Sunday, 17 December 2017

TANZANIA: Constance Hotels Opens Aiyana Pemba Resort In Pemba

Barbara Elkaz
Constance Hotels is opening the new Aiyana Pemba Resort.

Constance was hitherto operating luxury resorts on the Seychelles, the Maldives, Madagascar and Mauritius and has now widened its reach to Pemba / Zanzibar, where it will no doubt become the number one rated resort on this underexplored Indian Ocean island.

The new property comprises just 30 ocean facing villas but those offer every comfort one can wish for, in line with Constance’s corporate philosophy.

The resort will also offer five star culinary experiences similar to those the sister properties pride themselves in and have excelled over the years, something this correspondent can attest to from his experiences at the Constance Ephelia on Mahe and the Constance Lemuria on Praslin / Seychelles.

New General Manager is Ms. Barbara Elkaz who moved to Pemba from the Maldives.

Aiyana Pemba Resort can be reached from Dar es Salaam by scheduled flights with Auric Air and Coastal Aviation on a daily basis.

Tourism Observer

SOUTH AFRICA: Durban, A Popular Drug Trafficking Route, Avoid Street Children Many Sniff Glue And Carry Knives

Durban is located on the east coast of South Africa in the province of KwaZulu-Natal and in the municipality of eThekwini.

It is the third largest city in South Africa and the busiest port in Africa. According to the 2007 Community Survey, the population of the eThekwini municpality was 3,468,086

Durban was originally called Port Natal, and was founded by British settlers. Indian workers were brought in to work the sugar cane plantations, making this one of the largest population centers of Indians in the world, outside of India.

Zulu and English are the most common languages in Durban.

Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. Durban's metropolitan municipality ranks third among the most populous urban areas in South Africa after Johannesburg and Cape Town.

It is also the second most important manufacturing hub in South Africa after Johannesburg. It forms part of the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality. Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa.

It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism because of the city's warm subtropical climate and extensive beaches.

The municipality, which includes neighbouring towns, has a population of almost 3.5 million, making the combined municipality one of the biggest cities on the Indian Ocean coast of the African continent.

It is the largest city in KwaZulu-Natal which is the 2nd most populous province in South Africa. It has the highest number of dollar millionaires added per year of any South African city with the number rising 200 per cent between 2000 and 2014.

In May 2015, Durban was officially recognised as one of the New7Wonders Cities together with Vigan, Doha, La Paz, Havana, Beirut, and Kuala Lumpur.

Archaeological evidence from the Drakensberg mountains suggests that the Durban area has been inhabited by communities of hunter-gatherers since 100,000 BC.

These people lived throughout the area of present-day KwaZulu-Natal until the expansion of Bantu farmers and pastoralists from the north saw their gradual displacement, incorporation or extermination.

Little is known of the history of the first residents, as there is no written history of the area until it was sighted by Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, who sailed parallel to the KwaZulu-Natal coast at Christmastide in 1497 while searching for a route from Europe to India.

Vasco da Gama the area Natal, or Christmas in Portuguese.

The Voortrekkers established the Republic of Natalia in 1838, with its capital at Pietermaritzburg.

Tension between the Voortrekkers and the Zulus prompted the governor of the Cape Colony to dispatch a force under Captain Charlton Smith to establish British rule in Natal, for fear of losing British control in Port Natal.

The force arrived on 4 May 1842 and built a fortification that was later to be The Old Fort. On the night of 23/24 May 1842 the British attacked the Voortrekker camp at Congella. The attack failed, and the British had to withdraw to their camp which was put under siege.

A local trader Dick King and his servant Ndongeni were able to escape the blockade and rode to Grahamstown, a distance of 600 km (372.82 mi) in fourteen days to raise reinforcements. The reinforcements arrived in Durban 20 days later; the Voortrekkers retreated, and the siege was lifted.

Fierce conflict with the Zulu population led to the evacuation of Durban, and eventually the Afrikaners accepted British annexation in 1844 under military pressure.

When the Borough of Durban was proclaimed in 1854, the council had to procure a seal for official documents. The seal was produced in 1855 and was replaced in 1882.

The new seal contained a coat of arms without helmet or mantling that combined the coats of arms of Sir Benjamin D’Urban and Sir Benjamin Pine.

An application was made to register the coat of arms with the College of Arms in 1906, but this application was rejected on grounds that the design implied that D’Urban and Pine were husband and wife. Nevertheless, the coat of arms appeared on the council’s stationery from about 1912.

The following year, a helmet and mantling was added to the council’s stationery and to the new city seal that was made in 1936. The motto reads Debile principium melior fortuna sequitur meaning Better fortune follows a humble beginning.

The blazon of the arms registered by the South African Bureau of Heraldry and granted to Durban on 9 February 1979. The coat of arms fell into disuse with the re-organisation of the South African local government structure in 2000. The seal ceased to be used in 1995.

Durban is ethnically diverse, with a cultural richness of mixed beliefs and traditions.

Zulus form the largest single ethnic group. It has a large number of people of British descent and has the most Indians of any city outside India.

The influence of Indians in Durban has been significant, bringing with them a variety of cuisine, culture and religion. Social cohesion in South Africa's third largest city is fairly strong despite a negative outlook from a few individuals.

In the years following the end of Apartheid there was a population boom as Africans were allowed to move into the city. The population grew by 2.34% between 1996 and 2001. This led to shanty towns forming around the city which were often demolished.

Between 2001 and 2011 the population growth slowed down to 1.08% per year and shanty towns have become less common as the government builds low income housing.

Durban has seen substantial urban sprawl and circa 1930 the entire settlement only consisted of central Durban, the Berea and the Bluff.

The white population has not increased much since that time but many have left this area and moved to more distant suburbs such as Umhlanga which has become a major centre for companies.

The population of the city of Durban and central suburbs such as Durban North, Durban South and the Berea increased 10.9% between 2001 and 2011 from 536,644 to 595,061. The number of Black Africans increased while the number of people in all the other racial groups decreased.

Black Africans increased from 34.9% to 51.1%. Indian or Asians decreased from 27.3% to 24.0%. Whites decreased from 25.5% to 15.3%. Coloureds decreased from 10.26% to 8.59%. A new racial group, Other, was included in the 2011 census at 0.93%.

The city’s demographics indicate that 68% of the population are of working age, and 38% of the people in Durban are under the age of 19 years.

There were 1,237 homicides in the Durban metropolitan area (Ethekwini) in 2015. The murder rate in 2015 was 35.9 per 100,000 people for comparison, Detroit had a murder rate of 43.9 per 100,000 people in 2015.

The murder rate for the whole of South Africa was 33 per 100,000. Today, Durban is more dangerous than Johannesburg but much safer than Cape Town which had a murder rate of 65.53 per 100,000 in 2014.

This is a radical shift from previous decades when Johannesburg was the most dangerous of these cities and Cape Town the safest.

Criminals usually avoid targeting tourists because they know that the police response will be greater.

There was a period of intense violence in the 1990s and the Durban area recorded a murder rate of 83 per 100,000 in 1999. The murder rate dropped rapidly in the 2000s and has been slowly increasing in the 2010s.

Durban is one of the main drug trafficking routes for drugs exiting and entering Sub-Saharan Africa. The drug trade has increased significantly over the past 20 years.

Durban has a number of informal and semi-formal street vendors. The Warwick Junction Precinct is home to a number of street markets, with vendors selling goods from traditional medicince, to clothing and spices.

The city's treatment of shack dwellers has been strongly criticised by a report from the United Nations linked Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions and there has also been strong criticism of the city's treatment of street traders, street children and sex workers.

Durban is known throughout the world for its strain of cannabis called 'Durban Poison'. It is one of the most common strains sold by car guards and street dealers throughout eThekweni.

There are a number of prominent civil society organisations based in Durban.

These include: Abahlali baseMjondolo (shackdwellers') movement, the Diakonia Council of Churches, the Right2Know Campaign, the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance and the South African Unemployed Peoples' Movement. The Durban Art Gallery was founded in 1892.

King Shaka International Airport services both domestic and international flights, with regularly scheduled services to Dubai, Istanbul, Doha, Addis Ababa, Mauritius, Lusaka, Windhoek, Gaborone and Maputo, as well as eight domestic destinations.

The airport's position forms part of the Golden Triangle between Johannesburg and Cape Town, which is important for convenient travel and trade between these three major South African cities. The airport opened in May 2010.

King Shaka International Airport handled 5.22 million passengers in 2016/2017, up 5.9 percent from 2015/2016. King Shaka International was constructed at La Mercy, about 36 kilometres (22 mi) north of central Durban.

All operations at Durban International Airport have been transferred to King Shaka International as of 1 May 2010, with plans for flights to Singapore, London, Mumbai, Kigali, Luanda, Lilongwe and Nairobi.

Durban has a long tradition as a port city. The Port of Durban, formerly known as the Port of Natal, is one of the few natural harbours between Port Elizabeth and Maputo, and is also located at the beginning of a particular weather phenomenon which can cause extremely violent seas.

These two features made Durban an extremely busy port of call for ship repairs when the port was opened in the 1840s. Durban is now the busiest port in South Africa, as well as the third busiest container port in the Southern Hemisphere.

The modern Port of Durban grew around trade from Johannesburg, as the industrial and mining capital of South Africa is not located on any navigable body of water.

Thus, products being shipped from Johannesburg outside of South Africa must be loaded onto trucks or railways and transported to Durban. The Port of Maputo was unavailable for use until the early 1990s due to civil war and an embargo against South African products.

There is now an intense rivalry between Durban and Maputo for shipping business.

Durban has a very popular cruise industry. MSC Cruises bases the MSC Sinfonia in Durban from November to April every year. From the 2018/2019 Southern Africa cruise season MSC Cruises will be basing the much larger and newer MSC Musica in Durban.

Durban is the most popular cruise hub in Southern Africa. Cruise destinations from Durban on the MSC Sinfonia include Mozambique, Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar and other domestic destinations such as Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.

Many other ships cruise through Durban every year, including some of the worlds biggest, such as the RMS Queen Mary 2, the biggest ocean liner in the world. Durban will be building a brand new R200 million cruise terminal that will be operational in October 2019, the Durban Cruise Terminal.

The tender was awarded to KwaZulu Cruise Terminal (Pty) Ltd which is 70% owned by MSC Cruises SA and 30% by Africa Armada Consortium. The new cruise terminal will be able to accommodate two cruise ships at any given time.

Naval Base Durban on Salisbury Island now joined to the mainland and part of the Port of Durban, was established as a naval base during the Second World War. It was downgraded in 2002 to a naval station.

In 2012 a decision was made to renovate and expand the facilities back up to a full naval base to accommodate the South African Navy's offshore patrol flotilla. In December 2015 it was redesignated Naval Base Durban.

Durban featured the first operating steam railway in South Africa when the Natal Railway Company started operating a line between the Point and the city of Durban in 1860.

Durban is well-served by railways due to its role as the largest trans-shipment point for goods from the interior of South Africa.

Shosholoza Meyl, the passenger rail service of Spoornet, operates two long-distance passenger rail services from Durban: a daily service to and from Johannesburg via Pietermaritzburg and Newcastle, and a weekly service to and from Cape Town via Kimberley and Bloemfontein.

These trains terminate at Durban railway station.

Metrorail operates a commuter rail service in Durban and the surrounding area. The Metrorail network runs from Durban Station outwards as far as Stanger on the north coast, Kelso on the south coast, and Cato Ridge inland.

A high-speed rail link has been proposed, between Johannesburg and Durban.

The city's main position as a port of entry onto the southern African continent has led to the development of national roads around it. The N3 Western Freeway, which links Durban with the economic hinterland of Gauteng, heads west out of the city.

The N2 Outer Ring Road links Durban with the Eastern Cape to the south, and Mpumalanga in the north. The Western Freeway is particularly important because freight is shipped by truck to and from the Witwatersrand for transfer to the port.

The N3 Western Freeway starts in the central business district and heads west under Tollgate Bridge and through the suburbs of Sherwood and Mayville.

The EB Cloete Interchange which is informally nicknamed the Spaghetti Junction lies to the east of Westville, allowing for transfer of traffic between the N2 Outer Ring Road and the Western Freeway.

The N2 Outer Ring Road cuts through the city from the north coast to the south coast. It provides a vital link to the coastal towns such as Scottburgh and Stanger that rely on Durban.

Durban also has a system of freeway and dual arterial metropolitan routes, which connect the sprawling suburbs that lie to the north, west and south of the city.

