Thessaloniki, also known as Thessalonica or Salonica located on the Aegean Sea, is a popular tourist destination. It is the second largest city in Greece, with over 1 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area, and the capital of Macedonia. In 2013, National Geographic Magazine included Thessaloniki in its top tourist destinations worldwide. Its Paleo Christian and Byzantine Monuments including 11 churches, 2 monasteries, City Walls and Byzantine Bath were inscribed on UNESCO world heritage list in 1988. 
So you have just a one day to spend there and want to explore it all filling the day to the brim, here’s my plan what to see in Thessaloniki for you.1trigon tower thessaloniki 1290783


In the morning after breathing in some sea air at the sea coast near Aristoteles Square, make your way to Agia Sophia temple and find a man with a blue umbrella with a Free Tour sign on it.10aristotles square thessaloniki 129058311aristotles square thessaloniki 129058512free tour thessaloniki 1290603  The tour starts at 10.00 a.m. and lasts two hours. Just be aware that there is no tour on Mondays. So you will be told stories and legends about the city, including the legend about the haunted Red House right behind you and the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed two thirds of the city.13 free tour thessaloniki 1290604

The tour includes the following landmarks:

Agia Sophia

Having 1600 years of history, Agia Sophia temple is one of the most impressive Byzantine churches of imposing Thessaloniki architecture, beautiful wall paintings and elaborate mosaics. The majority of the wall paintings date back to the 11th century. During the Ottoman times, it was converted into a mosque. The temple of Agia Sofia is one of several cities’ monuments included as a World Heritage Site on the UNESCO list. Like several other monuments, the temple was significantly damaged because of the 1917 fire and was afterwards gradually restored.20agia sofia thessaloniki 129059322agia sofia thessaloniki 129059923 agia sofia thessaloniki 1290591The other stop on a tour is

Church of Panagia Chalkeon

Church of Panagia Chalkeon is also included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. According to the founder's inscription on the lintel of the west entrance, the church was built in 1028 by royal protospatharios Christophoros, and his family, in a place where there had previously been a pagan house of worship. The Church of the Panagia Chalkeon has now sunk below the level of the modern city, mainly as a result of earth deposits laid down after the fire of 1917. The painted decoration of the church, in spite of not being in a good condition, is of great interest because the bigger part of the wall-paintings was done at the same time as the foundation of the church.25free tour thessaloniki 129061126free tour thessaloniki 129061627free tour thessaloniki 1290625

Ancient Agora

The Ancient Agora (Roman Forum) was revealed during archaeological excavations in 1966. There is no exact answer about how old the Forum is but it is no younger than 1500 years. Based on the models of the forums that the Romans had built in many provinces of the Empire, the Roman Forum was built in the centre of the fortified Thessaloniki. It was the economic, political, social and religious center of the city for many years. The Roman Forum was set around a rectangular stone-paved square and comprised arcades and large public buildings. So far the eastern side of the site has been uncovered. Throughout the area of the Roman Forum, colonnades, floor mosaics, apses, water and drainage piping have been found, together with statues, jars, and coins. Until the 19th century, in the southeastern entrance, a group of female’s statues was preserved, but now they reside in the Louvre Museum in Paris.28agora thessaloniki 129062929agora thessaloniki 1290635

Agios Dimitrios

Is considered by many to be the most important church of Thessaloniki. It is devoted to the patron Saint of the city. The temple was built in the 7th century and has undergone continuous reconstructions, additions and several disasters occurring throughout the centuries. During the Ottoman occupation period, the church was turned into a mosque. One of the side effects of the fire of 1917 was the revelation of a number of older mosaics dating back to the 7th century AD. After the fire, massive restoration efforts took place there for many years. The place attracts many guests and religious art specialists, especially from Europe and many Orthodox countries as well.

30Dimitrious church thessaloniki 129064331Dimitrious church thessaloniki 129064432Dimitrious church thessaloniki 129064733Dimitrious church thessaloniki 1290650When the tour ends around noon, continue your way to the historic Upper Town noticing some beautiful samples of the street art on your way. Thessaloniki has a rich street art scene. They have traditional street art festivals every year where top domestic and foreign professional artists do their best for two whole days to show everyone the common forms of modern street art.40street art thessaloniki 129068741street art thessaloniki 1290697After a short walk uphill you will reach

Latomou Monastery

It is a very small but historic monastery, a place that should be not missed, which was built upon the ruins of a Roman period building, during the early Byzantine times (late 5th to early 6th century). Half of the monastery is inside a cave from natural stone. The Latomou monastery is known for its late 5th century well preserved mosaic that illustrates the scene of Vision of Ezekiel with Jesus Christ at a young age ascending into Heaven. The visitor of the Latomou monastery can also view wall-paintings of great significance that date back to the 12th century. At the end of your visit take a moment to admire the magnificent view from its yard!

43latomou monastery thessaloniki 129069944 latomou monastery thessaloniki 129070645 latomou monastery thessaloniki 129070747 latomou monastery thessaloniki 1290712When you are walking in the historic Upper Town, there’s another spot that you should not skip: the charming Vlatadon Monastery.

