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Thessaloniki is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia.
This is a major center of education for Greece. Two of the country's largest universities are located in central Thessaloniki: Aristotle University and the University of Macedonia.
Numerous public and private vocational institutes (IEK) provide professional training to young students, while a large number of private colleges offer American and UK academic curriculum, via cooperation with foreign universities.
Get in by plane
Thessaloniki is served by Macedonia International Airport (SKG) for international and domestic flights. The airport lies 15 km southeast of the city center and is connected directly with national and international destinations.
Connection to the city center
The airport is served on a 24-hour basis by OASTH (Thessaloniki Urban Transport Organization), with bus numbers 78/78A/78N providing direct access to the central passenger railway station of Thessaloniki, at Monastiriou st 28, and to the Macedonia InterCity Bus Terminal (KTEL), which lies in the west side of the city, at Giannitson st 194.
Regional train services within Greece (operated by TrainOSE, the Hellenic Railways Organization's train operating company), link the city with other parts of the country, from its central railway passenger station, called the "New Railway Station" located at the western end of Thessaloniki's city center.
Public transport in Thessaloniki is served by buses, operated by the Thessaloniki Urban Transport Organization which runs a fleet of 604 vehicles on 75 routes throughout the Thessaloniki Metropolitan Area.
The northernmost Byzantine walls of the city and parts of the western walls are still standing, as is the city's symbol - the White Tower, one of the 16th Century. AD fortified towers - which is the only surviving tower on the seafront. The rest of the walls are in the picturesque Upper Town which offers a spectacular view over the bay, especially in the late afternoon. Take a walk along the enormous seafront promenade.
Visit the upper town for its traditional old houses, small cobbled streets, Byzantine citadel, the Eptapyrgion fort.
The Agia Sofia church
The city is also known as "the mother of Israel", due to the once flourishing Jewish community here, which existed from the Roman period and grew substantially after the Ottoman Empire took in Jewish refugees expelled Spain, Portugal, and Spanish territories in Italy.
Also interesting are the Turkish public baths Bey Hamam, the Bezesteni (Ottoman closed market for jewellery and precious materials) the Alatza Imaret (Ottoman poorhouse) and Hamza Bey Camii (both restored and used for exhibitions).
The traditional central food market, with hundreds of stalls selling meat, fish, fruit, vegetables (sometimes cheek-by-jowl, an unnerving experience for North Americans), cheap clothes and shoes, flowers, herbs and spices, between Aristotele Square and Venizelou street.
Aristotelous Square-the biggest of the city-and the promenade with its cafes and restaurants.
The very lively and youth-oriented international film festival is held in November, the International Trade Fair in September.
What to do
The city has always been known between Greeks for its vibrant city culture, including having the most cafe's and bars per-capita than any other city in Europe and as having some of the best nightlife and entertainment in the country, thanks to its large young population and multicultural feel. Trendy bars are scattered throughout the city and cater for all tastes, with many located on pedestrianized streets.
Thessaloniki is also known for its picturesque uninterrupted promenade/waterfront, spanning for about 4.5 km from the old port to the Thessaloniki Concert Hall.
There is a free walking city tour at 18.30 starting in front of the rotunda. You will get detailed yet short explanations about the history, myths, architecture and lifestyle of the city as well as a few recommendations about hidden but noteworthy shops - and maybe a free cookie.
The Thermaic Gulf is a challenging place for yachting and sailing. Many days there are strong North winds but with low waves, making sailing a fun and joy for all sailors. There are three sailing clubs in Thessaloniki and world championships take place in the city every year. Thessaloniki has several marinas, most notably in Kalamaria, southeast of the city center, while a new one is proposed to be constructed right at the city center that will contain 182 mooring places. There are also many Yacht charter companies renting sailing yachts.