Today I’ll tell you what to see and do in Thessaloniki if you only have 24 hours. Although, it is a real sin not to stay several days to discover Thessaloniki, because this port city, the second largest in Greece, has countless charms to explore for days.
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A walk through the historic area of Thessaloniki
After a breakfast consisting of one of the cafés in the area, I recommend starting the day in the picturesque and lofty district of Ano Poli, or old town, admiring the remains of the primitive walled city.
From there, and on your way to the always visible and wonderful Galerius Roundabout, come to Hagios Demetrios (St. Demetrius’ Church), the Roman Agora, Haghia Sophia (St. Sophia’s Church), the Catacombs of Haghios Ioannis, the Galerius Arch and the fantastic White Tower, some of the most acclaimed buildings in the city.
If you take a tip, be sure to visit the fascinating Rotunda (Agios Georgios) on the inside. Open to the public for twenty years, it is the oldest monument in the city.
Amongst all these Byzantine and Ottoman monuments, you will discover neighbourhoods with cobbled streets, traditional houses and local markets where everyday life takes place outside of tourism; which fortunately do not yet have as much Thessaloniki as other areas of the country.
Eating in Aristotle Square
The Greeks, as the unwritten tradition in the countries bordering the Mediterranean dictates, celebrate life on a daily basis. So much so that as soon as a ray of sunshine appears, the terraces of Thessaloniki fill with people who gather to eat or drink something without needing any other excuse than to have a good time.
A good place to appreciate this phenomenon is the busy Aristotle Square, where it is also common to see all kinds of events at any time of the year. The centrally located restaurant Plaisir Brasserie, in the same square, is an excellent option to rest and have a snack or a coffee with a sweet before continuing with the day. Its dessert section is simply extraordinary.
Walking along Nikis Avenue
Taking as a starting point the MOMus museum complex, which includes the interesting Museum of Photography and the Centre for Contemporary Art in the city; and walking along the central Nikis Avenue, which runs in front of the Aegean Sea, Nikis is one of the main arteries of Thessaloniki. The end of this avenue coincides with the White Tower, an ancient fortification transformed into a museum of the history of the city. If you enjoy photography, you can’t miss the views from its terrace.
Like Aristotle Square, it is difficult to walk along this avenue without encountering some event, especially on weekends. To make sure you don’t miss them, take a look at the calendar of events in Thessaloniki to coincide with sports competitions, traditional fairs or festivals of your interest.
See the sunset from a unique perspective
The umbrella sculpture by George Zongolopoulos, an important Greek sculptor and architect, in Alexander’s garden is perhaps the most popular place in Thessaloniki to watch the sunset. Every day, many visitors and locals gather under it to take countless pictures with the unique background that the Aegean Sea offers.
Enjoy a quiet dinner in good company
We recommend a traditional restaurant, the cozy Tsir Tsir Meze, which has an extensive menu of fish and seafood dishes made with fresh products and proximity, or one of the restaurants of fusion and design food that a city like Thessaloniki offers. Away from the busy city centre, the elaborate cuisine of the exclusive Thria restaurant will not leave you indifferent.
Saying goodbye to the day with an evening walk
Tsimiski Street, which crosses the new area of Thessaloniki, takes on a new dimension when night falls. Boutiques, shops of all kinds, shopping malls, cinemas, restaurants and gyms among many other businesses, follow one another without a break in this lively avenue that is frequented by tourists and locals until the shops close.
At a short distance from there, you will find the centrally located Astoria Hotel, highly recommended to enjoy a well-deserved rest. Undoubtedly the perfect end to an unforgettable day in Thessaloniki.
If you dare to continue exploring the city’s surroundings, the lush Chalkidian coast and its three peninsulas are at your disposal very close to Thessaloniki. Already relevant in ancient Greece, this historic region has major tourist attractions such as the sacred Mount Athos, the beaches and islands of transparent waters of the peninsulas of Sithonia and Kassandra in the Aegean Sea and the charming Stagira, famous for being the birthplace of Aristotle.