Practical guide to Thessaloniki: when to visit, how to get there and how to get around?

A practical guide to Thessaloniki: when to visit, how to get there and how to get around?

Here is a practical guide to Thessaloniki with info on when to visit, how to get there, how to get around and more. Or it can simply help you decide if you should visit this wonderful city in Greece!

Thessaloniki is definitely worth visiting. Most tourists obviously go to Athens, the capital of Greece and home of the famous Akropolis. Thessaloniki is often overlooked by them, although the popularity of the second-largest city of Greece is definitely rising.

Underwhelming at first, a diamond at last

On my first visit to Thessaloniki, I must say, I was completely underwhelmed. Unlike Athens, Thessaloniki unfortunately has no pedestrian (car-free) zones. Also, a major part of the city got destroyed in 1917 and a lack of proper urban planning lead to the city center being full of large avenues full of speeding cars (New York style) and ugly flats. Now, in Athens this is also the case (some neighborhoods are very dirty and ugly), just not the very city center. So, as a tourist, you see less of it.

However, if you are really willing to research and explore Thessaloniki, you will find it to be very interesting. It has ruins from ancient times as well as neoclassical buildings. The city has a very interesting history with many different occupants. It is cheaper than Athens and has a better food culture. And the kilometers long seafront boulevard right in the center makes it really stand out compared to Athens. Last but not least, it is a perfect gateway for visiting some of Greece’s most interesting mainland destinations. So you can easily incorporate a city trip to Thessaloniki in your itinerary and I’d advise everyone to do that.

A practical guide to Thessaloniki should definitely tell you how to get to the city. There are several ways:

By Plane

Thessaloniki has an international airport, the airport of Makedonia (SKG). Flights arrive here from all over Europe, from Athens and many of the Greek islands. It is about half an hour from the airport to the city center. The cheapest way to get there is by public bus.


How to take the bus 🚌 from Thessaloniki airport to the city center? Or to the KTEL station where long distance buses to all parts of Greece 🇬🇷. I explain it in this video! #thessaloniki #thessalonikigreece #thessalonikiairport #thessalonikibus #greecetraveltips #travelgreece #traveltips

♬ I Ain’t Worried - Acoustic - OneRepublic

By Bus

Greece has a large network of (long distance) buses under the name of KTEL. Every city and island however, has its own KTEL. On the website of KTEL Thessalonikis you can find the bus routes to and from Thessaloniki, as well as the timetables and the prices.

  • You can get from Athens to Thessaloniki by plane with a national carrier such as Aegean Airlines, Olympic or Sky Express.
  • You can drive with a rental car. It takes about 5 hours. Apart from the fuel cost, please count on another € 30 – € 50 euros for tolls along the way!
  • You can also go from Athens to Thessaloniki by direct train. It is a nice and scenic route on which you can take all the luggage you want. On the website of Hellenic Train you can find the schedules and current prices. The journey takes around 4 hours and tickets start from € 40. The train station of Thessaloniki is on a 20-minute walking distance from the center. If you take into account that both Athens and Thessaloniki airport are on a half an hour drive from the center, and you count the waiting time as well, taking the train is not so much slower than flying.
  • Of course you can also go from Athens to Thessaloniki by bus. This is the cheapest option, but also the longest. A ticket is about € 37 and the journey takes around 7 hours. The KTEL bus station for long distance buses is also far away from Thessaloniki city center, meaning you need to connect with a city bus to go to your accommodation. Timetables and prices can be found on the website of KTEL Thessalonikis.

Thessaloniki truly is al all-year round destination. Especially if you take the things you can do in the area around Thessaloniki into consideration. First and foremost, it is a large city. So even if it rains of is cold, there are enough inside markets, museums, bars and restaurants for you to enjoy. And since it is a city you could also just go to the cinema or do anything else you’d do at home in winter.

Mostly however, it doesn’t rain. In the summer, it is sunny and bloody hot, and on sunny winter days you can easily sit outside on a terrace in the sun with a coffee. During COVID restaurants have also invested in heated terraces for winter nights. At Christmas time, there is a Christmas market at the port side of the boulevard and the city center is full of lights and decorations as well.

Within the city of Thessaloniki, there are several ways to transport yourself. Please keep in mind that 90% of the things you will do are within walking distance!


Check the video below on how to order a taxi in Thessaloniki. I made the video in Athens, but in Thessaloniki it works the same way. One thing has changed since I made this video: BEAT is now called FREENOW.


Apart from the long distance buses, Thessaloniki also has a city bus system. A single ticket is only € 0,90 at the time of writing. You can check the ticket prices, routes and timetables on the website of OASTH.

Electrical scooter

As many cities in Europe nowadays, Thessaloniki has shared electrical scooters (in Dutch we call it a ‘step’). They are especially convenient to transport yourself from one to the other side of the city through the seafront boulevard. The providing company is called ‘Rise’. There was only one problem when we used them. At some parts of the city our 4G wasn’t working properly and we couldn’t end the rent of the scooters. I solved this by going inside a nearby restaurant and asking for their WI-FI code quickly so that I could terminate the rent.

If you are still looking for a place to stay in Thessaloniki, here is a suggestion for every budget:

  • Hostel: Zeus is Loose is THE place to be if you are traveling to Thessaloniki alone and looking for company. It is a new and modern hostel in the city center and has an amazing rooftop bar. They also offer fantastic tours inside and outside of the city.
  • Cheap & fantastic Airbnb’s: For € 25 – € 50 you can find amazing Airbnb’s in Thessaloniki. Some might be basic, but you’re out exploring anyway. At least they are great value for money. We personally enjoyed staying at Namastay and Beautiful apartment near the German Embassy. For the latter we just paid € 25 per night and were on a 3-minute walking distance from the boulevard!
  • ONOMA Hotel did it all right. On the side of the city center, they created a hyper modern hotel with a rooftop pool (!!) which is rare in Thessaloniki. There’s also a rooftop bar with fantastic cocktails and a basketball court on top. There is a photobooth, playroom, but also space to work for the remote workers amongst us. And the rooms are beautiful and super clean. All of this for about € 150 per night (April) is a steal.
  • If you like extreme luxury, go to the Electra Palace. It is located on the most central and famous square of the city in a beautiful neoclassical building. There is a rooftop overlooking the boulevard and sea with a pool as well.

Maybe you think a practical guide to Thessaloniki is not complete without the best things to do in the city. I have written however a separate blog on the top 10 things to do in Thessaloniki. Check it out!

I’ve also written a foodie guide for Thessaloniki, featuring tips for restaurants, bars and traditional foods to try. Check it out.

I hope this practical guide to Thessaloniki was useful and that you will enjoy your visit!

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