Where to Stay in Thessaloniki First Time: Best Areas

The best areas to stay in Thessaloniki for first-timers are the neighborhoods of City Centre, Ladadika, Ano Poli (Upper Town), Upper Toumba, and Kalamaria. These are popular areas for tourists that offer a wide variety of attractions and amenities.

In this post, I will help you to choose where to stay in Thessaloniki for the first-time tourists and safest areas to stay in Thessaloniki.

Located in northern Greece, on the Thermic Gulf of the Aegean Sea, Thessaloniki is the second largest city in the country. Brimming with ancient history for the history buffs, as well as stunning scenery, bars, hotels, and restaurants, Thessaloniki is a great place for tourists of all interests.

Thessaloniki is a safe city to visit with low crime rates, but as you travel to any major city, you should always practice common sense and be aware of pickpocketing.

You should stick into touristy areas such as City Center because it is the safest for tourists. You should also avoid the south of the railway station and the west area from the city center because they are high crime rates.

The city centre is the best place to stay in Thessalonoki for first-timers because it has a great combination of modern and historic attractions and amenities, while its central location provides you the opportunity to easily explore the other areas as well.

Those who are interested in car hire will even be able to visit the legendary Mount Olympus. If you want the most historic experience during your stay in Thessaloniki, stay in Ladadika. With many of the city’s most iconic landmarks, it is the perfect choice for those wanting to soak up the history. 

That said, anyone simply hoping to experience the traditional side of the city will want to stay in Ano Poli. The upper town of the city, it features traditional architecture and offers you a glimpse at the more authentic way of life in the city.

Upper Toumba is a good choice for those on a budget or visiting a student, as this is the location of the city’s university. Meanwhile, Kalamaria is a nice quiet option for those who would rather stay outside the city itself or would like to be a little closer to the airport.

💖 Best Area for first-timers:City Centre
💎 Best luxury hotel:Electra Palace Thessaloniki
🏨 Best mid-range hotel:The Modernist Thessaloniki
💰 Best budget hotel:Blue Bottle Boutique Hotel

🎬 To get an overall idea of where to stay in Thessaloniki, check out this short video:

Where to stay in Thessaloniki, Greece: Best areas & neighborhoods

1. City Centre, where to stay in Thessaloniki for first time

The City Centre, best area to stay in Thessaloniki for first time

Thessaloniki city centre is best area to stay in Thessaloniki for first-time travelers due to its prime location. If you book a hotel here, you will be located in the heart of action, within walking distance to the top tourist attractions, as well as many restaurants, bars, and shops.

The city centre runs from Aristotelous Square to the 15th century White Tower on the waterfront, containing four central streets Egnatia, Nikis, Tsimiski, Ermou, parallel to the busy waterfront.  This is a part of the city that perfectly blends the new and old.

The city centre features perhaps the best mix of amenities anywhere in Thessaloniki. Numerous bars, markets, restaurants, shops, and attractions are located within easy walking distance from one another. 

This makes it perfect for those seeking a relaxing vacation, sampling local products and delicacies. With many of these bars staying open late into the evening and restaurants serving fabulous cuisine, it also makes the city centre a great choice for anyone who enjoys vibrant nightlife during their trip.

The range of accommodation in the city centre is similarly varied as well. Whether you want a flashy hotel, a boutique hotel, or even if you just need a budget hotel that provides good value, there will be something to suit you in this part of the city.

For those looking to explore the more cultured side of Thessaloniki, there are plenty of attractions to visit such as Aristotelous Square,  the White Tower, Tsimiski Avenue, Mitropoleos Avenue, and the Church of Saint Sophia (Ayía Sofía).

This stunning orthodox church,  Agia Sophia was built during the Byzantine era and is one of the most historic and iconic buildings in Thessaloniki. Elaborate statues, chandeliers, paintings, and mosaics are enclosed in a building featuring beautiful architecture, with massive arches bringing everything together.

With free entry and Byzantine singing still taking place, it gives you the perfect opportunity to travel back in time to a bygone era and experience the feel of the city as it would once have been.

Those who want to take their exploration even further back in time have the Roman Forum Of Thessaloniki just a short walk away.

Built in the 2nd-century, the Roman Forum Of Thessaloniki is a two-terrace forum with two storey stoas that was only discovered in the 1960s. Among its attractions are a restored amphitheatre, two Roman baths, and numerous excavated corridors to explore.

