Where The Locals Go In Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece, is often referred to as Greece’s ‘co-capital’. This title is an ode to the city’s historical significance across centuries, harking back to a time when it was a co-reigning city of the Byzantine Empire alongside Constantinople.
Now, the city is an ideal gateway to the Balkans, with connections to Sofia in Bulgaria and Belgrade in Serbia via Skopje in North Macedonia, making it an ideal stop on your tour across Europe. The city also has incredible food, roots steeped in tradition, a famous promenade, and a myriad of hidden spots to discover. Here are some tips by Thessaloniki locals for you to get to know Greece’s less-visited big city.
How to get to Thessaloniki by train: Thessaloniki is well-connected to other Greek cities by train because of its strategic connection to Athens, a major rail and ferry hub. You can travel from Larissa to Thessaloniki in under an hour and a half, and from Athens in a little over five hours. Take advantage of the Global Pass or the Interrail Greece Passes to explore the region further!
Walk back in time
One of Thessaloniki’s best known districts is its Upper Town, the Ano Poli. Having resisted the modernization and development of the rest of the city, today Ano Poli is a designated Traditional Settlement, which still carries traces of Byzantine and Ottoman architecture. The cobblestone streets are so narrow that buses cannot pass through them. Locals say they love coming here for walks along the remains of the old city walls, enjoying the incredible views, and snapping breathtaking pictures. So, why not join them?
An international deli with a history
Founded in the 1960s, Terpsilaringion was the first grocer in the city to stock international snacks. In addition to browsing its selection of cheeses and other imported European products, you can also try Terpsilaringion’s food on the spot. The deli is famous for its hot dogs, the first to be introduced to the city and still made following a top-secret recipe. Grab an imported or local beer on the side and you’re all set!
Soak in the sights along the seafront
Thessaloniki’s romantic seafront is more than five kilometers long, offering a relaxing, car-less promenade passing by parks, sculptures and some of the city’s most recognisable landmarks, including the White Tower and the Music Hall. Hop on a bike or jog along the promenade at sunset and you’ll understand why locals love this area so much. And if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see Mt. Olympus among the tapestry of reds and oranges in the sultry Greek sky.
A photography museum with photo-worthy views
MOMus-Thessaloniki Museum of Photography is located in an old warehouse in the city’s port. Well-known across Greece, here you can enjoy curated exhibitions and the Photo Biennale, surrounded by the museum’s high ceilings, wooden floors and brick walls. You can also take in sweeping views over the bustling port from its quiet, welcoming café, perfect for spending a rainy afternoon. Don’t miss the museum shop, where you can get your hands on captivating publications about photography, fashion, and art.
The tastiest triangles
There’s something appealing about triangles, from the mighty pyramids of Egypt to those cute triangle-roofed houses you doodled as a kid. So why would these Greek triangle-shaped desserts be any different? Everyone in Greece agrees: if you’re in Thessaloniki, you just have to try Trigona Panoramatos (Panorama triangles).
Mr. Elenidis founded his business in 1960 in Panorama, a suburb of Thessaloniki. But thankfully you don’t have to go far to sample the crispy, cream-filled phyllo pockets — there’s an outlet selling the treats right in the middle of the city. You can buy a small trigono for around €1.60 and a big one for €3.20, but we have to warn you – no one can stop at just one!
A different kind of bike cafe
Need a pick-me-up? Just stop by Modbar, a beautifully handcrafted bike, specially modified to fit a professional coffee machine and bar equipment. With a menu that includes coffee, mocktails and cocktails, and even a refreshing homemade lemonade, Modbar offers something for everyone. Drop by during the weekend and you might even catch a DJ set!
Time for pita gyros
Craving a hearty lunch on the go while you discover the beauty of Thessaloniki’s waterfront? Psisou sta Karvouna, located near the White Tower, has been serving drool-worthy gyros and other assorted meat specialties since 2005. We recommend trying the irresistible XL-sized Choriatiki Thraka (‘village grill’) sandwich or the gyros in Arabic pita with yogurt, tabbouleh, and fresh French fries.
Pure rebetiko for the senses
For a taste of authentic rebetiko — a genre of urban Greek music — head straight to Pire kai Vradiazei, an unpretentious venue tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the centre. The taverna’s name roughly translates to “the night sets in” — rest assured that a visit to Pire kai Vradiazei is the perfect way to end an evening in Thessaloniki.
The taverna, which opened in in 1944, is small in size, but according to Thessaloniki local Irini Vassilopoulou, it hosts some of the city’s most talented musicians. It also serves some of the best retsina, a Greek wine infused with resin from Aleppo pine trees, which gives the beverage a distinct aroma and taste. Hot tip: don’t miss the soutzoukakia, a Greek and Turkish meatball dish that makes for a wonderful addition to a night of drinking and dancing.
For more local favorites across Europe, check out Spotted by Locals.
Edited by Sukriti Kapoor, Content Writer, Eurail.
Header image by Pixabay
You might like this as well:
Change of currency
You cannot change the currency once you have a Pass in your cart. Remove the Pass, and then change the currency on the website header.