and even some of the locals are surprised when they first realize it, since the entrance is not entirely visible. The museum of Ancient Agora is relatively small compared to others while it is not as popular as other well known destinations like the Museum of Byzantine Culture. The museum of Ancient Agora was completed in 1999 after years of intense construction efforts. It is considered one of the latest and most modern buidings of the city. In order to enter, the visitors have to follow the impressive ancient Roman “Cryptoporticus” arcade that used to be next to the shops of the Forum. If there’s any kind of maintenance works you’ll have to walk along the Forum’s open space that ancient Thessaloneans used to gather and head to the North Western entrance. The importance of the museum is not due to its size or the exhibits displayed. Many of the findings that the excavations brought to light were transferred to other museums like the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki. What makes this museum a great destination is the information offered to the visitors through a very clever and comprehensive way! It is very interesting and easy for everyone to understand! The great fire, Hebrard and the Enchanted ones… Rare info from every historic period and several events that marked Thessaloniki like the loss of the “Enchanted ones” (incantadas), Hebrar’s wonderful vision for a new city and the destructive fire of 1917 will make you deeply understand and love this city! Detailed maps, rich representations and visual content depicting everyday life during the Roman period of Thessaloniki, the Forum itself, its people and the pre-Cassander era (before 315bc) will answer all your questions. The Roman Forum Museum offers valuable information concerning the Roman Forum (Ancient Agora) and Ancient Thessaloniki. You’ll also have the chance to deeply understand the effect of certain major events that shaped the city, like the destructive fire of 1917. The thriller around the excavation of the entire Forum area where the new Court House was initially planned to be built is a very interesting story itself! A visit in the museum will make everyone understand the importance of this city and its people through a comprehensive approach that takes advantage of the great archaeological and topographical wealth. Spend some time after exploring the Roman Forum (Ancient Agora) and believe us, you will not regret it! Just a couple of minutes away, right next to the Forum you will find several shops that offer snacks like mpougatsa, tost or calzone and other delicacies. In Olympoy St located to the North of the Forum you’ll have the chance to enjoy your coffee, drink or beer in one of the many available café. Heading south towards Aristotelous Plaza you within minutes you’ll reach one of the oldest paleo-chrirtian churches of Thessaloniki,the church of Panagia Chalkeon and the 14th century Ottoman Bey Hamam! ”
17local recommendations
Neighborhood
“The old town of Thessaloniki is full of little taverns and cafes, some of which have astonishing view towards the gulf.”
31local recommendations
Plaza
“The Paleo – Christian temple of Agia Sophia is one of the most impressive Byzantine churches of Thesaloniki. Located in the center of the city as well, it is a very beautiful “Domed Basilica” style temple with an imposing architecture, beautiful wall paintings and elaborate mosaics. Having a 1600 years old history, it can easily be considered one of the most important religious sites in Macedonia. The earliest written reference about the structure goes back to 795 A.D., while we can safely assume due to archaeological evidence that another Christian temple existed there, until the destructive earthquake of 620 A.D. An architectural masterpiece in the center of Thessaloniki In terms of religious art, perhaps the most interesting period is the one including the dark years of the Iconoclastic wars. These wars revealed the deep social, religious and financial problems within the Byzantine society during the troubled 8th century A.D. The majority of the wall paintings are dated back to 11th century A.D., while the sculptural decoration of the temple was finalized after several phases. After the Fourth Crusade in 1205 the structure was used as a cathedral by the crusaders, while during the Ottoman invasion in 1430 the church was converted into a mosque. It remained a mosque, until the city’s liberation in 1912. The temple of Agia Sofia is one of several city’s monuments included as a World Heritage Site on the UNESCO list, in 1988. Thessaloniki is considered one of the most important destinations in the world when it comes to Paleochristian Byzantine temples. Like several other monuments of the city, the temple was significantly damaged because of the 1917 fire and was afterwards gradually restored. The restoration of the dome was finally completed in 1980. Church of Agia Sofia, Thessaloniki. The decoration of the interior, especially the mosaics and frescoes makes this place of worship one of the finest in Greece. Round the plaza we can find various worth seeing places, whether you are interested in shopping, having a drink, or just enjoying your coffee. Some of the city’s famous shopping streets are within a small walkable distance from Agia Sofia square. Heading west, you will discover the city’s central plaza of “Aristotelous”, a place surrounded by interesting buildings with beautiful architecture and one of the favorite destinations for the majority of the local residents. ”
28local recommendations
Route
“The heart of the city's nightlife! This area is immensely popular among younger people and is always full of life, try to discover this beautiful area, is full of bars and places to eat, so its really worth it!”
31local recommendations