Greece Guide Part 1: Athens & Thessaloniki

I’ve been on some amazing trips in my life but Greece was definitely the most fun! One of my best friends from childhood, Marianna, moved to Thessaloniki for a year with her husband so I went to visit her with one of her other friends, Laura. After our trip was planned, one of my other besties, Christina, just happened to be going to Greece the EXACT SAME WEEK. It was destiny and ended up being one of the most amazing experiences of my life! I spent about 9 days total in Greece. Here’s how I broke up the trip.

Things to do in Santorini

Day 1-3: Athens

Laura and I flew into Athens where we met up with my friend, Christina. If you read my Italy post, I said there that I like to pick affordable, simple hotels in great locations. The A for Athens hotel was that and more. Located in Monastiraki Square, the hotel looks out at the acropolis and is within walking distance to all of the major attractions. The hotel has an amazing rooftop that serves free breakfast to guests and then it turns into a rooftop bar at night with a stellar view of the city. Plus, that area is a little less touristy and surrounded by great local restaurants, shopping, and bars. If you need anymore convincing, here’s the view from our room.

Where to Stay in Athens

Highlights of Athens:

  • All of us agreed that Athens by Bike was our top experience in Athens. We had stayed out a little too late the night before our tour, which was scheduled for 10am, but still enjoyed the bike tour so much. Athens is pretty spread out so biking around town was the best way to see all of the sites. Our tour guide, Kostas, was from Athens and answered all of our 100s of questions and when we stopped for a coffee break, he introduced us to the Freddo Cappuccino. It’s basically the equivalent to American iced coffee… but better. I liked mine “medium” which is lightly sweet. Just tell anyone “Freddo Cappuccino Medium” and they’ll know exactly what to make.
  • Athens’ nightlife is really fun! Next to the A for Athens hotel is another hotel with a rooftop bar called 360 Cocktail Bar which has an even better view of the acropolis. The drinks are great and the ambiance is really cool. Around the corner is a bar called Noel, where you guessed it, it’s Christmas themed. The food looked good but we didn’t make it in time for dinner. Instead, we were introduced to a delicious Greek liquor called tsiporo. That became a favorite for us the rest of the trip!
  • During our adventures, someone recommended Lycabettus Hill and I’m so glad they did. It’s a little off the radar but it’s the highest point in Athens so best enjoyed at sunset!

 

Day 3-6: Thessaloniki

After some fun-filled days in Athens and some late nights, Laura and I flew to Thessaloniki to meet up with Marianna and her husband. Thessaloniki might not be high on a lot of people’s Greece itinerary but it should be. It’s a huge, historic (ever heard of Paul and his sermon to the Thessalonians?!) port town and on a clear day, you can see Mt. Olympus in the distance. We stayed with my friend in her apartment but anywhere near the center of town would be a great place to stay. It’s a very walk-able city and there is so much to do.

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Highlights of Thessaloniki:

  • The area around the water is so fun. Along with seeing the Alexander the Great statue and the White Tower, take a boat out in the harbor. There are several options to choose from but we picked the pirate ship. They run on the hour so you can catch it anytime of day. Your ticket includes a drink so it’s a great chance to enjoy a cocktail or a Freddo Cappuccino Medium. 😉
  • Go into the Old Town (Ano Poli) for a couple of hours and make sure to go to the very top so you can look down into the rest of the city. At the top, you can also visit the spot where Paul preached to the Thessalonians. It’s a very humbling and sacred experience.
  • Grab dessert at Ble. It’s basically heaven if you have a sweet tooth!
  • There is so much great shopping in Thessaloniki so make sure to leave room in your suitcase and with the current state of the Greek economy, a lot of it is very affordable.

 

Day 6-9: Santorini

I’ll save my Santorini highlights for Part 2! I hope you enjoyed my highlights of Athens and Thessaloniki. Check back soon for the rest!

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