Thessaloniki a city near Athens gaining popularity with LGBTQ tourists


The Greek Gastronomic capital , the queen of entertainment , the once Crossroad of the cultures.

City Overview

Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece, a rapidly growing city and the centre of entertainment in the Northern part of the country.  

All combined in a compact, easy-going city by the sea ready to welcome you.

With over a million population in its metropolitan area, Thessaloniki, is a vibrant city hosting a lot of musical and cultural events on yearly basis e.g., International Film Festival. The largest university of the Balkans is also based in Thessaloniki, adding a very distinctive youth feeling in the city’s life. After all, 2014 , Thessaloniki was named as the “European Youth Capital”.

The port of Thessaloniki is one of the most important transportation hubs in southeastern Europe. This port was also one of the main reasons why the city was considered the most important city in Byzantine Empire after Constantinople.

What is also to be observed by the several UNESCO monuments spread in the whole city ,is its multicultural element. During the 16th century, Thessaloniki was home to several ethnic groups such as Jews, Turks , Greeks , Bulgarians, Roma and others .

Upon its foundation , the city was part of the Kingdom of Macedonia and after that period underwent different rules : the Roman Empire,  Byzantium, Ottoman Empire and the Nazi occupation.

“The Mermaid Legend”

The heritage of the city comes from the classical era and more specifically it was founded by the King Kassander of Macedon. The city was named after “Thessalonike”, his wife and half-sister of Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia.

The legend says that after the sudden death of Alexander the Great, his sister was so grief-stricken that she wanted to drown. However instead of drowning she was transformed to a mermaid.

When she encountered a ship, she would ask the sailors “Is Alexander the king alive? ” The correct answer would be :” He lives and reigns and conquers the world.” Is she received this answer, she would allow the ship to continue its trip. Otherwise, she would create dangerous weather conditions, resulting to the wrecking of the ship and the drowning of the sailors.

Getting Around

Thessaloniki has an under- construction subway transport system; however, it offers public bus transportation. As the historical centre is compact, there is almost no need for transportation within the city apart from the “Ano Poli” part.

Airport Transfer

The main airport is located around 17 kilometres from the city centre. You can reach the city centre from the airport by taking the local bus number 01X  which drops off at several city centre locations. The bus stop is located at the departures area, in front of entrance 3 of T1. For a more comfort journey to your accommodation, you may also choose a private transfer which is relatively cheap comparing to Athens or other European cities.

Places to stay

Thessaloniki is a city with no exclusively gay or hetero friendly hotels but has a number of very gay friendly places to stay. It is a city that has many conventions and corporate events so it is always wise to book your accommodation in advance to guarantee availability and choice.

The ideal place to stay is in the historic city centre in order to be in walking distance from the sightseeing and entertainment options.


There is a lot to see in Thessaloniki and you could easily spend a couple of days visiting the numerous tourist attractions, historic monuments & museums. As the majority of visitors will spend just a few days in the city during summer as the majority of the visitors are heading to the leisure destinations near the city , Halkidiki and Olympus Riviera , we would recommend you visit some of the attractions listed below:

  • Archaeological Museum
  • Museum of Byzantine Culture
  • Museum of Photography
  • Promenade stroll starting from Alexander the Great’s statue, passing by the White Tower and ending at the Port’s entrance.
  • Rotunda, Arch of Galerius and Galerius Palace ruins
  • St Demetrius crypt
  • Eptapirgio and Trigoniou Tower in Ano Poli (Old town)
  • Roman Forum

Bars, Clubs & Parties

Thessaloniki has a very compact entertainment centre, therefore there is no particular gay neighbourhood. However, there are gay clubs and numerous of gay friendly bars.

Several places that are recommend and fun hand out at are the following:

*eNola Club: one of the oldest gay hotspots of Thessaloniki. Hosts numerous events and thematic nights, ideal for a night out till early morning hours

*ExPOSE Gay Club: one of the latest additions in the city, international and Greek music, young audience

*ID Gay Club: Greek music

*Niki Bar: alternative LGBTQ+ friendly bar that stays open till early morning hours, mainly electronic and techno music however some days there may be Greek pop surprises!| young audience

* Ypsilon: A bar for all hours of the day, ideal for a coffee, a brunch or late-night party. Mainly electronic music with different DJ sets every day| mixed audience

*Krau SKG: Managed by Suburbia Crew , a group of people that make events in the underground music scene of the city, Krau SKG is a mixed audience underground stage, hosting various live shows from local bands or DJ sets

* Bau’s : A relaxed gay bar in the heart of the center, ideal for an early drink

*Numerous roof tops host cute bars ideal for summer: “Fragile”, “Urania rooftop”, “Matute”

Cafes & Restaurants

Named as Gastronomic UNESCO capital, Thessaloniki offers a lot of dining options, from street food to gourmet options.

And some recommendations for gay friendly café’s:

Anothen Café Bar, Elxate, Pastaflora, Anapsiktirion or To Stori


The shops are generally spread through the city centre.

Many cute antique shops are to be found in the area of Bit Bazar next to the Roman forum.

Main LGBT Events

The main LGBT event in Thessaloniki is the Gay Pride and held in June. The parade is held on the Saturday evening and is the main highlight of the pride weekend. Attendance is low compared to other large cities but an enjoyable event with nice Greek atmosphere.

Day trips close to Athens

The majority of visitors to Greece spend some time there on the way to the Greek Island for holidays and therefore if you are in Athens for a short period with some extra time suggest you ask at your hotel or at a travel agent in the city centre where you can go for a day trip as these changes with the ferry schedule every depending on the time of year.


Currency – Euro (EUR)

Language – Greek

Visas – US , Canada and UK citizens do not need to issue a visa as well as Schengen countries.

Best Time To Visit – April - October

Timezone – Eastern European Standard Time (GMT +2)

Homosexual Activity – Legal


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