The M4 exists in two segments. The northern segment, named the Ruth First Highway, starts as an alternative highway at Ballito where it separates from the N2.

It passes through the northern suburbs of Umhlanga and La Lucia where it becomes a dual carriageway and ends at the northern edge of the CBD.

The southern segment of the M4, the Albert Lutuli Highway, starts at the southern edge of the CBD, connecting through to the old, decommissioned Durban International Airport, where it once again reconnects with the N2 Outer Ring Road.

The M7 connects the southern industrial basin with the N3 and Pinetown via Queensburgh via the N2. The M19 connects the northern suburbs with Pinetown via Westville.

The M13 is an untolled alternative to the N3 Western Freeway which is tolled at Mariannhill. It also feeds traffic through Gillitts, Kloof, and Westville. In the Westville area it is called the Jan Smuts Highway, while in the Kloof area it is named the Arthur Hopewell Highway.

A number of streets in Durban were renamed in the late 2000s to the names of figures related to the anti-apartheid struggle, persons related to liberation movements around the world including Che Guevara, Kenneth Kaunda and SWAPO, and others associated with the governing African National Congress.

A few street names were changed in the first round of renaming, followed by a larger second round. The renamings provoked incidents of vandalism, as well as protests from opposition parties and members of the public.

Several companies run long-distance bus services from Durban to the other cities in South Africa. Buses have a long history in Durban. Most of them have been run by Indian owners since the early 1930s.

Privately owned buses which are not subsidised by the government also service the communities. Buses operate in all areas of the eThekwini Municipality. Since 2003 buses have been violently taken out of the routes and bus ranks by taxi operators.

Durban was previously served by the Durban trolleybus system, which first ran in 1935.

Durban has two kinds of taxis: metered taxis and minibus taxis. Unlike in many cities, metered taxis are not allowed to drive around the city to solicit fares and instead must be called and ordered to a specific location.

A number of companies service the Durban and surrounding regions. These taxis can also be called upon for airport transfers, point to point pickups and shuttles.

Mini bus taxis are the standard form of transport for the majority of the population who cannot afford private cars.

With the high demand for transport by the working class of South Africa, minibus taxis are often filled over their legal passenger allowance, making for high casualty rates when they are involved in accidents.

Minibuses are generally owned and operated in fleets, and inter-operator violence flares up from time to time, especially as turf wars over lucrative taxi routes occur.

Durban is known for its iconic Zulu rickshaw pullers navigating throughout the city. These colourful characters are famous for their giant, vibrant hats and costumes.

Although they have been a mode of transportation since the early 1900s, they have been displaced by other forms of motorised transport, and the 25 or so remaining rickshaws mostly cater to tourists.

A laid back, yet busy city, Durban combines an exciting mix of urban Zulu culture, a sizeable Indian population together with English speaking South Africans.

Famous people associated with the city include the Zulu King Shaka, Henry Francis Fyn and the Portuguese sea farer Vasco da Gama. The name Durban was adopted after the Cape Governor, Sir BenjaminD’Urban.

Set on Natal Bay, Durban benefits from a year round subtropical climate with summer temperatures (December to February) often exceeding 30C.

Winters are mild with low rainfall and rarely below 20C which combined with warm coastal waters makes Durban an inviting place to both work and as a holiday destination.

The largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal, with a population of over 3 million, it is the 2nd most important manufacturing hub. It forms part of the eTheKwini metropolitan municipality. Durban is famous for having the busiest sea port not only of South Africa, but of Africa.

A sophisticated and cosmopolitan city for companies to trade with, todays’ economy is diversified and based on foreign trade.

It boasts plentiful hotels and service companies. Africa’s largest travel trade show takes place in Durban at the Albert Luthuli Convention Centre, during the month of May.

The friendliest city in South Africa, it has also been selected as 1 of 34 most sustainable cities among 14 countries.

The historical town centre is easily explored. Places to visit include the City Hall, dedicated to its founding fathers, and today housing the Concert Hall and Science Museum.

The Local History Museum and the Old Fort. Mahatma Gandhi’s civil rights struggle is reputed to have begun when he was working as a barrister in Durban. Various tours enable one to retrace his steps on The Gandhi Trail.

A thriving Indian culture is part of the city’s identity and nowhere is this blend of Africa and Indian culture as easy to experience as in the distinctive dish Bunny Chow a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with delicious Durban Curry of the original takeaways.

Bunny Chow can be found in cheap takeaways throughout the city but particularly in Victoria Market where you can also shop for spices, souvenirs and clothes.

Shopping for souvenirs? visit the BAT Centre, a harbour based arts precinct located off Victoria Embankment. On the outskirts of the city several excellent craft centres can be found showcasing the work of local artists and traditional wares such as Zulu beadwork.

Durban is famed for its Golden Mile; 6 Kilometres of sandy beaches with evocative names such as Hibiscus and Sugar Coast. A curiosity of the Golden Mile are the’ Zulu Rickshaws’ with their colourfully decorated vehicles. It also hosts national and international surfing competitions.

The UShaka Marina World, at the Southern end of the Golden Mile, is home to an impressive collection of aquatic life from Africa’s eastern ocean. It is also houses the Oceanographic Research Institute.

No visit to Durban would be complete without experiencing some of the wildlife it has to offer. Tala Private Game Reserve and Hluhluwe Umfolozi reputedly one of Africas’s oldest game reserves are but 2 of easy to reach reserves.

On the outskirts of the city the Krantz Loof Gorge Nature reserve is famed for its spectacular waterfalls. The nearby ST Lucia Wetlands Park allows one to experience costal wildlife.

Durban International Airport formerly Louis Botha Airport is now closed. The King Shaka International Airport, at La Mercy 40km north of Durban has been completed and is fully operational.

Taxi fares from the new airport to the hotels on Marine Parade and centre of Durban can cost well over R400 ZAR (~US $53).

However, next to the taxi rank, there is an airport shuttle bus service that leaves every hour on the hour or as soon as the bus has several passengers for R80 ($ 10.50) per person, though it may take longer to reach your hotel.

Beware, the taxi drivers can be quite aggressive and will try to intercept you before you reach the shuttle. Please also check that your belongings have not been tampered with if you do take the taxi.

The following airlines offer domestic service to/from Durban: 1 time , Airlink, British Airways, FlySafair, Kulula, Mango, and South African Airlines.

The following airlines offer international service to/from Durban: Airlink to/from Maputo, Air Mauritius to/from Mauritius, Emirates to/from Dubai, Ethiopian Airlines to/from Addis Ababa, ProFlight Zambia to/from Lusaka, Qatar Airways to/from Doha, SA Express to/from Harare and Lusaka and Turkish Airlines to/from Istanbul.

All national carriers and the Baz Bus offer regular services to Durban.

The central train station is in the city centre.

Spoornet operates inter-city trains to Johannesburg and Pietermaritzburg. There is no longer a direct service to Cape Town. A change at Johannesburg is required for other long haul destinations.

MetroRail operates frequent commuter trains to various suburbs of Durban and towns nearby such as Pinetown and the resort towns of both the south coast eg. Kelso and Park Ryne and the north coast. Reports indicate that Metro trains in Greater Durban can be unsafe, particularly at night.

Some cruise ships dock in Durban, but generally there are limited one-way entries by boat to Durban. In theory passage on a freighter might be arranged, but it's not widely advertised. Cruises from Durban available on the MSC Sinfonia.

The best way to get around Durban is by car. Be sure to check that you have the latest updated street maps and/or GPS device as a number of street names have changed in recent months. It also helps to have a list of old and new names as some of the new names are vandalized.

- Cabs Car Hire (Car Hire).

- First Car Rental (Car Hire).

- Europcar Car Hire (Car Hire).

- Pace Car Rental (Car Hire).

- Book-a-Bakkie (Bakkie Hire). Bakkie rentals in Durban.

- JNC Helicopters, Hangar 1, Virginia Airport Glenashley. JNC Helicopters offers VIP travel to and from any South African city as well as an infinite number of tourist flight combinations, from 20min sight seeing flights to complete tours that take you around any part of South Africa.

- King Shaka Aviation, Hangar 4, Virginia Airport, Durban North. King Shaka Aviation is Durban & Kwazulu Natal's premier helicopter charter operator specializing in VIP charters, sceinic flights to numerous local venues, Air-lifting operations & Utility services.

With the most comprehensive fleet of aircraft locally available, King Shaka Aviation is best equipped for most requirements.

- BAC Helicopters (Helicopter Training, Charters, tours and trips), Greystones heli port 135 Old North Coast Road Glen Anil. Offers scenic flights up the Golden Coastline, to the Game Reserves or Drakensberg Mountains.

- Durban People Mover buses feature CCTV cameras and wheelchair-friendly ramps. They run from 6AM until 11PM every 15 minutes. These buses stop in the CBD, the Victoria Street Market, the Workshop, Suncoast Casino, Ushaka Marine World and along the beach route.

R4 per trip, valid for 1 hour on a hop-on, hop-off basis; R10 for a full day pass on a hop-on, hop-off basis.

To travel between the Berea surbubs and the city its cheaper to travel by Mynah buses, R2.40 off peak (8AM 3:30PM), peak R3.80. The Mynah buses depart from the Workshop terminus every 30 minutes to Musgrave.

The Ridge, Kensington, Mitchell Park/Florida road, Tollgate(cnr Aliwal/Smith streets), To South Beach/Ushaka, North Beach/Suncoast in Pixley ka Seme west street, opposite the City Hall).

The Aqualine buses to the suburbs depart from the Pine street terminus are usually within 5 minutes of the schedule every hour.Peak cash fare can be quite steep. If you're travelling daily by bus to work,its advisable to buy a weekly coupon, which can save you up to 35% of the cash fare.

To Queensburgh catch either one of these four buses, Malvern (route 112), Montgomery road (route 113), Shalcross/Hillview (route 140), Pinetown/Westmead (*route 840/842/843/849).

To Glenwood catch either one of these four buses, Berea Beach (*route 022/023), Umbilo (route 007),Glenmore (*route 086), Manor Gardens (*route 084).

To Umhlanga Rocks/Gateway Mall catch the Aqualine bus(route 716/705)outside Nando's in Pixley ka Seme (West) street, departs every hour.

To UKZN catch the Howard College bus (*route 070)/Westville campus (*route 075).

To Pinetown/Westville central/Westwood mall, catch Aqualine Pinetown/Westmead bus (*route 855,857,858,870,871,873,877,886).

To The Pavilion mall catch the Aqualine bus (*route 853/860 )route 853 departs from the Workshop terminus and route 860 departs from North Beach near Blue Waters hotel/Suncoast casino.

Most buses depart on the hour every hour, check the bus schedule. Please note that sometimes to get to your destination, you might have to catch a couple to three buses. When not sure about bus route number, ask the locals or the bus driver, tell him the nearest landmark to your destination.

Mynah buses do not have route numbers, only the destination will be displayed on the electronic display in front of the bus. Please note that u must flag the bus down to stop at the bus stop. It is advisable to have the exact change before you board the bus and get a receipt.

Registered taxis are common, generally safe and relatively inexpensive. Taxis do not rove and hence need to be called so that one can be fetched from your pick up point. A lot of these will conduct point to point transfers, airport shuttles, and corporate transfers.

Recommended for the Durban and surrounds are:

- East Coast Cabs

- AAVIP Chauffeur taxi cabs.

- Umhlanga Rocks Taxis (Ucabs).

- Eagle Taxi's.

- Zippy Cabs.

- Mozzie Cabs.

- Shashis taxis.

There are also group taxis, referred to as combi taxis or minibus taxis, that are impossible to miss as in Durban, they're brightly decorated and always have music pumping.

There is always someone hanging out of a window making the hand gestures that indicate whether there are seats available and where the combi is going.

Minibus taxis are very common and less expensive than metered taxis. Strictly speaking, they are minibuses that take people to and from work, they stick to set routes and they are generally not suitable for tourists unfamiliar with the area they are going to.

When in doubt stick to metered taxis or buses. There are minibus taxis plying same routes as Mynah buses,they are more frequent and faster then buses.

Minibus taxis also provide longer distance services. Most leave from recognised ranks around the Umgeni Road. Services to Swaziland leave from the uncovered rank across the street from 22 Umgeni Road, not far from Durban train station.

There is a building opposite the rank, emblazoned with this address in huge letters. Be advised that this area has a reasonably high risk rating for street crime, so be on your guard. If travelling to this rank by local minibus, ask for YMCA.

