Where to stay in Thessaloniki – a neighborhood guide
Wondering where to stay in Thessaloniki? Can’t decide which area suits you best? Keep reading to discover the beauty of each neighborhood in the city.
Ladadika is a district full of history, situated near the port, in the western part of the city. As reveals its name (in Greek, ladi means oil), it used to be a commercial base for storing and selling oil. However, the Great Fire of 1917 led to the downfall of the area. It was not until 1985 that it was rediscovered and redeveloped. Since then, it’s been one of Thessaloniki’s hot spots for entertainment and nightlife. Full of cafes, bars and restaurants, this is the part of the city that never sleeps. If you’re the type of person that wants to go straight to bed after a long night out, this is the place to stay! “Ya mas” (cheers in Greek) is a useful phrase to know if you decide to stay in Ladadika!
After the 1917 fire, the French architect Ernest Hébrard redesigned Platia Aristotelous, Thessaloniki’s trademark square. This is where the heart of city beats! It stretches from the waterfront all the way up to Egnatia Street with a wide variety of cafes and bars. All the city’s main sights are practically around the corner. Kapani, Modiano and Athonos markets hide in Aristotelous’ side streets. The main venue of Thessaloniki’s International Film Festival, Olympion Theater, is also located at the south end of the square. Do you want to stay right in the middle of the vibrant city center? Willing to pay a bit extra for that? Then, Aristotelous neighborhood is ideal for you!
Old city (Upper town)
If you want to stay close to the city center but far from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets, choose the Old City. Thessalonians call it Ano Poli (the Upper Town) and here, it seems time has stood still: enjoy colorful houses, narrow stone-paved little streets and instagrammable corners. Breathe in the quiet neighborhoods that bring back reminiscences from the past when the city was a melting pot of different cultures. A large part of the Byzantine Walls surrounding Thessaloniki is well preserved in this area – don’t miss the sunset from Trigonio Tower! Be prepared for some uphill walking, but remember, the best view comes after a good climb. Extra bonus: Well-hidden local restaurants will amaze you with their delicious cuisine and low prices. It’s an area ideal for those seeking a romantic city refuge, lovers of the Byzantine era and travelers that like to mingle with locals!
Navarinou Square & the Galerian Complex
A ten minute downhill walk from Trigonio Tower will bring you to the most famous meeting point of Thessaloniki: Kamara, the Arch of Galerius. Close your eyes and travel back to the 4th century AD when Thessaloniki was the Mecca of the Roman Empire. With the wide square spreading in front of you, imagine the old hippodrome and Galerius’ Palace on its side. Nowadays, ruins of this glorious era can be seen in Navarinou Square, a neighborhood popular with students. And all just within a five-minute walking distance from the University campus, the trade fair, the Archeological and Byzantine Museums, not to mention the White Tower. This is where history meets everyday life. Highly recommended for young travelers, Erasmus students and museum-hopping lovers!
If it’s not your first time in Thessaloniki, here’s an elegant alternative for you: Kalamaria. This neighborhood lies at the east part of the city and, as its name goes, it’s the “nice side” of it. It takes a ten-minute drive from the airport and another 25-minute bus ride to the city center. Well known restaurants and fish taverns can be found along the coastal avenue “Aretsou”. The view from the marina is breathtaking – it’ll make you feel like you’re on a Greek island. So, it’s the perfect opportunity to hop on a sailing boat and explore Thessaloniki from the water. It’s definitely worth it, give it a try!
No matter where you decide to stay, one thing’s for sure: the most warm-hearted welcome awaits you in Thessaloniki. After all, a city with 2,300 years of history knows well how to make everyone feel at home. As Nikeforos Choumnos, a Byzantine scholar and statesman, famously wrote, “No man will be without a homeland as long as Thessaloniki exists”.