Every few weeks we ask one of our clued-up local contributors a bunch of questions about their city, from fun facts and practicalities to what to see and what to skip. This time around we quizzed Maria about Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece. If you’re hungry for insider insights into other destinations, you can keep an eye out for new Through the Eyes of a Local posts here, or follow us on Facebook for updates.
When is the best time to visit Thessaloniki? In summer or spring to fully enjoy the sunshine.
What are three things every visitor should see or experience?
1. Visit The White Tower. It’s a local landmark and Thessaloniki’s most well-known monument. You shouldn’t simply settle for photos with the tower in the background though. Make sure you go up the stairs to the top for an incredible view of the Thermaikos Gulf to the south and a panoramic view of the city to the north.
2. Explore the Ladadika district. Stroll around and admire the traditional architecture, and relax in one of the many coffee shops, restaurants or bars with some food and drinks. Ladadika is rightfully called the heart of Thessaloniki – visit it to find out why!
3. Take a walk along the seaside promenade. Enjoy the sea and squeaks of the seagulls, the warmth of the sun shimmering on the water, the tranquillity and the urban coastal landscape.
What’s your favourite hidden gem? Ano Poli (Upper Town). This district is situated very close to the city centre, yet it has its own unique identity because of its traditional 19th-century architecture and stone-paved streets. It’s one of the very few areas in Thessaloniki that survived the huge 1917 fire, making it a wonderful place to get a feel for the past.
Photo credit: Stella Vardaki
What’s the biggest tourist trap? There’s no such thing in Thessaloniki! The city has a rich history and is full of real historical sights. No matter what you choose to do, you’ll have a great time!
Where can I enjoy amazing views? The best place for great views is, without a doubt, the walls of The Castle of Thessaloniki in Ano Poli. It overlooks the entire city, offering the chance for the most extraordinary photos.
What’s a fun way to impress someone in Thessaloniki? Take them to see a performance at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall.
I want to try authentic local cuisine. Where should I go and what should I order? Any restaurant, bar or café in the Ladadika district. I highly recommend ordering the local fried meatballs served with eggplant salad. Make sure you also try the local tsipouro/ouzo (a strong alcoholic drink).
Photo credit: Maria Athanasopoulou
What’s the best way to get around? On foot! Walking is the best way to explore the city centre and its endless hidden gems. If you want to take a taxi to the city walls, however, the fare is pretty affordable.
What’s the most common misconception about Thessaloniki? My city has a reputation for being the city of lovers, but it’s definitely the city of excellent gastronomy and nightlife as well!
What’s your city famous for? Thessaloniki has the most beautiful and memorable sunsets that are best enjoyed by the seaside promenade.
Tell an interesting fact about your city! It might be interesting and surprising to know that Thessaloniki is a multicultural city. Besides the main Greek population, it has been inhabited by other nationalities in large numbers since ancient times. Maybe this is what gives my city its cosmopolitan character!
If I want to get out of the city for a day, where should I go? During summer, Halkidiki is definitely a great place to visit. In less than an hour you can reach some of the nicest beaches in Greece! In autumn or winter, you can drive for an hour or so to reach Mount Olympus – the mountain that the ancient Greeks considered to be the home of the gods.
Photo credit: Tobias Van Der Elst
Can you recommend somewhere for a tasty budget meal? Head to the Symfonia restaurant for tasty food at great prices.
I’m vegetarian/vegan – help! If you’re vegetarian or vegan, Roots on Athonos Square is a must-visit.
Where should I go for a classy night out? Have dinner at the High School restaurant and then head downtown to Enola Bar for drinks.
Where to go for cheap drinks? For affordable drinks, visit the bars at Navarinou Square. There are lots of lively bars serving affordably priced drinks, attracting mostly young people.
What are some great local nightlife spots? Brown Cafe Bar in the eastern part of the city is a fantastic local nightlife spot overlooking the sea.
What’s the event of the year in your city? The #1 event in my city is Dimitria – a cultural festival held every year in October.
What do you recommend for culture buffs? If you’re a culture buff, don’t miss the Museum of Contemporary Art.
What should history lovers see? If you like history, you must visit the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki.
Can you suggest some places for families with kids? Visit The Olympic Museum. It’s a great place where your kids can learn about the history of the Olympic Games and the importance of sports in general.
What’s your favourite green spot? It would have to be Mount Chortiatis – it’s only a 20-minute drive from downtown and is the ideal place for a walk in the nature.
Where can I find out about local events? I read Enjoy Thessaloniki to find out about local events.
Is there anything else you think visitors should know? You should never visit my city alone! Bring your partner or your friends along. Your visit will be a lifetime experience that should be shared with the people you love!
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