Vlatadon Monastery

This is the only Byzantine monastery that has worked incessantly until today and dates back to the 14th century. It belongs to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Istanbul and is also one of the monuments of UNESCO World Heritage. Besides the very interesting history of the monastery, it is a place to relax and admire the view of the whole city from about 130 metres above. The monastery was founded in the middle of the 14th century by brothers Dorotheos and Mark Vlatades. Empress Anna Palaiologos, also known as Anna of Savoy, was one of the founders of the Monastery. She was installed in Thessaloniki in 1351 and stayed in it as directress until her death.50 vlatodon monastery thessaloniki 129073652 vlatodon monastery thessaloniki 129073354vlatodon monastery thessaloniki 129074355vlatodon monastery thessaloniki 129074556vlatodon monastery thessaloniki 129075058 vlatodon monastery thessaloniki 1290730

The Thessaloniki Walls

The Thessaloniki Walls (Fortress) are the result of a long building process and continuous maintenance that started more than 2000 years ago and went on till the beginning of the 20th century. The walls have saved the city from external enemies many times. The principal construction works were undertaken during the 3rd, 4th and 5th century. Overall, of the 8,000 metres of Byzantine walls about 4,300 metres remain standing today.60city walls thessaloniki 129071761city walls thessaloniki 129072063city walls thessaloniki 1290760So you have reached the Eastern part of the Walls that begins from the Tower of Trigonio (“Triangle Tower”), at the edge of the Acropolis, where a well-known gate that has been preserved is the “Gate of Anna Palaiologos” and remembers the empress who was also a directress of Vlatadon Monastery.62city walls thessaloniki 129075864city walls thessaloniki 1290761


You must be very hungry by now so have a well-deserved lunch at

The Castle Tavern

The Castle (To Kastro) tavern is a family business established in 1985 with excellent service and delicious and unique dishes made with love, inspired by traditional recipes of Greek cuisine and tradition. In the tavern, you can see beautiful frescoes, photographs of all years of tavern operation, old cooking utensils used by an old Greek housewife who cooked daily for a big Greek family.65 castle reastaurant thessaloniki 129076966 castle reastaurant thessaloniki 129077168 castle reastaurant thessaloniki 1290775

After a great lunch, you must be ready to walk downhill next to the city walls while you reach

The Archaeological Museum

It is one of the most beautiful and important museums of the city. Due to the city’s rich Ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine history, the museum hosts a variety of exhibits. There are beautiful samples of Roman architecture, unique colourful mosaics, sculptures and jewellery from the Greek Classical and Hellenistic period. In 2003 it was completely renovated and re-organized into six permanent thematic units.70archeological museum thessaloniki 129080671archeological museum thessaloniki 129081072archeological museum thessaloniki 129081873archeological museum thessaloniki 1290821Moreover, several temporary exhibitions take place annually in collaboration with some of the world's most important museums.
The “Gold of the Macedon” and the new permanent open ground exhibition called “Field House Garden Grave” are definitely some of the most interesting areas of the museum. In the South side of the museum, there is a cafe available. After the visit head towards the sea and within a short walk you will reach

The monument of Alexander the Great

It is located in Nea Paralia right by the sea. It is an impressive, six meters (20 ft.) tall monument that represents Alexander while riding his horse Bucephalus, one of the most famous horses of antiquity. After extended reconstruction, the entire waterfront area of Thessaloniki along with Nea Paralia transformed into a wonderful place, ideal for a relaxing walk, jogging or biking!75alexander the great thessaloniki 129083276 alexander the great thessaloniki 129083977 alexander the great thessaloniki 1290837So continue your walk along the sea towards the emblem of Thessaloniki

White Tower

The White Tower is perhaps the most recognizable spot in Thessaloniki. It was one of the towers that strengthened the fortification of the city walls. Most likely it was built during the early Ottoman period in the early 16th century. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, the Turks demolished several city walls in order to allow the sea breezes to cool the city, and give the city an opportunity to expand beyond its original fortified limits. So the White tower was left alone without walls.
White Tower was used as a place for execution in early 19th century hence the locals coined the name Kanli-Kule, or Tower of Blood. In 1891, Jewish prisoner called Nathan Guidili undertook to paint it white in exchange for his freedom. Thus the White Tower was born. Today the renovated White Tower is used as an exhibition centre, housing permanent exhibition dedicated to Thessaloniki and also some temporary exhibits.78white tower thessaloniki 129084779white tower thessaloniki 1290853

So here is the end of your very packed walking tour of Thessaloniki. Relax a bit in one of the nearby cafes and head back to your hotel for well-deserved relaxation. If you stay in White Luxury rooms like me, you may use public transport from there to give some relief to your legs.

90 White luxury rooms thessaloniki 129057291 luxury rooms thessaloniki 1290872Want to explore more of Greece near Thessaloniki? Read about a day trip to Veria and Vergina clicking this link. Have you been to Thessaloniki? Share your experience in the comments section!Thessaloniki

  • Published by Anita on March 03, 2018

    Author: Anita Sāne


    About the author
    Anita is a part-time traveler, passionate photographer and a mature career woman from Latvia, 
    traveling mostly solo for more than 10 years. She is a skilled travel planner planning and executing her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her also on Instagram and Pinterest.

    Like what you read? Sign up for a ONCE monthly update with the latest posts! your social media marketing partner


    #3 Chantell 2018-03-04 03:22
    Wow you saw a lot of Thessaloniki in a day! I don't know much about this city but the photos look amazing. A walking tour sounds like a great way to make the most of you time here and The Castle Tavern looks ao authentic and delicious. Will definitely check out Thessaloniki when I finally make it to Greece.
    #2 Suzy 2018-03-03 19:47
    What a beautiful destination! I'm hoping to visit Greece this year and love historical spots, so Thessaloniki could be the ideal place. Thanks for sharing these great tips!
    #1 Madhu 2018-03-03 17:10
    Looks like an amazingly beautiful city.nice read, I had not heard about it before .Thanks for sharing

    Add comment

    * required   ** required but will not display

    Security code

    Joomla templates by a4joomla