Enjoy some fresh air, a change of scenery and the outdoors without ever leaving the limits of the city with these 10 outdoor activities to do in Thessaloniki. Whether you want to get out of the house with your family, friends or just on your own, these free, outdoor activities will be a refreshing change of scenery from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
1. Stroll down the Waterfront (aka Nea Paralia)
Locals’ favorite pastime is to walk along the waterfront of Thessaloniki, preferably with a coffee in their hand. The waterfront also known as the Nea Paralia in Greek spans across a 5 kilometer stretch starting from the city’s Old Port to Thessaloniki Concert Hall. Along the way you’ll find secret parks such as the Rose Park or the Sound Park, dog parks, picnic spots and even a skateboarding park. Art installations, benches for sitting and food stands are also found along the way. What better way to enjoy the outdoors without leaving the city than to explore every hidden gem of Thessaloniki’s waterfront?
2. Hike Seih Sou Forest
Hiking aficionados will be pleased to know that there are excellent hiking trails in the Seih Sou Forest of Thessaloniki. Not only are the panoramic views of the city unparalleled, the diversity in hiking and trekking trails makes for an all-day excursion for anyone looking to get out in the open air. The best way to reach the foot of Seih Sou Forest is by driving through Ano Toumpa and reaching the end of Perraivou Street where you’ll encounter a bridge. Leave your car right before the bridge, cross the bridge by foot and start your explorations! You can wander through the forest until you find a route of your liking, or you can follow the small signs leading to different trails – the options are endless!
3. Wander the alleys of Upper Town
Just a hop, skip and a jump from Thessaloniki’s city center is the Upper Town, aka Ano Poli, a preserved neighborhood once home to upper class Otomans, now a quiet and quaint neighborhood ideal for wandering around. Also found on my top photo spots in Thessaloniki, Upper Town is a pleasant escape from the hustle and bustle of the the city. Get lost exploring the picturesque alleys of Upper Town and discover hidden parks, churches and stunning Ottoman-influenced mansions.
4. Enjoy the sunset from the Castles of Thessaloniki
After your promenade in Upper Town make your way up to the city’s castle also refered to as Kastra to the locals. The walk up may seem intimidating, but the view from the top makes it all worth it! This is the ultimate sunset spot in Thessaloniki! Grab one of the benches for a front-row view of the sundown or adventure onto the walls of the Castle for a unique view of Thessaloniki! Either way spending the last few hours of sunlight by the Castles is a great outdoor activity in Thessaloniki that is free and one of a kind.
5. Enjoy a day at Thermi’s Dam
Just a short drive away from the city is a small natural treasure known as Thermi’s Dam. Only accessed by car, Thermi’s Dam is a natural reserve consisting of several walking paths, picnic spots, a playground for kids and a cafeteria. Perfect for families, couples or group of friends, Thermi’s Dam is a nice change of environment for anyone looking to spend some time in the outdoors. An all day excursion at Thermi’s Dam is an unbeatable outdoor activity to do in Thessaloniki. Follow the stone paths leading up to the large lake for an open view of the surrounding environment or find a nice spot to set up a picnic!
6. Have a beer at the Old Port of Thessaloniki
Who said that outdoor activities only consist of visiting parks? Grab your friends and enjoy a cold beer right along the waters of the Old Port of Thessaloniki. Come night time, witness the waters of the Thermaic Gulf glittery under the starry night. This is an all time favorite spot for students or young adults to meet with friends to enjoy a cold drink or just each-other’s company without spending a dime.
7. Visit Elaiorema Park
Elaiorema Park is one of those parks that is right in the middle of the city, yet is often overlooked. A list of the best outdoor activities in Thessaloniki couldn’t be complete though without mentioning this large green park. Located between Toumpa and Pylaia, Elaiorema stretches a few kilometers and is made up of various walking paths, picnic area, a large river and even an ancient bridge that is preserved to this day. Kids love this park for the open space while dog owners love gathering here for their dogs to socialize. Whether you want to go for a good jog or enjoy the open green space, Elaiorema Park is a great escape from the city.
8. Have a picnic in Pasha’s Gardens
Hidden amidst one of the busiest streets of the city is Pasha’s Garden, a small oasis consisting of imaginative architectural figures dating back to the early 1900’s. Located right outside the eastern walls of the city, Pasha’s Gardens is like no other. The slight resemblance to Gaudi’s Güell Park makes for a unique park right in the city center. Recharge your batteries in this small but distinctive park by having a picnic with friends and family.
9. Discover the mansions along Vasilissis Olgas Avenue
Continuing our list of the best free and outdoor activities in Thessaloniki is dedicated to those who love being in the city and observing architecture. Vasilissis Olgas Avenue is a long street found on the eastern side of the city that once housed the biggest and most lavish mansions of Thessaloniki, reserved only for the top elite members of society. Most of the mansions were built in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s, the prime era for neoclassical architecture. Some of the most notable mansions worth visiting include Villa Kapantzis that houses the National Bank Cultural Foundation and Cultural Center, Villa Mordoch and Villa Bianca, home to the Municipal Art Gallery of Thessaloniki.
10. Relax at Pedion Areos Park
Last but not least, a relaxing day at the park of Pedion Areos right by the waterfront of the city is a great outdoor activity in Thessaloniki for when you need a breath of fresh air without straying away too far. You’ll find houses of birds, turtles and fish swimming along the small creek, grassy hilltops, a café and finally, a playground. There is parking nearby and its close proximity to the city makes it an easy and quick park to visit in Thessaloniki.