Wondering what to do in Thessaloniki?
You’d be surprised but there are quite a few things to do in Thessaloniki. Whenever most people think of Greece, they imagine Athens, Santorini and Mykonos right?
But Thessaloniki? It’s probably not on top of your bucket list.
Matthew and I absolutely love Greece! We have been 3 times in 4 years and it just never gets old. We’ve been to the islands like Paros, Crete and Santorini but we never thought of visiting Thessaloniki before.
When the opportunity arose to visit Thessaloniki, you bet we took it! We are so glad we did because this Greek city surprised us in the best ways. Before running off to the islands, we realize that there’s also so much beauty on the mainland.
There are a lot of things you can do in Thessaloniki but we want to make it very simple for you. We’ve created a 3 day Thessaloniki itinerary to help curate your schedule and make sure you’re hitting the sights and restaurants to make the most of your time!
Here’s what to do in Thessaloniki that’s actually worth it!
Why Visit Thessaloniki Greece?
Thessaloniki probably isn’t first on your Greece bucket list, right?
A lot of people tend to underestimate this Greek city which has surprises around every corner for the off-the-beaten-path traveler. If you want to see the daily lives of Greek locals and get a deeper understanding of the culture – Thessaloniki is a great place to do that!
Thessaloniki is the second most populated city in Greece filled with history, culture and excellent Greek cuisine. There’s something for everyone in Thessaloniki! Whether you are going for a history tour, a culinary tour or if you simply want a change of scenery for the weekend – Thessaloniki is worth visiting!
Check out our blog post if you’re trying to decide between Athens vs Thessaloniki.
Before you make a beeline for the islands of Thessaloniki, you might just want to give this ancient city another look.
How Many Days To Spend In Thessaloniki?
3 days! We think it’s the perfect amount of time to spend exploring Thessaloniki.
Matthew and I spent 3 days exploring Thessaloniki and I remember us thinking wow that felt like just the right time. The reason we got to visit the 2nd largest city in Greece is simply that it was on our way to another destination.
We took a minivan from Skopje to Thessaloniki and made the most of our little getaway. If you stay in the city center, we think 3 days is the perfect amount to explore Thessaloniki.
Here’s the thing: You can definitely stay longer in Thessaloniki, about a week is also a great amount of time.
Did you know…
…some of the best beaches in Greece are only an hour away. That’s right, this area has some pretty pristine water and secluded beaches that the islands can’t offer! The Halkidiki peninsula has three ‘fingers’ called Kassandra, Athos and Sithonia. You can rent a car and drive down to have a relaxing, secluded beach day!
We could’ve stayed longer but we felt like we had already seen everything we wanted to see. Thessaloniki could also be a great digital nomad destination in the future! No matter how many days you spend in Thessaloniki, you’ll have a great time regardless.
What To Do In Thessaloniki For 3 Days: Full Itinerary
Thessaloniki is the perfect size for a 3-day trip or weekend getaway. You can easily access it by bus, train or plane from Athens. But what to do in Thessaloniki, exactly?
Before we all go running to the islands, Thessaloniki might be worth a second look. This city is beaming with life, culture and deep history if given a second look. While the Greek islands are a big reason people travel to Greece, there’s also so much beauty on the mainland.
In this blog post, we will share a complete 3 day itinerary of what to do in Thessaloniki. We have planned out enough for each day without overloading you so you can still enjoy time to sit back and drink coffee as we did. Each day will have a different focus and if you follow this itinerary of what to do in Thessaloniki for 3 days, you should see all the cool things to do and eat some delicious Greek food.
For this itinerary, we will assume that day 1 is your first full day in Thessaloniki. This just makes it easier in case anyone arrives earlier in the day vs in the middle of the night.
Use this 3 day itinerary as a guide – you don’t need to follow it to a tee to have a great time exploring Thessaloniki. Feel free to add or remove anything you’d like to do, these are suggestions to help guide you and organize your days.
Let’s get to it!
What To Do In Thessaloniki On Day 1
Explore, explore, and explore!
Thessaloniki is an ancient city in Greece with plenty of artifacts, ruins, archaeological sites and landmarks to see. There are numerous world heritage sites that are interesting and not boring in the slightest!
But first, Coffee
But before you go on your history expedition – you’re going to need coffee and breakfast! If you know us, you know that we love coffee, like LOVE coffee. When we visit a place, we already have specialty coffee shops saved for us to visit throughout our time. For today, you can head to Dekapeta Cafe for coffee and small bites.
