The second largest city in Greece and the capital of Greek Macedonia, Thessaloniki is also a vibrant, ancient port with a fascinating and diverse history. Founded by King Cassander of Macedon in 315 B.C. on the ancient site of Therma, the city is named after the King's wife, Thessalonike, Alexander the Great's half-sister. In 379, Thessaloniki became the Prefecture of Illyricum and in 390, during the rule of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I, Gothic troops massacred the city's inhabitants who had organised a revolt against the soldiers. After the fall of Rome in 476, Thessaloniki had expanded to such an extent that it became the second-largest city of the Eastern Roman Empire.
Today, this cosmopolitan region attracts thousands of visitors each year. With its rich and diverse history, visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to archaeological and historically important sites. Nonetheless, those visitors who are searching for a sunshine holiday with a vibrant nightlife and fine restaurants will be delighted by the city's pristine beaches, excellent cuisine and trendy bars and nightclubs. Culture lovers will also find the city's festivals, events and the myriad of open-air theatres very pleasing.
Things to Do
Visitors to Thessaloniki won't be short of things to do, whether they feel like partying it up in the vibrant clubs, relaxing on postcard-perfect beaches or enjoying delicious and authentic local cuisine.
For the sunshine worshippers
During the daytime, Perea Beach, which lies just a little south of Thessaloniki, boasts clear, turquoise waters and powder-white sand. In the evening, however, the bars and clubs by the beach side open their doors and the revellers spill out onto the beach to dance the night away.
For the foodies
Negroponte, housed in an exceptionally pretty 18th-century building, offers a fine menu of traditional and authentic fare such as fried pork with yoghurt and zucchini cakes, which is the chef's speciality. If that's not enough to tempt you, the sumptuous desserts such the tahini cream yoghurt are on the house!
For the clubbers
Head to Vogue Live, one of the city's most popular live venues. Artists from around the country perform at this venue, and later in the evening the club's resident DJs entertain the crowds until the small hours. Alternatively, the Art House Gallery Bar is a smaller venue but is hailed for its excellent music and festival atmosphere.
Calendar of Events
There is a diverse range of events for both locals and tourists to enjoy in Thessaloniki.
Dimitria Festival. Named after the Patron Saint Dimitrius and spanning three months, the Dimitria Festival begins in September and is a celebration of the Byzantine period, when locals traded their goods. The festival includes theatrical productions, music, dance and a variety of exhibitions.
Thessaloniki Hip-Hop Festival. The Thessaloniki Hip-Hop Festival is the country's largest hip-hop festival and hosts prominent artists from Greece and beyond. Although originally the event was purely a celebration of hip-hop music, the festival has now expanded and attracts artists from other musical genres. Although the event takes place each summer, the dates of the festival vary each year.
The Let's Dance Bellydancing Festival. The Let's Dance Bellydancing Festival spans three days and is held every July. The event attracts belly dancers from all over the world and is a celebration of Middle Eastern dance. The festival includes competitions, promotions and workshops.