It was time for another girls trip!! We decided to go to Greece – in low season. And therefore I have plenty of day trips from Thessaloniki for you. We found a wonderful offer in April of a really fancy hotel – Hotel Cavo Olympo – which is located about an hour from Thessaloniki. And booked it immediately because we were just amazed by the beauty of this hotel. A bit later, when researching more in detail what to in the area of the hotel, we realized that there is actually not so much to do in this area, apart from relaxing at our infinity pool – which is not a bad option either. However, we did some day trips from Thessaloniki which I will share in this blog post with you.
Day trips from Thessaloniki: 1. Meteora Monastery
Meteora Monastery is THE stunning sight to visit when you are staying in the area of Chalkidiki or Macedonia and a must-do day trip from Thessaloniki. Meteora actually means stunning rock formations which look like hundreds of meters high pillars. On top of these rocks, 6 Eastern-Orthodox monasteries were built and are still inhabited by monks today. Originally there were even more monasteries. Unfortunately, the time of establishment is unknown, it is estimated that they were built around the 11th century. Today Meteora monasteries are UNESCO World Heritage. Here some impressions:
If you are planning to go there, don’t miss my article about the best viewpoints of Meteora Monasteries.
You can either hike from one monastery to the next, but this would require more days if you want to see all monasteries. We didn’t consider hiking because we didn’t bring hiking equipment. However, I imagine it very epic, especially in spring when the area is very green and all the trees blooming. The other option is taking the winding street which leads from one monastery to the next by car. You can almost reach every monastery like this, apart from the Monastery of the Holy Trinity. This one requires climbing more than 150 stairs.
How to get to Meteora?
The best way is to come by car. You have to drive to Kalambaka village which is located on the foot of Meteora rocks and then take the winding street which leads high above to the monasteries. You will also pass several viewpoints along the street.
Best time to visit Meteora?
The best time to visit is Spring because the area will be very green and all the trees are blooming. April, when we were there, turned out to be a great time, as the temperatures are more chilly than in summer as well.
What else do you need to know when visiting Meteora monasteries?
Each day of the week one of the monasteries is closed so that the monks can pray in peace without hundreds of tourists around them. In addition, each monastery has different opening hours. Make sure to check the opening and closing times of the monasteries before going. You can check the opening hours on the official website by clicking here.
How to dress when visiting the monasteries?
If you want to enter the monasteries, women are required to wear long skirts. Be aware that long pants are not sufficient! If you are wearing long pants you will still be asked to put over one of the skirts they provide at the entrance of every monastery.
I hope you liked the first one of the day trips from Thessaloniki? Now the second one is following.
Day trips from Thessaloniki: 2. Mount Olymp
Mount Olymp is located approximately one hour from Thessaloniki and it is actually exactly where our hotel was located. The place is stunning because on one side is the huge, almost 3000 meters high Olymp and on the other side is the sea.
Hiking Olymp is not so easy and requires 2 or 3 days and a guide. We didn’t do that. But it is still on my bucket list and I will definitely come back to do it.
However, you can do smaller hikes at the foot of the mountain or at least visit a viewpoint. I will show you one short hike (or some people would more call it a walk) which we did: It starts in the village of Litochoro and leads you to a lovely little monastery called Monastery of St. Dionysios.
Drive to the center of Litochoro and you will see a park on the right side of the main street. Park your car somewhere in this street and you can start with your hike. First, it leads you through the park and after continues as a little path. After around 15 minutes the path will end up in a small street which leads through a forest and you will always have Mount Olymp in your view in front of your during the rest of the hike. Well, if it is not a cloudy day like it was for us. This is what we saw:
Yes. nothing. No mountain. However, this made the hike very epic.
Just follow this road all the way till you’ll arrive at the Monastery. The street is not frequented very much, however, pay attention to cars and stick to the side. Here some more impressions of the monastery. Please respect the monks and their praying.
After the hike, you can go to one of the restaurants in Litochoro or for a coffee to „Illy Street Café“ where all your sugary coffee dreams will come true. They have everything from bounty frappé to hot unicorn coffee. Enjoy!
