Greece's second city, is far less touristy than the capital. However few would deny it is equally fascinating. With just under a million inhabitants it combines effortless sophistication with the intimacy of a small town. Located on an attractive bay on the Thermaic Gulf and packed with historical, social, cultural and culinary interest, Thessalonoki leaves few uncharmed.
Although the city takes its name from the daughter of a Macedonian general, its period of greatest glory came after the Roman emperor Galerius made it the capital of the eastern empire.
Later it became the second city of the Byzantine Empire, and the magnificent rulers adorned the city with splendid churches and palaces, many of which survived later Ottoman domination. The city's blackest day came in a disastrous fire in 1917 which destroyed most of the oldest districts. Start at the beginning and go to the Arch of Galerius and the Roman agora where xcavations are currently unveiling the ancient city. Then take a stroll to some of the glorious Byzantine churches. The fifth century church of Agios Dimitrios is the largest in Greece and the vast interior holds some wonderful Byzantine mosaics
The Church of Agia Sophia is less famous than its celebrated namesake but is equally lovely. A visit to the archeological museum is definitely advisable. It houses the amazing contents of the tomb of Phillip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great.
Be sure to climb up to the White Tower, the city's most famous landmark. It was used as a prison by the sultans and was the scene of a notorious massacre. Thankfully its function today is altogether more pleasant, as it houses a fabulous Byzantine Museum.
Wander the winding streets enjoying the views over the modern city and the splendid bay. The waterfront provides the focus for the modern city and provides ample opportunity for pleasant evening walks. Check out the trendy shops along Tsimiski and enjoy the sun in one of the two waterside squares, Plateia Eleftherias and Plateia Aristetolous. For entertainment, listen to some live Greek folk music in one of the many bars in the Ladadika district and sample the tasty mezedes available throughout the city of Thessaloniki.