Thessaloniki is the place to be
Last month we decided to take a road trip with some friends and head to Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece located to the north part of the country. We’ve heard so much about the nightlife and the food but we definitely were not prepared for that much fun. When we first arrived in Thessaloniki we were really thrown back by its amazing location. It is remarkable to be at Europe’s longest urban waterfront and get to admire the view of Mt. Olympus just across the gulf. And right there on the waterfront stands since 1430 Thessaloniki’s most known monument, the White Tower.
You can actually visit the White Tower since it works as a museum and put this extra effort to climb a pretty long staircase just to enjoy the amazing view at the top of the Tower. Next we strolled around the city center just to find out that the city is abundant with monuments of the Roman and Byzantine Empire. We got to admire Galerius’ Triumphal Arch and Rotonta, both important monuments of the Roman era, and then took some time off just to have coffee and enjoy the sun.
This part of the city is actually really close to Aristotle University thus it is a busy and vibrant neighborhood filled with bars and small cafes. After this small break it was time to visit the Byzantine Museum, known both for its remarkable exhibition and for its amazing architecture. It really was impressive! All this sightseeing got us hungry and we were all excited to try out some of Thessaloniki’s famous dishes.
The main idea when it comes to food is “sharing is caring” so be prepared to share the food with your friends instead of everyone having their individual plate. In addition to that, food in Thessaloniki is a big deal so it is expected to really take one’s time to enjoy it. As we were told by some friendly locals the key behind Thessaloniki’s long gastronomical heritage lays in the city’s population. Having been a truly multicultural city for centuries, a unique cuisine was developed which assimilated traits from all cultures and religions. We walked up hill to the old part of the city, behind the great walls and found a small restaurant, a “taverna” as it is called, where we sat to grab something to eat.
We tried delicious “lahanodolmades”, stuffed cabbage with minced meat, “kokkinisto”, beef slow-cooked in tomato sauce, “saganaki”, feta cheese grilled with peppers and tomato and much more. Along with the food we drunk some tsipouro, a strong traditional spirit, and before we realized it we became acquainted with all the other customers. My grandmother used to say that “there is always room for dessert” and I strongly believe in that statement. So although we were completely full from all this delicious food we couldn’t turn down dessert. “Trigona”, which means triangles, are also a delicacy found in Thessaloniki.
They are crispy pastries filled with cream and syrup and a perfect end to an amazing meal. After all this delicious food, we really got to appreciate the value of a siesta, an afternoon nap. After all we had to be well rested in order to enjoy the famous nightlife of Thessaloniki. Being voted one of the top nightlife cities by Nation Geographic, we couldn’t wait to explore ourselves what the city had to offer. We first headed to Laladika to have a beer only to find out that the nightlife in Thessaloniki actually begins quite late.
After some more drinks it was time to visit Valaoritou, the true party place. Filled with bars and clubs of all sorts, crowded with people it was hard to believe it was a week day. At the end of an intense night out and having made a few new friends, it was time to grab some food and call it a night. To our surprise, one can enjoy a big variety of food that late.
However, what most people do is either have a big bowl of patsas, a traditional soup made of cow stomach, which is considered to be the best remedy after a night out drinking, or have some “bougatsa”, a traditional pastry which can be either sweet or salty and is usually eaten for breakfast. And that was the end of a remarkable day in Thessaloniki.
The next morning, it was time for some more sightseeing. The good thing about Thessaloniki is that one does not need to plan anything since in every corner there is something interesting to see. We stroll around Aristotelous square, enjoying the sun and the palm trees and we ended to Modianou, the market place. It really looks like you can find anything you want in that place. Fresh fish and meat are next to all sorts of vegetables, fruits, nuts, herbs and spices. For me that was the moment where I got to experience most intensely Thessaloniki’s multicultural identity and heritage.
Having all our senses satisfied from the visit at the market, we went to the Photography Museum at the port. Those days Thessaloniki’s Documentary Festival was taking place also at the port and the atmosphere was filled with excitement. Then we concluded our day with shopping and strolling around, enjoying the sunny day and the city’s relaxed vibe. Unfortunately, it was time to leave.
However, we all agreed we are definitely revisiting cause, yes, Thessaloniki is the place to be.
10 years later I find myself living in Thesasloniki for 7 years now and it is like nothing has changed on how I view her. Yes it’s a ‘her’.