The City

Thessaloniki (also known as Thessalonica or Salonica) is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the Central Macedonia region. At about a million inhabitants, and a large and vibrant student community, it is considered Greece’s cultural capital, renowned for its festivals, events and diverse cultural life in general and has recently been ranked by Lonely Planet as the world’s fifth-best party city worldwide. More importantly, it is also a city with a continuous 3,000 year old history, including relics of its Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman past, and of its formerly dominant Jewish population. In fact, many of its Byzantine churches and a whole district of the city in particular, are included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

Thessaloniki is home to three well-known universities, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (largest in Greece), the University of Macedonia, and the Alexander Technological Educational Institute of Thessaloniki, and two research centres, the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (main organiser of the summer school), and the South East European Research Centre. In total, the student population of the city amounts to more than 100,000, while the number of scientists and researchers, working in the aforementioned universities and research centres is estimated to exceed 10,000.

Despite being relatively densely populated, Thessaloniki is a very pleasant and easy city to walk around. Walking across the city centre takes no more than 30 minutes, and at the same time it offers the visitor the opportunity to enjoy a variety of sceneries, historical sites, and culinary experiences. Most people on the streets (especially the young ones) are able to hold a simple conversation in English and would be happy to help with recommendations and directions. In addition, the city is very safe, even during night hours.


Local Attractions

A few of the key sights that attract many of the city visitors include the White Tower, the Arch of Triumph of Galerius, the 10km long seafront promenade, the Byzantine citadel, the Roman Forum excavations, the Byzantine churches of Agios Demetrios and Agia Sophia, the Turkish public baths of Bey Hamam and Bezesteni, and the Jewish museum.


Nearby Attractions

There is a variety of attractions in the vicinity of the city that are highly recommended for visitors. To assist the summer school participants, we plan to prepare an information booklet (including a map) to distribute to visitors, and depending on interest we will consider guided visits to one or more of these places.

Halkidiki 1st leg: The first leg (also known as the Kassandra peninsula) is at the westernmost tip of Halkidiki, close to Thessaloniki. Entering into Kassandra makes quite an impression, as it is connected to Halkidiki through the bridge at Nea Potidea, the first village visitors encounter. This is the most densely populated of the three peninsulas. In addition to its many kilometres of long indented coastline and crystal clear waters, it offers a vibrant nightlife.

Halkidiki 2nd leg: The second leg (also known as Sithonia peninsula) is the second peninsula of Halkidiki in northern Greece. It is a place of exceptional beauty, marked by mountainous landscape and sandy beaches with crystal clear turquoise water.

Mount Olympus: Every year thousands of people visit Olympus to admire its nature, to tour its slopes, and reach its peaks. Organized mountain refuges and various mountaineering and climbing routes are available to visitors. The usual starting point for it is the town of Litochoro, on the eastern foothills of the mountain, 100 km from Thessaloniki, where, in the beginning of every summer, the Mountain Olympus Marathon terminates.

Vergina: The town became internationally famous in 1977, when the Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos unearthed the burial site of the kings of Macedon, including the tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. The museum, inaugurated in 1993, was built in a way to protect the tombs, exhibit the artefacts and show the tumulus as it was before the excavations.


Getting Around

The main option for getting around is by means of the public buses, which are operated by OASTH (Urban Transport Organization of Thessaloniki) and offer a safe, efficient, and affordable option for city and area-wide travel.

Another easy option is taxis, which are very easy to get (even without calling) and are reasonably priced.