On top of all the historic locations in this part of the city, there are also a number of museums such as the Olympic Museum, the Jewish Museum, and the Contemporary Art Centre of Thessaloniki. the Archaeological Museum, the Thessaloniki Concert Hall, the Photography Museum, and the War Museum.

Perhaps the best option is the Olympic Museum Of Thessaloniki. A small yet insightful museum, it explains the history of the Olympic Games, an event which is intertwined with the history of Greece.

Beyond the attractions and amenities themselves, the city centre also benefits from its fabulous location. Being centrally located and featuring wonderful public transport links, it gives you easy access to many of the other most popular parts of the city.

Stay In The City Centre If you are first-timers; you want to be centrally located; you want a great range of bars, shops, and restaurants within walking distance; you want easy access to the rest of Thessaloniki.

Best places to stay in Thessaloniki city centre:

luxury ($$$): Electra Palace Thessaloniki This 5-star hotel is located in the impressive Aristotelous Square, in the heart of Thessaloniki. Its top floor offers panoramic views of the Thermaic Gulf, Mount Olympus, and the city. You can easily find main attractions such as the White Tower,  the Museum of Byzantine History, the famous Ladadika, Modiano Market, Thessaloniki Port, Ancient Agora of Thessaloniki, Church of Agios Dimitrios, and Harbour- Passenger Terminal.

mid-range ($$): The Modernist Thessaloniki This 4-star hotel offers elegant units with a parquet floor and a flat-screen, satellite TV. You can easily find boutique shops, fancy restaurants and bars, the seafront promenade, Museum of the Macedonian Struggle, Eleftherias Square car park, Cypriot Consulate Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki Cinema Museum, and Rotunda and Arch of Galerius.

budget ($): Blue Bottle Boutique Hotel This 3-star boutique hotel is 900m from lively Aristotelous Square, Church of Agios Dimitrios, and 13km from Thessaloniki Airport. You can find some restaurants nearby such as Extravaganza, Chili Wine Bar, Kitchen Bar, Apallou Cafe, Sinatra Espresso & Wine Bar, and Olympion within easy walking distance.


See more: 20 Best things to do in Thessaloniki, Greece

2. Ladadika, where to stay in Thessaloniki for nightlife

Ladadika, where to stay in Thessaloniki for nightlife

Ladadika is the most iconic part of the city, often referred to as the historic district or the old town. Located near the Port Of Thessaloniki, it is separated from the city centre by Tsimiski Street. 

It is a great place to stay in Thessaloniki for those who want to combine a historic adventure with panoramic views of the ocean.

It takes its name from the collection of olive oil shops that have historically been located in this part of the city, which were run by the French and Italian residents in the area. To this day it remains one of the most important marketplaces in Thessaloniki.

Throughout the area you will find some of the most notable buildings the city has to offer. 

For starters, there is the White Tower of Thessaloniki, considered by many to be the symbol of the city. A prison and site for mass executions when the city was under Ottoman rule, it has been converted into a monument and museum.

Standing 112ft high and 75ft in diameter, the White Tower dominates the skyline of the Thessaloniki seafront. While many modifications have been made over the centuries, the tower was originally built in the Byzantine era. This makes it a great place to see how the city evolved through the ages.

For those who are seeking more information on the history of the city, the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki is another great location to visit. 

Containing artefacts excavated from the city and surrounding areas, you will find exhibits from eras including the Prehistoric, Neolithic, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, and Bronze Age periods.

Speaking of museums, the War Museum of Thessaloniki gives you a glimpse into the slightly more recent history of the city. 

Covering the period from the turn of the 20th century to when Greece took back control of the city from the Germans after World War II, it explains how Thessaloniki as we know it today came to be.

Ladadika isn’t all about history though. Aristotelous Square, also known as Aristotle Square, is one of the most popular parts of the entire city. Surrounded by many of the best bars, cafes, restaurants, and hotels in Thessaloniki, it is a great place to sit back and relax, people watching and enjoying the views of the sea.

Then, of an evening, Ladadika turns into the nightlife hub of the town. The bars and restaurants quickly begin to fill up, as clubs open their doors, and residents and tourists alike flock to the area from all over the city.

With so many options available, people of all tastes are catered for. Whether you want a civilised evening of wine and fine dining, or a night spent drinking and dancing till the sun comes up, this part of the city will have somewhere that meets your needs.

