Thessaloniki… An Unexpected Foodie Playground

Ouzo Thessaloniki Food Tour

Time to check out the food scene in Thessaloniki, Greece.

A few weeks ago I posted this blog, all about my first impressions of Thessaloniki in Greece. I described it as an ‘ancient hipster city’ – struck by how vibrant, creative and diverse it was.
Thessaloniki UmbrellaOver a few days I saw many sides to the city, which isn’t considered an obvious tourist destination for Brits. It may be on the coast, but this isn’t somewhere you’d jet off to on a summer beach holiday… Luckily, there was plenty more to occupy me!

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Wanderlust Chloe Thessaloniki Greece 13 For a foodie like me, I was in my element. While I think souvlaki, Greek salads and mezes are delicious, Greek cuisine isn’t known for being particularly refined. With influences from the Med, Cyprus and Turkey, there’s an abundance of grilled meats, breads, olives and cheeses. It was part of the Ottoman Empire for 500 years, and also had an influx of Jews from Spain. Thessaloniki became a cultural melting pot, with everyone sharing the same markets and restaurants – resulting in a cuisine with more depth than you might expect.

While travelling around Barcelona and Istanbul, I discovered my favourite way to get to know a city and its culture is by heading off on a food tour. Thessaloniki Walking Tours offer just that – with a chance to see both old and new, budget and luxury, and sample a few weird and wonderful delicacies along the way! Leading the way was local journalist and self-confessed foodie Kostis Zafeiraki – who seemed to be quite a celebrity in the city, with his trademark red specs and extrovert dress sense.

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Thessaloniki is a city with a long gastronomic tradition. Kapani (from the Turkish word for flour) is the city’s oldest market, dating back to the 18th century. It’s not just food on offer – you’ll find everything from clothes to cutlery. Yes, one of those dangerous markets that you pop to for a few tomatoes and a loaf of bread, and return with some ornamental plates and a new hoover!

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Thessaloniki… An Ancient, Hipster City

Thessaloniki Umbrella Sculpture

Thessaloniki in Greece is an unusual city. Both hipster and ancient, and here’s why…

Sometimes my first impressions are TOTALLY wrong.

Style wasn’t the first word that popped into my mind when I arrived in Thessaloniki. I was met by roadworks, a few drab apartment blocks, and a grey sky to match. But, as I dug a little deeper, I found plenty more – street art, colourful cuisine, and characters that put their hearts and souls into everything they do.
Wanderlust Chloe Thessaloniki Greece 32Approximately 120,000 young people call Thessaloniki home, mostly attending the city’s universities. They spend their days studying, their afternoons hanging out on the promenade, and their evenings drinking and dancing until the sun comes up.

Find out more about Thessaloniki’s food scene: Thessaloniki… An Unexpected Foodie Playground

It’s strange though… during my first few days, I barely saw anyone under 30. By day three, I had the answer. As the sun sets and the lights switch on, the pulse of the city starts to be felt. Buzzing and ever-changing. Not only that, but veer off from the main avenues and you’ll find yourself in a labyrinth of streets of cool, hipster bars with names including ‘Piccadilly’ and ‘Caspar’. Shoreditch eat your heart out!

Wanderlust Chloe Thessaloniki Greece 08Forget the blinding neon strip of bars commonly found on the Greek islands, in Thessaloniki hipster bars sit alongside sophisticated, gourmet restaurants and quirky boutiques. After dark, picturesque squares with fountains become a hub for entertainment with flashmobs, DJs and more.

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