Getting here from a number of UK airports is easy in the Summer months but more challenging in Winter. If you are travelling from the North you can currently fly direct with Jet2 from Newcastle Upon Tyne if you can stay a week, for shorter stays try Leeds Bradford, also Jet2 for outward flights on Saturdays and returning on Wednesdays. No specific entry requirements are currently needed apart from the usual passport regulations.
Know: Thessaloniki in July is pretty hot as temperatures soar to above 40 degrees. Posh Mum however is little daunted by this, the air-conditioning at the organisation I was visiting worked well enough. If you are here for leisure, pacing oneself, keeping to shady areas, choosing the right moment to stroll along the promenade facing the Aegean, steeping oneself in historic buildings, museums etc. would do the trick. Of course, a cool ouzo and lemonade, or perhaps an ice cold homemade lemonade or Mythos beer helps things along the way too (sigh, maybe next time).
Stay: The boutique style Excelsior is well-located and has a good reputation on the review sites – Posh Mum was very pleased to see complimentary homemade sweets in the room after our warm welcome by the professional duty team. Breakfast is a pleasant and dignified affair, working well for business guests as well as tourists, offering a range of items as well as cooked to order dishes – and great coffee.
Relax: The pace of life is pretty relaxed here, although as in most major cities the traffic can be challenging. Expect and receive warmth and genuineness from the locals. Was here for work so didn’t get too much relaxation but the aura of calm could nevertheless be felt everywhere.
Cafe scene: Thessalonikans certainly like their coffee and have an incredible array of sweet treats to choose from alongside. There is immense pleasure to be had from tasting a delicate pastry alongside a fairly intense coffee. There are as you would imagine eateries of every description along the promenade area, but go up one of the streets leading to Tsimiski Street and you will find quieter places to people watch from whilst you contemplate on life.
The promenade: highlights include boat ride opportunities, gazing at the famous umbrellas sculpture, constructed by George Zongolopoulo (probably one of the most instagrammed exhibits), and then there is the White Tower, with its interior museum, the building dates from 15th Century, having been built by the Ottoman Turks.
History: If you have a penchant for museums, and are here for leisure and have the time, it could be worth your while getting a multi entry ticket, giving access over 3 days to the White Tower, Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki and others is 15 euros, click.http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/1/eh155.jsp?obj_id=3332
Over and above the museums there are many ancient sights to behold, including the Yahudi Hamam, the 4th century Rotunda, the picturesque and busy, and cafe laden Aristotelous Square, and many beautiful churches dating to the early centuries ad.
Food scene here is vast and whilst as you would expect there are more tourist oriented restaurants there are several which have a reputation for being authentic yet affordable. One that stands out is The Canteen, who do a truly amazing beetroot salad, washed down with an awesome homemade lemonade. Another very nice restaurant on the headland is Kitchen, good quality food, no gimmicks, pleasant dinner watching the tourist rustic boat trips in the Aegean harbour.
Next time: Will visit for leisure, probably in a dark UK month when the sun will still warm the soul here, but perhaps not so intensely. Do consider Thessaloniki there’s little not to like but so much to discover, the choice is yours.