Thessaloniki is Greece’s thriving second city. It’s a bit more lively than Athens, while still offering plenty to see for the history buffs. Thessaloniki is peppered with historic sights from the Byzantine era, and there is even a Museum of Byzantine Culture to help visitors get acquainted with the city’s past. Visit the White Tower, an icon of the city once used as a prison and given the name “The Tower of Blood,” and climb to the top for a great view of Thessaloniki. Walk among the ruins of the Roman Forum, which feature Roman baths and a small theater which was used for gladiatorial games.

Stroll through the streets of Ano Poli (Upper Town), the highest point in the city and a great place to sample the local shopping and food. Be sure to track down some bougatsa, a delicious pastry made from phyllo dough filled with custard and topped with powdered sugar, a signature Thessalonian treat. Party with the locals in the nightlife hotspot known as Ladadika, full of clubs, taverns, and cafés surrounded by colorful neoclassical buildings.

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