A man's Travel guide: Thessaloniki
Have you heard of Thessaloniki's cute nickname? The bride of Thermaikos and she is definitely a beautiful, sensual city that lives up to her nickname.
You’ve heard of the capital of Greece, Athens. Most tourists dream about visiting Athens or the islands but very rarely consider the second largest city of the mainland Thessaloniki or Salonika, as the locals call her. It’s a shame as Thessaloniki has a great vibe, amazing restaurants and great bars filled with beautiful women.
Let’s get everything on the table, shall we? Thessaloniki doesn’t have a lot of ancient sites to check out or countless museums like other parts of Greece. But Thessaloniki has an almost exotic feel to her. The locals and visitors describe the city as a woman and there’s even songs calling her an enchanteur. It’s located at Thermaikos bay and offers a long promenade where you can enjoy long walks with the sea view, like the locals do daily. It’s a city filled with tasty smells, friendly beautiful Greek faces and a lot of buzz.
When walking in the streets of Thessaloniki you will be overwhelmed by the amount of gorgeous churches. The city is jammed with them as well as food places. Don’t expect to come back from Thessaloniki without piling a couple of pounds. It’s the food capital of Greece and am sure you’ve tasted or at least heard of how divine Greek cuisine is. Thessaloniki boosts a mix of traditional taverns to very alternative ones. But what they are mostly proud of: desserts and sweets. They have a series of amazing and tasty desserts that any proper traveler needs to dip their hands in.
Talking about desserts you H A V E to try Bougatsa. It’s a sweet phyllo pie (it comes as savoury as well) and no respected Thessalonian starts his day without having one. Try Serraikon which is one of the oldest bougatsa shops in town. Of course, once there you have to also try Trigona Panoramatos from Elenides bakery. Be aware that the line will be huge but these little delicacies are filled with fresh custard cream (sort of, it’s their own recipe) on spot in front of you. Terkenlis tsoureki is also super popular and expect to see all the stores filled with people, with good reason. If you are looking for something classier and alternative for desserts, go to Blé a very upscale bakery which also offers food. Although pricey, is well-worth it and you must try lychnarakia a traditional Cretan pastry but with a Thessalonian twist.
Speaking of food, you have to go to Ladadika. The former infamous district that in recent years has been upscaled with countless high-end restaurants. The area its beautiful and walkable from various points in Thessaloniki and is always packed with people. Its name derives from the olive shops that use to be situated in the area so there is a shop like feel to the restaurants since they have large windows. Try Akron Neotavern where the Greek kitchen is modernized without losing its wholemeal feel. For a more traditional lunch/dinner go to Rouga, the food is hearty and filling, the street where the restaurant is at is simply divine. If you a brunch person, like myself, go to Local which offers a “Greekfied” brunch. If you are into food markets, then you must visit ERGON Agora, you will find the best greek products directly from the producers and great food stalls.
Go to the Kastra area to check out the amazing views of the city and be surrounded by the ruins. The stunning vantage point is called Eptapyrgio Castle and whether you visit during the day or night, you will find that is favourite hangout spot. The streets are filled with cute little mezedopoleia (traditional small plates of food in Greece are called meze) with amazing views. Although it's uphill and a bit of a struggle to walk up, you can very easily take a taxi and walk down after your meal. I told you in Thessaloniki everything revolves around food. If you’re a foodie, you will be in paradise.
When walking around town, you will notice excavation going on and a lot of underground ancient ruins. The reason is that Thessaloniki has been struggling for the past 12 years to build a subway but everywhere they dig they find underground ancient ruins, a problem that plagued Athens as well. Nevertheless, the city has many bus services and cheap taxis, so commuting isn’t difficult. Plus, Thessaloniki is a walkable city all the main attractions and places are relatively close.
Must visits include: The White Tower of Thessaloniki, the statue of Alexander the Great, Agios Demetrios Church and the crypt, the Arch of Galerius, the Rotonda and the Byzantine Baths. Many of these sites are part of UNESCO heritage and worth taking a long walk around them to check them, as they are for the most part open-air and you can check them out whilst strolling. If you’re into museums then you must visit: the Archeological museum, the Museum of Byzantine Culture and the Cinema Museum of Thessaloniki. Salonika is famous for their international film festival and if you have time to kill go to Olympion to see a film you wouldn’t probably be able to watch at a mainstream cinema theatre. When you are there you have to drink a cocktail at Domatio me Thea, a cozy bar with amazing restaurants on top of the cinema. What makes it special? The panoramic view of Aristotelous square.
Another place that offers a spectacular view of the square and Thermaikos gulf is at Electra Palace Hotel bar. I do suggest going around sunset and let your romantic self surface. Of course, you need to check the sunset out on the promenade and enjoy the beautiful twilight whilst strolling or cycling on the side of the water. If you are into views and great pizza Kitchen Bar offers a distant view of the White Tower and is located at the old port. There you will notice a ship passing by which offers the on-board passengers a great view of the city. You can hop on it for free, just by purchasing a coffee from the bar. It’s called Argo the boat, if you ever taken Greek Mythology you recognized the name from the tale of Jason and the Argonauts. The starting and ending point is the White Tower and the boat is themed after the tale.
If you ask any Greek what you must do in Greece, they will respond with: Bouzoukia! You’ve seen it in movies but there is a huge difference nowadays. Bouzoukia now remind more of clubs and a section of the program is in English. Don’t expect any plate smashing (it’s forbidden by law) but you will see the singers getting covered with carnations. If feel though that unless you speak Greek, you won’t be super into it. If you want more traditionally Greek music, you should visit a tavern in the centre which is more laid-back and less noisy.
Thessaloniki offers a lot of day trips options as there are many worth visiting locations nearby such as: lake Kerkini, Meteora, Edessa waterfalls, national park of Axios Delta and more. People visit Thessaloniki because of its multicultural character (Pontius, Armenians, Jews, Arabs and people from Asia Minor used to inhabit her) and the gastronomy. The city is laced with ruins but at the same time newer art-nouveau architecture and post-war buildings, making it a very interesting yet bizarre sight. The city is hipped, affordable, vibrant day and night, safe and friendly. An iconic man will particulary enjoy this erotic city where flirting is mandatory, and the women are keen to meet with interesting tourists. Because of the famed university Aristotelio, the city has a young, hip, busy vibe to her whilst at the same time all the habitants are chilled and relaxed. Perfect combo, right? So, book your flights for Thessaloniki and go enjoy a culinary and relaxing weekend!
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