One day in Thessaloniki
If you come to Thessaloniki only for a one day, the most beautiful place to spend it is a promenade by the sea.
If you are in Thessaloniki for more than one day or for a weekend click here.)
The most beautiful and favorite part of Thessaloniki, both for visitors and for the local population, is, as expected, a promenade along the sea.
Thessaloniki’s stunning seaside promenade is about 6 kilometers long, and it is separated from west to east by the Old Promenade and the New Promenade. The renovation of the new part of the promenade or Nea Paralia, as the citizens of Thessaloniki call it, was officially completed in 2013. In the text below, dedicated exactly to this part of promenade, we are going to call it New Coast, that covers a distance of about 3,5km from the White Tower to the Music Hall. After the renovation has been completed, the New Coast has become the most beautiful and the most spacious city coast in Greece, but also has overshadowed many well-known promenades in Europe and in the world, like promenade in Barcelona, Naples, Tel Aviv...
The first phase of the renovation was completed in 2008, and the second phase was completed in 2013, so this part of Thessaloniki of total 250,000 square meters, has got a completely new look and purpose. During the renovation of the promenade 118 432 new plants and 2 353 trees were planted, the green area now covers 58.75 acres, and sports and kids playgrounds occupy 11 557 square meters. From these figures you can conclude how much space is available for all visitors of different profiles and interests, and also how much emphasis is placed on green areas and parks.
The length of the New Promenade is 3.5 kilometers without interruption, with a direct view of the open sea's vastness. On clear days in the background, on the horizon, you can see Olympus in all its beauty.
If you visit Thessaloniki, the New Coast is a place to spend at least one afternoon.
It is said that Thessaloniki is alive for 24 hours, same as the Thesaloniki`s coast where you can always see a large number of people walking alone or in the company, walking their dogs, jogging, cycling, photographing... As a visitor you can rent a bike for 1€ per hour, or a family 4 wheel bike for 4 or 5 person. For those romantic ones there are also horse-drawn carriage rides.
Beginning of the New Coast is from the White Tower and in this part you can buy coffee or juice to go, since there are only two coffee shops by the end of the promenade.
Close to the White Tower there are street sellers of sugar wool, donuts (loukoumades), pumpkin and sunflower seeds, nuts, roasted corn...so it is a place where you should get snacks if you want, because you will not find them later.
The entire length of the promenade includes a bike trail, a walking trail for the blind people, and along the sea there is a wide wooden deck where you can sit right by the sea alone or in the company and enjoy the view of the sea and the phenomenal sunsets. You can see a small company of students or pensioners or families with children playing games or having fun with guitar and bouzouki and some food or drinks.
In one part of the promenade, there are avenues that provide shadow during the summer months.
At the beginning of the promenade, there is a large statue of Alexander the Great, that together with an umbrella sculpture becomes slowly a symbol of the city. The Umbrellas installation is probably one of the much-photographed details in Thessaloniki, so do not miss to make the memories of Thessaloniki next to the famous umbrellas and a large fountain next to them. Behind the monument of Alexander the Great there is a row of trees which hosts parrots of the Thessaloniki before the dawn.
Along the entire promenade there are numerous benches for rest and enjoyment, but there are also drinking fountains and small kiosks where only water is sold.
On the inner side, according to the city, there are 13 thematic gardens, parks that represent the memory of the former natural gardens that existed there. The thematic gardens are arranged one after the other all the way to the end of the promenade: Garden of Alexander, Garden of the Afternoon Sun, Garden of Sand, Garden of Shadow, Garden of the Seasons, Garden of Odysseas Fokas, Garden of Mediterranean, Garden of the Sculpture, Garden of Sound, Garden of Roses, Garden of Memory, Garden of Water and Garden of Music.
These gardens are smaller size and each has its own characteristics. At Garden of Water, for example, there are small lakes with wooden paths for walking over them. In the water between the water lilies you can see turtles, frogs and gold fishes...and the wall as an artificial waterfall gives you the feeling that you are somewhere in nature next to running water.
