We visited Thessaloniki in April 2017 while staying in the Hotel Nikopolis, which is situated in the outskirts of the city, about 20 minutes journey in a taxi.
Thessaloniki is a real mix of cultures and has been so for centuries. The history of the city is very interesting, with lots of sites to visit and lots of information to take in! We started at the White Tower, on the promenade which runs all along the bay at the north-eastern end of the Aegean Sea. This former prison houses a massive amount of historical detail, which is mainly in Greek although the entrance fee includes a free audio guide in English. The climb to the top is worth it for the view over the bay, the port and the entire city.
From there, we took one of the hop-on, hop-off tourist buses that was good value for the 10 Euro charge. It gave an informative commentary about the main sites in the city, and we were able to decide which to visit subsequently. We broke our tour at the top of the hill overlooking the city and the bay in the old upper town of Ano Poli. There are the old town walls and tower, from where there are wonderful views. If you decide to go there, I would however recommend a taxi . The tourist bus had plenty of problems negotiating the narrow roads and bends which made the tour even longer! In fact, being such a big city (the second largest in Greece), traffic is one of the main problems in the centre and they appear to be in the process of building what looked like an underground railway. Parking seemed to be horrendous! We’d never seen such careless, unthinking parking – even in London! We found that walking, while tiring in the Greek sunshine, was the best way to get around and see the sights up close.
Also from the White Tower, we took a free boat trip around the bay. It only lasts 30 minutes but gives good views of the city from the sea. They do expect you to buy a drink during your trip, however! What we found most fascinating were the Roman remains dotted around the city, with the many churches that had hosted a range of religions over the centuries. We spent a total of two days on our visits, which is probably enough to give a great flavour of this city. Strangely, the highlight for us was our visits to the roof garden of the centrally-situated Electra Palace Hotel, where we had both drinks and lunch with absolutely stunning views. Indeed, we decided that, visiting Thessaloniki on a city break, it is best to stay in the town centre with everything more easily accessible.