Thessaloniki – birthplace of Aristotle
As well as birthing some of the world’s greatest thinkers, artists, musicians and poets, Thessaloniki (also known as Salonika) is home to some of the most stunning beaches and finest hotels and restaurants in northern Greece. Greece’s second largest city was the birthplace of Aristotle and sits at the heart of what was once the Macedonian empire. Thessaloniki and the nearby Halkidiki peninsular is a surprisingly fertile region, rich in agriculture, its primary exports being grain and tobacco. Olive trees line the streets, and there are plenty of vineyards and parklands to visit in the area, not to mention the long stretches of fine sand beaches and clear blue Aegean Sea. A youthful population gives the city a lively nightlife and some very trendy shops and hair salons, while a vibrant arts scene gives rise to a host of art shows, events and festivals throughout the year.
Go for the cultural attractions, the fine food and the waterfront cafes. Go for the energetic nightlife, the beautiful beaches and ultra-chic shopping. Thessaloniki is a vibrant, stylish city, packed full of life, which has successfully managed to combine heritage with modernity.
When to go?
Thessaloniki enjoys a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot, sunny summers. Rainfall is modest, and falls most frequently in November or December. Summer temperatures can reach 32°C during July and August so most people choose to visit during early summer or early autumn when temperatures average 25°C. May and September are particularly comfortable due to the weather and quieter beaches. The Thessaloniki Film Festival (November) and International Trade Fair (September) are great crowd-pullers.
How to get there?
Thessaloniki is the gateway to the Balkans and Northern Greece’s transport hub. It’s served by Thessaloniki Airport Makedonia (SKG) which lies 15 km southeast of the city. Several major European airlines and budget airlines fly regularly and ferries run between the Sporades, Cyclades, northeastern Aegean islands and Crete. Direct flights are available from UK airports Bristol, East Midlands, London Gatwick, Luton, Manchester and Newcastle.
Take a stroll around the peaceful alleyways of the Upper Town (Ano Poli) for a traditional view of life in Thessaloniki. Visit the 4th century Church of Agios Dimitrios, rumoured to be the largest in Greece, and the stately Roman Rotunda. Relax on the nearby beaches or take a tour of the city’s archaeology museum, rated as one of the best in the world. For a true flavour of this fascinating city, make sure you save enough time to sample the cafes, markets, restaurants, bars and ouzeries – Zythos and Foul Tou Meze are amongst the very best.
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