The Swaziland combis tend to depart in the mornings and leave when full. 09:00AM seems to be a good time to arrive at the rank.

Rickshaw rides are offered to tourists along the beach front, for amusement rather than getting around. Watch out for the many ups and downs in the ride; the tipping back of the rickshaw cause the contents of your pockets to fall out, into the coffers of the drivers.

- Durban Botanical Gardens. Visit on a Saturday and see a mixture of Cultural weddings all having their photos taken.

- Berea. This is a long ridge overlooking the harbor, city center and beaches. Once covered with coastal forest, it is now completely built up.

- City Hall. There is an art gallery and outdated science museum inside, as well as a public library.

The Golden Mile The Golden Mile, the nickname for the beaches near downtown that stretch along the Indian Ocean, is well known for it's excellent surfing, occasional shark attack and wide sandy beaches.

Visiting around the Christmas holidays ensures a crowded experience, complete with stations for missing children, but visit at the off season and you'll practically have the place to yourself, save the serious surfers.

There are also play pools and playgrounds for children along the waterfront, as well as hotel, bars and restaurants.

- Crocodile Creek. In the sugar town of Tongaat just a few miles past Umhlanga you will find Crocodile Creek, on the Tongaat river in sub-tropical bush. This creek is home to over 7000 Nile Crocodiles, Alligators, Caiman, snakes and other reptiles.

The farm includes bush and hill trails, a waterfall, river plains and thatched buildings with tree top walkways. An awesome place to spend a day, refreshments are available and you can also browse through the shop which sells curios, crocodile leather goods and even croc dishes.

- Mahatma Gandhi Settlement.

- Durban North Japanese Gardens. Free entrance.

- KwaZulu Natal National Parks.

What you can do in Durban:

- Meditate, Mahasiddha Kadampa Buddhist Centre, 2 Hollings Road, Malvern,Queensburgh. Offers relaxation meditations and meditation classes to increase inner peace.

- Watersports. Swim, surf, canoe, snorkel, dive.

- Calypso Dive & Adventure Center. Scuba Dive at uShaka Marine World. PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Center. Dive to wrecks, caves, offshore reefs. Offers 6-month "From Zero to Hero" carrer dive course.

- Skydive Durban, Pietermaritzburg Airport. Take a 25 minute plane ride, then 35 seconds of freefalling before the parchute opens, then a post-jump barbeque. Tandem Jump: R1.350; DVD: R400.

- Suncoast Casino, Suncoast Boulevard, Marine Parade.

- Sibaya Casino (Sun international).

- uShaka Marine World, 1 Bell Street. To see the HUGE Aquarium or ride more than eight different rides in the Waterworld.

- Glenholme trail for disabled & blind persons, Glenholme Nature Reserve. Caters for wheelchairs and the blind with elevated walkway and guide rails and braille plaques.

- Nature Parks. There are dozens of nature reserves in the suburbs, just ask around. Please remember to be safe, there are natural hazards like snakes, and criminals like the isolation for different reasons.

- Greyville Race Course. Horseracing.

- Surf Artificial Waves. At Gateway, the biggest Shopping Centre in the southern hemisphere.

- Shark Institute. Take a boat to see the shark nets that protect beachcombers from shark attack.

- Historical compensation sugar mill.

- Zimbali Golf Estate. 18 holes.

- Durban Tourism (Tourist Junction), 160 Monty Naicker Road. The City's official tourism body can provide you with maps, accommodation information and general guidance around your trip to Durban.

Tour guides, registered tour operators and approved accommodation form part of Durban Tourism's extensive services.

- Bengithi Yacht Charter. Charter 44' Luxury Sailing Catamaran. Sailing, SCUBA Diving, Snorkelling, Fishing, Paddleboarding,

- Blue Wilderness, Rocky Bay Resorts, Gate 2, Park Rynie 4182, South Africa. Blue Wilderness offers a broad range of marine adventures with sharks and other marine predators along Durban's east coast (South Africa).

Our premier expedition is our Swim with Sharks trip that allows both snorkelers and divers the opportunity to swim with the Blacktip sharks of Durban's, Aliwal Shoal outside the confines of a cage.

Available are specialist expeditions to the far corners of Southern Africa, tackling extreme marine events such as the Sardine Run, Chokka Run and many more. 1100.

Festivals in Durban:

Poetry Africa - International Festival of Poetry. Early October every year.

Time of the Writer - International Festival of Writing - March every year.

Durban International Film Festival - International Festival of Film - July/August every year.

Jomba, Contemporary Dance Festival - International Festival of Contempary Dance - every year.

Awesome Africa - World Music Festival - September every year.

MTN Durban Fashion Week - For all fashion-lovers! June every year. For all fashion-lovers!

Durban July - July every year.Africa's Premier Horse-Racing Event, with plenty of celebrities and walking fashion models to bump into.

Hindu Festivals - There are dozens of these and you'll need to ask around because they're not well publicised, but there's one in Easter in the Umbilo area where devotees walk on hot coals, and another sometime between February and July it moves called Kavady where the devotees pierce their backs with hooks and drag decorated portable shrines. Not to be missed!

Umhlanga (Rocks) Festivals - Umhlanga is one of the most sought after beach holiday destinations in SA. It is popular with both local and international visitors.

It sees a fair amount of internationals the world over who come to shop, unwind, party and have fun on one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. It is located on the east coast of SA, 15min north of the the port city of Durban.

Some of the best accommodation options with excellent holiday apartments, luxury hotels, lodges and guesthouses are dotted around Umhlanga. It is fast becoming an attraction with its winter and summer festivals, street cafe culture, restaurants and pubs.

Its winter festival is held on the main beach and the summer festival on the main street where live jazz bands play out late into the evening A must to visit.

Popular items to buy are Zulu beadwork, wirework, wicker work - from baskets and sustainable conference bags to fantastic lights and furniture, Spices.

Gateway Theater of Shopping, a mall situated to the North of Durban along the M4 or N2 highways. Believed to be the largest in the southern hemisphere. Also offers a great range of kids' entertainment like a skateboard park and an artificial wave in the Wavehouse to test your surfing abilities.

Victoria Street Market. Mostly oriental souvenirs. Haggle hard, beware of pickpockets.

Essenwood Craft Market - For a true taste of South Africa look out for a guy selling biltong (South African jerky). A good place to buy curios, and don't be afraid to haggle. Last time I was there I found some beautiful Zimbabwean soap-stone sculptures at a very good price.

Only open certain weekends so please check local listings.

The Pavilion - A large shopping mall with a good range of shops, situated in the Westville suburb of Durban.

African Arts Center at Tourist Junction on West Street

BAT Center on the harbor front

As Durban has one of the largest Indian populations outside of India itself, a Durban curry is a popular dish and can range from mild to very hot. There is also the Bunny Chow which is unique to the city, a quarter loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with a curry of your choice.

Check out the Workshop restaurants for some of the best bunny chow in the city. Or head over to the Indian neighborhood near Victoria Market for more authentic Durban Indian food.

More good Indian dining can be found at Vintage Restaurant next to Bean Bag Bohemia - Windemere Road.

Try the Roma Revolving Restaurant at the top of John Ross House on the Esplanade for Italian food and the best view of Durban.

Wilson's Wharf, a long pier built into the harbour, hosts a wide selection of international restaurants where you can relax and watch the busiest harbor in Africa's activity. Take in a show afterwards at the upstairs Catalina theater.

Try Morningside restaurants, along Florida Road, for trendy cafe sidewalk eateries including one Italian style, Spiga d'Oro, frequented so often by South Africa's notorious businessman, Schabir Shaik, that a dish is named in his honor 'Pasta a la Shaik'.

Bill Clinton and Bill Gates ate at "Spice" set off the busy street in a quiet upstairs courtyard. And nearby, be nearly guaranteed to rub shoulders with the up-and-coming in-crowd at the Bean Bag Bohemia, Windermere Road, a restaurant that makes great dining an artistic event.

Definitely try some 'biltong' when you're in South Africa. It's South African-style jerky, and available in a whole range of flavors and textures.

Le Picnique. 08-17. Bespoke handmade picnics, delivered within a 50km radius of Durban. All ingredients are sourced fresh, no preservatives or colourants. Each picnic is customised to your taste. Dietary requirements catered for. 300.00.

Zacks, located at Wilson's Wharf on Victoria's embankment, is a popular place to get thirst-quenching drinks and just relax and enjoy the view of the harbor. Joe Kool's, on the beachfront, is also well known as the best place for a sundowner after a long day on the beach.

Check out their roof-top deck for the best views. The BAT Centre, on the port, is also a good place for a quick meal or drink. There's free jazz most nights as well as other concerts, hip-hop and the occasional poetry slam.

The Firkin is a micro-brewery on the top floor of the Pavilion shopping centre in Westville. It has some great ales and beers and good snacks at reasonable prices. Tilted House is a trendy place situated in the city center in an old Victorian house.

It has its own VIP section, but it is open to the beautiful as well as important. Cool Runnings is a reggeaton place with cheap beer and a relaxed atmosphere. Burn is a good concert scene for Metal and Rock music with club evenings every weekend.

Durban is known for its pot, and you will easily find it around the clubs, but beware the police do care if tourists break the law, and you can be thrown out of the country if you are caught with it.

Florida Road 275. Definitely the happening street in Durban. Restaurants, bars, cafes, boutique shopping and more can be found here. Durban's most interesting book shop, Book Base, is located at the top of Florida Road (275) and is open every day.

Lots of interesting material of historical interest (Zulu Wars, etc.) to be seen.


Ansteys Beach Backpackers International, 477 marine Drive, Bluff. Run by Palmbloom family. Great atmosphere. Surf lessons, pool table, table tennis, dartboard, paintball, swimming pool, DVDs, beach horse rides, dive courses, braai, golf, kite/windsurfing, dolphin/whale watching.

Dorm bed: R90, Doubles/Twins: R210; Camping: R50.

Black Mamba Backpackers Lodge,Valley of 1000 Hills, Close to Tala Game Reserve and Phezulu Crocodile Farm. Jacuzzi under the stars, shower in the open air, snuggle around the bonfire.

Free airport and shopping cneter pick ups/drop offs, free internet, kitchen, bar. Dorm bed: R80; Doubles R280; Camping R50, 3rd night is free.

Gibela Backpackers Lodge. This lodge has placed itself high with international and local travellers alike. It is a 4 star graded property by the South African Tourism Grading Council and is the 2008 winner in the South African Tourism Welcome Awards - Backpacking.

It is also offers a totally smoke free environment, including the garden. FromR150pps, R400/unit.

Happy Hippo, 222 Point Rd (Mahatma Ghandi Road), Waterfront. Located 500m from the beach, but not the safest area. Rooftop bar, wi-fi. Kitchen, nice rooms. Dorm bed: R100; Doubles: R270; Ensuite doubles R390.

Hippo Hide, 2 Jesmond Road, Berea. Private wooden huts, entertainment area. Single: R300.

Nomads Backpackers, 70 Essenwood Rd. Since 1995. Log beds. Fans. Bambooza bar & Restaurant. Friendly owner when she's around; security is relaxed here with no locks on dorm rooms and the presence of non-guests on the property. Dor bed: R150; Doubles/Twins: R280; Triple: R300.

On The Beach. Luxurious ensuite rooms with sea view. Air-conditioned dorms. Walking distance to La Lucia Mall. Dorm bed: R120; Doubles: R470.

Shelbourne Lodge Bed 'n Breakfast, La Lucia. R350pps.

Smiths Cottage. Cozy and tranquil, with pool and tropical garden. Shuttle service. Dorm bed: R110; Doubles: R275; Cottage: R600.

Tekweni Backpackers, 169 9th Avenue. A party hostel - don't expect clean bathrooms, comfortable beds, or a good night's sleep. Offers local tours, barbeques, walking distance to Durban Station. Dorm bed: R150, Single room: R300, Double room: R350.

Durban Hotels Galore, Musgrave Centre 8th Floor, Reception 2, 115-125 Musgrave Road, Berea, Durban, 4001. From R280pps.

Crooked Tree Cottage, Corner of Hiken Dr& Pearl Drive, Umhlanga. From R400pps.

Dolphin Sands B&B, North Beach Rd, Westbrook. From R300pps.

Northway Lodge, 28 Northway Dr, Durban North. From R350pps.

Nunuburd Lodge, 74 Clair Avenue, Manor Ridge. Doubles/Twins: R190pp; Triples: R170pp, Quads: R160pp.

