Have you ever visited a place that you loved but the experience of your stay, has left you a bad impression? If yes, this is the reason I am writing this article. In this section I would like to help you avoid such an experience during your visit to Thessaloniki. I am not planning to refer to the services offered by hotels, etc. because these are information that you can find in well-known websites. But I will refer to some elements that affect our stay impressions in a city and are associated with the location we choose to stay.
Thessaloniki is a city full of life. Most of its citations are located in its centre and in the area where its old town is situated. So, if you are planning to visit Thessaloniki and would like to stay in a hotel or stay in an apartment that will have easy access to tourist spots please continue reading below.
Staying in an apartment or a hotel that is situated within this area, should be a nice experience. The area is basically situated above Kassandrou Street (See No 1 in the photo). It is very scenic and gives you a feeling of how Thessaloniki used to be at the beginning of the last century, but also during its Byzantine and Ottoman years. If you like walking it is for sure the correct choice for you. But if you do not like or cannot really walk a lot then you should avoid it. This area does not have good bus services (as the roads are too small for buses to enter) and also it has very narrow streets which is making the chances of finding a parking (if you plan to rent a car or visit Thessaloniki bringing your own car) really minimal.
The area is not very far from the actual center of Thessaloniki but it is an uphill section. Thus, if you decide to stay in this area you should be prepared to walk uphill and downhill. Apart from these, if you decide to stay in this area, you will find the neighborhoods very quiet and you will enjoy the quietness and simplicity of the old city. Another positive and very important factor is that you will enjoy a lot the beautiful view of the center of Thessaloniki and Thermaikos Gulf (except if another building is hiding it).
2. Thessaloniki city centre
The centre of Thessaloniki is quite broad. It could be estimated from the point where City Gate Shopping Mall is located ( at the West side of the city) until the point where the International Exhibition Center Helexpo is located (East side) and from the beach up to the Olympus Street. As it could be expected such a broad center has differences related to many aspects of living.
2.1 West Side Centre of Thessaloniki
The area is between the City Gate Shopping Mall and the Railway Station (see No 2.1 in the photo). It is a quite noisy area especially during working hours and the people on its streets are usually busy. This area is also characterized by its multiculturalism. In part because:
– The railway station of Thessaloniki that is located in the in the area is the second biggest in Greece and connects Greece with some other European countries and especially the Balkan area. In addition to this the railway routes Thessaloniki – Athens and vise verse are always busy.
– Renting a house in this area is cheaper comparing with other regions of Thessaloniki and usually immigrants and individuals / families with low incomes choose to live here.
Generally the city of Thessaloniki has very low crime rates and you will see people walking around Thessaloniki during all the hours of the day and until very late at night. In some places, however of this particular area you may see prostitutes standing on the streets (during evening hours), or homes that accommodate prostitutes. Perhaps of all the regions in Thessaloniki, this area is the most infamous and if you asked the female population of Thessaloniki a large proportion of women would have told you that they would avoid walking alone at night. The more close the apartment or the hotel that you are considering renting is to the Railway station the better it will be as this point is always very busy with people day and night.
2.2 Center below the Egnatia Avenue
The rest of the center of Thessaloniki ( from Vardaris – west side – to the White Tower – east side) has gradients associated with how close to the seaside it is located. The closer to the seaside the more expensive the rents of the apartment are and the rents of the shops.
The area that is between the seaside (Leoforos Nikis avenue) and the Egnatia Avenue is very busy (see No 2.2. in the photo). It is basically the core center of the city. In this area there are several museums, attractions, coffee-bars, restaurants etc. It is where the main shopping market of Thessaloniki is located. There are also many offices and fewer house apartments in this area in comparison with other areas in Thessaloniki.
As it could be expected this area is also quite noisy and the streets are usually filled with people but a large percentage of them visits this point to stroll and go shopping. So the mood of the people is different from that in the area near the railway station.
