THESSALONIKI Greece - the capital of north Greece

(Picture from Symbian Developer)

Many of my guests fly to Thessaloniki Greece airport and want to know if Thessaloniki is worth a visit. The answer to that is: Yes!

Is it worth visiting in 35 degrees heat or more? No!

Whether you arrive at the bus station KTEL or at the airport (situated in each end of the city) the easiest way to get into the center is to take bus nr. 78, which drives all the way through. If you get off at the Kamares you´re right in the center, nearby the central Aristotles square the and can walk everywhere.

The traffic used to be horrible, but has calmed down a lot with te Greek crisis as people can´t afford petrol. But unless you like driving in mad places, don´t bring a car in. And don´t expect it to be faster to drive or take a cab around.

The capital of northern Greece, with its one million inhabitants, is situated along the shore of the bay of Thessaloniki, just opposite mount Olympus (the highest mountain in Greece and the mythological home of the Greek gods). However, due to the pollution, on most days you can not see the mountain. A stroll along the five kilometer long paralia, sea shore, is a good way to see the city (but don´t expect to be able to swim in the sea!).

The charm of Thessaloniki is the contrast of elegant late 1800 architecture, beautiful squares and avenues with sophisticated boutiques, bars and coffee shops on one hand, and the oriental-like old quarter, ladadika with its narrow lanes and shops that sell anything from slippers and shoe polish to nuts and screw drivers. Not to mention that here you´ll find a great selection of traditional coffee shops, ouzeries and tavernas.

Then there is the kastra the old part of Thessaloniki above the main center, inside the ancient castle walls. From here - on clear days - you´ll have amazing views of the city and the bay.

If you love sightseeing you´f want to visit the Byzantine museum and the Jewish museum (only 100 years ago Thessaloniki was the biggest Jewish city in the world). But the most fascinating sight is 40 minutes drive outside the city: Vergina, the old capital of the Macedonian kingdom.

If you have children you might want to visit the Planetarium or the spectacular Waterland, both situated near the airport.

From time to time, we treat ourselves to a week end in Thessaloniki. We like to stay at Hotel Luxembourg, as it is situated in a quiet street in the middle of the Ladadika. Good standard, nice breakfast. (Most hotels in the center are situated at the main street Egnatia, where there´s loads of noise and traffic - now I have warned you!)

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