Umdloti Letting & Sales, Umdloti Beach. 2bed apartment: R542pn, 3bed apartment: R642pn.

The Grange Guest House, 1 Monteith Place, upper Durban North, quiet, prestigious area, centrally located leafy suburban setting. Most rooms have sea views, huge family rooms and a wheelchair friendly room, r400-500 per person.

Lazy Lizard Guesthouse, Umhlanga Rocks, Kwa-Zulu Natal. Nestled in the heart of prestigious Umhlanga Rocks, the Lazy Lizard Guesthouse offers private, up market accommodation for both the holiday maker and the discerning business executive.

Cybele Lodge, 18 Acutts Drive, Everton. checkin: 13.00; checkout: 10.00. An exquisite two bed ensuite BNB in South Africa's oldest urban Conservancy. Enjoy 8 acres of indigenous gardens, with worldy hosts, who specialise in fine dining. R900.00.

Durban Hotels Galore, Musgrave Centre 8th Floor, Reception 2, 115-125 Musgrave Road, Berea, Durban, 4001. From R300pps.

Durban Self Catering Accommodation. An Exclusive Private Beach House, With sea views spanning from Ballito in the North, to the Durban Point and light house in the South. The part of the beach it is on is usually very quiet. From R950.

Hampshire Hotel Ballito, Lot 4048 Moffatt Drive, Ballito. Hampshire Hotel Ballito, a South Africa luxury hotel near Durban, offers access to the beach, conference and meeting venues and special deals for family holidays, weekend getaways & business travel.

Quarters Hotel, 101 Florida Road, Morningside. From860pps.

Royal Palm - Gateway, 08 Palm Boulevard, Umhlanga. From R970pps.

Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani, 63 Snell Parade, Durban 4001. Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani is the ultimate place to stay in Durban, with a total of 734 stylish rooms, two breakfast venues, two fully equipped gyms, 15 conference venues, eleven restaurants and bars, free high speed, quality connectivity WiFi and world class facilities.

The Riverside Hotel & Spa.

The Royal Hotel, 267 Smith St.

The Quays, Timeball Square, Waterfront. From R2,220 per suite.

The beach strip is frequently patrolled by policemen, there are CCTV cameras and many lights at night.

As everywhere else, there are several basic safety rules to follow. Avoid dark, deserted areas, and do not go out alone in the early hours of the morning. The promenade along the beach is safe to walk, but do not venture to the side and back roads of the hotels.

At night, it is still a good idea to stick to the main streets and not go out at night unless you are very familiar with a particular area. Avoid the usually busy central business district, which is empty after dark. Above all, use common sense.

Remember, you're a tourist, not a celebrity. Dress down to blend in with the people in the CBD, keep the fancy stuff to a minimum.

The harbour area is quite safe, as are the shopping malls and higher residential areas.

The Point, the area between downtown and the port, is known for prostitution and cheap hotels has higher crime rate although parts are currently undergoing a massive redevelopment. Avoid walking here alone or at night and take cars or metered taxis if you need to go to this area. .

Street children can be a problem, and its best to keep clear of them. Many sniff glue, carry knives, and act quite unpredictably.

Travel vaccines and general practitioner services available at Umhlanga Sports and Travel Clinic, Umhlanga Hospital Helipad, 323 Umhlanga Rocks Drive, Umhlanga Rocks.

Places to visit:

- Umhlanga Nature reserve

- Go south along the Sunshine and Wild Coast through Margate and to East London, Port Elizabeth and the Garden Route

- Go south along the Hisbiscus coast through Port Shepstone, visit the Oribi gorge and blue flag beaches.

- Go up the North Coast and visit Ballito, the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park or drive further on to Swaziland.

- Valley of 1000 hills. With breathtaking views, more than 10 nature reserves, hiking trails, cultural villages and much more.

This is an area not to miss when you visit KwaZulu-Natal

Tourism Observer

Saturday, 16 December 2017

USA: Amargosa Desert Named After Amargosa River,In Amargosa Valley

The Amargosa Desert is located in Nye County in western Nevada, United States, along the California–Nevada border, comprising the northeastern portion of the geographic Amargosa Valley, north of the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

The desert is named after the Amargosa River, so-named for the Spanish word for bitter because of the bitter taste of the water.

The Amargosa Desert lies at an elevation of about 2,600 to 2,750 feet (790 to 840 m), and includes Crater Flat and the community of Amargosa Valley, Nevada, formerly Lathrop Wells, which lies at the southern end of the desert.

The desert lies between the Funeral Mountains and Death Valley to the west, and Yucca Mountain and the Nellis Air Force Range to the east.

The Amargosa Desert is an arid desert habitat and an ecotone between the northern Great Basin and southern Mojave Desert ecosystems and biogeography regions.

The seasonal Amargosa River course runs through the desert, with the rare Shoshone pupfish in nearby Amargosa Pupfish Station of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

It is not known when the first humans settled in the Amargosa Desert. Ancient campsites have been found that date back at least 10,000 years, to the end of the last ice age.

Examination of archaeological remains in the valley implies more extensive use by aboriginal peoples than had been previously estimated.

Pottery and other artifacts have been found that date back from approximately 1000 A.D. to even earlier times.

During the nineteenth century, two groups of Native Americans occupied the Amargosa Valley: the Southern Paiute and the Western Shoshone.

Both were extremely adept at extracting a living from their marginal environment, subsisting on wild plant foods and supplemented by wild game.

The first community in the Amargosa Desert was founded circa 1905 as the result of extensive borax mining in the area.

In 1907, two railroads started to service the borax, gold, silver, lead and other important mineral mining and processing operations in the surrounding region.

The Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad (T and T) ran between Ludlow, California and Gold Center just south of present-day Beatty, Nevada.

The competing Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad line linked Las Vegas to Goldfield, Nevada. As mining yields and economics changed, the railroads became less viable.

The Las Vegas and Tonopah line was abandoned in 1918, and the T and T was shut down on June 14, 1940. By mid-1942, all of the T and T's rails and scrap iron had been salvaged by the U.S. Department of War in support of World War II.

Only sections of the graded railroad bed remain; the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) constructs and maintains hiking trails along some portions of the old railroad bed in California.

Modern development did not begin in the valley until the early 1950s. Electric power, other than that produced by private generators, was not available until 1963. Until the early 1990s growth in Amargosa Valley was minimal.

More recently, intense growth in Las Vegas has led many new residents to settle in Amargosa Valley and nearby Pahrump.

Amargosa Valley is served by the 775 area code, and most landline phone numbers in the area utilize the 372 exchange, following the format (775) 372-xxxx.

The ZIP code is 89020.

Amargosa Valley is near the controversial Yucca Mountain Repository, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) facility on federal land, designed for the storage of high-level nuclear waste.

President George W. Bush signed House Joint Resolution 87 on July 23, 2002, authorizing the DOE to proceed with construction at Yucca Mountain, although the facility was not expected to accept its first shipments of radioactive materials before 2012.

The facility's main entrance will be in Amargosa Valley, approximately 14 miles (23 km) south of the storage tunnels.

In 2009 President Barack Obama stated that the repository was no longer being considered as a site for the long-term storage of nuclear waste.

Amargosa Farm Road Solar Project was a proposed 500 megawatt (MW) solar power plant in Nye County, Nevada at 36° 34' 31.52"N, -116° 29' 35.52"W.

Originally designed as a concentrating solar power (CSP) project, the project was converted to photovoltaic (PV) technology. Solar Millennium went bankrupt and the project stalled. A smaller 65MW PV plant on private land was proposed by First Solar in 2013.

Amargosa Valley has a mild desert climate with very hot summer days and mild winters. The hottest recorded temperature in Amargosa Valley is 118°F (47.7°C) on July 9, 2002 and the coldest temperature was 6°F (-14.4°C) on December 22, 1990. Average yearly precipitation is 4.29 inches.

The principal highways serving Amargosa Valley are U.S. Route 95 which runs north-south (NE-SW as it passes through Amargosa) connecting Las Vegas and Reno, and State Route 373, which runs north-south connecting Amargosa Valley to Death Valley Junction via California State Route 127.

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge features approximately 23,000 acres (93 km²) of spring-fed wetlands and is managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

The refuge provides habitat for at least 24 plants and animals found nowhere else in the world.

Four fish, Devil's Hole Pupfish, Amargosa Pupfish, Warm Springs Pupfish, and Ash Meadows Speckled Dace, one insect (Ash Meadows Naucorid), and one plant (Amargosa Nitewort) are currently listed as endangered species.

Ash Meadows NWR can be accessed via SR 373 in Amargosa Valley, SR 160 near Crystal, Nevada or from Bell Vista Road west of Pahrump. Entrances to the refuge are marked with road signs.

Big Dune is a formation of sand dunes, cresting approximately 300 feet (91 m) above surrounding terrain.

The dune formation and surrounding land is administered by the BLM and is open to motorized and non-motorized recreational uses.

Big Dune is accessible from Valley View Road, approximately 2.5 miles (4.0 km) south of U.S. 95.

Tourism Observer

GREECE: Thessaloniki, Romantic Ultimate Party City Known As The Mother Of Israel

Thessaloniki or Thessalonica is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia.

At about a million inhabitants, it is considered Greece's cultural capital, renowned for its festivals, events and vibrant cultural life in general and has recently been ranked by Lonely Planet as the world's fifth-best party city worldwide.

More importantly, it is also a city with a continuous 3,000 year old history; preserving relics of its Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman past and of its formerly dominant Jewish population.

Many of its Byzantine churches, and a whole district of the city in particular, are included in UNESCO's World Heritage list.

Thessaloniki also familiarly known as Thessalonica or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of Macedonia, the administrative region of Central Macedonia and the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace.

Thessaloniki is located on the Thermaic Gulf, at the northwest corner of the Aegean Sea. It is bounded on the west by the delta of the Axios/Vardar.

The municipality of Thessaloniki, the historical center, had a population of 325,182 in 2011, while the Thessaloniki Urban Area had a population of 788,952 and the Thessaloniki Metropolitan Area had 1,012,297 inhabitants in 2011.

Thessaloniki is Greece's second major economic, industrial, commercial and political centre; it is a major transportation hub for Greece and southeastern Europe, notably through the Port of Thessaloniki.

The city is renowned for its festivals, events and vibrant cultural life in general, and is considered to be Greece's cultural capital.

Events such as the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair and the Thessaloniki International Film Festival are held annually, while the city also hosts the largest bi-annual meeting of the Greek diaspora. Thessaloniki was the 2014 European Youth Capital.

The city of Thessaloniki was founded in 315 BC by Cassander of Macedon. An important metropolis by the Roman period, Thessaloniki was the second largest and wealthiest city of the Byzantine Empire.

It was conquered by the Ottomans in 1430, and passed from the Ottoman Empire to Greece on November 8, 1912.

Thessaloniki is home to numerous notable Byzantine monuments, including the Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as several Roman, Ottoman and Sephardic Jewish structures.

The city's main university, Aristotle University, is the largest in Greece and the Balkans.

Thessaloniki is a popular tourist destination in Greece.

In 2013, National Geographic Magazine included Thessaloniki in its top tourist destinations worldwide, while in 2014 Financial Times FDI magazine (Foreign Direct Investments) declared Thessaloniki as the best mid-sized European city of the future for human capital and lifestyle.

Among street photographers, the center of Thessaloniki is also considered the most popular destination for street photography in Greece.

Thessaloniki lies on the northern fringe of the Thermaic Gulf on its eastern coast and is bound by Mount Chortiatis on its southeast.

Its proximity to imposing mountain ranges, hills and fault lines, especially towards its southeast have historically made the city prone to geological changes.

Since medieval times, Thessaloniki was hit by strong earthquakes, notably in 1759, 1902, 1978 and 1995.

On 19–20 June 1978, the city suffered a series of powerful earthquakes, registering 5.5 and 6.5 on the Richter scale. The tremors caused considerable damage to a number of buildings and ancient monuments,[ but the city withstood the catastrophe without any major problems.

One apartment building in central Thessaloniki collapsed during the second earthquake, killing many, raising the final death toll to 51

Thessaloniki rose to economic prominence as a major economic hub in the Balkans during the years of the Roman Empire.

The Pax Romana and the city's strategic position allowed for the facilitation of trade between Rome and Byzantium later Constantinople and now Istanbul through Thessaloniki by means of the Via Egnatia.

