Thessaloniki – the second Greece City
Greece’s second city, Thessaloniki, is also one of the country’s top tourist destinations.
It’s a very vibrant city, well known for its nightlife, but it’s full of attractions too and has an appealing coastal location so you can combine your city sightseeing with days on the beach or enjoying the waterfront scene.
The city is also the cultural capital of the country and is renowned for its festivals.
How to get here
As the second largest city in the country, Thessaloniki has good transportation links. It is the capital of Central Macedonia and is located at the northern end of the Thermaic Gulf, a large gulf in the Aegean Sea.
Travelling by air you’ll come into the Thessaloniki International Airport Macedonia which is about 15 kilometres from the city centre, and is linked to the city via 24 hour bus services or taxis.
All flights to Thessaloniki arrive from other European cities so you cannot fly direct from outside of Europe (except from Tel Aviv), however, there’s a very good selection of airlines to choose from once you reach Europe.
Aegean Airlines is one of the main airlines to use the airport, with services from Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, Milan, and also a seasonal service from Tel Aviv.
British Airways flies seasonally from Gatwick, and Ryanair has a good selection of European routes to choose from.
Being on the coast Thessaloniki could also be visited as part of a luxury yacht charter exploring the beautiful Aegean Sea and its coastline!
Thessaloniki is a large city but has a relatively good public transit system.
Right now (2013) bus is the only option though a Metro system is under construction so this will help to ease traffic problems.
If you don’t like using buses ordinarily consider using the Tourist Line (Bus number 50) as this takes a figure-of-eight loop past all the major tourist attractions and sights of the city and is an affordable option. There are private tour bus lines as well which take a similar route.
Weather and climate
Thessaloniki has a humid subtropical climate which gives the city quite a distinction in temperatures between summer and winter. With colder winters than you might expect, Thessaloniki is definitely more of a summer destination. Summers are hot and sunny with an average high around 31C in July and August, and a small amount of rainfall. There’s more rain, sometimes falling as snow, over the winter but temperatures stay pleasant through to October with colder weather beginning from November.
It doesn’t get really cold in Thessaloniki, so you could still sightsee in the winter if you wrap up. The average high in January is just over 9C.
Hotels in Thessaloniki
The Excelsior is a 5 Star boutique hotel and is centrally located close to the business, shopping and leisure heart of the city. It is even Thessaloniki’s one and only member of the “Small Luxury Hotels of the World”.
The Hyatt Regency Thessaloniki is quite a different alternative. It’s set close to the airport, so it’s outside the city centre, and it has more of a resort feel with its lush gardens, large swimming pools, and lots of facilities. There’s a complimentary airport shuttle, and the city is just a short drive.
The locals have always known that Thessaloniki had a great nightlife but the party atmosphere is only more recently being discovered by tourists. Lonely planet rated the city the fifth-best party city in the world in 2010.
You don’t have to go to a club to have a good evening. There are café-bars all over the city that have a lively atmosphere, while on the waterfront trendy bars are abundant. Of course there are nightclubs as well with the typical dance music that you’d expect, but there are also other themed nightclubs such as rock, jazz, and traditional Greek.
Some great Attractions
The Old Town
Known as Ano Poli, the old town of Thessaloniki is a popular part for wandering around and it’s one of the oldest remaining sections of the city.
In 1917 a Great Fire destroyed most of the city but missed this part, so while the newly constructed city features art deco architecture from the period following the fire, Ano Poli still has its older architecture.
The streets are narrower here, and have more character; there are cobbled streets and traditional old houses.
As the highest point of the city you’ll also find a Byzantine fortress at the top of Ano Poli, called the Heptapyrgion. The views from up here, over the city and the bay, are really impressive.
The White Tower
The White Tower is a must-see landmark because not only is it an important historical monument, it is the symbol of Thessaloniki. Set on the waterfront the White Tower was built by the Ottomans to replace an earlier Byzantine fort.
During the Ottoman rule the tower served as a prison and was notorious for its terrible treatment and executions. In an attempt to rid the tower of its demons it was whitewashed when the Greeks took over in 1912. The tower is open today as a museum.
In addition to the White Tower Thessaloniki has a number of museums dedicated to the city’s history, with the most famous and renowned being the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki and the Museum of Byzantine Culture.
The former has many artefacts and exhibits relating to the long history of the city and of Macedonia as a whole, while the latter focuses specifically on the Byzantine culture and its impact on the city.
Once you’ve visited the Byzantine Museum you should head for the numerous churches from this period that you’ll find dotted around the city.
They date from between the 5th and 14th centuries AD and include larger as well as smaller, beautiful churches.
Picture of Agios Demetrios
Among the most significant are Agia Sofia from the 9th century, and Agios Demetrios from the 7th century which is part of a greater World Heritage Site and is said to be the largest basilica in Greece.
