Few places in Greece are better for a city break than the cosmopolitan gem that is Greece’s second largest city. And we’ve designed the perfect itinerary.
Heavenly homemade breakfast
Starting the day with a serving of hot flaky bougatsa is a Thessaloniki ritual, and there is none better than that made at Bantis. This small family shop is one of the last places still making bougatsa with hand-stretched phyllo – a classic technique from Asia Minor.
The fresh homemade fillings (cheese, spinach, mince and, of course, sweet cream) are divine – but with phyllo so tender and delicate, you might just want it sketo (plain) – the choice of true connoisseurs.
The white tower
Starting with the very symbol of Thessaloniki may seem a little obvious, but bear with us; this really is an ideal place to get to know the city, as the White Tower has been made into an atmospheric museum. It is aimed chiefly at the local audience so exhibits are in Greek, although audio is available for foreign visitors.
The story of the city unfolds like a fairy tale over successive levels: the city’s history, the stories behind its landmarks, first-hand accounts, and nostalgic reminiscences. In the tower’s crown enjoy a virtual taste of Thessaloniki’s famous flavors: via video displays watch how to make the city’s famous dishes, like manti (dumplings from Asia Minor).
The observation area is decked out with plaques and maps explaining the views and sites of interest in all directions. Overall an excellent introduction to the city, ideal orientation point and, honestly, also the ultimate photo opportunity.
Lunch at Zithos
After the White Tower, you don’t need to go far for the ideal lunch spot. In the square right across from the White Tower, all the charm of the famous cafe Dore lives on in the restaurant Zithos Dore. A broad menu of classic dishes with an elegant touch, good prices, and a fine beer selection have made this a great favorite with locals for over 20 years.
Masters of Modern Art
The Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art was born of the inspiring efforts and generosity of a community of art lovers. Today it houses an exciting collection of works by significant 20th century and contemporary Greek and international artists (such as Niki de St. Phalle, Giannis Gaitis and many more), along with temporary thematic exhibitions.
Culture (and cocktails) with a view
On the western edge of the seafront is the first pier of the harbor. Now a hub of the city’s cultural life, the original charm of its industrial character has been left entirely intact. Some of the warehouses have been converted into museums: the Museum of Cinematography, open now, is in warehouse A (the Museum of Photography reopens with a new exhibition September 20th, and The Center for Contemporary Art reopens September 30th for the Biennale).
Afterwards, enjoy a drink with Thessaloniki’s finest view at the Orizontes Roof Garden at the Electra Palace.
Dinner in the Ladadika
In Thessaloniki, you’re always spoiled for choice when it comes to dining. The district Ladadika is full of places ranging from casual to elegant and a lively destination in its own right. A fun option on Friday and Saturday nights is an Argentinian dinner at El Correo, followed by complimentary tango lessons with Thessaloniki’s most popular Argentinian instructor.
Above Egnatia road, the Ano (Upper) Ladadika is also full of options – some classic and some brand new. Akadimia is an elegant choice – eclectic antique décor and an inventive, Mediterranean-based menu. Most noteworthy are the Sephardic dishes they make for special occasions, honoring the city’s rich Jewish heritage.
Alternatively, for a truly exclusive evening, Ioanna Theodorakaki of Duck Private Cheffing can create a meal exclusively for your party with the freshest local, seasonal products. Reservations a must.
Into the evening: romantic drinks
Nightcap – Overlooking the sunken gardens of Aghios Ioannis are some of the most romantic tables in town. Stylish Cin Cin with its superbly mixed original cocktails is one of the latest additions to the city’s nightlife.
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