Thessaloniki, the capital of the Region of Macedonia, named after Alexander’s The Great sister, princess Thessaloniki. Thessaloniki was founded by king Cassander in 315BC. However, the region surrounding the city has been inhabited long before, since prehistoric times.

Thessaloniki is a modern European and multicultural city at the center of northern Greece and it is the country’s second largest city. Thessaloniki has a population of 1 million residents (including the urban areas and the larger urban zone) and it is Greece's second major economic, industrial, commercial and political center, and a major transportation hub for the rest of southeastern Europe. 

One can divide the history of the city into five general periods: Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and modern Greek. Thessaloniki is a city, open to both East and West, which has been a starting point on the journeys of many people. Byzantines, Franks, Ottomans and Jews have all made their contribution to the city and its cultural heritage. Thessaloniki has been a crossroad for different nationalities and faiths, the traces of which are still to be seen in the city’s many monuments – the distinctive features of its historic centre -as well as in the stories and traditions of its people.

Every corner of Thessaloniki has some distinctive pleasure to offer, something to satisfy even the most demanding traveler. With its rich and colorful life and architecture, the center of the city is an inviting setting for a walk: there is history on every street corner, in the architecture of the buildings and in the exotic names. There is the Kapani, the oldest of the city’s street markets, and the narrow streets around Athonos Square, where a host of tavernas attract a clientele of young people and students – for both lunch and dinner. In the heart of the city there is the Aristotelous Square with lots of cafe and restaurants with a view at the city's waterfront.

Tourist attractions, venues and activities

Top five must-see destinations:

  • Ancient Pella (46km) - The city where the Alexander the Great was born and reigned
  • Vergina (70km) – An archaeological site with the Royal Tombs Museum (UNESCO World Heritage) 
  • Mount Athos (120km) – The “Holy Mountain” is home to 20 monasteries (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
  • Dion (90km) – The most important archaeological site at Mount Olympus; The home of Greek Gods
  • Meteora (215 km) – Monasteries stand on the top of a rock formation of vertical cliffs (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

CITY ATTRACTIONS FOR CRUISE PASSENGERS
The White Tower (15 minutes walk from the port)
The White Tower is widely regarded as the symbol of Thessaloniki and has been standing for six centuries on the waterfront of the city. The White Tower was built in the fifteenth century as a coastal defense tower. It originally linked the city’s east and south wall perimeter, which was demolished in 1866. For centuries, it was used both as guards’ quarters and as prison. Today, it accommodates a museum with various collections of icons, frescoes and other artifacts, most of them dating from the Byzantine era. It also exhibits byzantine coins dating from the Justinian period of the 13th century.
 
The Ano Poli (Castles) (15 minutes with bus or a taxi from the port)
Although partly modernized, Ano Poli – meaning Upper Town – is still one of the most picturesque districts in Thessaloniki, with a distinct character of its own. The visitor can enjoy the panoramic view of Thessaloniki from its well preserved castles which were used for the protection of the city when attacked by sea. The visitor will also see the so called Eptapyrgio the inner part of the walls, a byzantine fortress serving as a prison for many years.  The tiny streets and traditional houses, the way of life of its inhabitants seems untouched by modernity. “Ano Poli” is certainly the most fundamental part of Thessaloniki’s architectural heritage and its old churches and monuments will also attract the visitor’s interest. The many small taverns to be found there complete the idyllic picture.
 
Aristotelous Square (5 minutes walk from the port)
Aristotelous Square is the only remaining part of architect ErnestHébrard’s plan after the great fire of 1917, which destroyed most of the historical center of Thessaloniki. He designed the axis of Aristotelous Square, so that it would connect the northern part of the square (the city’s administrative building) with the waterfront part of the square. Aristotelous Square serves as a popular spot for tourists and locals with many cafes lining in the two sides of the area.
 
Monuments of the Roman and Byzantine eras
The Roman and Byzantine eras were periods which determined the physical appearance of the city, giving it its distinctive character. Thessaloniki has always been recognized as one of the most important Byzantine cities, where many remains of the period are still to be seen.
 
The Rotunda (the Church of Agios Georgios) (20 minutes walk from the port)
The cylindrical church of Agios Georgios is a roman monument of the city. It was built on the orders of tetrarch Galerius in the 4th century. A few centuries later, Emperor Theodosius embellished it with high artistic quality mosaics and converted it into a Christian church.
 
 Kamara (The arch of Galerius) (20 minutes walk from the port)
Close to the Rotunda stands the famous Kamara – or the Arch of Galerius, to give it its formal title. The Kamara was erected in 298 B.C. to celebrate the victory of tetrarch Galerius of the east district of Macedonia over Sassanice Persians.
 