This cafe is in the perfect location for what you’re about to do next! It’s time to explore the historical city and its heritage sites which are scattered all across. That’s one of the cool things about Thessaloniki – you’ve got ruins in the middle of a modern Greek city!
Visit The Roman Rotunda
The first stop on your history tour of Thessaloniki is the Roman Rotunda. This landmark was built as a house of worship for the Romans in the early 300s. It’s open from 8:30am – 3:30pm which means it’ll be the perfect time to go after your coffee.
Before you enter the rotunda, simply walk all around it! It’s such a beautiful and interesting building with intricate details. If you want to learn more, you can enter the building. It’s only $6 and you can learn about its history and look at the beautiful mosaics it’s famously known for. Note: it’s free to visit on Sunday!
See The Arch Galerius
After spending some time at the Roman Rotunda, stroll down to the Arch of Galerius. We did this exact route and I have to be honest if you don’t look up the history it might not mean much. This was built as a triumphal arch in the early 300s to commemorate Galerius’ victorious campaign against the Persians. You can stare at all the small details of the arch but honestly, that’s about it!
Hungry yet? Have lunch at a traditional Greek restaurant that makes you feel at home. I can’t get the name of the place (because it’s in Greek) but this is the exact Google listing.
Visit All The Museums
Now back to exploring! The next place you’ll visit is the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki.
Apparently, you can buy a ticket to go to the 3 popular spots – the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Byzantine Culture and the White Tower for only 15 euros – otherwise, it’s 8 euros for the Archaeological Museum alone. After this museum, you can make your way to the Museum of Byzantine Culture if you like. Otherwise, just roam around the area.
The White Tower Of Thessaloniki
The White Tower of Thessaloniki is the most iconic landmark in this Greek city.
I purposely didn’t want to put it at the start of your day because it’s so much more magical during sunset. If you get the combo ticket, you can enter the White Tower just before the sun sets – there’s a rooftop section with a nice view of the ocean.
Dinner At The Greek
Dinner calls for an awesome Greek restaurant, funnily enough, called ‘The Greek’. It’s a very popular restaurant in Thessaloniki with over 3,000 Google reviews and a 4.5 star rating. We suggest getting there a bit early because it gets full very quickly! They told us you couldn’t reserve ahead of time. We stood out there around 6:45pm and we waited only 15 minutes before we were seated. The lamb chops and Greek salad were amazing!
From here, you can do one of our favorite things to do – simply stroll the promenade from one end to the other! It’s really beautiful at sunset or in the evening, it’s completely flat and there are several benches all across in case you just want to sit down.
Phew! I know that was a big day but now you’ve seen all the museums, visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites and walked along the promenade. The next 2 days will be much more relaxed and diving into Greek food/culture!
What To Do In Thessaloniki On Day 2
Ready for a beach day or want a different adventure?
Day 2 is a great time to explore Thessaloniki’s surrounding areas. You can use this day to take a day trip to the Halkidiki peninsula if you’re visiting in the summer, see the famous UNESCO Heritage Site, Meteora or rent a car to see more archaeological sites in nearby towns.
Halkidiki Pensinsula – Lay On The Beach
This peninsula is only located 1-hour drive from Thessaloniki. You can choose from 3 different ‘fingers’ – Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos. Tourists can visit the first two – Kassandra and Sithonia.
Sithonia is a good option for families looking to chill out and relax. You can visit any of the beaches along here and you’ll be rewarded with clear, blue waters and barely any crowds around you!
The most popular ‘finger’ is Kassandra. It’s known for its vibrant nightlife! This is a pretty popular spot in the summer – just FYI. If you want to explore this area, Afytos has a great mix of restaurants, cafes and beaches to enjoy!
Meteora – See The Magical Monastery
This UNESCO Heritage Site is honestly out of this world. The interesting rock formations make it a mind-bending thing to look at because it almost defies gravity! It honestly doesn’t make sense how the rocks formed that way and the fact that monasteries sit on top of them is a whole other thing to wrap your mind around.
If you’re staying in Thessaloniki, Meteora is about a 4-hour drive away. It will take some time and you’ll be tired but it’s certainly worth it! A lot of people will only go for a day trip, making Thessaloniki a good base to see this majestic place.