The Via Egnatia also functioned as an important line of communication between the Roman Empire and the nations of Asia, particularly in relation to the Silk Road.

With the partition of the Roman Emp. into East (Byzantine) and West, Thessaloniki became the second-largest city of the Eastern Roman Empire after New Rome (Constantinople) in terms of economic might.

Under the Empire, Thessaloniki was the largest port in the Balkans. As the city passed from Byzantium to the Republic of Venice in 1423, it was subsequently conquered by the Ottoman Empire. Under Ottoman rule the city retained its position as the most important trading hub in the Balkans.

Manufacturing, shipping and trade were the most important components of the city's economy during the Ottoman period, and the majority of the city's trade at the time was controlled by ethnic Greeks. Plus, the Jewish community was also an important factor in the trade sector.

Historically important industries for the economy of Thessaloniki included tobacco,in 1946 35% of all tobacco companies in Greece were headquartered in the city, and 44% in 1979 and banking in Ottoman years Thessaloniki was a major center for investment from western Europe, with the Bank of Thessaloniki or Banque de Salonique having a capital of 20 million French francs in 1909.

Thessaloniki is not only regarded as the cultural and entertainment capital of northern Greece but also the cultural capital of the country.

The city's main theaters, run by the National Theatre of Northern Greece which was established in 1961, include the Theater of the Society of Macedonian Studies, where the National Theater is based, the Royal Theater or Vasiliko Theatro.

The first base of the National Theater-, Moni Lazariston, and the Earth Theater and Forest Theater, both amphitheatrical open-air theatres overlooking the city.

The title of the European Capital of Culture in 1997 saw the birth of the city's first opera and today forms an independent section of the National Theatre of Northern Greece. The opera is based at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall, one of the largest concert halls in Greece.

Recently a second building was also constructed and designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. Thessaloniki is also the seat of two symphony orchestras, the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra and the Symphony Orchestra of the Municipality of Thessaloniki.

Olympion Theater, the site of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival and the Plateia Assos Odeon multiplex are the two major cinemas in downtown Thessaloniki.

The city also has a number of multiplex cinemas in major shopping malls in the suburbs, most notably in Mediterranean Cosmos, the largest retail and entertainment development in the Balkans.

Thessaloniki is renowned for its major shopping streets and lively laneways. Tsimiski Street and Proxenou Koromila avenue are the city's most famous shopping streets and are among Greece's most expensive and exclusive high streets.

The city is also home to one of Greece's most famous and prestigious hotels, Makedonia Palace hotel, the Hyatt Regency Casino and hotel,the biggest casino in Greece and one of the biggest in Europe and Waterland, the largest water park in southeastern Europe.

The city has long been known in Greece for its vibrant city culture, including having the most cafes and bars per capita of any city in Europe; and as having some of the best nightlife and entertainment in the country, thanks to its large young population and multicultural feel.

Thessaloniki is among the world's ultimate party cities

Although Thessaloniki is not renowned for its parks and greenery throughout its urban area, where green spaces are few, it has several large open spaces around its waterfront, namely the central city gardens of Palios Zoologikos Kipos which is recently being redeveloped to also include rock climbing facilities.

A new skatepark and paintball range, the park of Pedio tou Areos, which also holds the city's annual floral expo; and the parks of the Nea Paralia or waterfront that span for 3 km (2 mi) along the coast, from the White Tower to the concert hall.

The Nea Paralia parks are used throughout the year for a variety of events, while they open up to the Thessaloniki waterfront, which is lined up with several cafes and bars; and during summer is full of Thessalonians enjoying their long evening walks referred to as the volta.

It is embedded into the culture of the city. Having undergone an extensive revitalization, the city's waterfront today features a total of 12 thematic gardens/parks.

Thessaloniki's proximity to places such as the national parks of Pieria and beaches of Chalkidiki often allow its residents to easily have access to some of the best outdoor recreation in Europe.

However, the city is also right next to the Seich Sou forest national park, just 3.5 km (2 mi) away from Thessaloniki's city center; and offers residents and visitors alike, quiet viewpoints towards the city, mountain bike trails and landscaped hiking paths.

The city's zoo, which is operated by the municipality of Thessaloniki, is also located nearby the national park.

Other recreation spaces throughout the Thessaloniki Metropolitan Area include the Fragma Thermis, a landscaped parkland near Thermi and the Delta wetlands west of the city center.

While urban beaches that have continuously been awarded the blue flags, are located along the 10 km (6 mi) coastline of Thessaloniki's southeastern suburbs of Thermaikos, about 20 km (12 mi) away from the city center.

Because of the city's rich and diverse history, Thessaloniki houses many museums dealing with many different eras in history. Two of the city's most famous museums include the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki and the Museum of Byzantine Culture.

The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki was established in 1962 and houses some of the most important ancient Macedonian artifacts,including an extensive collection of golden artwork from the royal palaces of Aigai and Pella.

It also houses exhibits from Macedon's prehistoric past, dating from the Neolithic to the Bronze age. The Prehistoric Antiquities Museum of Thessaloniki has exhibits from those periods as well.

The Museum of Byzantine Culture is one of the city's most famous museums, showcasing the city's glorious Byzantine past. The museum was also awarded Council of Europe's museum prize in 2005.

The museum of the White Tower of Thessaloniki houses a series of galleries relating to the city's past, from the creation of the White Tower until recent years.

One of the most modern museums in the city is the Thessaloniki Science Center and Technology Museum and is one of the most high-tech museums in Greece and southeastern Europe.

It features the largest planetarium in Greece, a cosmotheater with the largest flat screen in Greece, an amphitheater, a motion simulator with 3D projection and 6-axis movement and exhibition spaces.

Other industrial and technological museums in the city include the Railway Museum of Thessaloniki, which houses an original Orient Express train, the War Museum of Thessaloniki and others. The city also has a number of educational and sports museums, including the Thessaloniki Olympic Museum.

The Ataturk Museum in Thessaloniki is the historic house where Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern-day Turkey, was born. The house is now part of the Turkish consulate complex, but admission to the museum is free.

The museum contains historic information about Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and his life, especially while he was in Thessaloniki.

Other ethnological museums of the sort include the Historical Museum of the Balkan Wars, the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki and the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle, containing information about the freedom fighters in Macedonia and their struggle to liberate the region from the Ottoman yoke.

The city also has a number of important art galleries. Such include the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, housing exhibitions from a number of well-known Greek and foreign artists.

The Teloglion Foundation of Art is part of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and includes an extensive collection of works by important artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, including works by prominent Greeks and native Thessalonians.

The Thessaloniki Museum of Photography also houses a number of important exhibitions, and is located within the old port of Thessaloniki.

Thessaloniki is home to a number of prominent archaeological sites. Apart from its recognized UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Thessaloniki features a large two-terraced Roman forum featuring two-storey stoas, dug up by accident in the 1960s.

The forum complex also boasts two Roman baths, one of which has been excavated while the other is buried underneath the city. The forum also features a small theater, which was also used for gladiatorial games.

Although the initial complex was not built in Roman times, it was largely refurbished in the 2nd century. It is believed that the forum and the theater continued to be used until at least the 6th century.

Another important archaeological site is the imperial palace complex which Roman emperor Galerius, located at Navarinou Square, commissioned when he made Thessaloniki the capital of his portion of the Roman Empire.

The large octagonal portion of the complex, most of which survives to this day, is believed to have been an imperial throne room. Various mosaics from the palatial complex have also survived.

Some historians believe that the complex must have been in use as an imperial residence until the 11th century.

Not far from the palace itself is the Arch of Galerius, known colloquially as the Kamara. The arch was built to commemorate the emperor's campaigns against the Persians.

The original structure featured three arches however, only two full arches and part of the third survive to this day. Many of the arches' marble parts survive as well, although it is mostly the brick interior that can be seen today.

Other monuments of the city's past, such as the Incantadas, a Caryatid portico from the ancient forum, have been removed or destroyed over the years. The Incantadas in particular are on display at the Louvre.

Thanks to a private donation of €180,000, it was announced on 6 December 2011 that a replica of the Incantadas would be commissioned and later put on display in Thessaloniki.

Thessaloniki is home of a number of festivals and events. The Thessaloniki International Trade Fair is the most important event to be hosted in the city annually, by means of economic development.

It was first established in 1926 and takes place every year at the 180,000 m2 (1,937,503.88 sq ft) Thessaloniki International Exhibition Center.

The event attracts major political attention and it is customary for the Prime Minister of Greece to outline his administration's policies for the next year, during event. Over 250,000 visitors attended the exposition in 2010.

The new Art Thessaloniki, is starting first time 29.10. – 1 November 2015 as an international contemporary art fair.

The Thessaloniki International Film Festival is established as one of the most important film festivals in Southern Europe, with a number of notable film makers such as Francis Ford Coppola, Faye Dunaway, Catherine Deneuve, Irene Papas and Fatih Akın taking part, and was established in 1960.

The Documentary Festival, founded in 1999, has focused on documentaries that explore global social and cultural developments, with many of the films presented being candidates for FIPRESCI and Audience Awards.

The Dimitria festival, founded in 1966 and named after the city's patron saint of St. Demetrius, has focused on a wide range of events including music, theatre, dance, local happenings, and exhibitions.

The DMC DJ Championship has been hosted at the International Trade Fair of Thessaloniki, has become a worldwide event for aspiring DJs and turntablists. The International Festival of Photography has taken place every February to mid-April.

Exhibitions for the event are sited in museums, heritage landmarks, galleries, bookshops and cafés. Thessaloniki also holds an annual International Book Fair.

Between 1962–1997 and 2005–2008 the city also hosted the Thessaloniki Song Festival, Greece's most important music festival, at Alexandreio Melathron.

In 2012, the city hosted its first gay parade, namely the Thessaloniki Pride which took place between 22 and 23 June.In 2013, the second Thessaloniki Pride was hosted between 14 and 15 June.

However, in 2013, Transgender people in Thessaloniki became victims of police violence. The issue was soon settled by the government. The third Thessaloniki Pride took place in 2014, between 20 and 21 June, concentrating more people than any past year.

The main stadium of the city is the Kaftanzoglio Stadium,also home ground of Iraklis FC, while other main stadiums of the city include the football Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium and Toumba Stadium home grounds of Aris F.C. and PAOK F.C., respectively, all of whom are founding members of the Greek league.

Being the largest multi-sport stadium in the city, Kaftanzoglio Stadium regularly plays host to athletics events; such as the European Athletics Association event Olympic Meeting Thessaloniki every year.

It has hosted the Greek national championships in 2009 and has been used for athletics at the Mediterranean Games and for the European Cup in athletics.

In 2004 the stadium served as an official Athens 2004 venue, while in 2009 the city and the stadium hosted the 2009 IAAF World Athletics Final.

Thessaloniki's major indoor arenas include the state-owned Alexandreio Melathron, PAOK Sports Arena and the YMCA indoor hall. Other sporting clubs in the city include Apollon FC based in Kalamaria, Agrotikos Asteras F.C. based in Evosmos and YMCA.

Thessaloniki has a rich sporting history with its teams winning the first ever panhellenic football, basketball,and water polo tournaments.

The city played a major role in the development of basketball in Greece. The local YMCA was the first to introduce the sport to the country, while Iraklis BC won the first ever Greek championship.

From 1982 to 1993 Aris BC dominated the league, regularly finishing in first place. In that period Aris won a total of 9 championships, 7 cups and one European Cup Winners' Cup. The city also hosted the 2003 FIBA Under-19 World Championship in which Greece came third.

In volleyball, Iraklis has emerged since 2000 as one of the most successful teams in Greece and Europe – see 2005–06 CEV Champions League. In October 2007, Thessaloniki also played host to the first Southeastern European Games.

The city is also the finish point of the annual Alexander The Great Marathon, which starts at Pella, in recognition of its Ancient Macedonian heritage.

Because Thessaloniki remained under Ottoman rule for about 100 years more than southern Greece, it has retained a lot of its Eastern character, including its culinary tastes.

Spices in particular play an important role in the cuisine of Thessaloniki, something which is not true to the same degree about Greece's southern regions.

Thessaloniki's Ladadika borough is a particularly busy area in regards to Thessalonian cuisine, with most tavernas serving traditional meze and other such culinary delights.

Bougatsa, a breakfast pastry, which can be either sweet or savory, is very popular throughout the city and has spread around other parts of Greece and the Balkans as well. Another popular snack is koulouri.

