The complete guide to: Thessaloniki travel

April 09, 2018
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Urban Adventures

There are many reasons to visit Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece. A diverse array of neighbourhoods to explore, rich history, an abundance of cultural attractions, amazing food and a vibrant waterfront are just some of the reasons to book your ticket. If you go (or you’re planning a trip), our local Thessaloniki tour guides have gathered their best tips for getting in, getting around, and having the ultimate trip to Thessaloniki.

Getting to and from SKG

Thessaloniki airport is located 14 kilometres from the city centre and is accessible by public bus going to and from the airport. Express bus line 78 (and 78N at night) connect the airport to the city centre. Tickets can be purchased from vending machines on board the bus (exact change required) and the fare is EUR 2. Travel time between the airport and the city is 40 to 50 minutes and buses run every 30 minutes.

Getting around Thessaloniki

The only choice for public transportation in Thessaloniki is public buses, but they make for a good way to get around the city. There is a dense network of bus lines connecting most parts of the city and suburbs. Tickets cost EUR 1 when bought from street kiosks (periptera) or EUR 1.10 when bought from vending machines on board the buses. Tickets must be validated in one of the special machines found on all buses.

Walking is a great way to get around Thessaloniki since many of the city’s sights and attractions are close enough together to explore on foot.

Thessaloniki waterfront

Walking the waterfront in Thessaloniki | Photo by Thessaloniki Urban Adventures

Things to do in Thessaloniki

Make like a local and watch a basketball game while you’re in town. Ticket prices start at EUR 10 and you can buy tickets online. Basketball in Greece has become popular due to the team ARIS, based in Thessaloniki. The team has a remarkable history in both Greek and European basketball, especially in the ’80s and ’90s. If you don’t want to watch a game, or if there is nothing on while you are in the city, you can always visit the ARIS Basketball Museum, which hosts exhibits from the first championship in 1930 and the European cups (1993, 1997, 2003) up until the last Greek Cup in 2004. Above each trophy, a TV screen shows the games in which these cups were won.

Another way to get a feel for local life is visiting Modiano and Kapani markets. These city market serve as a delicious introduction to Thessaloniki’s vibrant culinary scene. Both markets offer a glimpse (and taste) of traditional Thessaloniki foods and are across the street from each other. Wander through both for a sensory overload of colourful spices, produce, meats, cheeses (oh, the cheeses), olives, and many local snacks and prepared items. If you’re looking for even more information about the glorious food the city has to offer, check out our Tastes of Thessaloniki tour.

Market in Thessaloniki

Market shopping in Thessaloniki | Photo via Pixabay

For anyone craving some culture, Thessaloniki is teeming with interesting museums to explore. Start with the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, split into seven eras from prehistoric to the early Christian period. This is one of the largest museums in Greece and the central museum of northern Greece. Some other museum highlights to check out include the State Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Byzantine Culture and Thessaloniki Museum of Cinema.

Ano Poli (or the Upper Town) is enclosed within the city’s old fortifications at the highest point of the city. The historic area survived the great fire of 1917 so has retained much of its old-world aesthetic, and is one of Thessaloniki’s most charming neighbourhoods. Spend some time exploring the narrow streets and alleys filled with beautiful ottoman houses and traditional taverns. Due to the area’s elevated location, Upper Town is a great way to see Thessaloniki from above. You can get here on foot, but if you’re short on time or don’t feel like hoofing it, take bus 23 from the city centre.

Street Mode is an annual music, art and sports festival that has been held in Thessaloniki since 2009. It is the largest festival in North Greece, hosting more than 40,000 spectators each year. The three-day program (usually around the end of August) involves more than 50 live music performances on multiple stages and DJ sets, as well as street art, street dance, parkour, skateboarding, children’s activities and much more.

Thessaloniki Day Tours

Looking for more things to do? Urban Adventures offers several day tours in Thessaloniki and beyond, all led by local experts who will give you a taste for local life in the city:

Bites, Spirits & Romance
Thessaloniki has a special charm when night falls, so come explore the nightlife of the Queen of the North with a knowledgeable guide by your side! You’ll enjoy local spirits, admire lit-up monuments, savour the city’s famous street food and listen to thrilling stories of forbidden love affairs — because Thessaloniki is home to many saints, but also a few sinners.

Tastes of Thessaloniki
What do you get when you combine Greek coffee, pastries and breads, sweets, meze, and ouzo? Apart from a minor bout of indigestion, you also get one of the best introductions into Greek cuisine and culture, all on this tasty Thessaloniki tour.

Made In Thessaloniki
If you want to bring a piece of Thessaloniki home with you, then we have you covered with our Made In Thessaloniki tour. We won’t show you where to buy magnets, coffee mugs or other kitsch items — instead, you will spend your morning shopping like a local. Be prepared to browse, smell, taste and shop the best the city has to offer!

Markets, Mansions & Monuments Private Tour
Together we’ll spend the morning exploring the city’s main historic hotspots with your local guide giving you the lowdown on its fascinating ancient history. Then we’ll go off the beaten track to discover the bustling markets and hidden gems in the pretty backstreets of this delightful world heritage site.

Walking Athens
Greece is the type of place where you can see ancient ruins while on the Metro – no biggie! Join this Athens tour to do this as well as sip ouzo, admire old and new architecture, and see a traditional Greek changing of the guard ceremony.

Markets, Ruins & Ancient Athens
Athens makes travelling easy; the streets are filled with cultural, historic, and culinary icons. The problem is knowing on which streets to find these treasures! Join this Athens tour to enjoy the benefits of having a local guide who will show you fresh produce, retail hot spots, ruins, temples, markets and mosques.

Thessaloniki on the big screen

Genethlia Poli (The Birthplace) showcases the history, as well as the linear evolution of the city and makes for a good introduction to Thessaloniki.

Thessaloniki on record

There are many songs referring to Thessaloniki, which people all over Greece still listen and dance to. Try this one and this one.

Thessaloniki in books

The Thread by Victoria Hislop is an epic novel that spans nearly a hundred years, set amidst the turbulent city of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Get in touch with us

Give us call at +30 698 067 9166 or email us at info@thessalonikiurbanadventures.com to plan your Best. Day. Ever. while you’re in town. You can also tweet us on Twitter, friend us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram for live updates from Thessaloniki.

Thessaloniki Tours | Urban Adventures

Discover the ancient stories, culture, and flavours of Greece on a truly unique Thessaloniki tour. Thessaloniki is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s also a beautiful, modern European city, bursting with life. Get to know its east meets west vibes with a local guide to experience the offbeat things to do in Thessaloniki, from markets to ruins, tasty cuisine, and beyond.