As British Airways started flying again from Gatwick to Greece’s second city, Thessaloniki, Lotus UK and the Greek National Tourism Organisation have put together a list of our favourite things to see and do in this vibrant and historical city.
BA now flies four times a week to Thessaloniki and as it takes just over three hours of flying time, it has never been easier to discover this cosmopolitan city with its Byzantine history, waterfront cafes and energetic youth culture.
Top 10 Bars & Clubs.
Thessaloniki’s nightlife is legendary, and the sheer volume of bars and clubs would seem to serve a population twice its size. Yet they are all popular and buzzing.
1. La Doze Vilara 1 & Suggrou, 546 25 Thessaloníki. A post modern bar and arts space. It boasts a collection of rare spirits from which are created fabulous cocktails. www.facebook.com
2. Coo Café / Bar, Vasileos Irakleiou 4, Thessaloniki 546 25. Have a drink and enjoy new acts, and live indie music. www.facebook.com
3. Bord de l'eau Egnatia 45, 54630 Thessaloniki. This is a new cultural hotspot borne from an abandoned arcade. The hipster venue serves up high quality, freshly made food, coffees and cocktails in its café & bar, while the adjoining exhibition space exhibits art and handmade jewellery. www.facebook.com
4. Cityzen: Urban Café & Wine Bar, 12 Paleon Parton Germanou Street. Serving drinks and coffees all day, the wine variety is unrivalled in the city and can get very busy! www.facebook.com
5. Pastaflora Darling, 6 Zefxidos Street. A vintage café and bar serving cocktails in its funky retro décor. www.facebook.com
6. Cocktail Bar, Polytexneiou 17a. The creativity of the cocktails here has become the talk of the town along with the DJs and good prices. Discuss your likes with the mixologist and they will tailor a cocktail just for you. www.facebook.com
7. Sinatra, mitropoleos 20 & komninon, 54624 Thessaloníki. Describing itself as an espresso wine bar – it is a concept store, creating new coffee cocktails. For the less adventurous it also serves Greek wines and a bistro menu. www.facebook.com
8. Rover: Rock Bar Club, Salaminos 6, Ladadika, 54626 Thessaloníki. An excellent venue for live music, especially rock and blues. www.facebook.com
9. Thermaïkos, Leof Nikis 23. A popular waterfront bar-club, Thermaikos was a pioneer of the seafront’s rejuvenation. Its style, music and the sunset views have attracted actors, musicians and artists throughout its 22 year history. www.thermaikos.net
10. The Residents Bar, Stratigou Kallari 4. A hip music venue, which has continued to innovate throughout its 30 year history. www.facebook.com
Top Sites in Thessaloniki – which also happen to be free!
1. Jump on a bike and enjoy the longest urban waterfront in Europe. Five km of shoreline takes you from the port to the city’s Concert Hall and you can enjoy a view of Mount Olympus on the way. www.enjoythessaloniki.com
2. Stroll around Ano Poli. Walking around Ano Poli or the ‘old city’ will take you past ancient remains of the city walls, castles and towers – many of which were built to resist Turkish threat, and nearly all are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites. The area also features beautiful, traditional and colourful houses, narrow stone-paved streets, and traditional tavernas. www.anopoli.eu
3. Visit the Symbol of Thessaloniki – the White Tower adopted as a symbol of the city, the cylindrical White Tower was built in the 15th century on the site of an older Byzantine tower. Now housing an interactive museum, a café at the top and a viewing platform with fantastic views over the sea and city, it is a must-see on a trip to Thessaloniki. www.lpth.gr/en/
4. Take in the food markets, enjoy the aromas and colours of the Kapani, Mondiano and Vlali food markets, which were all built by the wealthy Jews of the city in the early 1900s.
5. Walk to Thessaloniki’s Port. Not only is the Port of Thessaloniki one of the largest Greek seaports, but on Quay One is listed building Warehouse 1, where the city’s cinema museum is housed. The museum’s mission is to gather, preserve and display items from the life of the cinema in Greece. The Museum has the largest cinema library in Greece, with 6,500 titles. www.thessaloniki.gr
6. Watch the most spectacular sunsets from the waterfront. Situated in a bay, Thessaloniki is renowned to have mesmerizing sunsets – and sunrises too.
7. Enjoy a Youth Capital 2014 event. Thessaloniki has been named as Europe’s Youth Capital in 2014 and there are many free events to enjoy such as the Reworks Festival, an Electronic Music Festival in September. A free street party will be held in the city centre while a range of top name DJs will take to the decks. www.residentadvisor.net
8. Go to Aristotelous Square. The Aristotelous Square at the centre of city has curved, columned facades open to the waterfront in one direction while it frames views of the historic Ano Poli in the other. Surprisingly new, its history stems from the Great Fire of 1917 that destroyed two thirds of the city. Designed by French architect Ernest Hébrard in 1918, it was mostly built in the 1950s and 12 of its buildings were listed by the Hellenic Republic.
9. The Roman Monuments of Galerius Complex. The Arch of Galerius and the Rotunda were built in the early 4th century and are important ancient monuments - the only ones of their kind from this period preserved in Greece. Check out the intricate relief scenes of victorious battles on the Arch. www.thessaloniki.gr
10. UNESCO central. Thanks to its history stretching back to Hellenic times, Thessaloniki boasts 15 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Most of the sites are from the early Christian-Byzantine times. Visit some of the most beautiful orthodox churches such as Aghios Demetrius built in the fifth century, Aghia Sophia seventh century and Moni Vlatadon, twelfth century. www.thessaloniki.gr
Images from left to right:
1. Abriendo Mentes, Costa Rica, Copyright KateHood.com
2. Nuevas Esperanzas, Nicaragua
3. Vidarte Space, Brazil