Located in northern Greece, Thessaloniki has always been at the crossroads of civilizations, a place where East and West meet, a mixture of great cultures and traditions. Today, as the second largest city in Greece, it is a place of lavish beauty with hospitable people, world-renowned cultural heritage meets a gentle Mediterranean climate.
We’ve created a list of the places you should definitely visit when vacationing in Thessaloniki.
What to do in Thessaloniki Greece
- What to do in Thessaloniki Greece
- White Tower of Thessaloniki
- Agios Dimitrios
- Roman Forum – Ancient Agora
- Zeitenlik – Military Cemetery
- Monument of Alexander the Great
- Ana-Poli, Thessaloniki’s Old Town
- Ataturk Museum
- Aristotelous Square
- Thessaloniki Rotunda
- Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki
- Ladadika District
- War Museum of Thessaloniki
- Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki
- Museum of Byzantine Culture
- Where to stay in Thessaloniki, Greece
White Tower of Thessaloniki
Thanks to its rich and tumultuous history, the White Tower is one of the most important historical monuments in the entire country of Greece. The city’s most recognizable site was built in the 15th century, its main role replacing the old Byzantine fortress constructed in the 12th century.
While constructed to strengthen port defenses, the White Tower also has a dark history of garrison and prison. Due to its notorious conditions, the structure was known as the ‘Red Tower or ‘Tower of Blood.’ During the First Balkan War, in 1912, the tower was whitewashed as a symbolic gesture of cleansing, and given its new name.
Residents of Thessaloniki consider this church the most significant in their beloved city. Rich in history, the church was devoted to the Patron Saint Dimitrios who was martyred in the 4th century on the same site.
This church is filled with incredible mosaic panels, the exact date of their completion unknown, but believed to have originated between the 630 and 730 AD. A small chapel built in 4th century houses former Roman baths.
During the Ottoman occupation, the church was turned into a mosque.
Roman Forum – Ancient Agora
The Roman Forum, known as Ancient Agora, was constructed by the Romans in the 1st century A.D. It was the center of public and political life in Thessaloniki along with the Galerian Palace Complex.
These impressive structures were a signifier of the city’s financial progress during the Roman and Hellenistic eras. The Forum was connected to all main streets and the entire city was adorned with elaborate fountains and sculptures.
Zeitenlik – Military Cemetery
This Allied military cemetery and World War I memorial park is the largest of its kind in Greece. More than 20,000 soldiers killed during World War I, include Serbian, Italian, French, English, Greek and Russian military, along with Bulgarian POWs, are interred here.
Every year on October 11th, representatives of these soldiers home states gather to honor the sacrifices they made for their countrymen.
Monument of Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great is one of most significant historical figures from history, renowned for conquering almost the entire known world during his time. Alexander’s battlefield strategies remain a subject of admiration nearly 2500 years later.
Alexander was born in Pella in 356 BC. His father Philip II was the King of Macedon until his assassinated in 336 BC. Alexander had the privilege of being taught by the great philosopher Aristotle.
A 20-foot monument to Alexander the Great located next to the sea depicts the conqueror riding his horse.
Ana-Poli, Thessaloniki’s Old Town
Ana-Poli is located on the north side of town, the only part of the city that did not burn in the great fire of 1917. Most how visit are amazed by the look of the Old Town with its ancient winding cobblestone streets and well-preserved Ottoman era fortresses.
Quaint taverns and eateries offering local Macedonian and Greece dishes delight in this neighborhood!
With extra time, visit Agios Nikolaos, the old Byzantine church, and Monastery of Vlaton. Both were constructed in 14th century A.D. and are two of the oldest buildings in the Old Town.
This Museum is named after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, field marshal, and the first president serving from 1923 to 1938. He modernized Turkey, converting it into an industrial nation.
As the birthplace of Ataturk, the structure was given to the Turkish state by the council of Thessaloniki which later converted the site into a museum honoring the famous leader. Completely renovated and reopened to the public in 2013, the museum is a repository of Ataturk’s personal effects and documents.
This is the main square in Thessaloniki located on the city’s waterfront. Built in the 1950s, it boasts 12 Hellenic buildings and plays an important role in sociopolitical life, not just of the city, but the country as well. The numerous cafes and bars lining the square make it popular with the younger crowd.
Numerous rallies and political speeches have been organized in this famous square. Additionally, it’s used for cultural events such as annual Christmas and Carnival celebrations.
Situated on high ground overlooking the historic city, Thessaloniki’s oldest building was constructed by the Romans in 306 A.D. Though the Ottomans conquered the city in 1430, they did not convert all churches into mosques at once. As a result, the Rotunda remained a Christian church until 1591 when it became the mosque of Hortatz Effendi.
Thanks to a painstaking restoration of its glorious interior mosaics, visitors can now see these masterpieces of early Christian art.
Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki
One of Thessaloniki’s premiere museums, the Archeological Museum can be found in the city center close to the Museum of Byzantine Culture. The museum contains artifacts from the Prehistoric, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods, mostly from Thessaloniki, but from Macedonian as well.
For those looking to experience more local cuisine and charming, historic streets, this is the ideal place. For centuries, it was one of the most important markets in the city and its name came from the numerous olive oil shops located here.
Ladadika is filled with colorful houses, small taverns, bars and boutique shops; it’s also a great place to experience the Thessaloniki night life! Thessaloniki is renowned for its late-night party scene.
War Museum of Thessaloniki
Opening in October 2000, this military museum’s mission is to help preserve martial memories and heritage in Northern Greece. Permanent collections portray watershed events in Modern Greek history from the turn of the 20th century to the liberation of Greece from Germany at the end of World War II.
The museum contains photographs, Hellenic army, air force and navy uniforms, weapons, replicas of artillery and ships, works of art, stone engravings, maps, paintings, postcards, and similar items from the armies of other Balkan countries.
Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki
Founded to honor the rich and creative Jewish heritage as it evolved in the Thessaloniki after the 15th century, the museum is located on Agiou Mina Street in the center of the city.
As a result of their expulsion from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492, Jews began to arrive to the safe haven of Thessaloniki, bringing with them the Renaissance culture and languages of the Western Mediterranean.
Housed in one of the rare Jewish structures to survive the 1917 fire, the museum contains rare Hebrew books, family heirlooms, tombstones from the destroyed Jewish Cemetery and many other historical and culturally-rich objects, documents and newspapers.
Museum of Byzantine Culture
This museum, also located in the town center, features 11 galleries in its fascinating permanent and temporary exhibits which highlight the life, worship, burial customs, art and architecture of the Byzantine culture.
The museum collection contains more than 46,000 artifacts, over 3,000 on display. These include artwork, heirlooms, mosaics, vessels, marble elements and more all reflecting the Byzantine and post-Byzantine cultures.
Where to stay in Thessaloniki, Greece
With stunning views of the Thermaic Gulf on the Aegean Sea – and surprisingly affordable prices by European, seaside resort standards – hotels in Thessaloniki offer great bang for the buck.destinationhistoricmuseumseasideThessaloniki