Thessaloniki is a modern, vibrant city and is the second largest city of Greece as well as its second major economic, industrial, commercial and cultural center, not to mention a major transportation hub in southeastern Europe.
Its commercial port is of great importance for Greece and for its southeast European hinterland. The city has two state universities that host a large student population (the largest in Greece), it is renowned for its large number of monuments of Byzantine architecture as well as for some main Ottoman and Jewish structures. The city is famous for its picturesque restaurants and taverns as well as for its lively and diverse nightlife, ranging from the traditional rebetadika to designer bars and prestigious nightclubs. The waterfront is Thessaloniki’s major drawcard. The promenade of Nikis Avenue runs from the White Tower of Thessaloniki to the giant palace that is now a ferry terminal. Aristotelous Square, extending all the way from Nikis Avenue on the waterfront to the Church of Panayia Hakeion is shaped like a bottle and is lined with tall archondika, or mansions of the rich, that have now been converted to shops and hotels.
Thessaloniki is also an important conference & exhibition destination which hosts big annual exhibitions at the Helexpo trade fair’s congress centre, an area especially constructed for conferences of all kinds. To support these large events, one finds many large deluxe hotels in and around the city.
There are great archaeological sites in the areas around Thessaloniki such as Pella, Vergina and Veria while important treasures and findings can be found at the city’s museum. Pella was the first Macedonian capital as well as the birthplace of Alexander the Great. At Vergina Museum, visitors can admire the incredible discoveries made in 1987 of the Gold of Philip of Macedonia.