Thessaloniki (thess-ah-lo-nee-kih) is at once the hippest, most cultured and most expensive place to sleep and eat in northern Greece – though budget options are, thankfully, starting to emerge. As Greece’s second city, Thessaloniki (also called Salonica) offers the best nightlife, shopping, fine dining and cultural events outside of Athens, but with a friendlier, less hectic vibe. And, being northern Greece’s central transport hub, Thessaloniki also has convenient connections within the region and with neighbouring countries.
As with Athens, the enduring symbols of a glorious history are visible here. These include the White Tower, watching over the cafe-lined waterfront, erstwhile Ottoman hammams (Turkish baths), many turned into art galleries, and lengthy Byzantine walls culminating at the Ano Poli (Upper Town), an enchanting neighbourhood of colourful old houses, where little Byzantine churches peek from winding alleyways. Thessaloniki’s grand-scale structures include the 5th-century Church of Agios Dimitrios, the enormous Roman Rotunda, and Roman Emperor Galerius’ 3rd-century palace ruins.
Thessaloniki is also a major college town, fleshed out by some 80,000 university students who enliven the city’s innumerable cafes, restaurants and bars. Thessaloniki thus remains lively during the long months when the more touristy parts of Greece hibernate. And, though one could easily spend weeks here, Thessaloniki and its sights are compact enough for travellers with only a few days to spare.Via Lonely Planet