 The Ancient Roman Agora  (10 minutes walk from the port)
The restored ancient roman agora, a commercial, administrative and social center of the late 2nd century A.C. and the eminent “Las incantadas:, the entrance to the Roman Agora as named by the Hispano-Jews is a monument inscribed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO and some of its parts are also preserved in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
 
 Byzantine Churches (Unesco World Heritage Sites)
The landmarks of Thessaloniki also include many Byzantine churches –among them Aghios Dimitrios (7th century) with its mosaics and catacombs. Tourists must also visit the majestic Aghia Sophia (7th century), whose huge central dome is decorated with a vast mosaic of the Ascension, the Panayia Halkeon (11th century), and the Aheiropoiitos (5th century), with the oldest and best-preserved eastern basilica to have survived to the present day.
 
Museums
Reflecting its history, culture and tradition dating back over many centuries, Thessaloniki has a lot of museums revealing its history from ancient times to the present day. Among the most important are:
 
Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum
The Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum illustrates the life and culture of Macedonian region from the dawn of prehistory to the final days of ancient world and the early years of Christianity. The philosophy of the museum is to re-create the life and daily routine of the people who inhabited the region over the many centuries of the ancient world.
6, M. Andronicou str. Tel. +30 2310 830538, www.amth.gr
 
Museum of Byzantine Culture
Winner of Council of Europe Prize in 2005, the Museum of Byzantine Culture seeks to present various aspects of life in the Byzantine and post-Byzantine periods: art, ideology, social organization, religion and the influence of historical developments and the political situation on the daily life of ordinary people. At the same time the museum serves as an exemplary center for the preservation, research into and promotion of Byzantine and post – Byzantine culture.
2, Stratou Ave. tel. + 30 2310 868570, www.mbp.gr
 
Folk Art & Ethnological Museum of Macedonia and Thrace
The Thessaloniki Folk Art and Ethnological Museum is housed in the Old Governor’s Residence, built in 1906. The Museum has a permanent exhibition on the Mills of Thessaloniki and Thrace and Traditional Costumes of Macedonia and Trace, 1860 – 1960.
68, V. Olgas str., tel. + 30 2310 830591
 
Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art
The Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art provides the visitors the opportunity to acquaint themselves with visual artists from Greece and abroad, through major exhibitions and parallel events. 154, Egnatia str., Helexpo, tel. + 30 2310 240 002, www.mmca.gr
 
Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki
Jewish population in Greece was the oldest in mainland Europe, and was mostly Sephardic. Thessaloniki became the largest center of the Sephardic Jews, who nicknamed the city “la madre de Israel” (Israel's mother) because of this.
The collection of the museum includes Jewish costumes, domestic ware and a rich photographic archive, depicting the life of Jewish people in Thessaloniki. It is housed in a monumental building in the city center. Furthermore, in the market of Modiano tourists can visit the Jewish Historical Museum of Thessaloniki which has a permanent photography exhibition.
Agios Minas 13 str., tel: +30 2310 250406.
 
WHAT TO DO IN THE CITY OF THESSALONIKI
Taste the famous Greek cuisine
Good food and wine has always been part of the good life. The city of Thessaloniki is characterized as the “heaven” of gourmet food. All lovers of good food will be delighted with the choices offered in the historical and commercial center of the city. In the city center the visitor can discover picturesque tavernas with their own distinctive look and character, as well as luxurious restaurants. Mediterranean cuisine is well represented, but it is also possible to enjoy international and gourmet cuisine, as well as local dishes.

The Ladadika district, close to the port, is an authentic and unspoiled part of the city’s history. The renovated buildings give the sense of older times, while the visitors can enjoy their meal or dinner in one of the numerous tavernas located in the area.

Also in the Old City (“Ano Poli”), there are tavernas and bars with panoramic views of the city, many of them tucked away in the narrow streets in the shade of the Byzantine walls, a living part of the city’s history.

Along the city’s waterfront till the Peraia district, just outside the city, there are a large number of fish tavernas offering a wide range of dishes.  These are wonderful places allowing you to sit at the water’s edge, enjoying your food and having a great view to the sea.

Thessaloniki is also renowned for its food markets. At the Modiano Market, the visitor will find the authentic cuisine of Thessaloniki, rich in colors and flavors. Within the Modiano Market, adjacent to the butchers’, fishmongers’ and greengrocers’ stalls, the visitor can also find little tavernas and cafes.
 