Stay In Ladadika If you want to stay in the old town section of the city, you want to see the White Tower of Thessaloniki, you want to visit the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki or the War Museum Of Thessaloniki, you plan to spend time relaxing at Aristotelous Square, you want to dine in some of the best bars and restaurants in the city, nightlife is a priority during your stay.

Best places to stay in Thessaloniki in Ladadika:


3. Ano Poli (Upper Town), a traditional area in Thessaloniki

Ano Poli (Upper Town), a traditional area in Thessaloniki

Ano Poli is also known as Upper Town and is located immediately to the north of the city centre. As the highest point in the city, it offers stunning views of Thessaloniki and its surrounding countryside. Settled during the Ottoman occupation, it is well known for its abundance of Byzantine culture.

Ano Poli is built around the city’s acropolis and is considered one of the most traditional areas in Thessaloniki. The acropolis itself is known as Eptapyrgio and is a Byzantine and Ottoman era fort, which at one point served as the main district of the historic city.

Surrounding the fort, winding stone-paved streets weave around beautiful historic squares. Almost every house features traditional Greek or Ottoman architecture, allowing you to see a more authentic side of the city.

Beyond the simple beauty of the structures in Ano Poli, there are also a number of historic attractions as well. Perhaps the most notable among these is the famous Byzantine baths.

The Byzantine Baths are a 12th-century structure that features a Byzantine take on traditional Roman baths. It remained in operation until 1940 when it was closed during World War II. 

The baths were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988 and were reopened to the public as a museum and cultural space in 2015.

Beyond the baths, many of the other attractions in the area feature a heavily religious connection.

You have the Church Of Prophet Elijah, a 14th-century church from the Palaiologan period that once served as a mosque. Its stunning architecture is of the Athonite style that takes influence from Constantinople. Its masonry using alternating layers of brick and white ashlar is unique in the city.

The Church Of Saint Catherine features a similar style and age to the Church Of Prophet Elijah. While also having been used as a mosque at one point, it is believed to have originally been the katholikon of the Monastery Of The Almighty. It was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988.

The Alaca Imaret Mosque, on the other hand, has always operated under its current guise. A colourful, 15th-century building, it is currently being restored to its former glory, giving you the opportunity to watch construction techniques almost forgotten in modern times.

The Church Of Saint Nicholas Orphanos is much more modest in appearance. Dating from the 14th-century, features like its wooden roof and plain exterior give it a much simpler feel.

However, don’t be fooled, as its marble templon and beautiful Frescoes murals demonstrate Thessalonican artwork from the height of the Palaiologan period.

The same could also be said of the Vlatades Monastery. Similarly modest in comparison to some of the other locations in the area, its historic value to the city cannot be underestimated, and it is one of the 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites located within Thessaloniki. 

You also have the Ataturk Museum, a museum dedicated to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Tukey, who was born in the house in 1881. 

Its bright pink exterior looks the same as it would have done while he lived here, while the furniture inside is either authentic or has been replaced with pieces from his mausoleum in Istanbul.

With pictures and exhibits from numerous periods in his life, it is a fabulous place to get greater insight into the life of one of the most important people in the recent history of the region.

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, the Turkish consulate is also located on the outskirts of Ano Poli. This shows how the local authorities of modern Turkey are still connected to their Byzantine roots.

You also have Trgoniou Tower, The Portara Gate, The seven towers of the Eptapirgion Fortress, Pasha’s Gardens, Sheikh Sou forest to explore in this area.

All of this is enclosed it what remains of the Byzantine Walls (Ancient Ramparts) of the original city, helping to give you an idea of the scale of the area when it was first settled.

Stay In Ano Poli If you want to see a traditional Greek or Ottoman house, you are interested in historic religious buildings, you want to take in stunning views of the city and its surrounding areas, you want to visit the city’s acropolis, you want to see the remains of the walls of the original city.

Best places to stay in Ano Poli:


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4. Upper Toumba, best place to stay in Thessaloniki on a budget

Upper Toumba is a largely residential area, located on the outskirts of the city. With local markets, shops, bars, and restaurants, it is a perfect option for those who want to get an experience of what life in the city is truly like for locals.

Its name derives from the phrase used to describe mounds formed by prehistoric settlements. This is because it located on numerous settlements that have been built on top of one another since the bronze age in 3000 BC.

