Thessaloniki may be Greece’s second city, but it’s second to none when it comes to bars and nightlife. With high-end wine bars, cosy cocktail lounges and everything in between, Thessaloniki’s bar scene never fails to impress and surprise.
With new watering holes popping up in every neighbourhood, Thessaloniki is making a name for itself as a nightlife destination. This nocturnal city has no shortage of places to enjoy an early-evening glass of Greek wine, live jazz bands or innovative cocktails until the wee hours of the morning.
Where to drink the finest wine
Bar, Wine Bar, Wine, Greek
Right in the heart of the lively Valaoritou district lies every wine lover’s dream – Oinovate. With its name an apt fusion of the Greek word for wine (oinos) and ‘innovate’, this wine bar offers its customers a unique experience. Instead of recommending well-known wines, Oinovate’s goal is to showcase lesser-known, but still excellent, Greek wine producers. The wines on offer change with the seasons and are accompanied by expertly paired small plates or cheese platters.
Found near the bustling Plateia Emporiou (Commercial Square), CHILAI takes customers from early-morning coffee through to lunch and late-night drinks. Beyond its elaborate interior and varied food menu, the bar’s wine list is the star of the show with over 100 wines from Greece and abroad – but it’s not limited to that. With expert mixologists at hand, CHILAI also serves exceptional cocktails.
Tucked away in a stoa (arcade) on Egnatia Street is Bord de l’eau (meaning ‘waterside’ in French). The “result of a creative experiment”, as described by owner Asterios Koukontzilas, in the stoa, five independent spaces unite – the BDL Design Factory, home to handmade jewellery; the Eye Altering art gallery; the NGO Creativity Platform; graphic design studio Monoscopic; and, of course, Bord de l’eau. With different DJ sets every night, it is the ideal place to go out with friends for a relaxed night out. When it comes to cocktails, the mixologists suggest trying their version of a bloody mary or the Rabbit Hole, a signature cocktail made of vodka and home-made carrot syrup.
Minimalist Ypsilon hosts art and music events, exceptional dining and a buzzing bar | Courtesy of Ypsilon
Set in one of the last standing Neoclassical architectural masterpieces from before the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917, Ypsilon is a multipurpose space that hosts art, music and exceptional dining. In the evening, this versatile venue is one of the city’s most popular bars. “Here, we have a new cultural field: entertainment meets history, music, co-working, fine food and drink,” says Katerina Mamali, co-owner of the establishment. It’s where visitors can spend their entire day, either attending an exhibition or a performance, participating in a workshop, going to an event or grabbing a bite. Within this broad scope, Ypsilon’s bar is especially known for its one-of-a-kind cocktails. Mamali suggests trying Goodbye Guadeloupe, which transports cocktail connoisseurs to a Caribbean beach.
“We wanted to find a bar where we could drink tasty cocktails, listen to good music and where the staff members were friendly. We never found it, so we decided to create it ourselves,” says Achilleas Plakidas, owner of Gorílas. The bar has become known for its creative concept menus, which centre on a particular theme. In 2019, Gorílas presented the ‘My First’ menu, introducing childhood flavours, smells and memories – whether it is a bubblegum ‘first bath’ or a spearmint ‘first kiss’. Hungry? Venture just a few steps away for world cuisine and street food at Gorílas’s sister businesses, Mahalo and Three Pieces.
Nothing compares to good music and a cold beer. Gambrinus, named after a legendary king of Flanders famed for his brewing abilities, is a Czech-inspired beer bar with an ample selection of both local and foreign beers. Its cosy spot in the Stoa Malakopi and hearty Czech dishes create an ambience worthy of Prague.
Sandwiched between Navarinou Square and the historic Hagia Sophia Church on Svolou Street, PULP Bar boasts over 160 kinds of beer. Combining the feel of a British pub with rock’n’roll music, neon lighting and bright-red eccentric decor, this bar creates the perfect atmosphere for a pint.
Baobab combines chilled vibes with eclectic music | Courtesy of Baobab
Baobab is the perfect evening destination for making memories and enjoying next-level music. Its minimal yet charming character encourages guests to focus on their company and live in the moment. “I want people to pay attention to each other rather than the place itself – to focus on things that have meaning like the quality of the drinks, good music and great service,” says Niko, owner of the bar. What makes Baobab stand out, however, is its music. Visitors can dance to the sounds of vinyl-playing DJs, with the soundtrack taking in jazz, soul and afrobeat.
From traditional Greek coffee heated over coal embers to a wide assortment of retro spirits and liqueurs, Kafodeio Elliniko is a blast from the past. The antiques scattered along the bar, the red velvet curtains engulfing the stage and the black-and-white photographs hanging from the wall transport visitors to a Thessaloniki of yesteryear. Taking the experience up a notch, Kafodeio Elliniko hosts several live music performances weekly, mostly spotlighting local bands and performers – from rock and jazz to blues and pop.
Duende Jazz Bar hosts live jazz bands from around Greece as well as international acts | Courtesy of Duende Jazz Bar
Duende Jazz Bar on Kalapothaki Street, just a few steps away from the sea, lives up to its name – a Spanish term that stands for passion, inspiration and spirit. Originally from the city of Larissa, Duende made its way to Thessaloniki in 2015. The owner of the bar, Kostas Voultsidis – a musician, saxophonist and jazz lover – decided to make his passion a way of life. The bar now hosts live jazz bands from Greece and abroad.