A guide to the best day trips from Thessaloniki Greece. Includes organized full day tours, and ideas for activities near the city.
Thessaloniki in Northern Greece
Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, is located in a region called Central Macedonia. This was once part of the Ancient Kingdom of King Alexander the Great, known as Ancient Macedonia.
The vibrant coastal city is famous for its rich history. Visitors are impressed by the Roman ruins and Byzantine churches, the White Tower, the Heptapyrgion castle and the scenic promenade by the sea.
Thessaloniki often flies under the radar, which is a shame, as it’s lively year-round and absolutely worth visiting!
While Thessaloniki city center has tons to offer, there are also various interesting archaeological sites and beautiful natural landmarks that you can visit nearby.
Thessaloniki Day Trips
Unfortunately, getting to most of these places by public transportation is not entirely straightforward. Unless you are thinking to rent a car and drive in Greece, it’s much easier to book an organized tour.
Let’s check some of the best Thessaloniki day trips.
Day trip to the stunning Meteora Monasteries
A popular day tour from Thessaloniki takes you to the magnificent Monasteries of Meteora, one of the most unique sites in Greece.
This incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site consists of six monasteries which are built on top of some massive, million-year-old rock formations.
The monasteries are all different in size and architecture. The largest one is the Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron, offering stunning views over the valley below.
How to get to Meteora from Thessaloniki
The easiest way to visit the Meteora monasteries and enjoy the magnificent landscape is by taking a guided tour. This covers all transportation fees, and includes a visit to two of the monasteries.
You will also have time for a traditional Greek lunch at the nearby Kalambaka town.
More information: Day trip from Thessaloniki to Meteora
If you want to organize this using public transport, you will first need to get to Kalambaka on the train from Thessaloniki. You will then need to find a way to visit a few of the monasteries – again, the easiest way is to take a guided tour.
Day trip to Mount Olympus and the Archaeological site of Ancient Dion
This full day trip from Thessaloniki will transport you back to the time of the Ancient Greek Gods.
Explore the ancient city of Dion
You will first visit Dion Archaeological Park, an impressive ancient site. Ancient Dion was dedicated to Zeus, the King of Gods, and was the sacred place of the Ancient Macedonians.
You will see the ruins of the ancient theater of Dion, and the stadium where sporting events were held to honour the mighty God.
After visiting the archaeological museum, where you will see statues and artefacts from the ancient city of Dion, you will enjoy lunch at one of the local villages.
Visit the home of the Greek gods
You will then continue to explore Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece. In Greek mythology, this was the mythical home of the Ancient Greek gods.
You will have the chance to take a short trek around Mt Olympus, and enjoy the lush, wild mountain.
For more information, check this link: Day trip to Mount Olympus and Dion
See Ancient Pella and the Royal Tombs of Vergina
Another great day trip from Thessaloniki combines a visit to ancient Pella, the impressive Vergina Tombs, and a lunch stop at a traditional little village.
Visit the ancient city of Pella
Ancient Pella was the capital of the Ancient Kingdom of Macedonia. It was founded around 400 BC, and fell into decline towards the end of the 1st century BC, when the Romans invaded the area.
Visitors can see the ruins of the ancient Palace of Pella, houses, and tombs, along with the incredible floor mosaics. The modern museum in Pella gives an overview of life in Ancient Macedonia.
Explore the underground tombs at Vergina
Afterwards, you will visit the Macedonian tombs at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Aigai, best known as Vergina. This is one of the most atmospheric museums in all of Greece.
One of the tombs belongs to Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great. You will see several magnificent objects made out of gold, including a large larnax and an exquisite golden wreath.
The site is incredibly well-preserved and offers visitors a fascinating look into the life and death of ancient Macedonians.
More information: Ancient Vergina and Pella day trip
Full day cruise around the Mount Athos Monasteries
A day trip to the Mount Athos monasteries is a must-do when in Thessaloniki.
Mount Athos, known in Greek as Agion Oros, is a unique UNESCO World Heritage Site. It consists of 20 Orthodox monasteries, located on a peninsula of the same name. Each of them has its own unique history and architecture.
