Our first trip for 2022 was on the 1st of January from Athens to Thessaloniki with our twins who are now 5+ years old, and it was easy and fun!
Your way around Thessaloniki
Υοu can get here by air, landing at Makedonia International Airport. You can also get here by train or by car.
Thessaloniki is a small city. It is the second largest city of Greece, undoubtedly the lady capital of the north, but it’s a small city. That you can easily walk around at. If you are comfortable cycling uphill on the main road, you can actually go everywhere by bicycle and possibly see the whole city on a bike within 2 days. The longest distance between two monuments is 2+ kilometers. There’s a bicycle lane alomg the coast and it’s lovely. And there are several pedestrian roads that cross the center of the city, making it easy to explore this part of town on foot or on bicycle.
Where to stay
In the center, which means near or along the coastal road. This is where everything is: the shops, the restaurant areas, the marina, the Pier, many medieval and roman ruins, the White Tower, cafes, playgrounds, soft play areas and more restaurants. We chose to stay at Tsimiski avenue, 80 metres away from the marina, next to fashion shops, 2-10 minutes away from the main food districts. We stayed at family friendly Colors Urban Hotel, which offers breakfast, brunch and dinner and it was conveniently located for us to not need our car at all. Well, almost.
Where to eat
Definitely the foodie capital of Greece, Thessaloniki offers many budget friendly creative cuisine options. Book ahead, bring color books and enjoy!
Ladadika is the famous car free neighborhood steps from the sea, where everybody and their mother come to dine. It’s cozy and quaint and some of the best restaurants in the city are here, as well as one of our family friendly hotels. It’s also 100 meters away from where we stayed. Charoupi is the restaurant of choice here.
Where Pavlou Mela str. and Germanou str. cross paths, you’ll find several cozy “Paris style” restaurants. It’s more upscale here than in Ladadika, but they’re all on the street, so not safe for kids to play outside. It’s lovely though, so remember the color books! We really enjoyed a lovely italian dinner at Signore Trattoria in Germanou, gnocchi are to die for. Deka Trapezia is another lovely option, close here and on the sea front.
Gounari is a long car free road that leads to the sea, with lots of pizza joints, which locals adore. Some may have tables and chairs outside, but most are street food only.
We loved our brunch and dinner at The Garden Bar, the restaurant of our hotel. The food is amazing, there is a car free road right outside AND they have color books!
Outside from the city center, you’ll also find family friendly Ergon Agora for some farm to table experience.
Must-do’s in Thessaloniki
1. Shopping: probably the easiest city in Greece to navigate yourself among the stores. They’re all close by, most on Tsimiski avenue, where we stayed.
2. Sunsets: take a stroll in the marina. Start an hour before sunset from the Pier (earlier if you want to visit the museums or an exhibit), reach the White Tower right on time for the color candy sky and then the Umbrellas installation just in time to see the sun set behind Mount Olympus.
3. Dine like a local: see more about that in the section above.
4. Take the round tour (not easy with a stroller) from Aristotelous square all the way up to the playground and the Roman Agora, the church of Saint Dimitrios, the Rotonda de Galerio and then head down through the Arc to the White Tower and the sea.
5. Visit Ano Poli (Upper Town), enjoy the view to the city and the sea from the 7 Towers, explore Yendi Coule and stroll back in time (you’ll need to drive there if you’re traveling with little kids). Otherwise, it’s a 2,3 kilometers uphill from the sea to here).
6. Visit the Seih Sou mountain for a stroll.
7. Take the Tiki boat for drinks and views of the city. It’s a half hour boat tour along the marina.
8. Visit the Dinosaur Park (car required).
9. Don’t leave before you try some Trigona Panoramatos, the triangle local dessert, as well as some bougatsa, sweet or savor pastry.
10. Wake up early for a morning run along the marina (8 kilometres). The colors are stunning!
Where to go from here
So many options. If you’re during the summer, you’ll head to Chalkidiki for the amazing sandy beaches. If you’re here any other month, you can head to the mountains. Pelion, Agrafa, Kaimaktsalan, Kastoria and Grevena, Zagori and Tzoumerka are all easy road trips from here. Another great experience is Nestos river, at the east of Thessaloniki.
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