5 Things You Can’t Miss: Thessaloniki

by Anthony Losanno
White Tower Thessaloniki 2

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When people picture a holiday in Greece, Mykonos and Santorini spring to mind. While these islands get the most fanfare and Athens is a stop for most tourists (even if just transiting), there is a lot more to see in this country. Thessaloniki is Greece’s second-largest city. It’s the capitol of the region known as Macedonia and home to over one-million residents. Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman rulers all left their mark and what is left is a cosmopolitan city with great food, nightlife, and lots to explore.

Here are five things you can’t miss on your visit.

Vlatadon Monastery

5. Vlatadon Monastery

When you want to feel like you’ve left the city, head here. Vlatadon Monastery was built in the 14th century and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. If the 14th century isn’t old enough, it’s said that in 50/51 AD, Paul the Apostle preached where the church is currently located. The grounds are peaceful with several small buildings, gardens, chickens, white peacocks, sheep, and even deer. It’s a nice break from the crowds and a good place to sit and relax.

Can’t Miss: look for the gilded paintings and mosaics inside the chapel.

Address: Eptapirgiou 64, Thessaloniki 546 34, Greece


4. Heptapyrgion

Heptapyrgion, Eptapyrgio, or also known by its Ottoman name of Yedi Kule was an Ottoman-era fortress from the 12th century. It became a prison in the 1890s and stayed open until 1989. For many years, the prison was the main penitentiary and it incarcerated all those convicted, regardless of their gender or crime. Restoration began in the 1970s and is still ongoing.

Kapani Market

3. Kapani Market

If a city has a market, I’m going to be there. Kapani Market has a rather dark history as the marketplace became the site of martyrdom in 1821, when Turks hung five Christian leaders here. Thankfully, it’s now a bustling place of commerce with produce, meat, fish, and lots of souvenirs. This is Thessaloniki’s most crowded market and it provides a good mix for both locals and tourists.

Can’t Miss: watch the old timers haggle for meat and seafood as butchers cut up their wares with cigarettes precariously dangling from their lips.

Address: Vlali, Thessaloniki 546 24, Greece

Kalamitsi Beach

2. Kalamitsi Beach

If you have a car, it’s worth taking the two-hour drive to the Halkadiki region and Kalamitsi Beach. The white sand beach and crystal clear water are very popular and you’ll find the shore crowded with Greek and foreign tourists. There are restaurants, shops, bars, and even chair/umbrella rentals here. This beautiful cove is located at the southern tip of Sithonia and a nice play to spend the day.

Can’t Miss: Hike up the hill for panoramic views of the area and the hippy commune that has its own beach on the other side of the bay.

Address: No Specific address available but Google Maps got us there.

White Tower Thessaloniki

1. The White Tower

The symbol of Thessaloniki is also a light workout when climbing up inside. The White Tower is not the steepest tower I’ve climbed but it’s worth the short trek to the top. During Ottoman rule, the tower was a notorious prison and the place for executions. It was then known as the Red Tower or Tower of Blood. Today it’s a museum with great views of the waterfront. In 1912, Greece took custody of the tower and whitewashed it. After climbing up and taking in the view, leave some time to stroll the waterfront.

Can’t Miss: take in the waterfront to check out the sculptures and touristy pirate ships in the water. The views from the top are gorgeous.

Address: Thessaloniki 546 21, Greece

Come for the history and stay for the beaches. These are my can’t miss picks for Thessaloniki.

Hyatt Regency Thessaloniki Pool

Bonus Hotel Pick: We stayed at two hotels in Thessaloniki. One in the city (The Excelsior Hotel) and one outside. I would recommend both. The Excelsior was a convenient walk to many attractions while the Hyatt Regency Thessaloniki had great elite recognition and beautiful grounds. It’s a resort versus a city hotel and both have their plusses and minuses. I’d recommend splitting your time like we did for the best of both. And, they both can earn you Hyatt points.

Address: Excelsior Hotel: 10 Komninon & 23 Mitropoleos Av, Thessaloniki 546 24, Greece | Hyatt Regency Thessaloniki: 13 kilometres -Perea, 570 01, Greece

Check out my full review of the Hyatt Regency Thessaloniki here and my review of The Excelsior Hotel here.

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jsm December 9, 2022 - 3:26 am

Hard to believe, considering that Thessaloniki by the turn of the 20th Century was the one European city where a majority of the residents were Jewish, that nothing of that heritage could make the top 5 points of interest. Surely there’s something to mark the historic fact or, since the Jewish population went from around 62,000 to about 1,400 today, we should simply forget.

Frankfurt Airport Lufthansa
Anthony Losanno December 9, 2022 - 3:46 am

What I did learn while there was that many of the Jews that lived in Thessaloniki came from Spain after being expelled by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. The tragedy of World War II befell this population that was thriving in Thessaloniki (the largest Jewish population in Greece). There is a small museum but not much else to commemorate the people that once lived there.You have a point that there should be more to honor those that once called the city home.

Loodgieter Utrecht December 9, 2022 - 8:49 pm

Thessaloniki is a city in Greece. It is located on the south coast of the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece. Thessaloniki is a major transportation hub and commercial centre, with a large port for ferry traffic to other Greek islands and the Aegean Sea; it is also an industrial centre, with shipyards, steelworks, chemical works and aluminium smelters.

The city has a variety of cultural attractions including one of the largest theatres in Europe, the National Theatre of Greece (Εθνικό Τραγούδι), one of the most important museums in Greece, Thessaloniki Municipal Museum (Ναυτικό Μοστράκι) and many ancient monuments.

Written by Loodgieter Utrecht


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