These are all male monasteries, and women are not allowed to enter this region. However, visitors can take a boat trip going around the peninsula, and see the monasteries from a distance.
There are various day trips from Thessaloniki to Mount Athos, offering different options. As an example, you can visit Ancient Stagira, where Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher and King Alexander’s teacher, was born.
More information: Cruise to Mount Athos Monasteries combined with visit to Ancient Stagira
Or you can enjoy the beautiful beaches and turquoise waters on Ammouliani island, opposite Mount Athos.
More information: Cruise to Mount Athos Monasteries with beach stop at Ammouliani island
Pozar Thermal Baths and Edessa Day Trip
If you’re looking to combine some relaxation with beautiful natural scenery, you can take a day trip to Pozar Thermal Baths and the town of Edessa.
Pozar is an area with natural baths, located in a beautiful park near the small town of Aridaia, about 2 hours northwest of Thessaloniki.
There are various pools with healing waters at different temperatures, where you can relax and unwind. The water’s healing properties can help with conditions like arthritis, respiratory problems, and even skin conditions. You can also book various other services, such as saunas and massage sessions.
After lunch, you will visit the town of Edessa, the first ancient capital of the Kingdom of Macedonia. You will have time to enjoy the stunning landscape and impressive waterfalls, before your return to Thessaloniki.
More information: Pozar Thermal Baths and Edessa Day Trip from Thessaloniki
Tour of Lake Kerkini and bird watching
A couple of hours north of Thessaloniki, you will find Kerkini Lake. This is an artificial lake which is a stop for migratory birds to and from the Aegean Sea, the Balkan region and the Black Sea. It is also an area of unique natural beauty and a rich ecosystem.
Lake Kerkini is famous as a bird watching destination, with over 300 different species of birds and animals. Some of the most impressive birds you may see are the flamingos and white pelicans.
Moreover, it is a habitat for the water buffalo, with over 4,000 animals living in the area.
Once at the lake, you can take a horse riding trip or a boat ride. These activities are ideal for families, as your children will enjoy looking at the wild animals.
More information: Day trip to Kerkini Lake
Spend a day at the pristine beaches of Chalkidiki
If you’re looking for a day of relaxation and swimming, you can take a full day tour to the beaches in Chalkidiki.
Chalkidiki is a region located about 1.5 hours southeast of Thessaloniki. It is known for its beautiful beaches with crystal-clear waters, and is a popular weekend break for people living in Thessaloniki.
During this tour, you can explore a few uninhabited islands close to the coast, and spend time on the beautiful sandy beaches. Don’t forget your mask and snorkel!
More information: Day trip to the beaches at Chalkidiki
Frequently asked questions about day trips from Thessaloniki
Here are a few questions often asked by visitors:
Is Thessaloniki worth visiting?
Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, is definitely worth exploring. People love the rich history, picturesque sea promenade, delicious food, vibrant nightlife and laid-back vibes.
Is Thessaloniki a good holiday destination?
Thessaloniki is a great city break for people interested in history and culture. If you want to combine it with a beach holiday, you can go to the region of Chalkidiki nearby.
What Greek islands are near Thessaloniki?
The islands that are closest to Thessaloniki are Ammouliani, Lemnos, Thassos and the Sporades islands.
How many days should I spend in Thessaloniki?
You should aim to spend at least 2 days in Thessaloniki. If you are interested in history and culture, you will be delighted to know that the city has dozens of museums and galleries. If you like to walk, you can easily get around the city on foot.
What are some of the best Thessaloniki tours?
There are several day tours you can take from Thessaloniki. Some of the most popular ones include a trip to the Meteora Monasteries, a visit to Ancient Vergina, and a cruise around Mount Athos or Chalkidiki.
More Greece travel guides
I hope you have enjoyed this article! Here are a few more travel guides about Greece:
- How to get from Thessaloniki airport to the city center
- How to get from Athens to Thessaloniki by train
- Best places to visit in Greece
- 26 unique Greek souvenirs
- How to tip in Greece
- What to pack for Greece
Hi! I’m Vanessa from Athens. I’ve been to Thessaloniki dozens of times, and love these areas nearby. If you’ve been to any of them, leave a comment below and let me know what you thought!