Imagine many small beautiful islands surrounded by an emerald sea and warmed by the Mediterranean sun; imagine white houses and traditional taverns on the coast; imagine the ruins of ancient Greece and the mind-blowingly tasty food –- you are almost certainly thinking about Greece.
Greece is located in the south of the Balkan Peninsula in Eastern Europe. The country borders Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania to the north and Turkey to the east. It has one of the longest coastlines in the world and more than 1000 islands, of which around 200 are inhabited. Greece’s most famous mountain is Mount Olympus, where according to Greek legends the gods used to live.
Today’s Greece is strongly connected with its ancestry from ancient Greece, and traces of this epoch can be found almost everywhere in the country. Ancient Greece is considered to be the birthplace of democracy, philosophy, history, drama, comedy, tragedy and of course the Olympic games.
Most travellers only visit the capital of the country, Athens, on their trip to Greece, which turns the second largest city, Thessaloniki, into a hidden pearl in the north.
Thessaloniki has a long tradition of being an important commercial port and transportation link between Europe and the Middle East. The city’s architecture is influenced by the many different cultures that have had a presence there; contemporary urban elements perfectly accompany remnants of Byzantine times.
The best place to start your adventure in Thessaloniki is on the picturesque waterfront. This very long street is bordered by the blue sea on one side and many beautiful, tall, white buildings on the other; it’s a great place for late-afternoon walks. Enjoy the refreshing sea breeze while sipping a cup of cold frappuccino (icy coffee drink) in one of the many welcoming coffee shops. At the end of the street you will find the famous White Tower. This monument and museum was built in Ottoman times and was primarily used as prison and as a site for mass executions. Today the tower is one of the symbols of the city.
Another Thessaloniki landmark is Aristotelous Square, where you’ll find a statue of Aristotelous. It’s said that if you rub his feet you’ll become more intelligent and have luck with your education — no harm in trying it!
Thessaloniki is great for shopping — from high-streets brands to small local markets, where you can buy all kinds of handmade traditional souvenirs. The city is also famous for its beautiful and richly decorated churches, which proudly represent the orthodox religion.
Getting to and from Greece
A number of airline companies fly to and from Greece including low-cost carriers. Of Greece’s 16 international Airports, Athens and Thessaloniki are the largest; Athens International Airport is easily accessible via a six-lane motorway and public transport, and an express bus runs 24 hours from Athens center and from the port of Piraeus.
If you are arriving in Athens by boat you will be arriving in Piraeus, which is not far from the city. From there you can take a bus or metro line 1, however both the bus and metro stations are quite far away from the port. If you are good at bargaining you can get a taxi to Athens for about 10-15 euros.
Greece travel resources
This page by Steffy Dechina.