Looking for an intoxicating and surprising city break during your stay? Then we have just the place for you: one that’s adored by artists and musicians, shoppers and sight-seers, students and historians, film-makers and food buffs, fashionistas and free-thinkers.
In fact, no trip to the region is complete without a visit to Thessaloniki, 80km from Kassandra Palace. Thessaloniki is the economic, political and commercial hub of northern Greece and - with a population of over a million - the country’s second-largest city, widely considered to be its cultural capital. Yet it’s compact, too, and easy to walk around. Its riches are easy to find because they’re everywhere you look.
15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Down many turbulent centuries, Thessaloniki has sat at the crossroads of Europe, where East meets West, watching empires rise and fall and civilisations come and go. Rich in notable archaeological treasures and astounding architecture, it’s a coastal urban centre that has, in its time, been the most important city in Macedon; a free city of the Roman Republic; the administrative heart of the Roman Empire, and a central location of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.
As such, Thessaloniki is something of an historical marvel — one that’s home to numerous world-renowned Byzantine monuments and an incredible 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These include the 4th century Rotunda of Galerius, the Church of Panagia Chalkeon and the Church of the Acheiropoietos. Ancient artefacts abound in the city's museums, including the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Byzantine Culture.
Thessaloniki is picturesque, too, with its winding alleyways, remains of ancient city walls, café-lined waterfront and distinctive 15th century White Tower, probably the city’s best-known landmark.
European Capital of Culture
Yet Thessaloniki doesn’t live in the past. It’s also a cutting-edge 21st century city with an electric artistic reputation. Each year it hosts an International Film Festival and the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, plus an International Film Festival of Photography. Its Concert Hall is one of the largest in Greece, its nightlife is vibrant and its theatre scene is justifiably world-famous. But then this is nothing new. Indeed, with its too-numerous-to-name art venues, shows and events, Thessaloniki was justly celebrated as 1997’s official European Capital of Culture.
Plus, Thessaloniki has a reputation as a chic retail centre with its international trade fair, thriving markets and the largest shopping and entertainment complex in the Balkans. So after you’ve visited its bars, coffee houses, restaurants and clubs, take time out to browse the store windows or shop till you drop.
Old and new blend in Thessaloniki
The past and the present blend in Thessaloniki to make this city an intriguing mix of old and new. And, ultimately, that’s the thing you remember most. Its history is extraordinary and its cosmopolitan, cultural vibe is unforgettable — and once you’ve experienced it, you’ll want to return again and again.