Thessaloniki is a bustling cosmopolitan city full of history and culture, built on the bones of ancient cities before it, they still peek up through the ground in places reminding you of just how old this place really is.
It’s the second largest city of Greece, with a population of 4million.
Before I moved to Greece I had never even heard of it, but since meeting my boyfriend, who is from there I have been given the insider’s guide to is special and most secret local spots that you won’t find in a lonely planet book.
Thessaloniki is a student city with many large universities, parks, ancient buildings dotted around the city streets, if you fly into Thessaloniki you will arrive at the airport of Macedonia (SKG). Since I have spent most of my time between ‘kentro’ AKA the centre and Harilaou (sort of like the mount eden) of Thessaloniki my recommendations will be for these two areas.
- You can take busses for a 1 euro ticket to most places between kentro and harilaou on the number 10 bus.
- Taxis to and from the airport from the centre cost 20 euros
Airbnb offers a lot of accommodation options in Thessaloniki especially in the centre, I have never stayed in a hotel here, so I can’t recommend you any, but some apartments that I have used and liked are linked below;
- https://abnb.me/yAPf8hj3sL - this was by far my favorite
So, once you have your accommodation sorted there are a few spots you should visit;
Bit bazaar it’s a small square of interlinked Greek restaurants favorited by students, explaining how to get there is difficult if you’re not a local. Its surrounded by the four streets “El.Venizelou” “Olimpou” “Tositsa” and “Filippou” this is the most authentic spot you can go to eat in Thessaloniki, and to be like a real Greek you will eat at the earliest 9pm but 10pm is better.
Timing is key in Greece, if you eat at 8pm you will miss live music, and the bustling ambiance of Greek culture. When ordering at a Greek restaurant ALWAYS ask what special dishes they recommend, they could have a recipe passed down from their great grandmother that’ll blow your socks off, but it won’t be on the menu.
If you are completely clueless for what to order, ask for a mezze (a small selection of tasting plates) or simply ask what’s good and tell them if you prefer meat or fish; Greeks are hugely accommodating so there are no issues asking for help.
Don’t go to “fancy” Greek restaurants in Thessaloniki the food is much better at the local spots.
They also have some vegan restaurants opening; “roots” and “the saint’s stores” do great Greek vegan food.
My ultimate breakfast spot is “Estrella” they do a mean breakfast my favorite is their salmon and cream cheese black waffle made with charcoal; no, it doesn’t taste any different due to it's color.
Food is extremely cheap compared to New Zealand prices, so you can eat out and enjoy a great standard of food. If you'd like to order in also download the “efood” app and have it delivered straight to your accommodation, most stores deliver until 12 o’clock at night.
Going out for wine is a whole other thing, usually you go for dinner then wine, then out, that’s the Greek way, but you can also just go for wine and then go out, if you are like me and you want to relax after you eat or just go home to get ready. Anyway my favorite little wine shop is one street in the center called “Apostolou Pavlou” it’s about three shops next to each other, ask to try the hot wine with spices, it will blow your mind.
This is also extremely close to my favorite pizza shop where you can buy a slice for around 1 euro, walking down from the wine stores you will find Pizza Chris; I love the mushrooms slice.
Unlike Athens Thessaloniki’s ancient ruins are not grouped in one easy place like the acropolis, they are dotted around the city, but there is the white tower, along the waterfront which from the top gives you a beautiful view of the sea side section of the central city.
I would recommend Thessaloniki for anyone who loves Greek life, good food and shopping.
Other notable spots in the centre of Thessaloniki are;
- TSIMISKI STREET – shopping