Notable sweets of the city are Trigona, Roxakia and Armenovil. A stereotypical Thessalonian coffee drink is Frappé coffee. Frappé was invented in the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair in 1957 and has since spread throughout Greece and Cyprus to become a hallmark of the Greek coffee culture.

The city is viewed as a romantic one in Greece, and as such Thessaloniki is commonly featured in Greek songs. There are a number of famous songs that go by the name Thessaloniki like rebetiko, laiko etc. or include the name in their title.

During the 1930s and 40s the city became a center of the Rebetiko music, partly because of the Metaxas censorship, which was stricter in Athens. Vassilis Tsitsanis wrote some of his best songs in Thessaloniki.

The city is the birthplace of significant composers in the Greek music scene, such as Manolis Chiotis, Stavros Kouyioumtzis and Dionysis Savvopoulos. It is also notable for its rock music scene and its many rock groups; some became famous such as Xylina Spathia, Trypes or the pop rock Onirama.

Between 1962–1997 and 2005–2008 the city also hosted the Thessaloniki Song Festival. In the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 Greece was represented by Koza Mostra and Agathonas Iakovidis, both from Thessaloniki.

On May 1936, a massive strike by tobacco workers led to general anarchy in the city and Ioannis Metaxas a future dictator, then PM ordered its repression. The events and the deaths of the protesters inspired Yiannis Ritsos to write the Epitafios.

On 22 May 1963, Grigoris Lambrakis, pacifist and MP, was assassinated by two far-right extremists driving a three-wheeled vehicle. The event led to political crisis. Costa Gavras directed Z (1969 film) based on it, two years after the military junta had ceized power in Greece.

Notable films set in Thessaloniki among others include Mademoiselle Docteur (1937) by Georg Wilhelm Pabst, The Barefooted Battalion (1954) by Greg Tallas (Gregory Thalassinos), O Atsidas (1961) by Giannis Dalianidis, Parenthesis (1968) by Takis Kanellopoulos and Triumph of the Spirit (1989) by Robert M. Young.

Thessaloniki lies on the northern fringe of the Thermaic Gulf on its eastern coast and is bound by Mount Chortiatis on its southeast. The metropolitan area of the city extends around an area of 1,455.62 km².

This includes many beachside and hilly suburbs, while its densest part, which makes up the urban area of the city and what Thessalonians usually refer to as the City of Thessaloniki, can be divided roughly into 3 parts, the northwestern, the central and the southeastern.

The central part, corresponding to the region that is inside the the Byzantine walls, forms the oldest part of the city and is divided in two parts, the central commercial and historic city center, where most tourist sites and interests, entertainment and educational facilities are located.

Ano Poli also called Old Town and literally the Upper Town, the heritage listed district north of Thessaloniki's city center that was not engulfed by the city's great fire of 1917 and was declared a UNESCO heritage site.

The city center is bounded by the sea in the south, Olympiados street in the northeast,from which then the upper town begins, Bardariou aka Dimokratias square in the northwest and in the southeast by the University campus of the Aristotle University and the facilities of Thessaloniki International Exhibition Center.

Most roads in the city center are either parallel or perpendicular to the sea. A simple rule that helps the visitor is that if the a street goes downhill, by following it, it will lead you to the sea.

The biggest parallel streets to the sea starting from the sea are Nikis, Tsimiski, Ermou, Egnatia, Agiou Dimitriou and Kassandrou avenues.

The important streets leading to the sea, starting from northwest, are Ionos Dragoumi, Venizelou, the pedestrian streets Aristotelous and Hagia Sophia and Ethinikis Amynis avenues.

Thessaloniki is served by Macedonia International Airport for international and domestic flights. The airport lies 15 km southeast of the city center and is connected directly with the following national and international destinations:

There are daily flights from Athens airport by Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines(50 minutes). During summer, both Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines have direct flights daily from Rhodes, Crete (Heraklion and Chania), Mykonos and Santorini; while Aegean Airlines also serves flights from Corfu.

Astra Airlines has scheduled flights from Chios and during the months of July and August there are scheduled flights from Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes, Kos, Crete (Chania and Heraklion), Karpathos, Kythira and Zakynthos.

International flights to and from: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Berlin-Tegel, Berlin-Schönefeld, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover, Karlsruhe-(Baden-Baden), Munich, Stuttgart, Zurich, Vienna, Basel

United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, London-Gatwick, London-Luton, London-Heathrow, London-Stansted (RyanAir), Manchester , Bristol, Stockholm (from April), Oslo(Rygge).

France & BeNeLux, Italy, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Brussels-Charleroi, Rome-Fiumicino, Rome-Ciampino, Milan-Malpensa, Bergamo-Orio al Serio
Central Europe

Warsaw, Balkans & Eastern Europe, Belgrade, Tirana, Bucharest-Băneasa, Bucharest-Henri Coanda, Prague, Budapest, Brno, Ostrava, Moscow-Vnukovo, Moscow-Domodedovo, Minsk, Krasnodar, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Yerevan

Cyprus, Larnaca, Paphos

Israel, Tel Aviv

The airport is served on a 24-hour basis by OASTH (Thessaloniki Urban Transport Organization), with bus numbers 78/78A/78N providing direct access to the central passenger railway station of Thessaloniki, at Monastiriou st 28, and to the Macedonia InterCity Bus Terminal (KTEL), which lies in the west side of the city, at Giannitson st 194.

Bus number 78 has a frequency of between 15 min and 30 min during the day, while number 78A runs once per day at 5am from KTEL Bus Terminal to the airport.

At night, the bus number changes to 78N and runs every 30 min through Thessaloniki, between the airport and Macedonia InterCity Bus Terminal (KTEL). 00 and 30 minutes past the hour from KTEL Bus Terminal, 20 and 50 min past the hour from the Airport.

The ticket costs €2 and the ride takes about 40 min from the airport to the city center. Concessions are available for students and seniors, were the tickets cost half price.

Ticket machines are located on all buses but they do not give out change; while tourist info and ticket booths are located at the the central bus stations. Free Busline charts can also be found there.

Furthermore a tourist information office is located at Tsimiski st 136, a few minutes from the city's main landmark, the White Tower, and is open Monday to Friday between 8am and 8pm and 8:30am to 2pm on saturdays.

Taxi's from the airport to the city center cost about €15-20. Taxis are hard to find during peak hours between 7 to 8am, 2 to 4pm and 7 to 9pm, so plan early.

Regional train services within Greece operated by TrainOSE, the Hellenic Railways Organization's train operating company, link the city with other parts of the country, from its central railway passenger station, called the New Railway Station located at the western end of Thessaloniki's city center.

New Railway Station (Νέος Σιδηροδρομικός Σταθμός), Monastiriou St 28, City Centre, Infoline telephone number: 1110.

TrainOSE travel service (Thessaloniki TrainOSE travel service No. 4), 18 Aristotelous Str. Recorded information about train departures are provided by Trainose, call 1440 for domestic departures from Thessaloniki.

Thessaloniki is served daily with the commuter rail servises of Proastiakos to Katerini-Larissa and Veroia-Edessa, and 6 InterCity (IC) trains and 1 night-train to Athens via Platy-Katerini-Larissa-Palaiofarsalos-Domokos-Leianokladi(Lamia)-Leivadia-Thiva-Oinoi-SKA-Athens (approx 5h20min)).

2 regional trains provide daily services to Kilkis-Serres-Drama-Xanthi-Komotini-Alexandroupoli and 1 to Karditsa-Trikala-Kalampaka. Service to/from Florina was suspended but since October 2012 trains started again. There are currently three IC trains between Florina and Thessaloniki and vice versa.

Since May 2014 passenger train services between Thessaloniki and Belgrade/Sofia started again. The latter cities are served by one train every day to/from Thessaloniki.

There are normally employees at all major stations to facilitate transportation of disabled persons. Smoking is prohibited in all trains.

Be aware of these discounts and insist on them even if the TRAINOSE employee does not mention them at first.

Children at ages of 4-12 get a 50% discount.

Youth under 26 and elderly over 65 get a 25% discount, not available on InterCity trains to Athens.

Disabled people and their escort get a 50% discount.

Groups get a 30%-50% discount.

Thessaloniki is connected via the intercity KTEL bus network of Greece with every corner of country.

Macedonia InterCity Bus Terminal (KTEL), Giannitson st 244, In the west side of the city.

OSE Travel Service or Thessaloniki OSE travel service No. 4, 18 Aristotelous Str. Information regarding time-tables of foreign buses is available from OSE/HTO.

Buses for the popular tourist region of Chalkidiki depart from KTEL Chalkidikis Bus Terminal, located in the east side of the city, in the suburb of Pylaia. Fastest way to get to this terminal from city center by taking bus number 45.

Athens - KTEL Buses from/to Athens make the trip from/to Thessaloniki in about 6 hr 30 min, including a 20 min stop at a roadside restaurant with toilet facilities. Buses are air-conditioned.

Belgrade - There are a number of weekly departures to Belgrade (Serbia) in Thessaloniki and Athens, in the arrangement of the Greek and Serbian Agency. Ticket price in one direction from Thessaloniki to Belgrade is about €45.

From Belgrade to Thessaloniki and the rest of Europe there are plenty of bus connections from the main bus station in Belgrade.

Sofia - There are several buses leaving from Sofia. One bus leaves at 8PM and arrives at 1:30. You can catch this bus if you continue on an imaginary line at the end of Maria Luisa street. It meets in front of the cafe and just a few meters to the left of the entrance to the WC.

The price is 40 Bulgarian.

Tirana - There are a number of buses to Thessaloniki and Athens, every day, departing from most major Albanian cities. You can catch a bus from Tirana or Shkodra and travel all the way south, making stops in most major Albanian and Greek cities.

Since buses stop to pick up and drop passengers in most major cities, you can catch the bus at those cities en route.

Skopje - A number of local travel agencies in Skopje also arrange transport to Thessaloniki daily by car or minibus. These generally leave around 5AM, and cost around €25 for a day return, returning at 5PM or a single i.e. €50 if you want to come back on a different day from when you leave.

The travel agent at the back of the shopping mall by the Central Square arranges this departing from beside the Holiday Inn. Others depart from the bus station, or other locations around the city.

Simeonidis tours, N⁰ 14, 26th October St. Their bus leaves at 5:30PM from Thessaloniki everyday, and it takes about 5 hr to Skopje. There is one bus daily departing for Thessaloniki from the central bus station in Skopje. It departs at 6AM. Reservations are recommended.

Thessaloniki By car

Athens about 5 hr (via the A1/E75 motorway)

Belgrade in Serbia about 7 hr (via the A1/E75 motorway)

Istanbul in Turkey about 8 hr (via the A2/E90 motorway)

Tirana in Northeastern Albania about 6 hr (via the Α29 and Α2 motorways)

Sofia in Northwest Bulgaria about 4 hr (via the Α25/Ε79 motorway)

Constanta in Romania about 8 hr.

One of the burdens for visitors and inhabitants alike is finding a parking place in the Tessaloniki Urban Area, so be prepared to either spend a lot of time looking for a space, or pay for space in the parking facilities, with prices starting from €4 for 3 hr.

Don't assume you're safe from paying a fine just because locals flagrantly flout parking laws. Traffic congestion is a problem, largely due to double-parked cars, but generally fellow drivers and passers-by are helpful in showing you the way if you get lost.

Public transport in Thessaloniki is served by buses, operated by the Thessaloniki Urban Transport Organization (OASTH) which runs a fleet of 604 vehicles on 75 routes throughout the Thessaloniki Metropolitan Area.

Tickets for the buses can be bought on the bus, at a Periptero (kiosk), which are located all around the city, and at an OASTH info point. OASTH services operate from 5 a.m. until right after midnight, while some lines have expanded timetables until 1 a.m.

Line 78N to the airport, operates 24 hours and passes through Egnatia street.

Furthermore, OASTH has recently published an excellent app available for IOS and Android that greatly simplifies the often confusing task of figuring out what's the right bus or combination of buses needed to get to the desired destination.

There are three types of tickets:

One journey ticket: Costs €1.00. Reduced: 0.50€. Valid for one journey on any busline.

Two journeys ticket: Costs €1.20. Reduced: 0.60€. Valid for two journeys within 70 min.

Three journeys ticket: Costs €1.50. Reduced: 0.80€. Valid for three journeys within 90 min.

Four journeys ticket: Costs €2.00. Reduced: 1.00€. Valid for four journeys within 120 min.

Cultural and airport line: Costs €2.00. Reduced: 1.00€.

