If you want to visit Greece, but find Athens too overbearing and the coast and islands too packed with overly-enthusiastic tourists, then Thessaloniki might be the perfect balance of the two. As a coastal town that’s still of decent size, we were able to explore its nooks and crannies while still getting some of its seaside atmosphere and tranquility.
The ultimate must-see is the White Tower, a beautiful 16th century creation with a gorgeous museum located inside of it, that has over the years become a symbol of the town. We also climbed to the Upper Town, with its narrow, cobbled streets that looked like they haven’t changed since the Ottoman times, barely able to have one car at a time diving through them. From this part of town, you can also have a fantastic view of the city and its port. Besides its vibrant and diverse cultural institutions, Thessaloniki also has an insanely long promenade on the seafront, lined with numerous cafes and restaurants where you can have delicious gyros and taste a bit of ouzo. We also paid a visit to the Zeitelnik cemetery, which honors the soldiers from the Allied forced who died in World War One on the Salonika front – pretty important for anyone from the Balkans. Despite not being the most obvious choice when travelling to Greece, Thessaloniki was definitely worth the visit.