If you have some more time I can recommend a lovely Greek restaurant just down at the beach called “Aiolos Pharotaverna”. It is a big terrace with flowers just a few meters away from the beach with very delicious authentic cuisine and a lovely owner. Don’t be afraid of the dogs which might approach you barking heavily. They are nice 😉
Day trips from Thessaloniki: 3. Chalkidiki
Next tip of the day trips from Thessaloniki is Chalkidiki. This is the area which look like 3 fingers in the South East of Thessaloniki. There are plenty of beaches with beach bars, restaurant and water sports. At least that is what we were told and what we read about this area. Sounds great, right? Yes that’s why we took the car and went there. But it was not meant to be. In April this area is still dead. EVERYTHING, really EVERYTHING was still closed and constructions were going on everywhere. We were driving to three or four beaches and couldn’t find any open restaurant or beach bar. In the end of the day we ended up at LIDL supermarket, totally starving, and had to buy food there. However, I think a bit later and in summer this is a great area to go for a beach day.
We still found some beautiful places on our little road trip to Thessaloniki, which I’d like to share with you.
This was a little viewpoint which we accidentally found on our way and decided to do our Lidl pic-nic there:
Then just in the beginning of our road trip we ended up here:
We had such a stunning view, the water looked crystal clear – even a bit Carribean. A small inofficial path is leading down to the beach – for the adventurers among you. In low season you will definitly have this beach for yourself. We didn’t see anybody there.
The place was approximately here:
And this beach is supposed to be really nice in summer as well. in April it was deserted 😀
What else do you need to know about Chalkidiki?
Chalkidiki means the area of the 3 fingers. What you need to know is that you can actually only visit two of these fingers. The 3rd one, called Athos, is a monk state, an autonomous polity within Greece and you CAN’t enter it. Women are not permitted to enter this polity. Men can request a visa which is very complicated and need to be planned long time ahead.
The other two fingers, Kasandra and Sithonia, are well developed and offer a very good touristic infrastructure – in summer! In winter or spring (at least mid of April, when we were there), all restaurants will be closed and you will barely see tourists.
How to get to Chalkidiki?
The easiest way to get around is by car. In high season big hotels in Chalkidiki offer little shuttle buses or trains connecting the hotels with beaches. But if you want to be flexible and explore both peninsulas, you should rent a car.
Now I was speaking a lot about different day trips from Thessaloniki, but you should not miss to spend some time in Thessaloniki as well. It is the second biggest town of Greece after Athens. There is nothing extraordinary special to do in Thessaloniki, but it is a pretty town and invites to explore it for 1 or 2 days.
Things to do in Thessaloniki
Visit the art installation or umbrellas at the harbor promenade of Thessaloniki
The umbrellas of Thessaloniki were installed in 1997 and are a popular place for locals to hang out in summer as well as for tourists. Originally they were exhibited by George Zongolopoulos in 1995 on the celebration of the Venice Biennale centenary and then moved to Thessaloniki.
Watch the sunset at the harbor promenade
Once you arrive in Thessaloniki, you will see that the harbor promenade is where people meet especially in the evening. You can enjoy a coffee or cold beer in one of the first row cafés (and the only ones where is still sun in the evening) or just sit at the promenade or at the area of the Umbrella installation and watch the sun setting in the sea.
Discover the nightlife in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki seems to have a big nightlife scene. All bars were crowded when we were there and even in April when it was still a bit cold people were sitting outside, sipping their wine or long drink and enjoy the time with their friends. I guess in summer it must be even more crowded. For example, you can of to one of the bars in „Karolou Ntil“.
Or check out this elevated terrace bar, called “The old bath” because it is built on top of an old Hamman bath from former times.
Our hotel “Cavo Olympo Luxury & Spa”
And as I mentioned it, in the beginning, I want to show you this beauty of a hotel where we stayed: Hotel Cavo Olympo, located at the foot of Mount Olymp. The hotel looks big on pictures but it actually doesn’t have many rooms because the buildings only have two stories. The pool area is extraordinary with an infinity pool, sun loungers in the water and a wide garden areal with further sun loungers. So there is a private spot for every guest and in low season this hotel feels very intimate due to only few guests. There are more luxurious rooms which have own little pools or jacuzzis in case you are looking for something special.
The staff is very friendly and helpful and we barely had anything to criticize during our stay.
The only down side is that the walls of the rooms are quite thin and you can hear everything which is going on on the hallway. In additon the wellness area is just ok. There is a big pool, a finish sauna, a steam sauna, a relaxation room and different rooms for massages and further treatments. However we noticed some weird, penetrant smell in the sauna area which didn’t make the stay in the spa very pleasant. I hope they hotel manager will get this fixed. But everything else in this hotel is really great.
So I hope you liked this article about the day trips from Thessaloniki? Do you have any specific question about the places I mentioned? Then just, drop me a comment below, I’m happy to help 🙂
And if you are going to Greece, let me know about your favorite day trips from Thessaloniki!