As the second largest city in Greece, Thessaloniki is vibrant, historic, diverse, chaotic and beautiful – often simultaneously. The deep-seated cultural and historical treasures and traditions are evidenced in the monuments, architecture and cuisine. The ancient remains feature Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman lineage along with more modern facades.
Following the devastating Great Fire of 1917, the city center was reconstructed and now provides a 20th century look-and-feel, offering yet another layer of contrast and interest. As such, you’re sure to be entertained, enlightened, surprised and delighted by talking a scenic walking tour of Thessaloniki.
14 Sites to Include on A Walking Tour of Thessaloniki
From start to finish, plan for approximately five hours to tour the city, including lunch and a leisurely coffee in the tradition of the Greeks. And be sure to take in the following 14 sites to get a good feel for what this remarkable city has to offer.
1. Democracy Square
Also referred to as Dimokratias or Vardari Square, Democracy Square is a main intersection point of Monastiriou, Egnatias, Lagada and Dodekanisou Roads. It is a symbolic representation of the past, present and future bustling with traffic, restaurants, cafes and shops.
2. Thessaloniki Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception
Just a few minutes walk on Dodekanisou toward the waterfront and historical portion of the city, you’ll find a picturesque and historic church situated on Fragon Street. Designed by Italian architect, Vitaliano Poselli, recognized for his work throughout the city, the Thessaloniki Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception was built in 1899 and remains active today. Visit the church to find it is run and preserved by the relatively small Catholic community of Thessaloniki.
3. Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki
Next on your city stroll, head to the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki. Enjoy the building from the outside. To properly take in the wealth of the museum’s history and culture, reserve a tour of the museum itself for a separate day.
4. Agios Minas Church
In close proximity to the port, where King Herakleiou and Dragoumis Streets intersect, is the Agios Minas Church. From the post-Byzantine era, this Christian monument dates back to the 9th century and is especially significant as one of the few churches not converted to a Muslim mosque after the city’s occupation by the Turks. The current structure reflects significant repair work completed after centuries of war.
5. Modiano and Kapani Food Market
Situated at Platia Aristotelous and Ermou Streets, the Modiano and Kapani Food Market is a hidden marketplace, pulsing with vibrant colors, sounds, scents and flavors. Filled with stands offering an array of fish, meat, veggies, herbs, bread and pastries, the market is truly a feast for the senses.
6. Port of Thessaloniki
Go to the port for a scenic view of the waterfront, as well as to see the Museum of Photography and the Cinema Museum. Cinephiles will also appreciate knowing there are two film festivals in Thessaloniki – the Thessaloniki International Film Festival held annually every November and the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival in March. Also situated in the port area is the Kitchen Bar, an ideal spot for a bite to eat or drink while you enjoy the waterfront.
7. Nikis Avenue
Continue walking along the waterfront promenade to Nikis Avenue. On a clear day, the promenade is bustling with walkers, runners, bikers and visitors enjoying the view of the water and charming street cafes.
8. Aristotelous Square
Next, stop off to explore Aristotelous Square home to luxurious hotels, vast mansions and charming cafés.
9. Ancient Roman Agora
From Aristotelous Square, proceed to Venizelou Square and take in the Ancient Roman Agora (located in upper Venizelou Square).
10. Agios Demitrius Cathedral
From the agora, you can visit Agios Demitrius Cathedral, a cathedral offering representative Byzantine architecture, which has twice survived fire, including the Great Fire of 1917.
11. Café Terkenlis
From the cathedral, walk down to Agias Sofias Street and enjoy a leisurely and delicious coffee break at Café Terkenlis in Agias Sofias Square. The café originated in 1948 and is an acclaimed bakery and patisserie.
12. Galerius Roman Palace
Now fully caffeinated and rejuvenated, carry on towards the Navarinou Square and Dim. Gounari Street, a street frequented by university students. It’s here you’ll find shops and restaurants catering to their more modern tastes and minimal budgets. You’ll also find the ruins of Galerius Roman Palace, artefacts offering a dramatic counterpoint to the contemporary youthful university vibe of the neighborhood.
13. White Tower
Next, head down towards the famous White Tower, considered by some to be the city’s trademark as the most recognizable landmark, before finishing up at Venizelou Street.
14. Venizelou Street
Finish your walking tour by window shopping along Tsimiski Avenue to Venizelou Street. See the old arcades with the small textile shops.
IF YOU GO
- Thessaloniki Tourism Organization
- Café Terkenlis
- Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki
- Modiano and Kapani Food Markets
- Port of Thessaloniki
- White Tower