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Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, is known for its eclectic mix of cultural events, relaxed Grecian charm and history spanning 23 centuries. Wander the streets of this open-air museum to witness UNESCO-listed monuments and ancient remains of fallen Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. The city’s waterfront is a 5km stretch of promenade that’s dotted with green spaces and is the perfect spot for a sunset stroll. At night, Thessaloniki comes to life with locals and travellers in the city's traditional tavernas and ouzeries.
The majority of hostels in Thessaloniki are around the Old Town where you’ll soak up the historic sights. You can stay in a cosy guesthouse with a flower-filled garden, or a brightly decorated Thessaloniki hostel that overlooks the city’s Byzantine walls. Some places have big communal lounges or outdoor terraces for chilling out. Others have balconies with panoramic views or ultra-modern décor and bathrooms stocked with toiletries. Most Thessaloniki hostels have Wi-Fi and serve up free breakfast too.
Aristotelous Square is the city's central hub and opens out onto the Thermaikos Gulf. It’s home to the statue of Aristotle, neoclassical architecture and a thriving café culture. The Ladadika district is an after-dark hotspot with restaurants, snug bars and clubs packed along its pedestrianised streets. Ano Poli (known as the Old Town or Upper Town) is characterful with winding, narrow paths. Here you’ll stumble across hidden squares with Byzantine churches, Macedonian mansions and timber-framed pubs for local delicacies and a shot of ouzo.
There are hosts of must-see museums such as the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, or the Museum of Byzantine Culture housed in Thessaloniki's most iconic landmark – the 15th-century White Tower. When it comes to shopping, the streets of Tsimiski, Proxenou Koromila and Mitropoleos are lined with boutiques and chic department stores. You can discover antique shops, bars and taverns at the colourful Bit Bazar, north of Aristotelous Square, or absorb the sights, sounds and smells of Modiano, a glass-roofed food market.
Thessaloniki's airport is 14km south-east of the city and a taxi ride will have you there in about 30 minutes. A public transit bus runs every half hour from the airport to the centre, taking around 50 minutes. The bus network also connects to the Thessaloniki bus station and the central train station, for routes on to the rest of Europe. Taxis are plentiful in Thessaloniki, but walking is the way to really explore.