Thessaloniki by Liana Metal

Published by Chris Harvey May 18, 2005

Thessaloniki is located on the northern part of the Greek mainland, in the gulf of Thermaikos which is a major port in imports and exports. The city was set up in 316 BC and is the capital of Macedonia and the second big city in Greece after Athens.

WHY GO

European culture combined with a variety of other cultures from the north and east, international events such as trade exhibitions and art displays , local festivals all year round, business and fun –extensive nightlife-all these blended together in the unique picturesque setting of Thermaikos gulf in the deep blue of the Aegean and the extensive historic places of interest in and out of the city.

WHEN TO GO

The best seasons to visit are spring, when it is sunny and warm and you can explore the area around the city as well, summer , when you can swim at magic sandy beaches within easy reach of the city, and fall, when international exhibitions take place. In winter months it is cold –sometimes below zero- but it is sunny most of the time.

GETTING THERE AND AROUND

By air

There are direct flights from the UK and other European countries and regular connections from the USA and eastern and northern countries as well.
Departures guide at: http://users.otenet.gr/~cpnchris/skgd.html
Airport info at: http://users.otenet.gr/-cpnchris/skg.html
Olympic airways at www.olympic-airways.gr/passengers_info/oapaxaptskguk.htm

By train

There is a train connection from Europe and the East on a regular basis.

Getting Around

Local buses run on a daily basis schedule to and from all suburbs and resorts, towns and cities. The bus service is a good one and the easiest way to move around the city.
See info at: www.ktel.org/fokis/en/thessaloniki.htm

Train services are for distant locations only, not for urban use.
However, the metro runs in the city connecting busy to remote areas.
Visit: www.metrolpa.net/eu/the/thessal/htm

Taxis are easy to find , and if you need a taxi at a certain time you can call the station and reserve it. They are punctual and trustworthy. Call at White Tower station, tel: 0310 214900. See also http://users.forthnet.gr/the/dsilvestriadis/thessaloniki

However, if you want to see everything , you should walk. It’s not difficult to follow a route a day and explore the inner part of the city on foot.

Cycling is not recommended in the down town area as there is a lot of traffic. Rent-a-car agencies are easy to find at the airport and bus and railway stations, and it is a good idea to self-drive around the city and the suburbs.
See www.kosmos-carrental.com/thessaloniki/html

BEST MAJOR ATTRACTIONS

The visitor shouldn’t miss to see the round White Tower, a remnant of the ancient walls of the city dated back to 1866, which is now the characteristic symbol of the city. There are more towers around the city but they are all square shaped apart from two of them.

The Triumphal Arc of Galerius is in the middle of the city, an imposing monument dating back to the third century.

Ayios Dimitrios church, down town, attracts a lot of people, both tourists and locals. It was built in the 5th century and has great architectural value. Worth visiting the catacombs dug under the church which were the hiding place of the first Christians at that time.

St Sophia church, is also a building you shouldn’t miss.

There is a number of museums all over the city such as the Rotonda ,which is a church for St George, and the Museum of Salonica.
Visit www.greekembassy.org/culture/northgreece/thessaloniki.html

BEST UNUSUAL ATTRACTIONS

The Technology park, visit the site at: www.techpark.gr

The Technology Museum, see site at www.tmth.edu.gr/en

The International Trade Exhibition, a big international event, was set up in 1926 and has been running annually in September since then offering a great range of goods and services. It attracts a great number of people every year both business and fun lovers. See www.helexpo.gr

Also the World Trade center , visit site at http://iserve.wtca.org/wtc/thessaloniki_contacts.html

Mt Athos, within easy reach of the city , is a monastery for monks located on the Halkidiki peninsula . It is a well known for the famous ancient items that are displayed there, and it constitutes a small independed community on its own run by monks. They offer free lodgings and meals to all visitors . Female visitors are not allowed in. Prince Charles of UK has visited Athos many times, as well as other famous people.
See http://poseidon.csd.auth.gr/athos
www.medialab.ntua.gr/athos.html
www.bates.edu/-rallison/friends
www.culture.gr/2/21/218/e21800.html

Halkidiki peninsula beaches are sandy , extensive and ideal for summer vacations. The perfect place for camping lovers.
www.huntsidway.com/travel.html

BEST ACTIVITY AND TOUR

•A tour in the city to see the sights. Visit www.greekhotel.com/mainland/thessaloniki/home.htm
www.greekembassy.org/culture/northgreece/thessaloniki.html
For luxury tours-hotels,
www.luxury.gr/thessaloniki-hotels.html

•For sport lovers, Toumba stadium is renowned for the local team of PAOK . There are two more local teams, ARIS and IRAKLIS. For more activities, see
www.medcollection.com/region.asp?lc=53

BEST ALTERNATIVE

•Mt Athos www.it.uom.gr/project/chalkidiki/visit_Athos.htm

•The Aristotle University which is popular for Medicine, Literature, Law, Theology and other studies.