This region has very good bus services and it is easy to find plenty of taxis if you need them. But if you have a car it is very difficult to find a place to park here and especially during the hours the shopping market is open.
For shopping lovers and walk lovers this is an ideal area. The area has a slope (uphill) as we walk on the opposite side of the seaside to the old city of Thessaloniki but it is not a strong slope to make your life difficult. You can walk fearlessly 24 hours a day and you will find many things to do day and night.
2.3 Thessaloniki Center above the Egnatia Avenue
The area located between the Egnatia avenue and Kassandrou avenue is considered somehow downtown uptown (see No 2.3 in the photo). This region also has several museums, attractions, coffee-bar, restaurants, shops etc. except that it is more low profile. The clothing stores, shoes etc. are not as many as the area below Egnatia avenue and also the shop’s prices are lower. In comparison with the area below Egnatia street there aren’t so many business offices and the buildings mostly have house apartments.
Many students stay in this area because the apartment rents are not very high and the area is in walking distance from the Aristotle University, the University of Macedonia and Thessaloniki Bay.
Hotels and generally apartments for rent located in this part of the city also have lower prices than those that are located in the core center but this is not an absolute rule. As you walk from the Egnatia to Olympus and Olympiados streets you will encounter more pronounced hills. As regards the transport this area is not served well by bus services except from the bus routes that run on Egnatia and Agiou Dimitriou streets. The area is also busy from people walking almost all the hours of the day, especially during peak hours. After the market closes, the quantity of the people walking on the streets reduces but still the area is busy not as much though as the area below Egnatia street. It is definitely a good choice if the accommodation you consider is found within the boundaries of this area. As for the parking if you have a car it will be very hard to find a parking place. If you are planning to stay in a hotel which is located in this area make sure that the hotel offers parking facilities.
3. Eastern Side of Thessaloniki
If on the other side the apartment or hotel you are interested in, is located in the eastern part of Thessaloniki, between the White Tower and the Concert Hall (see No 3 in the photo) and relatively close to the corresponding coastal area it will be a good solution as well. This site has more apartments for families and especially the buildings in front of the Leoforo Nikis avenue have spectacular views. The seaside in this part of Thessaloniki has been renovated completely and there are theme parks offered as recreational spaces, play yards for the children and relax spaces. Next to the sea there is a huge promenade along the beach which is filled with people walking, running or cycling all day long. People of all ages tend to visit this area and there are many who choose to sit on its benches and enjoy the magnificent views of Thermaikos gulf.
In Leoforo Vasilisis Olga parallel of Leoforou Nike you will also find some buildings reminiscent of the architecture of Thessaloniki during last years of the Ottoman period. These are wonderful buildings with unique architecture and some of them can be visited as well cause they operate as museums or galleries.
This area is also very busy during rush hours and is very safe all day and night long. It is flat and ideal also for walk lovers. As regards the urban transportation is is served quite well especially in Vasilisis Olga and Leoforo Nikis avenues. One note though. The Vasilisis Olgas avenue is wide one-way direction avenue that is heading from Thessaloniki airport to the center and Leoforos Nikis avenue is the corresponding but with the opposite direction (from the center to the airport). As regards the parking it is easier to find parking in this area, but again not sooo easy because it is very crowded. If the apartment or hotel is located on Vasilisis Olgas or Leoforo Nikis avenue it will be quite noisy if the windows are open.
As regards the hotels near the airport you should take into account that it is not easy to move by public transportation if you stay in this location. You should move primarily by car or taxi. If you are planning to visit Thessaloniki for a business trip and arrive in Thessaloniki airport this location might be a good solution. But if you want to enjoy the sights of Thessaloniki and spend a lot of time walking through its historic center or the old town I suggest you do not book such a hotel. Of course everything depends upon the reasons that will make you visit the Thessaloniki and how you would like to spend your time in the city.
I hope this article can be useful to you and help you choose the hotel or apartment in the city that will satisfy you. If you have any questions or would like further advice do not hesitate to leave me a comment.
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