More from Greece
Park Guell Barcelona
An amazing excursion in Barcelona
In the center of Barcelona you can enjoy this great and wonderful park. Park Guell was designed and built by Antoni Gaudí, together with his assistant Josep Maria Jujol between 1900-1914.
The park, which is not really a park but a failed construction project is very large and unprecedented in their natural forms, spiral tower stairs and giant lizards. In addition, much of the park is filled with wonderful mosaics.
A large terrace in the middle of the park with a long beautiful mosaic bench where you can relax and enjoy the art, architecture, people and has a great panoramic view of Barcelona.
You often see musicians (who are not beggars, and know what they play) sit here and play, providing a pleasant atmosphere.
Above the site is a great outdoor cafe with drinks and light meals as baguettes and snacks. You order what you want in anything resembling a cave in the rock.
Best Hotels near Park Guell
Want to give you some tips on two fantastic and luxury hotels near Park Guell.
The five star Casa Fuster GL Monumento Built 1908 of the modernist architect Lluis Domènech i Montaner.
It’s a beautiful building and Among many facilities a rooftop pool, a jazz bar and spectacular views of Barcelona. Great rooms and excellent restaurant.
See more pictures and information about Casa Fuster GL here >>
The second is the five star ABaC Restaurant Hotel Barcelona GL Monumento Truly luxurious and just seems to have satisfied guests of reviews
See all hotels near Park Guell here
Antonio Gaudi. His house and museum in Park Guell
Antoni Gaudi’s house where he lived between 1905 – 1926 are also in the park.
It is now a museum where you can see how he lived and take a look at some of his own designed furniture.
The mosaic dragon in Park Guell
Gaudí’s lovely mosaic dragon fountain at the main entrance of Park Guell.
A nice pavilion at the entrance as you enter the Park Guell. You can actually walk around and enjoy the park all day.
The atmosphere and good art make it relaxing even though it is very crowded with tourists all day.
More Barcelona and Spain
Girona is often just a city you arrive by air just to run further to Barcelona or other destinations. Many people therefore miss seeing this beautiful city.
Girona is often just a city you arrive by air just to run further to Barcelona or other destinations.
Many people therefore miss seeing this beautiful city.
a stunning region in southern France
Ancient market towns, coastal scenery, beautiful mountains, fields filled with glorious lavender, vineyards and good cuisine.
Well, this region is all these things and more.
It’s a stunning part of southern France, attracting visitors in their droves ever since Roman times.
Artists, writers, the rich and famous, and typical holidaymakers have all found a fabulous atmosphere, great weather, and hospitality.
Where is Provence?
It is no longer one of the provinces of France; it’s a geographical region and was historically a province.
It was the first Roman province beyond the Alps as they made their way further west into Europe.
Today the boundaries mostly correspond with the modern-day region of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, and it spans a distance from the Mediterranean coast – where it includes the attractive French Riviera – inland to the mountains of the Alps.
The region has been a part of France for over 500 years. Yet, it still keeps its own cultural and language differences, including a varied cuisine that blends Mediterranean and seafood.
Weather and climate
With such a variety of elevations – the low-lying coastal regions, to the Alps mountains – the weather can be quite different from one area to the next.
Along the coast, there’s a lovely Mediterranean climate with mild weather all year round, including hot and relatively dry summers, with calm and damp winters.
The Mistral winds are a distinctive feature of Provence’s climate – it’s a cold and dry wind that mostly blows during the winter.
Up in the higher mountains, the climate changes to Alpine with plenty of snow and colder temperatures – there are some excellent ski resorts to try if you enjoy skiing.
Popular Towns and Cities
You will find many of the country’s finest towns and cities here.
Inland, the scenery and the culture change as you rise to more significant elevations heading into the mountains; towns like Aix-en-Provence and Avignon are popular, as is the beautiful hillside town of Gordes.
Saint-Paul de Vence is also a beautiful village attracting artists from all over the world.
The Wine and Cuisine
One of the things that Provence is best known for is its wine and cuisine.
Wines have been produced here since the Phocaeans settled around 600BC.
Wines have been abundant in the centuries, but they have not always been perfect.
Low-quality varieties have been removed, and the vineyards are now producing much more delicate wines, many of which are rosés.
Choose a good glass of wine to accompany your meal when you’re staying in Provence.
The cuisine here does have a heavy Mediterranean influence with abundant vegetables, and on the coast, seafood is good.
Try a traditional ratatouille (picture above) with some conventional bread of Provence, called Fougasse, or a traditional provencal stew, called Daube.
In Marseille, the classic seafood dish is Bouillabaisse, made with three main fish and many others added.
The dish is heavily seasoned, and many dishes will incorporate the well-known mixture of dried herbs, Herbes de Provence.
Things to do in Provence
More from France