Tickets bought inside the bus cost €0.10 plus.

Tickets need to be validated every time you get on a bus.

1, 3, 6 and 12-month cards for unlimited journeys are also available, while maps of the bus routes are available on the OASTH website.

OASTH also operates a tourist line, Bus number 50 Cultural line and follows a figure-of-8 route past all the major tourist sights of the city. There is an English speaking guide aboard, who provides maps and information.

The whole route takes 50 min, and it departs every hour on the hour from the White Tower. A ticket on this line costs €2. Several private tour buses also depart from the same area and follow a similar route around all major tourist sites.

If you want to travel by car in the city, rental companies can be found at the airport, while throughout the city there are a variety of car rental companies.

Salonica Car Rental

Ride and Drive

Pop's Car Rental Greece

Thessaloniki Car Rental

Morphis Car Rental

Thessaloniki Airport Car Rentals

HolidaysCAR car rental

If you don't want to drive or wait for the bus, a private transfer is the way to go. Passenger cars, minivans and minibuses are available.

Thessaloniki Airport Private Transfers & Tours

Salonica Airport Transfers

The northernmost Byzantine walls of the city and parts of the western walls are still standing, as is the city's symbol - the White Tower, one of the 16th Century. AD fortified towers - which is the only surviving tower on the seafront.

The rest of the walls are in the picturesque Upper Town which offers a spectacular view over the bay, especially in the late afternoon. Take a walk along the enormous seafront promenade about 12 km altogether.

Visit the upper town for its traditional old houses, small cobbled streets, Byzantine citadel, the Eptapyrgion fort.

On no account should you miss the Byzantine churches built between the 5th and 14th century ACE, such as Agios Demetrios, (7th Century. ACE) and Agia Sophia Holy Wisdome, 9th Century.

ACE, and many lovely smaller ones in the upper town St Nicolaos Orfanos is particularly worth a look for its frescoes (open Tue-Sun 8.30am-3pm)), which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

One of them, the Rotunda, started life as a Roman temple of Zeus, built by ceasar Galerius, and is almost as old as the Pantheon in Rome. Next to the Rotunda, see the Arch of Triumph of Galerius and the ruins of his palace.

The city is also known as the mother of Israel, due to the once flourishing Jewish community here, which existed from the Roman period and grew substantially after the Ottoman Empire took in Jewish refugees expelled from Spain, Portugal, and Spanish territories in Italy.

These Jews are known as Sephardim. Sephardic Jews formed a significant percentage of the city's population and infrastructure until World War II, when, in spring 1943, almost all were deported by the Nazis to the extermination camp at Auschwitz, never to return.

However, there are still two Synagogues, and you can see the Jewish Museum.

Also interesting are the Turkish public baths Bey Hamam, the Bezesteni,Ottoman closed market for jewellery and precious materials the Alatza Imaret (Ottoman poorhouse) and Hamza Bey Camii both restored and used for exhibitions.

The traditional central food market, with hundreds of stalls selling meat, fish, fruit, vegetables sometimes cheek-by-jowl, an unnerving experience for North Americans, cheap clothes and shoes, flowers, herbs and spices, between Aristotele Square and Venizelou street.

Aristotelous Square-the biggest of the city-and the promenade with its cafes and restaurants.

The very lively and youth-oriented international film festival is held in November, the International Trade Fair in September.

Due to the city's rich and diverse history, Thessaloniki houses many museums dealing with many different eras in history.

Two of the city center's most famous museums include the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki and the Museum of Byzantine Culture, which also the buildings themselves serve as points of architectural interest.

The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki was established in 1962 and houses some of the most important ancient Macedonian artifacts, including an extensive collection of golden artwork from the royal palaces of Aigai and Pella.

It also houses exhibits from Macedon's prehistoric past, dating from the Neolithic to the Bronze age. Adults €6, children free.

The Museum of Byzantine Culture is one of the city's most famous museums, showcasing the city's glorious Byzantine past. The museum was also awarded Council of Europe's museum prize in 2005.

The museum of the White Tower of Thessaloniki houses a series of galleries relating to the city's past, from the creation of the White Tower until recent years.

Other museums of the city include the Thessaloniki Science Center and Technology Museum, in southeast Thessaloniki and is one of the most high-tech museums in Greece and southeastern Europe and the Ataturk Museum the historic house where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of modern-day Turkey, was born.

Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum. Andronikou street 6. Covers the history of Macedon from prehistory to Roman times.

Museum of Byzantine Culture. Stratou avenue 2. Award-winning museum 2005 - best Museum of Europe.

Museum at the White Tower, Located inside the city's most famous landmark on the waterfront.

Thessaloniki Science Center and Technology Museum.

Located in the city's southeast suburbs, it houses a 150-seat digital planetarium, a 300-seat Cosmotheatre with the largest flat screen in Greece, a 200-seat amphitheater, as well as a motion simulator theater with three platforms, 3-D projection rgearding items exhibited.

Ataturk House. Agiou Dimitriou avenue. The house were Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern-day Turkey, was born.

Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art. Upper side of the Fairground at Egnatia st 154.

Teloglion Foundation of Art. Located across the university campus of Aristotle University, on Agiou Dimitriou avenue.

Olympic Museum. Tritis Septemvriou & Agiou Dimitriou avenue. 300m to the east of the Teloglion Foundation of Art. Sports related.

Museum at Aghios Demetrios. Agiou Dimitriou avenue, St. Demetrios, a native of Thessalonica whom Galarius put to death, is the city’s patron saint. This basilical church was first built in the 5th century AD dedicated to St. Demetrios.

State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki.Kolokotroni 25, Stavroupoli district.

Museum of Ancient Greek, Byzantine, and Post Byzantine Musical Instruments. At Katouni 12, in Ladadika district.

Thessaloniki Museum of Photography.Harbor, Warehouse A.

Museum of Cinematography in Thessaloniki. Harbor, Warehouse A.

Folklore and Ethnological Museum of Macedonia and Thrace. Vassilisis Olgas St 68.

Municipal Gallery of Art. Vassilisis Olgas St 162.

The city has always been known between Greeks for its vibrant city culture, including having the most cafe's and bars per-capita than any other city in Europe and as having some of the best nightlife and entertainment in the country, thanks to its large young population and multicultural feel.

Trendy bars are scattered throughout the city and cater for all tastes, with many located on pedestrianized streets or along the coast, with sea views; while daily happenings and events take place throughout the city everyday.

Thessaloniki is also known for its picturesque uninterrupted promenade/waterfront, spanning for about 4.5 km from the old port to the Thessaloniki Concert Hall.

From the White Tower, the waterfront gets considerably bigger called Nea Paralia and along with the seaside walk, features 13 thematic gardens.

During summer it is full of Thessalonians enjoying their long evening walks referred to as the volta and is embedded into the culture of the city.

There you will find people selling all kinds of food, bike riding, skating, fishing and a generally lively atmosphere with font the Thermaic Gulf and the port.

There is a free walking city tour at 18.30 starting in front of the rotunda. You will get detailed yet short explanations about the history, myths, architecture and lifestyle of the city as well as a few recommendations about hidden but noteworthy shops - and maybe a free cookie.

Yachting. The Thermaic Gulf is a challenging place for yachting and sailing. Many days there are strong North winds but with low waves, making sailing a fun and joy for all sailors. There are three sailing clubs in Thessaloniki and world championships take place in the city every year.

Thessaloniki has several marinas, most notably in Kalamaria, southeast of the city center, while a new one is proposed to be constructed right at the city center that will contain 182 mooring places. There are also many Yacht charter companies renting sailing yachts.

Discovery Yachting, Thermaikou 21. Bareboat charter or skippered sailing yacht, also night time tours.

Thessaloniki is a major center of education for Greece. Two of the country's largest universities are located in central Thessaloniki: Aristotle University and the University of Macedonia.

Aristotle University was founded in 1926 and is currently the largest university in Greece by number of students, which number at more than 80,000 in 2010, and is a member of the Utrecht Network.

Numerous public and private vocational institutes (IEK) provide professional training to young students, while a large number of private colleges offer American and UK academic curriculum, via cooperation with foreign universities.

In addition to Greek students, the city hence attracts many foreign students either via the Erasmus programme for public universities, or for a complete degree in public universities or in the city's private colleges.

As of 2006 the city's total student population was estimated around 200,000. Its young population and atmosphere provides for many learning opportunities, with classes and workshops on all interests being held all over the city.

Thessaloniki is renowned for its major shopping streets and lively laneways. Tsimiski Street and Proxenou Koromila avenue are the city's most famous shopping streets and are among Greece's most expensive and exclusive high streets.

One can find various fashion shops of international brands, boutiques and high end international department stores. For cheaper clothing, check out Egnatia street.

As Thessaloniki is considered the cultural capital of Greece, the city has also become a regular fixture for the book trade and booklovers. An International Book Fair is held annually in late spring at the waterfront, there people can find books from new authors and on all topics.

Some of the city's best book stores, and places were you can find maps in various languages include:

Ianos bookshop, Aristotelous Sq, (city centre). Books & art-objects, cultural events.

Papasotiriou bookstore

Eleftheroudakis bookstore

Traveler map store

Maliaris-Pedia bookstore

Due to the fact that Thessaloniki remained under Ottoman rule for about 100 years more than southern Greece, it has retained a lot of its Eastern character, including its culinary tastes.

Spices in particular play an important role in the cuisine of Thessaloniki, something which is not true to the same degree about Greece's southern regions.

Greeks consider Thessaloniki a gourmet city - but bear in mind that this refers to the excellent local specialities and cheap-and-cheerful ouzo taverns rather than to haute cuisine or a range of foreign restaurants. The latter are best avoided in Thessaloniki.

For any traveler to Thessaloniki, a Greek will usually mention how they expect you to bring back sweets from the city, as it is known for having some of the best in the country.

Throughout Thessaloniki anyone can find a variety of places that sell: Tsoureki, a plaited sweetened bread, deserts such as Baklava and Galaktoboureko; and Bougatsa, the most famous pastry of Thessaloniki, with cream (sweet) or cheese (savoury) filling, which was invented in the city and has spread around other parts of Greece and the Balkans as well.

Some shops, where you can find the best sweets and pasties the city has to offer, include Nikiforou on Venizelou street, Terkenlis famous for its Tsoureki and Chatzis famous for its Baklava, but fame has not made it any better - it has become overpriced and not as good as in previous years.

Chatzis is famous for its collection of Greek Asia Minor sweets or politika glyka originating from Istanbul.

Terkenlis is famous for its variety of tsoureki, a sweet bread much like brioche but containing spices too, covered and filled with several combinations of chocolates/creams/nuts, etc.

Elenidis is considered the expert in trigona - triangles made of sfoglia, filled with cream.

For a carnivore's treat, places that serve Gyros and Souvlaki with pork and chicken, are scattered all around the city. This is the best calories per money option, since with less that 3 euros you get a meal that, although not that healthy, can keep you going for many hours.

Some of the best souvlaki meals at very affordable prices can be found at a place called Derlicatesen.

Local specialities include Soutzoukakia, minced meat pellets that are either grilled at the central market or rotisseries and topped with chilli pepper flakes, or cooked in tomato and cumin sauce (Smyrna-style); and Patsas, a tripe soup, best tried late at night or early morning.

For seafood, in Thessaloniki you can find Gemista kalamarakia (Stuffed squids), Mydopilafo (rice with mussels) or Mydia saganaki (mussels in tomato sauce).

The traditional fast food of Thessaloniki includes sandwiches with Gyros or pork meat, Souvlaki or Soutzoukaki, offered in many stores for a little over €2.

Goody's. is the Greek fast-food chain, actually preferred by Greeks over other fast food restaurants such as McDonalds. There you can find classic hamburgers, also Gyros, pasta, and salads.

Crepes can be found in many stores all around the city. The best can be found at Gounari street, near Navarinou square, that is popular with the city's student population.

During the winter you can try roasted chestnuts or Kastana in Greek that are sold from carts.

During the summer one can buy boiled or roasted corn on the cob that is sold from carts, which cost €1-2.

You can try Stafidopsomo, a small bread with raisins, or Koulouri a donut-shaped small bread with sesame. You can find them sold in bakeries or on carts, costing around €0.5.

For breakfast Bougatsa, can be found in nearly every pastry shop around the city and can be accompanied with a cacao milk or coffee. Prices range from €1.8 - €2.3, for a plate of Bougatsa.

Most tavernas and restaurants located all around the city of Thessaloniki offer very affordable prices.

