Thessaloniki, the 2012 conference destination PDF Print E-mail

The City

Thessaloniki, the Capital City of the Greek North is world known for the Ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine monuments, the charming shopping thoroughfares, the indulging local cuisine and exciting nightlife.

Founded in 315 b.c. and named after the ancient Greek princess Thessaloniki, sister of Alexander the Great, the city has been a crossroads of cultures and civilizations for over 2300 years.

The city's atmosphere is a fusion of Greek, Balkan and Southeastern European influences that co-exist harmoniously, creating a multicultural and cosmopolitan environment, where visitors from all over the world feel comfortable and welcome.

It is also a leading city in the cultural activity of Greece, known for major national and international festivals such as the 'Demetria' Festival (Annual Art & Culture events) and the 'International Film Festival of Thessaloniki'. Thessaloniki is one of the most popular Greek destinations for conferences and incentives and one of the top 100 conference cities in the world, according to ICCA statistics.

Thessaloniki at a Glance

  • Capital city of Northern Greece (population of over 1.000.000 inhabitants)
  • One of the most important port cities in Southeastern Europe
  • A city by the sea with an annual average of 300 days of sunshine
  • International Airport – Direct flights to European Capitals and other cities
  • Boat connections to the most popular Greek islands
  • Excellent starting point for interesting excursions to destinations of natural beauty and historical interest
  • 23 centuries of history – ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine treasures
  • Alexander the Great's kingdom
  • 16 International and EU Organizations based in Thessaloniki
  • The largest University in Greece – Outstanding scientific & cultural associations
  • Leading conference city in Greece (20% of conferences taking place in Greece)
  • Rich cultural life
  • Exciting nightlife
  • Offers local & international – ethnic cuisine

Attractions, Events, Tours, Excursions & other Activities

Top 5 attractions / landmarks in Thessaloniki

  1. The 'White Tower' on the water front. The absolute symbol of Thessaloniki;
  2. The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki: The most widely visited museum in Thessaloniki, featuring exhibits from the Prehistoric Thessaloniki and the Archaic, Classic, Hellenistic and Roman times. The 'Gold of Macedon' collection related to the History of King Phillip II and Alexander the Great is undoubtedly the highlight of the Museum;
  3. The Roman Monuments dating back to the early 4th century a.D.;
  4. The Museum of Byzantine Culture: Focusing in the Byzantine Civilization of Northern Greece and Thessaloniki. This Museum is also the seat of the European Centre for Research into the Byzantine Civilization;
  5. The 'Ladadika' district near the port, known for the 'local color' and the sophisticated entertainment options;

Top 5 activities in Thessaloniki

  1. Visit the numerous Byzantine Churches of Thessaloniki, dating back to the early Christian years (UNESCO World Heritage Monuments);
  2. Visit the Royal Tomb of King Phillip the II, father of Alexander the Great;
  3. Visit the Monastery Republic of Mount Athos, a unique sanctuary of the Christian Faith (or sail around Mt Athos on a guided mini cruise);
  4. Experience local and international gastronomy in a city where cookery is a passion! Taste local wine and visit wineries and vineyards following the 'Wine Roads of Macedonia';
  5. Enjoy Shopping in one of the most dynamic and innovative commercial centers of Greece – Experience 'Nightlife'…night and day!;

Leisure and culture activities in Thessaloniki*

* Source: Thessaloniki Tourism Organization (Publication: Exciting Thessaloniki: 35 Tips for Unforgettable City Breaks in the North of Greece)

Thessaloniki Tourism Organization (TTO) highlights attractions and activities that visitors will enjoy during their stay in Thessaloniki, such as:

Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Monuments

  1. Rotunda and Arch of Galerius - Roman era monuments built by emperor Galerius between 299 and 311 A.d.;
  2. Forum of Roman Agora – the city's ancient marketplace;
  3. Ano Poli - The 'upper town' or old town of Thessaloniki features some Unesco World Heritage sites. The view to the modern city and the sea is unforgettable!;
  4. White Tower – built in 1536 the White Tower is a landmark and symbol of Thessaloniki, right on the waterfrond. It is expected to house the new Museum of Thessaloniki's history;
  5. The Turkish Baths – Currently used for art exhibitions the baths were built in the 15th Century;
  6. Bezesteni Market – the city's oldest market built in 1459, still operating nowadays;
  7. Alaca Imaret – a mosque built in 1484 currently operating as a venue for concerts and art exhibitions;
  8. Yeni Tzami – The last mosque to be built in Thessaloniki in 1904 with outstanding architecture. Currently used for cultural events;

Christian Orhodox and Jewish Heritage of Thessaloniki

  1. Agios Dimitrios Church- A byzantine church dedicated to Agios Demetrios the patron saint of the city, containing some rare masterpieces of early christian art;
  2. Achiropiitos- Dedicated to Virgin Mary, this church is among the oldest Christian Churches of Thessaloniki;
  3. Osios David Church – located in 'Ano Poli' (old town) this fifth century church includes some of the greatest treasures of Christian art;
  4. Jewish Museum – dedicated to the heritage of Sephardic Jews that have lived in Thessaloniki for over 500 years. A section of the exhibition commemorates the victims of the Holocaust.

Thessaloniki Museums

  1. Museum of Byzantine Culture – Religion and everyday life during the Byzantine and post-Byzantine era. It is also the seat of the European Center for Research into the Byzantine Civilization;
  2. The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki – One of the most widely visited Museums in Greece. The highlight of the exhibition is a section dedicated to the 'Gold of the Macedonians';
  3. Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art – Located within 'HELEXPO' grounds this is is a popular Modern Art Museum. One of the Museum's highlights is the collection of 'Alexander Iolas' one of the most famous Greek art collectors of the 20th century.

You can view a historical presentation of Thessaloniki during the period 1900-1930 here (Source: Hellenic Literary and Historical Archives-ELIA)

Culture and Events

  1. Thessaloniki Concert Hall – Operating since 2000 it is one of the most advanced concert venues in Europe
  2. Moni Lazariston – Former 19th century convent, currently operating as one of the city's most popular culture and entertainment centers;
  3. Mylos – Famous venue for nightlife entertainment and cultural events, Mylos used to be an industrial mill in old times;
  4. National Theatre of Northern Greece – Thessaloniki's main institution for performing arts;
  5. International Film Festival of Thessaloniki – The country's leading annual Cinema Festival, taking place in November;
  6. Dimitria Festival – The largest cultural festival in Thessaloniki, held every autumn since 1965.

Dining and Nightlife

  1. Aristotelous Square and Nikis Avenue – The most central square (part of it is pedestrianised) and the waterfront avenue of the city, where cafes, trendy bars, restaurants and street performers can be found;
  2. Navarinou Square – hangout for university students who frequent open air cafes overlooking the ruins of the imperial palace from around 300 BC;
  3. Ladadika – near the port of Thessaloniki a picturesque neighborhood of restored 19th century warehouses and stores, currently housing sophisticated restaurants, bars and live music scenes;
  4. Bar rows in the city center – cluster of bars with distinct character can be found at Lori Margariti, Nikiforou Foka, Zefxidos and Iktinou streets.


  1. Modiano, Kapani and Athonos Market Halls – colorful covered halls, selling food and inexpensive clothes and homewhare. Traditional tavernas selling fresh food coming straight from the market can be found alongside or inside the market halls;
  2. Tsimiski Street – the heart of Thessaloniki's shopping area. Virtulally all leading fashion labels can be found there;
  3. Pastry Shops – Thessaloniki is famous for the pastry shops where pastry chefs blend modern trends with traditional recipies influenced by the othoman patisserie;
  4. Proxenou Koromila street – the city's most upmarket shopping area, where most Thessaloniki haute couture as well as international designer boutiques can be found.

