The second largest city in Greece and the capital of Central Macedonia, Thessaloniki (or Thessaloniki in Greek) is today the cultural capital of the country: the city is known for its festivals and events. In addition, it is also a city with more than 3,000 years of history, where the imprints of the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman empires, as well as the once dominant Jewish population, have been preserved. The old city center, located north of the modern center, miraculously survived the great fire of 1917. Now it is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Check topschoolsintheusa.com to learn more about Greece.
The history of Thessaloniki begins in the 4th century BC. e., when King Cassander decided to found a city in honor of his wife, half-sister of Alexander the Great. But life and culture originated at this place much earlier, as evidenced by numerous archaeological excavations, during which traces of Neanderthals were found, which are considered the most ancient on the entire European continent.
In the 90s. In the 20th century, Thessaloniki was awarded the title of European Capital of Culture.
Although Thessaloniki was once considered a beach resort, big city life has left its mark: compared to other Greek cities, the coast here is not very suitable for swimming, and the cargo port pollutes the water. But the beaches in the suburbs are very good. There, tourists are waiting for the cleanest sea, sandy shore and all the necessary infrastructure. The most picturesque places are on the Halkidiki peninsula. True, a lot of people come there on weekends, so it’s better to sunbathe there on weekdays.
The coast in the vicinity of Thessaloniki is covered with sand mixed with very small pebbles. Somewhere it is not noticeable at all. The entrance to the sea is almost everywhere gentle, which is important for families with kids. There are no very strong waves, but it is still better to look after the children.
Almost all beaches are municipal and free, you only have to pay for renting sun loungers and umbrellas. A set of an umbrella and two sunbeds costs 7-10 EUR per day, on some beaches the rental is included in the price of a drink at the beach bar. You can bring your own towel and sit right on the sand.
The clear and calm waters of the Aegean Sea are ideal for diving. There are several dive centers in Thessaloniki offering those who wish to admire the marine life, swim around the coral reefs and look into the underwater caves. There are 15 interesting diving sites in the vicinity of the city, including several shipwrecks. Beginners will be able to make only introductory dives and look at bright fish, but experienced divers will like the caves located a few kilometers from the beach. These are original underwater grottoes, in which rays passing through the water column sparkle on sunny days. In the suburbs of Thessaloniki, near the Kassandra peninsula, there are three dive sites located close to each other, where octopuses, eels, cuttlefish, seahorses and several dozen species of fish live.
Many centers work not only with experienced divers, but also with beginners, train and issue certificates. The cost of one dive is from 45 EUR, all the necessary equipment can be taken on the spot. It is better to refrain from independent diving: the fact is that underwater archaeological excavations are actively carried out in Greece, and diving is prohibited in these places.
Thessaloniki is one of the best places for shopping in Greece, as most of the shops are concentrated in the city center, almost all major brands are represented, and the prices are low.
“Fashion Square” is limited by three parallel streets – Tsimiki, Egnatia, Mitropoleos and Ayas Sophias, Aristotelous, Venizelou and Paleon Patron Germanou crossing them. Here you can find everything your heart desires: from expensive boutiques to antiques, from perfumes to jewelry. For more active shopping, you should go to large shopping centers on the outskirts: Mediterranean Cosmos, 10 km from the city, Mega Outlet, located on the way to the airport, and City Gate near the port. On the main square of the resort there is a small and cozy shopping complex Alpha Odeon. Sales in Thessaloniki twice a year – in winter and summer. The first begins in mid-January and lasts 2-4 weeks, the second – July 15 and until the end of summer.
For groceries, it is best to go to the markets, for example, the largest “Modiano” in the city center, surrounded by flower shops and old Turkish baths.
Local souvenirs and specialties: handmade napkins and tablecloths, leather and furs, ceramics and jewelry, bronze, copper and, of course, olive oil and cheeses. Interesting goods can be found at the famous Capani Agora flea market (Menexe, 25). Here you can find amazing old dolls, dishes and interior items. Read more: shopping in Thessaloniki.
Cuisine and restaurants of Thessaloniki
As in all of Greece, the cuisine in Thessaloniki is based on olive oil, vegetables, herbs and cheeses. It is worth trying moussaka – eggplant baked with potatoes and minced meat, as well as the “melizanosalata” salad, which is based on the same eggplants. Unusual dish “kolokifoanfi” – stuffed zucchini flowers. But the Greek salad is familiar to everyone, but here it will be much tastier than at home. Of the desserts, the most popular are “loukoumades” – very sweet and very fatty donuts.
Among the different types of food, tourists are attracted by taverns where Greek cuisine is presented. Lunch per person with a glass of homemade wine in such places will cost 15-20 EUR. By the way, the Greeks themselves are very fond of taverns and can sit in them for hours. It is better to go where the locals eat – it will definitely be delicious. There are ordinary taverns, meat, fish and the so-called “mesedopolio”, that is, snack bars.
Prices in restaurants
Prices in restaurants are higher: you can have a hearty dinner for 25-30 EUR, portions are very large everywhere, you can take one for two. For light snacks, pizzerias and pastry shops are suitable; you will pay no more than 10 EUR in them. You can visit the “tiropitadiko” bakeries to try puff pastries with a variety of fillings. From fast food, the most interesting are “gyros” (something like our shawarma) and “suvlaki” (small skewers in a tortilla) for 3-5 EUR.
Tourists usually do not go to establishments called “kafenio”, and local women are not allowed there either. These are kind of clubs for older Greeks, where they drink, smoke and communicate with each other.
In Thessaloniki, you can pay by card almost everywhere, but it’s better to clarify this. Tips are usually included in the bill, just rounding it up. If desired, you can leave another 5-10% on top.