The city that has the name of Alexander the Great's sister
Thessaloniki is considered the second capital of Greece, not only in terms of population after Athens, but also because it is the capital of central Macedonia. Situated on the sea and founded in 315 BC, the city was named after a sister of Alexander the Great, Thessaloniki.
A cultural, commercial, industrial and economic centre, Thessaloniki is famous for its numerous Byzantine monuments and Jewish and Ottoman architecture. Architectural remains from the Ottoman period are found mostly in the upper town ("Ano Poli") and feature traditional fountains and wooden buildings that survived the great fire of August 1917.
The medieval fortress
The medieval fortress, situated above the city, is the ideal place to enjoy a magnificent view. The oldest district lies just below. In the city centre visitors can admire stone mosques, numerous ancient monuments up to the Byzantine period and many old churches.
Agios Dimitrios is Thessaloniki’s main church, which dedicated to Dimitrios, the patron saint of the city (a Greek Roman officer who died in the fourth century). The White Tower, a reminder of Turkish occupation, was used as a prison. The port is home to a statue of Alexander the Great, while a statue of Aristotle sits in the homonymous square.
The White Tower
The Roman baths and Roman district are both very interesting, as is the Arch of Galerius (Kamara) dating back to the fourth century. Thessaloniki Archaeology Museum houses striking ancient artefacts from different historic periods. The Museum of the Macedonian Struggle and the Ethnological Museum and, in a more modern style, the Gallery of Fine Arts, Technology Museum, International Trade Fair centre and Expo area are also extremely interesting.
The area of the city nearest to the airport is brought to life by picturesque restaurantsand characteristic taverns and bars where the bouzouki is played. The best known dish of Thessaloniki is the typical "bougatsa", a pastry filled with custard, cheese or meat. The most fashionable night spots are found in the port area, in Ladadika, Krini, Leoforo Nikis, Proxeno and Koromila and in Anavarinou Square.
Around Thessaloniki
Macedonia is an area filled with history and charm. The archaeological site of Vergina, just 20 minutes from Thessaloniki, houses the tomb of King Philip II of Macedonia, father of Alexander the Great. Thessaloniki is the ideal starting point for a visit the regions of Khalkidhiki and Pieria, which have the most beautiful beaches in Greece. Most people looking for sun and sea head to Khalkidhiki, but there are many other appealing stretches of sand, such as Platamonas, Litochoro and Katerini towards the south.
The very beautify peninsulas of the region of Khalkidhiki, which form a trident to the south-east of Thessaloniki, are a popular tourist destination with magnificent beaches, crystal-clear water and a combination of sea, mountains and forests that extend down to the coast. The peninsula of Kassandra, an hour and a half from Thessaloniki, also has very popular beaches.
Cassandra peninsula
Mount Athos, on the eastern peninsula of Khalkidhiki has many Orthodox Christian monasteries built on spectacular cliffs. Only men may enter as guests, and for no longer than four nights. To the south of Thessaloniki, a road journey of an hour and a half away, Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece, was, according to mythology, the residence of the gods. Today Olympus, with its eight peaks, the highest of which is 2,918 metres, is a popular destination for climbers

Text by Eugenio Sorrentino
Update by Alisè Vitri
Avion Tourism Magazine
Photos:, Shutterstock

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Tourism Board



Where to sleep in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki is a welcoming city and offers different possibilities for accommodation.

To find the ideal hotel and the best offers you can do a search for the stars but also for districts or landmarks.

where to go in Thessaloniki
Monuments in Thessaloniki

Platia Agiou Grigoriou Rotunda

This is one of the oldest buildings in the city and it was erected around 300 A.D. by Emperor Galerius as a temple either of Cabeiros or Zeus. The interior of the monument is striking and the huge space beneath the vast dome inspires a sense of awe in the visitor. TheRotunda (also known as Agios Georgios) is a massive round building that was first a Roman mausoleum, then a Christian church and then a mosque.


White Tower, Leoforos Nikis

It is the symbol of Thessaloniki and it was built in the 16th century as a part of the fortifications. It has a total height of 30 metres and a diameter of 70 metres and it consists of 6 floors. In the Ottoman period, the White Tower was a notorious prison and place of execution. In 1890, the tower was whitewashed by a convict in exchange for his freedom. Inside the White Tower, there is now a museum where visitors can enjoy a digital reconstruction of the city’s history


Only a section of the actual palatial complex survives today but the atrium, the basilica, the octagon-throne room allow us to understand how the large palace was. It was built on the verge of the 3rd to 4th century A.D. and it occupied the area between the main Galerian Palace and the eastern part of the fortification wall of Thessaloniki. It is estimated that its total area amounted to about 30,000 square meters and its length ranged between 400 to 500 square meters. 


The Ancient Forum was the administrative centre of ancient Thessaloniki. Its construction began at the end of the 2nd century A.D. And in the double portico of the southern wing were shops which could be reached through a commercial street. The residents of Thessaloniki used to gather at this place in order to attend lectures of their fellow townsmen and local courts open to the public or to discuss political and philosophical issues. 


The Arch of Galerius, known to the people of Thessaloniki as the Kamara was erected at the intersection of the Via Regia, the main road artery crossing the city from east to west, and the processional route which linked the palace to the Rotunda. The arch was built in 298 to 299 and dedicated in 303 to celebrate the victory of the tetrarch Galerius over the Sassanid Persians. The structure was an octopylon forming a triple arch.   


It is the church of the patron saint of Thessaloniki and it was built above the ruins of the roman baths on the site where St. Demetriusmet a martyr’s death. The relics of the saint are kept inside a silver reliquary beneath a replica of the original ciborium. In the crypt of Saint Demetrius, beneath the altar, we can visit the Roman baths in which the saint is traditionally supposed to have martyred.

Museums in Thessaloniki

6 Manoli Andronikou Avenue

The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki is one of the most important museums of Greece. The museum features a permanent exhibition of archaeological relics of Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods from the city of Thessaloniki and the wider area of the region of Macedonia. The new Museum was inaugurated in 1962 in a grand ceremony, exhibiting the impressive finds from the Derveni tombs, which had been found in the same year.


2 Stratou Avenue

The Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki is the first museum in Greece to be awarded in 2005 the Prize of the Council of Europe. We can visit 2,900 artefacts, organised in display units which narrate, in chronological order, "short stories" that present, in a comprehensive and pleasant way, aspects of Byzantine art and culture of Thessaloniki, the second in significance city of the Byzantine Empire, and of Macedonia.


Excursions in Thessaloniki

Mount Athos (Agion Oros) is a unique self-govered monastic state in Nothern Greece, situated at the Chalikidiki peninsula. It is the centre of the Orthodox monasticism. The monastic community of Athos with a thousand year history, is a place of national, historial, religious and cultural value. Mont Athos is also known as “The garden of Blessed Virgin” since Virgin Mary is believed to be the only female ever to have set foot in these holy land. 


Kaimáktsalan ski resort occupies the northeastern slope of Mt. Voras and it is situated 135 km from the capital Thessaloniki. The view from the mountain is amazing, since you can see as far as Thermaikos Gulf, the peak of Mt. Olympos, and Lake Vegoritida. The ski centre is equipped with 6 ski lifts and 13 ski runs, 15 km in total length (4 red, 4 blue, 3 beginners and 2 langlauf slopes), and 4 ski trails of 3,250 metres in length. 

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