Thessalonika

Thessalonika

Greece’s second city

Known by one American newspaper as the ‘Seattle of the Balkans’ - is the undisputed gateway to mainland northern Greece and the beautiful northern Aegean coastline. Stay in town and, amid the 21st century throng of modern Greece, you’ll be treated to a festival of early Christian and Byzantine splendour, which have helped more than one of its sites on to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Shopping

Even amidst the Greek economic crisis, Thessaloniki still has ample retail therapy options, especially along main downtown street Tsimiskí, though nearby Ermoú and Mitropóleos have cheaper outlets. Mega-malls include central City Gate, and Makedonia out near the airport. Clothing outlets are especially compelling; Intervista (Tsimiskí 71) and Diamantis (men only, Tsimiskí 43) between them stock every conceivable designer label. For Greek sounds, check out Studio 52 (Dimitríou Goúnari 46), one of the oldest and best stocked record/CD shops in Greece. No self-respecting Greek will return from Thessaloniki without baked goodies from Terkenlis (12 branches, including Tsimiskí 30).

Food & Drink

Thessaloniki is famous for its many small mezedopolía (tapas-style bars), especially in and around Platía Áthonos in the bazaar, near Platía Navarínou, or the old covered Modiáno Market. Atmospheric Meteora Vima tis Garidas (Modiáno stalls 58–60, Vasiléos Iraklíou 31) is ace for loútsos (baby barracuda) or sardines, good starters and decent wine. Unusual or downright spicy recipes were brought by refugees from Asia Minor; sample those at Apo Dhyo Horia (Platía Navarínou, Výronos 7), a tiny spot showcasing Cretan and Pondian (Black Sea) platters. Nearby, the bohemian set repairs to Loxias (Isávron 5), with windows overlooking the Navarínou ruins and a nice line in lamb sausages, mountainous salads and desserts. Hiding behind an old church, Ta Koumbarakia (Egnatia 140) is a reliable, long-running venue for cheap seafood, veggie platters and measures of tsípouro.

Events

Thessaloniki Documentary Festival
March
While not quite as venerable as the Thessaloniki Film Festival, this 1999-established festival has plenty of lectures and peripheral events along with screenings.

Thessaloniki Book Fair May
From a strictly Balkan bash, this has grown to attract publishers and bibliophiles from every European country; in 2013, the UK was guest country of honour, with appearances by authors like Victoria Hislop.

Thessaloniki International Trade Fair
September
This is an important commercial fair but you might want to avoid visiting the city at this time unless you are travelling no business – hotels get fully booked and the city is packed.

Thessaloniki Film Festival
November
Since 1959, this 10-day festival has become a must for filmmakers, reviewers and audiences, with a truly global scope.

Mylos Club Events
Year round
Mylos Club, the first, boldest conversion of disused Greek industrial premises into cutting-edge venues, remains a linchpin of events in town. Expect top Greek musical performers, exhibits and ‘happenings’.

Hotels

Hotels are largely pitched at business and convention trade, priced accordingly and line noisy streets. Exceptional design-led renovations which offer more value and calm include the contemporary Davitel Tobacco (Agíou Dimitríou 25), a converted tobacco warehouse, and Le Palace (Tsimiskí 12), featuring natural fibre. For more comfort (and outlay), choose Domotel Les Lazaristes (Kolokotróni 16) in remoter Stavroúpoli district with free parking (a major plus), or the art deco gem Bristol Hotel (Oplopiou 2), handy for Ladádika clubs and restaurants. One of the few salubrious budget options is Orestias Kastorias (Agnóstou Stratiótou 14), with somewhat eccentric if en-suite rooms.

Essentials

  • Language

    Greek

  • Currency

    Euro

  • Time zone

    GMT +2 hours (GMT +3 hours in summer)

  • Flight time

    4 hours 30

  • Holiday type

    Beach, Summer sun, City break

Weather

  • 01/09/2014 -

    Sunny skies

    31°C max 18°C min
  • 02/09/2014 -

    Sunny skies

    30°C max 19°C min
  • 03/09/2014 -

    Moderate or heavy rain shower

    26°C max 18°C min
  • 04/09/2014 -

    Light rain shower

    30°C max 18°C min
  • 05/09/2014 -

    Sunny skies

    30°C max 18°C min
  • 06/09/2014 -

    Sunny skies

    30°C max 18°C min
  • 07/09/2014 -

    Sunny skies

    30°C max 18°C min
  • Jan
    9°C max 2°C min
  • Feb
    11°C max 2°C min
  • Mar
    11°C max 5°C min
  • Apr
    19°C max 8°C min
  • May
    24°C max 12°C min
  • Jun
    24°C max 18°C min
  • Jul
    19°C max 19°C min
  • Aug
    30°C max 19°C min
  • Sep
    27°C max 15°C min
  • Oct
    21°C max 12°C min
  • Nov
    14°C max 7°C min
  • Dec
    10°C max 3°C min