Thessaloniki is fuelled by optimism, hedonism and just a dash of chaos. Greece’s thriving second city has monuments and museums to thrill history-lovers, it is mostly walkable and has a more upbeat quality than the capital.
The centre is laced with historic sights, from the Byzantine walls threading its romantic Upper Town to the imposing Rotunda. This is a city where old and new cohabit wonderfully: the Arch of Galerius, an intricate 4th-century monument, overlooks the busy shopping drag of Egnatia, while Thessaloniki’s most famous sight, the White Tower, anchors a waterfront packed with cocktail bars. By night, the city reverberates with music and nightlife, powered by an excitable stream of international students and backpackers.
For a port city, Thessaloniki’s dearth of beaches and island-ferry links is confounding. Nonetheless, the city’s excellent bus connections make it a natural base for travel across sprawling northern Greece. That is, if you ever tire of exploring Thessaloniki's monuments, galleries and raucous bars.