Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, in northern Greece is the country's second largest city. In the far north, not too far from teh Macedonian border lies this lovely artistic and incredibly vibrant city. A relaxed way of life, where coffee and cigarettes in the sun is practically their religion, it is a brilliant place for young people or groups of friends. Seeped in history, with remnants of WW2 everywhere and of course the iconic White Tower, it is full of cafes, bars, lots of shops and a very bright cheerful atmosphere. It may be a small city but it is mighty and there are plenty of ruins and historical sites to see. The sightseeing bus is €10 per person and takes you to the big sights but possibly isn't the best value, as it seems to miss out some huge churches and monuments but you could pick the nearest bus stop and explore fully on foot; although my tired body did not allow it.



What To See

The White Tower is a historical point in the city and is beautiful. You can enter the tower and climb the stairs to the top to see the view of the sea and the city. Castro is also a brilliant place to see for views, you can hop on the city tour bus (€10 for the day) to see the sights, although it doesn't stop at many great places, it is a good way to get around if your time is limited there. At Castro there are little neigbourhoods to explore and a few ruins, including cafes and taverns with great views. The shopping area is huge in Thessaloniki. It is one long main street with boutiques and high street names, that make it a great stop off for shopping and treating yourself. I saw quite a few beautiful bag shops, good quality at good prices, it really was impressive for shoppers and can see its attraction for that alone. The main shopping street is on Tsmiski. If you take a walk along the waterfront, there are little gardens and artwork dotted around. It is very interesting for those who enjoy a little bit of culture and art. The city is famous for its students, so it's lively and always something going on!

















The history of Thessaloniki is very fascinating and you will notice the architecture is slightly different to the south and the islands. It is stone mostly and has a definite influence from it's Macedonian roots. Of course, there was a large Jewish community and there is one lasting synagogue in the city from WW2 when sadly most of the Jews were exterminated by the Nazis. The holocaust memorial is not too far from Aristotelous Square on the main road.

Where To Stay 

I stayed at the Electra Palace Hotel. It was my second stay at an Electra hotel, as I have been to the one in Athens before and loved it. The location was perfect in Aristotelous Square, near to all the shops, all the cafes and within walking distance of the sea edge and the White Tower. There are lots of affordable hotels in Thessaloniki, many are based right in the city centre, but beware, it is a very LOUD city!! There are bikes, street noise, workers noises right through until about 4am and then it seemed to settle a little until about 7am but it's such a vibrant city, I found it to be even more noisy than Athens, but perhaps that was partly bad luck! There are some other 4 star alternatives for people who like a nice home away from home with all the comforts, including the City Hotel which is artistic and I passed it on my walk and it is stylish and very boutique feeling (would be good for couples!)

I took this photo from the breakfast suite of the Electra Palace - those skies! So moody yet so beautiful!



My ultimate travel companion was this amazing heavy duty yet still soft bag from Rox and Ann
What Is Accessible From Thessaloniki

The answer is quite a lot! Down the coast, you have the beautiful resorts in Halkidiki, around an hour or so away, with beautiful hotels and stunning beaches, which are becoming very popular with holidaymakers in recent months. Also, there are plenty of your companies in the city which can take you to the nearby Mount Olympus and Meteora (I was highly impressed) which are all magical wonders of this fantastic country!

So why not make this charming, small and friendly little city your next city break!





Mycanae & Epidaurus With Key Tours

After two previous wonderful trips with Key Tours, I had the opportunity to work with them again, this time going on a bigger trip, a full day trip to Mycanae and Epidaurus in mainland Greece! It was an incredible trip from start to finish, the staff and guides are always informative, friendly, and our guide Katia was very good, telling us about the history of the city and information about the areas we passed. Our itinerary was jampacked, with a stop off at the Corinth Canal on the way and it was a fantastic sight to say the least! Here is a breakdown from start to finish of my amazing trip, including lots of photos which are guaranteed to give you Greek wanderlust!

Dress: Klass Collection 
8:15am - pick up from hotel and head out to the Peloponnese to our first stop at Mycanae. We have a short coffee break at Corinth Canal which is a 4 mile canal which is an absolutely wonderful sight, from the bridge above, looking down into the unforgiving waters! See below how huge the drop is!



Mycanae

Next it is onto Mycanae, an archeological site with fantastic ruins and a beehive monastary which is shaped like a dome and hive, where dead bodies were stored...it was truly fascinating and definitely a little creepy! Mycanae is also home to ruins on the top of the hill where their Acropolis was situated. It was interesting to know that many cities have an Acropolis, meaning the highest point in the city but of course the Acropolis in Athens is the most famous. There is a walk upto the ruins but with the bad wind and rain on the day, we were unable to climb to the top, but even just going half way gives you the opportunity to see the most wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. It is wonderful to hear about the mythology of the area and the site has a museum which is also incredibly informative. There is plenty to see and learn about!









After this, we moved forwards onto a pottery shop in the area to have a little chat about how the famous pottery is made, including the famous justice cup which spills out if you fill it too much, which holds a moral message that we should never be greedy. It was great time to look at the amazing shop and I picked up two little pots that were just €2!! The shop was fascinating, there is something very beautiful about the Greek styles, they are timeless and even today they are copied by some of the biggest brands in the world. Before our stop off for lunch in Nafplio (Greece's first capital before Athens took the throne), we had a small walking tour through the old town. It is an incredible place and truly would be a brilliant place to stop for a weekend, if you are in a car. There are boutique hotels, plenty of trendy restaurants, beautiful streets and shops and at the top there is the Fortress of Palamidi at the top boasting beautiful views. We were shown down to the harbour where we had a lunch waiting for us!





The town of Nafplio is used on the weekends mostly by Athenians who escape the heat and the hustle and bustle, for the quiet streets and relaxing waters in the area. It is also home to Greece's first ever pharmacy, which is incredible. Scroll down to see this gorgeous little town and why it was one of my highlights, I am sure you'll be able to see why!







Epidaurus

Epidaurus is a popular and stunning ampitheatre and the best preserved in the world. It's not as big as I expected but it is majestic and certainly humbling. Every year, festivals are performed here, available in English also so all can enjoy! The area is surrounded by parkland, cafes and is a hotspot for tourists. Also, there is a museum with in depth details about the history and Greek mythology. The whole area is dripping in history and it is a very inspirational place to visit. The area of Epidaurus is also popular with its town on the coastline, which also makes this a fantastic place to visit if you have time. I was impressed with our tour guide for her consistency and knowledge of the history, it was so fascinating to hear about so much, there was too much to take in, but it was definitely worth it!





The drive back to Athens was also a magical experience. Driving down the coast all the way across back to Athens, you have stunning views high up of the Saronic gulf, and all its luscious villages and landscapes on the way back. The rain had held off, the sun was beaming and bright beautiful rainbows hung in the sky so perfectly. It had been a dreamy trip and I was certainly ready to look back at all my photos!

Key Tours are consistent with performance and prices, they are undoubtedly my go to when in Greece and they also offer airport transfers at competitive prices. If you would lke to see more or are thinking of booking some tours whilst you're in this stunning country, then click here! Thank you for an unforgettable day!!