The Garden of Mediterranean is located opposite of the church Saints Cyril and Methodius and it represents an oasis of various aromatic plants and citrus.
Unlike the concrete and wooden floors along the sea, in this part there are many green areas perfect for resting and picnic, sandy parks for children playing, avenues and a lot of shades, and in general "soft floors", sports playgrounds (basket, tennis), parks for dogs and skateboards, terrains for group yoga or aerobics trainings... Children's parks are adapted to children with special needs, there are also playgrounds with limited and controlled access for the better safety of children, ramps for people with disabilities, fountains that offer freshness in the warm days.
With the entire length of the New Coast, if we exclude the coffee shops next to the White Tower (at the very beginning), there are only two of them. One is within the hotel Makedonia Palace and the other is at the end of the promenade called Omilos, near the Nautical Club. It often happens that all the places in these cafes are busy, especially during the weekends. Near the promenade there are several canteens with fast food.
If you want to buy some food there are several possibilities. One is to visit one of the restaurants along the coast in Leoforos Nikis Street, in the old town, along the Old Promenade. There are only a few restaurants here, because there are mostly bars and prices are slightly more than average. Alternatively, you can buy giros across the White Tower or at the other side of the promenade, just before the Concert Hall, you can sit in some of the taverns that have more affordable prices and are also visited by locals. In this last part of the promenade we recommend, for example, the fish tavern Volos in Kimonos Voga Street. In that part there are several taverns so you can choose.
In the street Vasilisis Olgas, which is parallel to the New Promenade, there are also taverns with more affordable prices or fast food kiosks.
If you want to walk with coffee or frappe like the most citizens of Thessaloniki, then we recommend the well known Mikel (near White Tower), the most famous coffee shop in Thessaloniki, where you can have a coffee to go.
Also, I have to mention talented street bands or individuals who entertain visitors at New Coast with music and songs, and often organized mini fairs of books, fairs of traditional cuisines and food from different areas, dog shows...
Sunset in Thessaloniki is magical, and the best spot for watching is the wooden deck of the New Promenade.
The central place of the New Promenade, the beginning and the place where the Old and New Promenade connects is White Tower. At this place you can board one of the boats-cafes and by ordering drink at standard prices you can cruise by the Thessaloniki Bay and enjoy the view of Thessaloniki from the sea. We recommend that you sail some of these ships in the evening or at sunset, since evening and night cruises have their own magic especially with slow music and city lights.
In this part of the promenade you can also embark on a little boat to Perea for 3€ per person and visit this Greek city which is very popular among the Thessalonians as a place with the best taverns. Perea is very lively on weekends during winter and throughout the spring, summer and autumn and has also a long and well visited promenade along the sea.
Right next to the White Tower on the side facing the street, a tour bus departs and goes through the city with an audio guide in several languages.
In the street parallel to the promenade there are five museums and cultural centers including the Byzantine Museum, the Archaeological Museum, the Opera...which you can visit if you wish and if you have enough time.
The main goal of Nea Paralia`s reconstruction was to provide the citizens of Thessaloniki with a new landscape that would offer them safe, well-planned, interesting, modern and multi-functional public spaces, which was completely successful. Also, the goal was to create a public space for everyone, so every part of the new coast is accessible to all citizens and all visitors, for locals and tourists alike. Special attention is also paid to people with disabilities in order for them to be able to participate equally and enjoy all new services provided by such a large, modern and functional space. The New Coast is completely illuminated at night and it is comfortable and safe for stay during the night hours.
Immediately after its opening, this space was eagerly accepted by the people which created new habits, and to this day they fully enjoy it. During the time when the investments in Greece barely existed, this paradise was donated to all of us.
There are plans for the Old Promenade to be extended as well by a 10 meters wide wooden platform in 2019.