Other attractions

  1. Noesis – Thessaloniki Science Center and Technology Museum – popular for the planetarium and the 'virtual reality ride' this new museum also features a giant screen cinema, a restaurant and a museum shop;
  2. Magic Park – One of the country's largest amusement parks, located at the eastern outskirts of Thessaloniki, on the way to the airport;
  3. Municipal Zoo – The Zoo and the Natural History Museum of Thessaloniki are located in the forest north of the city center.

Summer Festivals and Music Events

Of all Greek cities, Thessaloniki has the richest calendar of cultural events and festivals – many of them now dating back several decades.

Every summer, a large number of locally and internationally known musicians perform in the open-air amphitheatres of the city, such as the 'Forest Theater', the 'Earth Theater' and the 'Municipal Garden Theater' of Thessaloniki.

Close to Thessaloniki, in the tourist regions of Halkidiki and on the Olympic Riviera in Pieria, there are cultural festivals each summer with concerts of Greek and foreign music.

Kassandra Festival

The Kassandra Festival is held each summer, from early July to the end of September. It takes place at the Siviri amphitheatre, on the first peninsula of Halkidiki, about a hundred kilometers from Thessaloniki.

The programme features a range of arts events, with the emphasis on music concerts.

Sani Festival

The Sani Festival is held during the summer in the grounds of the Sani Resort in Halkidiki, 80 kilometers from Thessaloniki.

The programme features the Jazz on the Hill festival with open-air jazz concerts on Sani Hill, the three-day Sounds of the World festival, with music from ethnic performers from around the world, and the Sani Classic festival of classical music, featuring young performers.

Olympus Festival

The Olympus Festival is held each summer during July and August at the imposing ancient theatre of Dion and the Byzantine Church of Panayia Kontariotissa, set in a region of Pieria famed for its natural beauty since ancient times, just 85 kilometers from Thessaloniki. The festival was launched in 1972 under the title Festival of the Muses and has gradually evolved into a major contemporary arts event.

Pre & Post Tours – One day tours & Excursions

The ISME 2012 Conference is a unique chance for all delegates to visit and acquaint themselves with Greece and tour in and near by the city of Thessaloniki. SYMVOLI -Conference & Event Organisers have prepared a long list of choices, destinations and excursions before, during and after the conference, within Thessaloniki as well as other historical, cultural and tourist areas of Greece. Further, apart from the specific proposals, special tours may be designed upon request.

For further information, visit the following link: http://www.symvoli.gr/conference/isme2012/page/touring_isme

Activities for accompanying persons

Thessaloniki's history, culture and joyful lifestyle, the natural beauty of neighbouring destinations, the indulging gastronomy and long tradition in wine-making, are unending sources of inspiration for exciting programs for accompanying persons.

SYMVOLI -Conference & Event Organisers will be designing a special programme of activities for accompanying persons, including cultural and touring options, as well as alternative activities such as greek cookery lessons, wine tasting events, spa experiences.

More information to be announced by May 2012 in the following link: http://www.symvoli.gr/conference/isme2012

Social Program

Thessaloniki offers many attractive options for an enjoyable social Pogram. ISME 2012 organizers are currently considering a number of options such as:

  • Events at the city's museums, for example: The Museum of Byzantine Culture, The Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art and the 'Noesis' (Technology Museum & Planetarium);
  • Ancient Greek Theatre Events;
  • Gala dinners at Exceptional Venues, on Cruise ships, sailboats;
  • and many more equally interesting locations.

Before and after conference programme hours, make sure to find some time to discover Thessaloniki, the hosting city of ISME 2012. SYMVOLI -Conference & Event Organisers is designing a special programme of getting to know the city by foot, bus, boat or other!

  • CITY WALKS | Getting to know Thessaloniki...on foot! | strolling through the city's history and contemporary life
  • THEMATIC CITY TOURS | Tour Thessaloniki Thematically | The city's identity is a melting pot of its features....

