Welcome to Thessaloniki
Greece's second largest city was the realm of Alexander the
Great and named after his sister, Thessaloniki, when it was founded
in 316 BC. The capital of Macedonia in the north, it sits in a bowl
framed by low hills, facing a bay on the Gulf Thermaikos. Despite
being one of the oldest cities in Europe, today Thessaloniki is
lively and modern, and with its with wide avenues, parks and
squares, is thought to be much more attractive than Athens.
The main squares are Platia Elefterias and Platia Aristotelous,
both on the waterfront and alive with cafes and restaurants,
children playing or people just strolling. Thessaloniki, having
been under Ottoman rule for long periods in its history, has been
left a legacy of numerous Byzantine churches, and museums housing
Byzantine art and artefacts. The city also has a heritage of early
Christian communities, particularly the renowned monasteries of
nearby Mount Athos; and a rich Jewish tradition, evident in the
synagogues and Jewish Museum.
In 1917, most of the city was destroyed in a massive fire, and
rebuilt later. This is not a high-rise city, though, because the
area is prone to earthquakes and regulations have been imposed
preventing the building of skyscrapers. This means that residents
and visitors alike can enjoy the seaside situation of Thessaloniki,
with views aplenty from the city streets.
There is much to see and do in Thessaloniki besides the ruins,
including visits to the Turkish Baths, central market, and cafes
and restaurants of Aristotelous Square. Thessaloniki also has a
vibrant nightlife, with a number of lively bars and clubs.
Information & Facts
Thessaloniki displays characteristics of both a Mediterranean
and continental climate with hot and humid summers with average
daytime weather highs of 86°F (30°C) and the possibility of thunder
storms. The winters are much cooler with dry, cold days, morning
frost and annual snowfall. The weather in Thessaloniki in general
is warmer in the south than the north with the mountainous areas
being cooler. The season between November and March experiences
plenty of rainfall.
Thessaloniki is a pleasant city to explore on foot. However, it
does have an efficient and extensive bus service. Taxis are
plentiful and easily available throughout the city.
Greek is the national language, but English is widely
The Euro (EUR) is the official currency, divided into 100 cents.
Banks and bureaux de change are widely available and travellers
cheques and major credit cards are widely accepted. ATMs are
widespread and are generally the cheapest and most convenient
method of obtaining euros.