Thessaloniki is the second-largest Greek city and it is also called Salonica. The city offers a combination of rich multicultural history, cosmopolitan culture and a laid-back vibe which is quite uncommon in a densely populated area. The city is a great place to go if you want to experience Greece without the crowds. There are lots of historical landmarks, world-class archaeology museum, ancient ruins, Byzantine churches, and a wide range of attractions that you can explore. Some of the best things to do in Thessaloniki are listed below.
Top things to do in Thessaloniki
Go sightseeing at the White Tower of Thessaloniki
This is a cylindrical, six-story White Tower and it is one of the things that will come to mind when you think of the city. The tower was built as a reinforcement on the eastern end of the harbor and can be found right on the water. It was built during the 15th century after the city was taken by the Ottoman Empire. The tower is 34m tall and it houses a museum where you can get an insight into the history of Thessaloniki. The best thing is that the tower has a multilingual audio guide which will explain the exhibits and you should also make sure you climb to the peak of the tower to enjoy panoramic views over Thessaloniki and its harbor.
Visit Ano Poli
This is among the few areas in the city that were not razed by the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917. The area can be found in the north of Agios Dimitrios on the highest point of the city and it extends to the Byzantine walls. The area is a great place to go if you want to explore the Macedonian and Balkan architectural tradition while you also get the chance to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is a perfect spot for architecture and culture lovers that wants to explore the local tastes and see stunning views of the city from above.
Explore the Archaeological Museum
This museum is a great place not to miss while in Thessaloniki. The museum houses Archaic, Hellenistic, Classical, and Roman-era artifacts that are excavated in the city and across Macedonia. You are going to find archaeological finds from the 6th-century Ionic temple and also a palace complex that was built by Galerius, the 4th-century emperor. You can check out the Gold of Macedon exhibition which houses finds from cemeteries at Sindos, Derveni, Serres, Letis, and Agia Paraskevi, etc. Some of the highlights of the museums are Derveni Krater that dates back to the 4th century BC and it is designed with figures of Dionysus, Ariadne, and Satyrs Maenads. You should also make sure you do not miss the Lycurgus of Thrace or Pentheus.
Visit the Hagia Sophia
The Hagia Sophia was modelled on the church of Constantinople with the same name and it features an architecture that dates back to the 8th century. The building was used as a mosque from 1430 to 1912 when the city was captured. The building is a great place not to miss for history and architecture lovers as it features Byzantine middle period architecture. You should make sure you do not miss the mosaic that dates back from the 9th century which depicts the Ascension as Jesus was lifted by two angels and surrounded by 12 Apostles and Mary. You are also going to find a fascinating image above the iconostasis which was from the 11th century and it shows the Madonna with Child.
Go sightseeing at Alexander the Great Monument
This monument can be found close to a fountain at Nea Parelia and it was built as a part of development that has regenerated the waterfront. The monument is 6m high and it shows Alexander on Bucephalus which is among the antiquity’s most distinguished horses. You are also going to find rows of sarissas along the promenade. The sarissas are long pikes that were introduced by Philip II of Macedon and was used by Alexander at the Battles of Issus, Gaugamela, and Granicus with great success.
Visit the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art
This museum was established in 1979 and it can be found within the setting of the Thessaloniki International Fair. It houses about 2000 works of arts made by Greek and foreign artists, a cafeteria, a scientific library with over 2,500 books, and a shop. The museum also hosts conferences, events, and discussions on aesthetic issues and the history of art, meeting with artists, presentation of works of art, and many more. It offers a paradise for art lovers and a great place not to miss for all types of tourists.