Here’s why you should consider hopping on a boat for an urban adventure.
The ferry between Skiathos and Thessaloniki allows you to experience two very different sides of Greece during your holiday. While Skiathos provides the ideal backdrop for you to unwind as you surrender to the island’s natural beauty, Thessaloniki offers a unique perspective on what went into crafting the country’s rich cultural tapestry. It is also the capital of the province of Macedonia and the second larger city in Greece. Boasting an impressive array of historical gems and secret doorways that allow you to further unravel the country’s unique genetic code, you will soon discover Thessaloniki is as fascinating as it is mysterious. So it’s well worth the (day) trip.
One of the first things that might grab your attention as you reach the shores of Thessaloniki, is the iconic White Tower that overlooks the Thermaic Gulf, once the stately powerhouse that provided protection against unwelcome overseas visitors. The monument is currently home to a museum which lays out the history of the city.
A devastating fire consumed the old city of Thessaloniki in 1917 and aside from leaving a quarter of the population homeless and destroying mosques and synagogues, the flames condemned the city to a much-disputed 20th-centure architectural make-over. The relics that survived the disaster, however, speak of a spectacularly rich past. The 8th-century Byzantine Hagia Sophia church for instance, painstakingly restored with dazzling gold-painted icons, is but one the many treasures that bear witness to all that the city has lived through.
Thessaloniki might not be the easiest of cities to fully understand, as it has crumbled and risen from its ashes many times over the centuries, but that’s precisely what makes it worth the visit. It is Greece’s cultural melting pot. Did you know that Thessaloniki is the birthplace of Mustafa Kemal, the founder of modern Turkey? The humble abode from which he formed a nation is now a museum that allows you to brush up your knowledge on the life and achievements of the ‘father of Turks’.
Make sure you visit to the early byzantine Church of Saint Dimitrios, dedicated to the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It’s the city’s largest church and it’s also on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The remarkably delicate Byzantine mosaics that decorate the pillars on either side of the entrance are just one of the many jaw-droppingly beautiful features that reflect the insane amount of devotion that went into making this city so special.
At some point, you will quite naturally gravitate towards the area of Ladadika, Thessaloniki’s former red light district, as it is now one of the city’s hot spots. Opposite to the port’s central gate and within a five-minute walk from Aristotle’s square, the many bars, taverns and restaurants offer the perfect decorum for a colorful outing in a unique setting where the old merges with the new.
If your plans to visit Thessaloniki go beyond a daytrip, which is most definitely an option since Seajet’s ferries operate up to four times a week throughout the high season, you might want to consider hopping on a train - or a bus - from Thessaloniki to a truly magical part of the world known as the ‘miracle of Greece’. The Meteora monasteries are breathtakingly beautiful, perched on top of steep rocks that house priceless artefacts and wall paintings. The Greek word ‘meteora’ translates into “suspended in the air” and the phrase perfectly describes the landscape that is home to the most remarkable Greek Orthodox community. Fun fact: one of the monasteries can be seen in the classic James Bond movie ‘For your eyes only’ with Roger Moore.
There are many more reasons for you to add a trip to Thessaloniki to your holiday in Skiathos. Its cosmopolitan heritage, with Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman legacies, a long-term population of Sephardic Jews and generations of Greek influence is well worth the three hour boat ride. Please note that ferry timetables are subject to change depending on the season. You can check real-time schedules and ferry ticket prices for the Thessaloniki - Skiathos crossing on Ferryhopper’s website. Tickets range from €36,70 to €56,60.
If you would consider staying in the neighborhood of Thessaloniki (50 min drive), this 5***** hotel is voted as one of the best all-in hotels of the world.
Not a big fan of cities? Why don't you combine your Skiathos trip with a wonderful stay in Evia? Evia, or Euboea, is the second largest island in Greece after Crete and close to Skiathos.
We often have guests who start their holidays with a visit to Thessaloniki or Evia and then make their way to Skiathos. Find out why a citytripper’s weary soul can indeed benefit from retreating from the hustle of Greek urban life in the warmth of one of our villas.