Pella And/Or Kavala – Visit Towns Nearby
Don’t want to go too far? You don’t have to! There are lots of cute Greek towns just 1-2 hours away filled with history, ruins, and Greek culture.
Pella is located about 45 minutes away from Thessaloniki, making it the perfect (short) day trip! What makes this town worth visiting?
If you’re a history lover – Pella is one of the capitals of the Ancient Kingdom of Macedonia. You can visit royal tombs and look at the beautiful ancient mosaics at this archaeological site.
My friend, Neil, messaged me while we were in Thessaloniki and told me to visit the town of Kavala! Unfortunately, we were on our last day in Thessaloniki so we couldn’t make it.
But you can go and see it for us instead (at least till we return). Kavala is a beautiful, charming port city located along a bay. The Byzantine fortress sits atop a hill overlooking the entire city, making it a great viewpoint! It’s a very small town with lots of charm and a beautiful port to walk around!
That’s it for day 2 of what to do in Thessaloniki! The surrounding areas are certainly worth a look if you have the time and energy.
What To Do In Thessaloniki On Day 3
Now you’re back! What to do in Thessaloniki for day 3?
Easy! Eat, shop and soak up the atmosphere.
Thessaloniki is a prominent city of Greek cuisine – a lot of people say the best Greek food can be found in Thessaloniki! There are many restaurants, bars and stands to find whatever cuisine you’re looking for too.
Bougatsa For Breakfast
One of the most important things to do in Thessaloniki is…
…eat bougatsa! This fluffy, delicious pastry originated in Thessaloniki so it would be a mistake to visit without trying it at least once. But what is Bougatsa exactly? It’s a filo pastry with custard inside that just melts in your mouth. Locals like to have bougatsa for breakfast and it’s just perfect with a Greek coffee in hand.
The best place to try bougatsa is at Bougatsa Giannis! Make sure to go early, we arrived around 10:30am and there were barely any seats left. You can also get Greek bakery classics like spanakopita, burek and more.
Shop At The Markets
Once you’re finished with your Greek breakfast, it’s time to hit the markets! There is a place called the Agora Modiano market where you can shop to your heart’s content. There are more than 75 shops inside this market and it’s a great place to shop, buy some souvenirs and soak up the local culture. You can buy all sorts of things here from olive oil to jewelry – the options are endless!
It’s time to eat lunch! I don’t know why but ever since we were Athens digital nomads for 2 months, we loved having gyros for lunch. It’s quick, easy and so SO tasty! The best thing about getting a gyros for takeaway in Thessaloniki is that you can eat it along the promenade as we did! We bought gyros from Psisou Barbecue and it was pretty good.
What’s next? Well, you’re close to the promenade and White Tower so you can head down to the boats. There are about 3 boats that cruise along the ocean for an hour. It’s essentially free, you just have to buy a drink (which is about 8-10 euros depending on what you order. I have to warn you: this almost feels like a tourist trap but if you want to get out on the water, it’s a pretty cheap way to do that!
Shop And Wander The City
You can continue to stroll the promenade or shop on Tsimiki street.
You can also visit the popular Aristotelous Square which has a bunch of cafes to have coffee or juice. After a full 2 days, you can also use this afternoon to relax at your Airbnb or hotel for a while.
Now it’s time for dinner – where to go?
Meze Dinner Or Dining By The Water
What about a meze (aka small plates) restaurant? This is a very Greek way to eat and it’s one of our favorite things! You get to try small plates of each thing on the menu and they bring it out as you go.
Remember: Greeks love to eat and enjoy their time. You will probably sit for a few hours! The best restaurant is called Full tou Meze with over 4,000+ Google reviews and a 4.4 star rating, you can’t go wrong with this Greek restaurant on your last night. If you want a restaurant located by the water, Kitchen Bar is also a great place with over 9,000 Google reviews!
Don’t Wonder What To Do In Thessaloniki Anymore
We hope you found this complete 3 day itinerary of what to do in Thessaloniki helpful!
Matthew and I enjoyed our short but sweet time in Greece’s second-largest city. Thessaloniki is worth a visit if you’ve already been to Greece a few times. It gave us another perspective of this beautiful country, the culture and its people!
With this guide, you don’t need to ask yourself, “what to do in Thessaloniki”. Simply follow the itinerary if you want. You can easily add things or cross things out – after all, it’s YOUR trip to Thessaloniki. Make it exactly how you want it to be!