For more information, visit the following link: http://www.symvoli.gr/conference/isme2012/page/skg


Thessaloniki has 131 hotels, with a total of 7,159 rooms and 13,418 beds. These include:

  • 5 star hotels: 12 hotels – 1.602 rooms – 3,021 beds
  • 4 star hotels: 17 hotels – 1.432 rooms – 2,577 beds
  • 3 star hotels: 36 hotels – 2.191 rooms – 4,131 beds
  • Other hotels: 66 hotels – 1.934 rooms – 3,689 beds

A sufficient variety of accommodation is available in Thessaloniki, ranging from luxurious 5-star to more budget-friendly 2-star hotels. SYMVOLI -Conference & Event Organisers has prebooked accommodation for conference delegates in a variety of different hotels at special rates for the conference.

Visit the following link for detailed information http://www.symvoli.gr/conference/isme2012/page/accommodation

All suggested hotels are located either within the city centre region and at a reasonable distance from the conference venue, or in a walking distance from the conference venue and also fairly near to several major sites and the shopping district.

Useful Information

Thessaloniki's Climate – Weather Conditions in July

Being one of the most popular port cities in Southeastern Europe, Thessaloniki lies on the northern side of the Thermaic Gulf, along its western side and to its south-eastern side is bordered by Mt Hortiatis.

The city borders the Mediterranean and Mid-European Temperature climates.

It lies in the transitional climatic zone, so its climate has displayed characteristics of continental as well as Mediterranean climate.

In the month of July one can enjoy the world known 'Sunny Greek Summer'.

The coastlines of Thessaloniki Outskirts, as well as those of the nearby resort areas of Halkidiki and the Olympic Riviera, present excellent opportunities to enjoy 'summer on the Beach'.

Weather conditions in July can be described as follows:

  • Average sunlight: 12 hours
  • Average min temperature: 21°C
  • Average max temperature: 32°C
  • Average precipitation: 22mm

Shopping in Thessaloniki

The city center is one of the most popular shopping areas in Thessaloniki. Shopping malls and department stores are available both in the city ceter as well as in other city districts. Some of the best – known shopping malls can be found in eastern Thessaloniki (Thessaloniki Airport Area) and are easily accessible by ring road (public transportation and taxis).

The commercial market of Thessaloniki (shops, boutiques, etc) operates as follows:

  • Monday/ Wednesday/ Saturday: 09:00 – 15:00
  • Tuesday/ Thursday/Friday: 09:00 – 14:30 and 17:30 – 21:00

Shopping Malls and big department stores operate as follows:

  • Monday-Friday: 09:00 – 21:00
  • Saturday: 09:00 – 18:00 or 20:00

Banks in Thessaloniki

Greek and International banks can be found in the city center and all popular districts of Thessaloniki. Most banks operate Monday-Friday 08:00 – 14:00. Some banks located in the city centre remain open until 19:00 hrs or operate for the public on Saturday morning (please contact your hotel reception for detailed information). All banks are closed on Sundays and Public Holidays. Currency exchange rates are clearly displayed in every bank that accepts currency exhange.

Transfers from Thessaloniki Airport to the city centre

The website of Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport is: www.thessalonikiairport.gr

A public bus service is available 24 hours a day from the airport to the city centre, bus number 78 or 78N. These bus services operate from the airport approximately every 30 minutes. Tickets cost €0.80 one way.

For an up to date time table please visit the official website of OASTH (Thessaloniki's publc bus transportation) – http://www.oasth.gr

Taxi Service in Thessaloniki

Taxi service in Thessaloniki is plentiful and economic.

As a rough guide a taxi within the city will cost approximately 5 Euros, a taxi to the airport will cost between 20 –30 Euros.

A double fare is applicable between midnight and 05:00 am.

Source: Thessaloniki Convention & Visitors Bureau

It is somewhat of an 'unwritten but acceptable practice' in Greece for TAXIS to stop for additional customers although under hire. Do not be alarmed by this!