Thessaloniki by night
The evening begins at a leisurely pace in Thessaloniki, with food and a coffee – although the restaurants and cafes stay open till late – and then continues with a relaxed drink at a bar before going somewhere more exciting like a club. Someone could say that the entertainment never ends…
 
Shopping
As in so many other facets of its life, in shopping Thessaloniki combines the traditional with the modern, the old and familiar with the latest trends from abroad. Along Tsimiski, Agias Sophias, Mitropoleos, Karolou Diehl, Proxenou Koromila and Aristotelous streets, there are numerous haute – couture boutiques, gift shops which can satisfy even the most demanding customer. Other commercial streets in the center offering a wide choice of goods to shoppers are Ermou, Egnatia, Pavlou Mela, Vassileos Irakeliou, Venizelou and Ionos Dragoumi streets. All the major international fashion houses are represented in Thessaloniki, while local craftsmen produce their own masterpieces in leather, copper and bronze, not to mention the fine work of the city’s jewelers. There are also numerous shopping malls, some of which are in the city center, while the larger ones are located on the outskirts of the city.

Making easier the shopping experience for cruise passengers
The Commercial Association of Thessaloniki has recently released the Thessbonus card. This card can be used by the cruise passengers, simply by sending an SMS from their mobile phone. In a few minutes they will receive an MMS with a bar-code. That’s it! From that time the cruise passenger enters in a world full of bonuses. With the bonus card, the cruise passengers:

  1. Can benefit from special discounts and bonus points at the stores cooperating with the Thessbonus card programme.
  2. Can be informed which stores are offering discounts near their location.
  3. Can be informed which stores are selling the products they want to buy.

More info at www.thessbonus.gr

The city of Thessaloniki (along with the nearby destinations) gives the opportunity to the cruise companies to offer various shore excursions to their passengers satisfying their peculiar needs.
City Tour (duration 4-4,5 hours)
The city tour include visits to the most well-known monuments of Thessaloniki.

  • White tower
  • Ano poli – Castle
  • Rotunda
  • Galerius Arch
  • Saint Dimitrios
  • The ancient Roman Agora

Jewish monuments excursion (duration 3,5 hours)
This specialized tour includes the main Jewish monuments in Thessaloniki.

  • Jewish cemetery
  • Jewish holocaust memorial
  • Villa Modiano
  • Modiano market
  • Villa Mordoch
  • Villa Allatini

In the footsteps of Paul the Apostle (duration 3 hours)
In 50 AD St. Paul visited Thessaloniki in order to propagate Christianity to the city’s residents. The duration of the Apostle in the city is a matter for speculation. Due to his sermon, Paul the Apostle has been pursued by supporters of other religions. He escaped from an area in the city in the vicinity of which the Vlatadon monastery was later founded. Not far from the spot where the Vlatadon monastery stands today, there was a spring. According to a local lore, Paul the Apostle stopped here to quench his thirst. After the liberation of Thessaloniki from the Ottomans, in 1912, a church dedicated to Paul the Apostle was built near the spring. Paul the Apostle left from Thessaloniki in a hurry. But he never forgot the Christians he left behind. Proof of his concern is the two Epistles to the Thessalonians which are among the most important documents of Christianity. This specialized tour include visit to the Vlatadon Monastery, the Spring of Paul the Apostle and to the church dedicated to him.
 
Vergina (Unesco World Heritage Site) – tombs of the ancient Macedonian Kings (duration 4,5-5 hours)
At the southernmost edge of Macedonian plain, nestling in the foothills of Pieria, lies Aiyes – the first city of the Macedonians. Ancient Aiyes (now known as Vergina) is 80 kilometres far from Thessaloniki and was the capital of the ancient Macedonian kingdom. In the late 1970’s the eminent archaeologist Manolis Andronikos uncovered the tombs of the Macedonian kings, concealed under the so – called Megali Toumba – the Great Mound. It was here that the famous golden casket was found with the “Sun” of Vergina, the symbol of the kingdom of Philip II and Alexander IV.
 
Dion-Dion Archaeological museum (duration 4-4,5 hours)
Dion, the location sacred to Zeus at the foot of Mt. Olympus, is just 85 kilometres away from Thessaloniki. The royal dynasties of Macedonians attached enormous importance to the city. From as early as the end of 5th century BC magnificent ceremonies and sacrifices to Zeus and the Muses of Pieria took place here. The archaeological site is organized to provide visitors with a unique tour experience. At the end of the tour, visitors must visit the Dion Archaeological Museum, which holds all the findings excavated at the site. One of the most famous of these is the 2nd century mosaic from the symposium room, depicting the triumph of God Dionysus.
 
