Cheap flights to Thessaloniki
We all know about Athens, but if you are looking for a real flavour of Greece you should head to the country’s second city Thessaloniki. Well, it was named after the sister of Alexander the Great and you can’t get much more Greek than that. As all proud inhabitants will happily inform you,
Thessaloniki differs from busy and bustling Athens with its elegance and style – let’s just say designer clothes and beautiful people rule in this town. Yet despite its age – Thessaloniki is an old city having been founded way back in 315 BC – the city scrubs up very well and is today a modern one of large avenues, parks and squares, tree-lined streets, and Neoclassical and contemporary buildings.
History buffs will love this place: there aren’t many cities that can boast to having lived through the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, so there is lots to see. If you like your old Byzantine churches with beautiful frescoes, or ancient Roman ruins, you’ll love it here.
This November 6 to 15 will see the 56th Thessaloniki Film Festival light up the city. The most prestigious in Greece, expect films by established and new directors. Showings take place in various downtown cinemas, for more information check out filmfestival.gr.
Early September sees the second instalment of the quirky Thessalonink Tattoo Convention, aimed at tattoo artists and aficionados. Expect three days of ink-filled fun and networking at the port of Thessaloniki. facebook.com/thessalonink
If you're in the region for the name days of saints Konstantinos and Eleni on 21 May, then the ritual barefoot dance on burning coals that takes place at Langadas, 20km north of the city, is unforgettable.
The well-established Thessaloniki International Festival of Photography runs for a couple of months starting in February. It is organised by the Museum of Photography but hosted at various locations throughout the city. visitgreece.gr
Mount Olympus, a little over an hour south and visible on a clear day, makes a great day trip. Alternatively stay overnight in the lovely village of Litohoro to allow more time for some walking on the mountain trails.
Sithonia, the middle finger of the three-pronged Halkidiki peninsula, makes for a great escape from the city, with a string of impressive beaches and views across to Mount Athos from the east coast.
Birdwatchers are highly recommended to visit the serene wetlands of Lake Kerkini, under two hours' north-east of Thessaloniki, which are at their best in late spring and early summer.
A worthwhile day trip is to see the ruins of the ancient capital of Macedonia and birthplace of Alexander the Great at Pella, 40km west of Thessaloniki, which also has a splendid new museum.