Most can be found concentrated in areas listed below, that also serve as points of interest for any traveler into the city, where you can experience a lively atmosphere at night with the local population.

Pentaraki, Sintrivianu sq.2 (Near Kamara). Small tavern with raki & meze at local prices. 7-13€.

Thessaloniki's Ladadika borough is a particularly busy area in regards to Thessalonian cuisine, with most tavernas serving traditional meze and other such culinary delights. Right next to the port and around Morichovou square, it is full of restaurants, bars and nighclubs.

Ellinikon, Ladadika (Morichovou Sq.). Offers 'appelation d'origine' local delicacies.

The area between Athonos square and Aristotelous street is full of taverns of which many are frequented by mostly young Greeks and tourists. Prices are usually low and the quality can vary greatly from tavern to tavern. Several restaurants have a small band playing local live music.

Better to move around before sitting to eat, not only to choose the place, but to take a look at the old shops in the area selling fruit, spices, handmade small furniture etc. Many of the taverns in the area are tourist-traps, so choose a tavern where you see locals and preferably older people.

Vrotos, (Near Athonos). Ouzo restaurant (ouzeri). 25% more expensive than others in this region, but top quality.

During the day the area hosts antique shops and cheapjacks selling anything useful or useless one can imagine. In the evening it turns into a lively and noisy student hang-out and can get very crowded on warm nights.

Most of the shops offer cheap wine, ouzo, beers and Mezedes, appetizers that accompany your Ouzo or Tsipouro with a battery of small dishes - by far the best way to eat in Thessaloniki.

Evi Evan, Olympou 68-Bit-Bazzar.

Glykia Symoria, Ioustinianou and Zaliki 1.

Selini, Bit-Bazaar.

To floro ke to laio, Baltadorou 11 and Benizelou.

Ionos Dragoumi

Agora, (Off Ionos Dragoumi). Ouzo restaurant (ouzeri) in one of the most interesting old downtown areas.

At Ano Poli also called Old Town and literally the Upper Town, the heritage listed district north of Thessaloniki's city center, many quality restaurants can be found next to the Byzantine walls, and some with views overlooking the city.

Yenti,the name of the old Byzantine castle there you can find one of the most popular kai traditional small restaurant (koutouki)that serves homemade ouzo and tsipouro, handmade mese (small traditional gourmet dishes for ouzo),fresh seafood and handmade greek food.

Τhere usually meet greek musicians of all ages and sing together greek songs.

Pyrgos, Kastra (Ano Poli). A brasserie.

Makedoniko, Kastra (Ano Poli).

Tsinari (Ano Poli).

An old district of Ano Poli hosting the eponymous tavern, along with some others.

Ano Poli, Tsinari-(Ano Poli). Tavern.

be*restaurant, Komninon 10. stylish bar-restaurant in the heart of Thessaloniki,serving American comfort food in a relaxed environment.

Pire kai vradiazei, Omirou 7 (Off Theagenio Hospital). Great Taverna, unique style, good food and some days (Thur-Sun) live music

Tombourlika, Navmachias Limnou 14 (Off Vardaris Sqare). Great traditional ouzeri, with fresh fish and meat dishes and live rembetico music.

Tsarouchas, Olymbou 78 Off Ancient Forum. all night and morning open. is for those of you with adventurous tastes, preferably to go after a hard night's drinking, for a patsas (tripe) soup - a delicious way to prevent a hangover.

Toicho-Toicho, Polydorou 1 (Ano Poli (Kastra)). A hipster hang-out, nice atmosphere, very expensive for the quality provided

Kamaras, Near Rotonda. Great traditional dishes.

Lila Cafe Bistro, Diogenus 23 (Ano Toumba district). Traditional pies and sweets, croissant and dishes accompany the coffee or your drink. Porcelain miniatures and collective drinks are available for originally gifts.

Pizza da Pepe, Stefanou Tatti 10 (side street of Egnatia, near the Aghia Sophia Church). For the best pizzas in town head here.

Myrsini, (behind the State Theatre Etairia Makedonikon Spoudon). Good Cretan restaurant.

Apo Dyo Horia, (Navarinou Square). Cretan and Pontian restaurant. Here, order raki rather than ouzo or tsipouro.

Odos Aristotelous (Lepen), Odos Aristotelous. Most Salonicans know it as the Lepen.

Krikelas, Ladadika near Morichovou Sq.

Zythos-Dore, White Tower Square. An upmarket brasserie with a wide range of specialties and interesing ambience.

Thessaloniki has a very active nightlife scene and only recently it is starting to become exposed internationally, with Lonely Planet listing Thessaloniki as the world's fifth-best ultimate party city.

Cafe-bars are scattered throughout the entire city, which create a lively atmosphere everywhere you step and you can have a drink whenever you want.

While trendy bars line up along Thessaloniki's entire waterfront from the old port, along Nikis avenue and down to Krini, a southeast coastal district of the city.

Thessaloniki also offers a wide variety of nightlife, from small to huge nightclubs with dance music, bars dedicated to rock music, jazz clubs and Bouzoukia, where you can experience Greek music and dancing.

Large entertainment venues of the city include Pyli Axiou and Mamounia, at Vilka which are housed in converted old factories. During summer, one can also find beach bars with lively music and serving drinks throughout the whole day and night, located at the city's southeast suburbs.

The city's most known nightlife district is Ladadika, there together with the many tavernas and restaurants, you will find the most known nightclubs and bars housed in old warehouses next to the port.

While in the area around the Kamara or the Arch of Galerius, is home to many cheaper cafe's and bars, popular with the city's student population. Areas were most of Thessaloniki's nightlife is located at are listed below.

A beer in Thessaloniki costs €4-6, an alcohol drink €7-10 and a coffee around €2.50-5.

Being the center of the city, some of the most popular cafes and bars are located there. One can find quiet cafes or noisy ones that usually preferred by younger people. Breakfast is also served, some restaurants are also available.

Thessaloniki's central seafront avenue is full of cafeterias usually crowded around the clock, available for coffee in daytime and beer or drinks at night. Many bars also feature balconies with views towards the sea.

At the west side of the center lies the picturesque district of Ladadika or oil stores. Named this way by the many stores selling oil arriving from the adjacent port of Thessaloniki.

Formerly a notorious district, it is today the city's most lively and vibrant areas, were renovated old stone build warehouses host some of the most known nightclubs with all sorts of music, including traditional Greek bouzoukia.

Although not the favorite by Thessaloniki’s highest class modern bouzoukia are not considered a classy kind of entertainment, they are definitely worth a visit for any traveler. Delicate restaurants and Greek taverns serving drinks are located around Morichovou square, and are also popular during lunch time.

Proxenou Koromila St. Parallel to the seafront Nikis avenue is Proxenou Koromila street and at night many cafes and bars spill out on to the streets. A few trendy jazz clubs can be found here.

Iktinou pedestrian. Another place in the city with cafes, bars and a couple of restaurants, that spill out onto pedestrianized streets. A popular hangout by many Thessalonians.

Aretsou. Aretsou is located in the southeast part of the city, in the suburb of Kalamaria. Home to high end bars, cafes and entertainment venues, most notably on Plastira street, along the coast; featuring loud music and hosting many young people.

Karabournaki. A place in Kalamaria with delicate bars, restaurants and pizzerias. All of them along Sofouli street, right next to the seashore and nearby the Thessaloniki Concert Hall.

Shark, one of the most exclusive nightlife venues of the city is also located in this area with views of the sea and central Thessaloniki.

Boat bars. For a drink on a boat, there are many floating bars that depart every 2hrs or so from the White Tower, and make a short trip around Thermaic Gulf, where you can enjoy evening and late night views of the city. Most of them play ethnic and alternative foreign music.

Mylos and Vilka. A set of high-range cafe, bars, restaurants, ouzeris some with live music located at the city’s west. Also hosting concerts, events, exhibitions, music bands, famous greek artists etc.

Valaoritou and Syggrou. Over the last 2 years a lot of Thessaloniki's nightlife has moved in these areas of the city center. The old industrial center has become a place for entertainment for everybody, with many bars, clubs and cafes that may remind you of Berlin, or London.


Little Big House Hostel, 24 Andakidou Street. This is a brand new hostel in Thessaloniki run by a brother and sister who are absolutely terrific hosts. Theyous rooms in a reconstructed house, each room with private bathroom, kitchenette and big lockers.

There is also a common room/kitchen and a nice, cozy garden area with tables and chairs. Welcome drink, maps of the city, wifi and linens, tea and coffee are provided free. Laundry and breakfast for €2. €17 for bed in 6-person dorm, €19 for bed in 4-person dorm.

Studios Arabas, Sachtouri 28. Youth Hostel Studios Arabas is located in the Old City of Thessaloniki, the most beautiful part of the city with great view over the sea and traditional architecture, just 10 minutes from downtown.

They offer dorms and private rooms, all with en-suite bathrooms and balconies, with hotel standard mattresses. You can always enjoy clean bed linen and Air-conditioning in all of the rooms and common areas. €11.50 for dorm.

Backpackers refuge. Near the city center (5' bus ride), the waterfront (7' on foot) and well connected to the train station, bus station and the airport. 24 hr hot water, free linen, washing machine, kitchen, free city map, info and activities in northern Greece.

Pick up and other transport options, free internet. Only a small capacity and advanced booking is recommended as staff are not present around the clock. 6 bed dorm €15.

Kripis Studio Thessaloniki Ano Poli, Akropoleos 28c-Mousouri 4 (P.C. 54634). Studio for one ,two,three or four persons in the Ano Poli (Old City) – Upper Town. The studio is furnished (bed, closet, table, kitchen with fridge and oven, washing machine,free Internet wifi,hair drier,Tv).

Alexandria Hotel, 18 Egnatia St. There is a bus stop outside, buses link to train station, bus station and airport. checkout: 12:00. Bang in the centre of Egnatia Str., with easy bus connections. Friendly staff. Price e.g. €33 for twin room includes private bathroom, A/C, WiFi, fridge and TV. Snacks and laundry for extra charge.

The Tourist Hotel, Mitropoleos Street. Right in the center, cheap, clean and welcoming. €75 for a double room incl breakfast.

Rex Hotel. Cheap hotel opposite the train station towards the city center. Only a 5 min walk from train station. Not great, but adequate. Two-bedroom in peak season €60.

Hotel Acropoli. Close to the train station. Clean but shabby rooms, most with a balcony. A triple costs €80 or €60 for a double.

There are many hotels in the area a few blocks north of Aristotelous square in the city center. Some of these are a bit upmarket, but if business is down it is worth shopping around - they might give you a good discount, rather than turn you away.

El Greco Hotel, 23 Egnatia Street. 5 minutes walk from Aristotelous Square on Egnatia Street. 3 star hotel in the heart of Thessaloniki. Free Parking lot, free WiFi and free Airport Pick-Up.

Heaven Hotel, Tagarades, Thessaloniki, Macedonia. Between the verdurous hills of Tagarades with panoramic views of the city and Thermaic Gulf.

Zaliki Boutique Hotel, 6 Gr. Zaliki minutes walk from Aristotelous sqaure. Luxurious Boutique Hotel next to Aristotelous with free parking, free airport pickup and free WiFi.

Rotonda Hotel, 97 Monastiriou Street. Entering the city of Thessaloniki with free parking, free airport pickup and free WiFi.

City Hotel, 11 Komninon St. Favored as one of the best design luxury hotels in Thessaloniki center, City Hotel, invites you to discover the energy of down town Thessaloniki as you stroll through the vibrant Tsimiski street and Aristotelous square.

Kinissi Palace, 41 Egnatia and Syngrou St. 4 star.

Le Palace, Tsimiski (2 blocks N of Aristotelou). Very nice double rooms The price posted in the room is over €180, although it is possible to haggle down to as low as €60 including breakfast if business is down.

Hotel Luxembourg, Komninon 6. Located close to seafront, offering accommodation in a neoclassical building along with free wi-fi and parking.

Hotel Olympia, Olympou 65. Boutique hotel in the center of Thessaloniki.

Hotel Anessis, 26is Octovriou 20. Located close to the port of the city offering low prices, free wi-fi and parking.

Tobacco Hotel, Aghiou Dimitriou street. 4 star boutique hotel formerly a tobacco warehouse.

Queen Olga Hotel, East Thessaloniki.

Kapsis Hotel, 2, Oplopiou & Katouni Streets. 5 star.

Hotel Philippion, