Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece but I wonder why most tourists don't go there! It’s a beautiful city with a very different history from the rest of Greece and I absolutely recommend a visit.
Read on to know the top 7 things you must do when in Thessaloniki, Greece!
1. Take in the Panoramic View of the City from Trigonio Tower
The Trigonio Tower is a Byzantine monument that is part of the City Walls of Thessaloniki. It is also known as the Triangle Tower. From here, you get to see a beautiful view of the city of Thessaloniki, right up to the waterfront. The City Walls originally surrounded the City on all sides, including the south sea-facing part of the city, which was demolished during the 19th
century. Today, you can still see a lot of the wall structures in the Northern & Eastern side of the city.
2. Awaken your soul at the Churches of Agios Dimitrios and Agia Sophia
Church of Agios Dimitrios (also Hagios Demetrios) is a church dedicated to the protector saint of Thessaloniki, Saint Dimitrios. The Church is built upon a Roman Bath and you can see the remains of the structure in the underground Crypt. It is here that Saint Dimitrios was imprisoned and killed around 303 A.D. The temple is a perfect sample of the Byzantine Architecture and was also turned into a mosque during the Ottoman rule.
While the church is open till late, the crypt closes in the afternoon for some time. It would be best to visit it before 1 pm. Agia Sophia (also, Hagia Sophia) is one of the oldest churches in the city and is adorned with décor from the Byzantine period & Ottoman rule. The walls are painted with floral motifs in the lower half – from when it was turned into a Mosque, while the gold mosaic and frescos from the original Church were left untouched and can be seen towards the upper half of the Church, still in good condition.
There are many churches in Thessaloniki. Depending on your love for Byzantine Architecture and/or the time you have, you could also visit – Church of Panagia Chalkeon, Church of the Acheiropoietos, Church of Hosios David and Church of Prophet Elijah, all within a radius of 1 km from Agios Dimitrios
3. Have a meal at Aristoteleous Square
Aristoteleous Square is the city’s main square and was designed by French architect Ernest Hébrard. It is located right opposite the city’s waterfront and is a great place to park yourself down at one of the many cafés for a nice meal!
4. Admire the Beauty of The Arch Of Galerius and The Rotunda
The Arch Of Galerius (also known as Kamara) was built in early 4th
Century AD along with the Rotunda and the Galerius Palace. It has intricate marble carvings (that depict a story) and is absolutely stunning.
The palace remains can be found to the south-west of the Arch at a distance of less than 0.5 km. The Rotunda can be seen from the Arch, towards the north. The Rotunda (Also Rotonda Of Galerius / Greek Orthodox Church of Agios Georgios) especially has a very interesting history. It was used as a Mausoleum of Roman Emperor Galerius, though some believe it was a Roman Temple originally. It was then turned to a Christian Church around 400 A.D. and converted to a Mosque during the Ottoman rule.
It was used as a church once again in modern-day Thessaloniki, before it was declared an Archeological site and opened to the public. Today, holy mass is still conducted here once a month. The Rotunda is open till 4 pm on a regular day.
5. Soak in the history at the Greek Agora / Roman Forum
You must have been to a dozen archeological sites in other parts of Greece. But just seeing this large field with ruins of the Ancient Agora in the midst of a modern city is very interesting. Take a walk around it and discover the many building ruins and stories. There’s a lot of history behind this place, so don’t forget to read up about it in detail. One interesting story is that during the 1960s while laying the foundation of a new Court House, the workers came across these ruins and with the help of Archeologists, they uncovered the entire field as is seen today. However, there was a lot of chaos over whether they should continue to build the courthouse over the Roman Forum or whether they should preserve it. The historians won this battle of course, as it remains till today an Archeological site.
6. Daydream by the Waterfront
If you’ve done it right, you’ve had a satisfying day but your feet may be quite exhausted. Here’s your chance to relax by the waterfront for some time. Once you’re up for it, take a stroll from the Music Garden all the way up to Aristoteleous Square. This would take you about 1 hour. The sunset is absolutely gorgeous from here. You’ll pass by the historical monument – White Tower (read up about its dark history), The statue of Alexander The Great, a beautiful sculpture called The Zongolopoulos Umbrellas, Nea Paralia and many gardens, all very Instagram-worthy!
7. Enjoy the nightlife at Ladadika
Ladidika is a beautiful place to visit any time of the day, but at night it is so much livelier! It’s got a lot of good restaurants and many of them will have live Greek music in the evenings, so don’t miss out on that! Drink wine, eat good food, dance to the music and be merry! Greeks tend to have dinner quite late, so if you go in early between 8pm and 9pm, you shouldn’t have trouble finding a table. And that’s how you end your beautiful day in Thessaloniki. There are plenty of other things to do in this city, but these are my top sightseeing recommendations. You get to have an easy yet satisfying day and also cover all the main sites with enough time to explore each of them. Drop me a comment below if you found this helpful!