what to see in Thessaloniki

What to see in Thessaloniki: the ideal destination for a more active holiday

There are not many destinations in Europe that can offer a rich history, lively culture and rest and yet a wild nightlife. Thessaloniki is one of them. It is the second largest town in Greece, one of the oldest in Europe and one of the most important ports in the Balkans. The best time to visit is during the hot summer months when you can seek refreshment after a walk through the town. Despite many people seeing it as a place to shop on your way back from holiday, Thessaloniki has a lot more to offer. Thanks to its rich history, this city is filled with monuments that testify to different periods, but it is also a symbol of survival and renewal.

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With frequent Air Serbia flights you can reach Thessaloniki in just an hour and 15 minutes. The departures are even more frequent during the summer season. For customers to book tickets at the best prices, Air Serbia offers a subscription to its Newsletter. That way, you will be regularly informed about the latest offers and discounts on the price of tickets to every destination you can think of. In addition, Air Serbia will help you with car rental services in Thessaloniki or any other city in Europe.

Thessaloniki through Different Cultures

The city, which stretches in a semicircle along the bay and the slopes of Mount Kedrinos, was named after the beloved sister of Alexander the Great, Thessaloniki. After the Greeks, this city was ruled by the Romans, who conquered it in 168 BC. They used it for a long time as a main link between the eastern and western parts of their vast empire. In the middle of the 15th century, Thessaloniki was conquered by the Turks in their historical campaign in Europe, and ruled for almost five centuries until 1912. The last iteration of the exciting and dark history of Thessaloniki is the great fire that broke out in the city in 1917, almost completely levelling it to the ground. After that, Thessaloniki rose like a phoenix from the ashes, completely changing its appearance and becoming one of the most modern cities in Europe. Thanks to these events, Thessaloniki is full of monuments that speak of its turbulent history and the things that this pearl of Greece has endured.

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A tour of Thessaloniki is unimaginable without a visit to the White Tower. This symbol of the city is 34 metres tall and painted in great detail. The White Tower was built as part of the city walls in the 15th century upon the arrival of the Turks, and it also served as a prison. Prison cells can still be seen in it, in which atrocities were committed against prisoners, due to which this tower was given another name – The Bloody Tower. Today, it is a modern museum that introduces visitors to the history of the city in an interactive way. It is an excellent starting point for a further tour, but also the first panorama of Thessaloniki, which can be seen from its top. Learning about the history of this part of Greece continues in the City Archaeological Museum, which has a valuable collection of artefacts from the Roman period. There are many objects found in the tombs in which Philip of Macedonia and his mother Eurydice were allegedly buried beside each other. One of the important monuments is the church of St. Dimitrija, which throughout history was demolished, rebuilt, turned into a mosque and reopened as an Orthodox shrine. Below it are the famous catacombs that should not be overlooked. Near this is another great attraction of Thessaloniki, Saint Mudorst, or the Rotunda. It is part of the world cultural heritage, and was built to resemble Hagia Sophia. Throughout history, it has been a Latin cathedral, a Turkish mosque and a Byzantine church. Thessaloniki is also home to one of the most impressive monuments of Alexander the Great, as a testimony to the rich Greek historical heritage and Hellenic culture.

Finally, visitors from Serbia are often extremely impressed by the visit to Zejtinlik, the military cemetery that holds the remains of Serbian, French, Italian, Russian and English soldiers who died in the breakthrough on the Thessaloniki front. The material for the construction of this cemetery was brought from Serbia, and around the part where the Serbs are buried, there is a line of cypress trees from Hilandar, which represent the eternal guards over the remains of Serbian fighters and leave visitors very touched. The crypt located in the central part of the cemetery keeps the names of all the fallen warriors. The guide is Djordje Mihailovic, grandson of Sava Mihailovic, the soldier who was tasked with finding the remains of his fallen comrades and bringing them to Zejtinlik.

A Walk Through Thessaloniki – From Traditional to Modern

You can start your walk through Thessaloniki on Aristotle Square, the central square of the city. It pays tribute to the most famous citizen of Thessaloniki, the philosopher and teacher to Alexander the Great. There are many cafes and exclusive boutiques on this square. Ano Poli or the Old Town, is a neighbourhood where you can spend afternoons wandering the beautiful alleys. This is the only part of the city that was spared from the devastating fire, so you can see the original architecture of old Thessaloniki. Ano Poli is a bit reminiscent of a small town by itself, it is extremely quiet, and it lies on the way to another panoramic lookout point, the Trigoniou tower. Since this part of Thessaloniki is extremely steep, and summer temperatures are quite relentless, it is best to reach Ano Poli by bus. A popular tourist attraction is the Gallery Arch, next to the Rotunda. Built of red stone and vividly decorated, the arch has been in place since 303, when it was erected by Emperor Galerius as a sign of victory over the Persians.

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When in Thessaloniki, don’t miss a walk along the legendary Thessaloniki waterfront. The 6-kilometer-long promenade stretches from the White Tower and follows the sea shore to the Music Hall. There are endless lines of trees and green areas with seedlings of rare plants. A special attraction here are the boat-cafes, where you can relax and refresh. The park within the promenade is also a place where you can see interesting sculptures of the modern Greek art scene, but also meet a lot of Thessalonians, since the promenade is favoured for family gatherings of the local population. From here you can watch the breath-taking sunset or enjoy performances of the many local street artists. A little further will take you past the summer houses whose owners were rich Jews, former consulates of European countries and the Ethnographic Museum. You can visit these monuments of culture and art through a free tour that lasts several hours.

The Spirit of Thessaloniki – Where East Meets West

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If you want to get to know Thessaloniki from a different viewpoint and blend in with the locals, there is no better place to start than the city markets, which are right next to Aristotle Square. Kapani is a place where you can enjoy the smells and taste of fresh fruits and vegetables, freshly caught fish and exotic spices. Here you can haggle a bit and feel the traditional Greek temperament. On the other hand, Modiano is a somewhat quieter open-air market, which still reflects the architecture of the 20th century and is home to some of the best Thessaloniki taverns, where you can eat a traditional meal at more than affordable prices. On the other hand, if you want to spend the night partying, the right place is Ladadika. This neighbourhood used to be the poorest in the city and a place where oil was sold, but today it is the lifeblood of Thessaloniki’s nightlife. Music and murmur can be heard at every step, and the repertoire ranges from traditional melodies in taverns to modern rhythms in nightclubs. This can also be a place where you have lunch or drink afternoon coffee, since Ladadika is a neighbourhood of Thessaloniki that never sleeps.