If you have only 24 hours to explore the second largest city in Greece, Thessaloniki, here is my favorite route to help you make the most of your time.
11.00 – Boat Trip with Arabella
Start the day on a boat. Arabella is a floating bar-boat that takes you on a 30 minute sailing journey around the Thessaloniki bay. The trip is free of charge, and you only pay for your consumption on board. Prices however are comparable to those in any of the coffee shops by the waterfront, so just think of this boat trip as an alternative to the morning coffee.
12.00 – The Archaeological Museum
There is no better way to get to know Thessaloniki but to get to know the history of the city as well as the whole Macedonian region. And the best place to learn it all is the Archaeological Museum (6 Manoli Andronikou Street). The museum holds many a monuments, but the most exciting exhibition is the gold treasure collection constituting of pieces found in different parts of Northern Greece. I always find incredible the level of detail that goldsmiths were able to achieve centuries ago.
I would recommend you to buy a combination ticket at a price of 8 euro which grants you entrance to both the Archaeological and Byzantine museum (which is our afternoon destination).
14.30 – Lunch at Restaurant B
If by now you are starving, search no more than across the street. Restaurant B is a beautiful oasis away from the busy Thessaloniki traffic while right in the heart of the city. And the food, oh, the food! Delicious, aromatic, very Mediterranean with a sophisticated presentation and an influence from French and Italian cuisine. Need I say more?
Well fed, take a short stop to enjoy the olive trees, and off to the next destination:
15.30 – The Museum of Byzantine Culture
The Museum of Byzantine Culture is located right behind restaurant B, and is the natural continuation of the historic tour we took in the morning at the Archaeological Museum. The museum exhibitions are extraordinary, but even more extraordinary is the design of the museum building by architect Kyriakos Krokos (1941-1998). Walking through the building is like walking on a spiral, and each elevation represents a different century. Beautiful!
17.00 – Stroll and Shopping Along Tsimiski
After so much history, it may now be time to get back into the present. And what better way than so than a stroll along Tsimiski, the main shopping street in Thessaloniki.
18.00 – Battery Recharge at Cafe Ble
Now, shopping may be exciting, but I have something more exciting for you. (Yes! More exciting than shopping! It is possible!) Just turn right in Agias Sofias Street to find Cafe Ble, one of the most hip and innovative bakeries in Thessaloniki. Ble is a heaven on earth for everyone with a sweet tooth. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that I frequent it more often than I should every time I am in town.
19.00 – The Church of St. Sofia
And since you are already on Agia Sofias street, it would be a sin to miss the church of St. Sophia which is located just a few meters away. St. Sophia is one of the oldest churches in the city still standing today. It is one of several monuments in Thessaloniki included as a World Heritage Site on the UNESCO list.
In fact, if you have paid good attention at the exhibition in the Byzantine museum, than you should already know the history behind the church: erected in the 8th century, based on the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; converted into the cathedral of Thessaloniki in 1205, and then turned into a mosque during the Ottoman empire. The church was reconverted upon the liberation of Thessaloniki in 1912.
21.00 – Dinner at Kitchen Bar
As the sun sets, I suggest you to head towards the port. Previously a shady area, now the port has been revived as a popular space and meeting point for artists, creatives and foodies. And the best place for a dinner is without a doubt Kitchen Bar. The great brick interior and the waterfront garden facing the skyline of Thessaloniki are a wonderful addition to the delicious menu.
22.30 – Drinks at Electra Palace
Finish the day at the roof-top garden Orizontes at Electra Palace to enjoy prime breath-taking views on Aristotelous Square and the Mediterranean sea.
I hope you enjoyed the suggested walk; below is a customized Google map with all places mentioned in the blog. Now you can take my itinerary with you on the go while you are exploring Thessaloniki. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to drop a line or two in the comments section below, and I will answer as soon as possible.