Flights to Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki is Greece’s second largest city, and like the capital, Athens, Thessaloniki is full of history. Although it’s now a bustling and modern city there are still UNESCO World Heritage Sites here and many centuries of history to explore.
Flights to Thessaloniki arrive at the Thessaloniki International Airport “Macedonia” (airport code: SKG) and there is a 24-hour bus service that connects the airport to the city, 16 kilometres away. When travelling from South Africa, a flight to Thessaloniki through Munich is offered with Lufthansa, or you can transfer in Istanbul with Turkish Airlines. South African Airways goes another route, and has 2 connections in Cairo and Athens. You can also connect in London if you catch a flight to Thessaloniki with either British Airways or Virgin Atlantic.
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The Tourist Attractions of Thessaloniki:
Thessaloniki really is a gem for anyone interested in ancient history. To start with, the city was founded in the year 315 BC, making it over 2,300 years old. Thessaloniki has always been an important city, as evidenced by one of its common nicknames, ‘the co-capital’. This signifies the fact that along with Constantinople (modern day Istanbul), Thessaloniki was the capital of the Byzantine Empire, and even today you can still see some of those Byzantine monuments around the city. There is lots to see and among these are the following:
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hagios Demetrios is part of the Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki. The beautiful church has its origins in the early 4th century, but its present form dates from the period 629 to 634. The church is famous for its six wall mosaics dating from 730.
The church served as a mosque between 1493 and 1912 but in 1917 it was badly damaged during the Great Fire of Thessaloniki. During the long restoration, some once hidden parts of the ancient building were unearthed, including some artefacts that you can now see in the attached museum.
One of the oldest chirches still standing in Thessaloniki today is Hagia Sophia, and it too is part of the Paleochristian and Byzantine World Heritage Site.
The church was built in the 8th century and its construction was based upon the more famous, and much larger, Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.
The Ano Poli district of Thessaloniki is the old town, and it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is a lovely part of the city where you can wander along narrow cobbled streets and find some great historic Ottoman and Macedonian architecture. There are pretty squares to discover too, and being the highest part of Thessaloniki there are also some great views, especially from the acropolis area and the Heptapyrgion (the old fortress). There are also some of Thessaloniki’s old city walls here, as well as parts in other areas of the city, and the views over the bay from here are quite something.
The White Tower of Thessaloniki
One of the main city landmarks for Thessaloniki is the White Tower. This monument is situated in the waterfront of Thessaloniki and was built by the Ottomans sometime after 1430 when they captured the city. It was used as a fort, a garrison, and a notorious prison where many prisoners were executed. The tower was whitewashed in 1912 when Greece took control of Thessaloniki, giving it its present name.
When Should You Visit?:
There’s a Mediterranean climate in Thessaloniki so summers are hot while winters are mild. There is rainfall in the summer, but not so much to be a problem, and average highs are between 24.5 and 31.5C, so it may be a little too hot for sightseeing. Spring and autumn are good times though.