Stagira (duration 4,5-5 hours)
Birthplace of the philosopher and sage Aristotle, who was both a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great, the little town of Stagira in Halkidiki is just 70 kilometres away from Thessaloniki. The city was destroyed by Philip II and then rebuilted by Alexander in honor of his tutor.
Visitors can see also the park with the statue of Aristotle, as well as a number of towers (one of them dating from the 16th century) some public baths and the tower of Madem Aga, from the time when blast furnaces were operating here. The town’s main church is dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin and dates from 1814.
 
Mount Olympus (duration 5,5-6 hours)
It was no accident that the twelve gods made Mt. Olympus their home; the remote beauty of the mountain, its inaccessible peaks covered with snow all year round, stimulated the fertile imagination of the ancient Greeks. Arriving at the town of Litochoro at the foot of Mt. Olympus, it is easy to see why the early inhabitants of the region imagined these hills and mountains as the scene of the Battle of the Titans. Olympus, the physical boundary between the regions of Macedonia and Thessaly, is the highest mountain in Greece (2,917 metres).
 
Petralona cave (duration 5 hours)
The cave of Petralona is among the top 5 caves in Greece. This unbelievably beautiful cave, with its stalagmites and stalactites, is also of great anthropological importance. It is where traces of the first “homo sapiens in Europe” were found. The tour includes a visit to the cave and nearby museum, as well as the picturesque neighboring village of Athitos.
 
SPECIALISED HALF OR FULL DAY TOURS
Thessaloniki can serve as an excellent starting point for tours/excursions to nearby destinations of Northern Greece. The following are some very popular half or one-days tours:
 
Mount Athos (Unesco World Heritage Site)
The unique ‘monastery republic’ of Mount Athos is internationally recognized as a sanctuary of Christian faith. A guided boat trip takes visitors along the coastline of Mount Athos, where they can view the unique landscape and the magnificent architecture of the monasteries. The itinerary can also include a stopover at the fishermen’s village of Ouranoupolis for lunch and swim.
 
Chalkidiki
Chalkidiki is popular summer tourist destination since late 1950's. Chalkidiki has many beautiful beaches with crystal-clear waters. Tourists can enjoy a swim as well as several facilities that can be found in all beaches (beach-bars, water sports, snorkeling etc). Also tourists can visit some of the many picturesque villages of Chalkidiki and have a delicious lunch by the sea.
 
Vineyards and Wineries of Northern Greece
Northern Greece is one of the most important wine–producing regions of the country. Wine brands produced in this region of Greece have been awarded with many international medals and distinctions. Thessaloniki itself is the home of many famous wineries. Visits to wineries in Thessaloniki or other nearby destinations can easily be arranged. Some of the most popular half day itineraries combine visits to wineries with visits to nearby archaeological attractions such as Pella and Vergina.
An excursion to a winery often includes a lunch at the winery or at a nearby traditional Greek tavern, so that visitors can experience the authentic Northern Greek gastronomy and wine culture.
 
INCENTIVE PROGRAMS
Incentive programs are offered by local organizers that combine their destination knowledge with their imagination and creativity, in order to produce incentive activities that are both original and enjoyable. Programs are designed to suit the client’s special interests and preferences. The city’s history, culture and joyful lifestyle, the natural beauty of neighboring destinations, the indulging gastronomy and long tradition in wine – making, are unending sources of inspiration for successful incentives. Incentive programs could include activities such as:
• Greek Cookery demonstrations/lessons
• Winery visits/wine – tasting events
• Spa Experiences
• Scuba Diving and water sports at over 40 “Blue Flag” beaches nearby
• Hiking in the pine forests of Northern Greece

Tourist Info
Local Population: The city of Thessaloniki (along with the nearby destinations) gives the opportunity to the cruise companies to offer various shore excursions to their passengers satisfying their peculiar needs.
Time (GMT+/-): +2
First language:
Greek
Second language:  
Currency:
EURO
Banking hours (morning): From 08:00 to 14:30
Banking hours (afternoon): From 15:00 to 18:00
Credit cards: Visa, Master card, American Express, Diners
Accepts Travellers Cheques: Yes
Shopping hours (morning): From 09:00 to 15:00
Shopping hours (afternoon): From 17:00 to 21:00
Public holidays: 1/1, 6/1,25/3,1/5,15/8,21/10,28/10,25-26/12
Shops are open on Saturdays: Yes
Shops are open on Sundays: No
Tourist Office Department of Tourism Police
Contact Name:  
Address: Dodekanisou 4, 24626
Tel. No.: +(30) 2310 554874
Fax No.: +(30)2310 554870
Email:  
Website: www.astynomia.gr
Tourist Office Greek National Tourism Organisation
Contact Name:  
Address: Tsimiski 136 (new building of Y.M.C.A.)
Tel. No.: +(30) 2310 252170
Fax No.: +(30)2310 251621
Email:  
Website:  

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