•The University of Macedonia which is the best for Ecomonics and Social studies,as well as for Computer programming.
www.uom.gr

•The concert Hall http://virtuals.compulink.gr/ommth

BEST LOCAL HAUNT

Kalamaria area , on the east of the city is the best place to enjoy seafood by the sea. Michaniona , one hour by bus from the city center , offers fresh fish by the sea as well traditional dishes restaurants along the bay.

BEST LODGINGS

Park hotel, in the center of the city , within easy reach of all the sights.
Contact: Tel 0310 52412

City, downtown area.
Tel: 0310 269421

Elektra, a higher class hotel in the city.
Tel: 0310 232221

Hyatt, a big hotel.
Website: www.thessaloniki.hyatt.com

See other hotels at: www.greecetravelonline.com/accommodation/hotelbyarea.asp?combArea=Thessaloniki

BEST EATS

Looking for fresh fish? Don’t miss the fish tavernas at Kalamaria, a popular suburb by the sea.

Down town there is a big number of restaurants offering all kinds of tasty dishes, from grilled meat to fish and sea food. Bakeries and pastry shops offer a wide range of traditional cakes that can be found only in Salonica, as well as homemade fruit jams.

Try To Horio (the village ) at tel: 0310 327080, and Ta kalivia, at Tel: 0310 845310, for a wide range of dishes, traditional and European ones.

So , what’s the best speciality to try?

A kind of pie called ‘trigona’ (triangles). It’s got a filo wrapping outside and rich creme inside. They are sweet and tasty and are kept in the fridge.

‘Touloumba’ is another sweet dessert . It’s a kind of pastry roll with no filling inside but dipped in heavy syrup. It’s like ‘Baklavas’ in taste, which is a typical Greek sweet in syrup.

Chocolate speaking the ‘anomala’ bits are delicious. They are small unshaped choco bites made of plain dark chocolate and have a filling of whole almonds.

The best meat dishes are Giros and Souvlaki pittas, and the appetizing Greek salad topped with feta cheese.

Take aways are very popular with the students and the locals. Freshly made dishes delivered to your place –hotels included!

You can call To Fournaki tis Giagias at tel: 0310 311 999 for grilled meat and traditional cuisine . Take away too.

Trocadero is a well known creperie. Tel: 0310 942001, and Pizza Hut is international at tel: 0310 049222.

BEST ENTERTAINMENT

The International Trade Exhibition is the most popular event in Thessaloniki. It attracts visitors from all over the world and has been running annually in September since 1926. Many art festivals take place at that time and it is difficult to find accommodation if you have not booked it a month or so in advance.
For more info visit website at: www.helexpo.gr

BEST SHOPPING

There is an extensive variety of shops downtown offering whatever one may think, from clothes and leather goods to trade products and machinery. See the link below for a guide to shopping in the city.: http://users.forthnet.gr/the/dsilvestriadis/thessaloniki

HEALTH AND SAFETY

There is no need to take any special precautions apart from the regular ones when you travel abroad. A Health Insurance will help if you need Private –Hospital medical care, but there are a lot of public hospitals that can help in emergencies.

During the summer months you should take care of the tap water. It is safer to buy bottled mineral water and avoid the sun at noon. A sun block cream and dark sunglasses is a must for everyboby staying in Greece.

MONEY AND COMMUNICATIONS

There is no problem with currency exchange as there are many banks around the city , at the airport and at the stations as well. Most shops accept credit cards and travelers’checks and most hotels change cash for you at low rates.

International phone calls are easy to make as there are phone booths in the streets and e-mails are easy to send as you can find Internet cafes all around the city. The post office service is reliable but there are many private couriers around the city that offer immediate delivery service locally or worldwide.

www.tnn.gr net news
www.wunderground.com/global/stations/16622.html
Weather report

BEST RESOURCES

WWW.THESSALONIKI.GR

History at http://philippos.mpa.gr/gr/recovered/thessaliniki/try(5)/eng
Hotels +apartments at www.greecead.com/gadhome/thessaloniki
American Consulate at http://virtuals.compulink.gr/us-consulate

About the author
Liana Metal is a freelance writer for various publications online. She is also a teacher, artist and book reviewer