With excavations still ongoing, it makes Upper Toumba a great place to visit for fans of archaeology, or those who like to see how a city has changed throughout the millenniums.

Outside of archaeology and the local experience, there are two things that usually draw visitors to Upper Toumba.

The first is the Toumba Stadium, home of PAOK FC, the third largest football team in Greece. This makes Upper Toumba a convenient place to stay for fans coming to watch a game, as they won’t have far to travel to games, and can walk, as opposed to getting stuck in the match day traffic.

The other reason people often stay in Upper Toumba is because it is the location of the Aristotle University Of Thessaloniki. Named after the philosopher Aristotle, who was born less than 25 miles away, it is the 6th oldest and one of the most highly regarded universities in all of Greece.

This makes it a convenient place to stay for anyone visiting a student at the university, as well as any prospective students visiting the university themselves.

As is often the case in a student dominated area, you will find a distinctly bohemian atmosphere, which is ideal for anyone seeking a freer, more laid-back experience. 

When combined with the more residential nature of the area, it also makes Upper Toumba one of the best value parts of the city. This means whether you are looking for a low-cost hotel or simply cheaper rates in general, Upper Toumba is likely to have options that suit you perfectly.

Stay In Upper Toumba If you are a fan of archaeology, you are attending a PAOK FC football match or another event at Toumba Stadium, you are, or are visiting, a student at the Aristotle University Of Thessaloniki, you enjoy a bohemian atmosphere, you are travelling on a budget and need a hotel that offers great value.

Best places to stay in Upper Toumba:

5. Kalamaria, where to stay in Thessaloniki near airport

Kalamaria is a suburb technically located outside Thessaloniki itself, found 4 miles to the south of the city. It is a popular place to stay for those seeking a slightly quieter experience than they will find in the heart of the city.

In terms of attractions, Kalamaria is well known for its abundance of sports teams, with 14 located within an area covering less than 2.5 square miles. This means sports fans are almost certain to find a game or event to watch while they are in town.

For fans of a more refined form of entertainment, Kalamaria is also the home of the Thessaloniki Concert Hall. Its incredible acoustics mean the venue hosts the top concerts, operas, and theatrical events in the city, so is a fabulous place to visit for any fans of the arts.

Beyond the attractions actually located in Kalamaria, one of the most common reasons people choose to stay here is because it is significantly closer to the main airport in the region, Thessaloniki Airport Makedonia.

Whether you are worried about missing your flight, stopping on a layover, don’t want to drag your luggage all over town, or have any other reason you want to stay near the airport, Kalamaria will allow you to remain conveniently close, while still providing quick and easy access to the city itself.

Stay In Kalamaria If you want to stay in a quieter location outside the main city, you don’t want to stay too far from the airport, you are a sports fan and want a great choice of events to watch, you are attending an event at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall.

Best places to stay in Kalamaria:


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Where is the best area to stay in Thessaloniki?

Thessaloniki City Center is the best area to stay in Thessaloniki due to its prime location. If you book hotel here, you will be located in the middle of everything, within walking distance to many attractions, as well as bars, restaurants and shops.

Where not to stay in Thessaloniki?

Thessaloniki is a safe city for tourists. While the city center is the safest for visitors, you should avoid the south of the railway station and the west area from the city center because they are dangerous areas.

How long should you spend in Thessaloniki?

Three days is enough to see the city’s famous attractions, to enjoy the local food, and to get the sense of the city. I suggest to book hotel in Thessaloniki City Center to make the best of your holiday!

Other attractions such as the Church of St. Demetrios or Hagios Demetrios, Roman Rotunda (Saint George’s Church)-the oldest of Thessaloniki’s churches, and Arch of Galerius – the most interesting roman structure of Thessaloniki, Water Garden, the Sculpture Garden, Museum of Photography, Thermis Dam, and the Mediterranean Cosmos Shopping Centre are also worth a visit.

Thessaloniki is a great location to visit for the whole family. If you want to relax, you can enjoy a vacation playing in the sea, dining in the best restaurants and staying in the best hotels. Meanwhile, those looking to explore the narrow streets or take in the incredible views will be just as happy.

Hopefully, this article will have given you all the information you need to decide where to stay in Thessaloniki when you visit the city for yourself. All that’s left is to pick one of the best hotels and get it booked, so you can look forward to experiencing the city for yourself, as soon as possible.

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