Sprawling along the coastline facing the Thermaic Gulf, Greece’s second city is filled with historical landmarks and boasts a booming food scene. The gateway to northern Greece, the laid-back Thessaloniki is the perfect destination for a city break. Discover it through this series of Instagram shots depicting its beauty.
A city bordering the Thermaic Gulf, Thessaloniki has a waterfront promenade where stands the iconic White Tower. In its interior, the city is dotted with ancient monuments, a plethora of Byzantine churches, and picturesque buildings testament to its rich history.
This is also the birthplace of the bougatsa, a delicious pastry filled with a creamy custard and garnished with powdered sugar and cinammon. This pastry is one of the numerous heritage of Asia Minor brought to Greece by refugees in the 1920s. Of course, today you can find bougatsa virtually anywhere in Greece, but if you are visiting Thessaloniki and want to try it, Bantis is one of the few bougatsa shops that still makes it the traditional way.
Thessaloniki counts many landmarks that are vestiges of its past. One of the most recognizable of them is the White Tower, built in the 15th century. It has lived many lives, serving as a fortification, a garrison, as well as a prison and execution center under the Ottoman rule. Today, you can visit it and climb to its top, allowing you to see the city from above.
The Rotunda of Galerius, also known as the Church of Agios Georgios, or simply the Rotunda, is another landmark in the city center. Built in the early 4th century, it was part of a complex which included the Arch of Galerius or Kamara, less than 500 feet (150m) away, which was connected to the emperor Galerius’ palace. Today, the arch is a popular meeting point.
Navarino Square is also another meeting hub, mostly for students of the nearby university campus. There you can admire the ruins of the Galarius Palace as you sit in the middle of the square.
Aristotelous Square is the city’s central square. Located in the heart of the city, it features impressive buildings and offers a view of the gulf. On days when the sky is clear, you can see mount Olympus, the home of the gods, in the distance.
Tsimiski Street is one of Thessaloniki’s main thoroughfares, lined with shops, cafés and restaurants.
Of the many museums in Thessaloniki, the Museum of Byzantine Culture takes visitors into the heart of this forgotten page of history. There, you will find icons, sculptures, frescoes, as well as mosaics dating from the Byzantine period.
Agia Sofia church is the Metropolitan Church of the city. Built in the 7th century, it still features some murals and 11th century frescoes and mosaics.
For nightlife, one popular destination is Ladadika. A historic district near Aristotelous Square and the port, Ladadika, which used to be the central maket and bazaar of the city, has undergone a major facelift in recent years. Today, many of its buildings have been renovated and converted into bars and restaurants.
Appointed European Capital of Culture in 1997, Thessaloniki has seen many improvements and transformations. One of them is the conversion of the port into an urban cultural park. Now home to the Museum of Photography and the Cinema Museum, where the Thessaloniki Film Festival is held every year, the port is a lively area where locals enjoy meeting to relax and catch up, while contemplating their city.
On the north of Thessaloniki lies the only area of the city that survived the big fire of 1917, Ano Poli, or the Upper Town. This is where you can experience what Thessaloniki looked like in the beginning of the last century.
Home to the Trigonion Tower, Ano Poli is a quaint district filled with little tavernas and cute cafés where you can relax. If you can, visit in the afternoon to catch the sunset. The view is simply magical.
Of course a visit of Thessaloniki is nothing without a stroll along the waterfront. Divided into an old part (from the port to the White Tower) and a newer one, this is central to local public life. Have a walk there and you will quickly see why locals are proud of it.
At some point during your walk, you will spot the statue of Alexander the Great, ruler of the ancient kingdom of Macedon, whose empire stretched all the way to Central Asia. He was born in Pella, close to Thessaloniki.
The waterfront is also home to the “Umbrellas,” a work of art by the Greek sculptor Giorgios Zoggolopoulos.
The structure is illuminated at night, allowing for breathtaking shots. Isn’t it beautiful?
And if you need another reason to visit this beautiful city, here is our last Instagram photo. We hope it makes you want to see it for yourself.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.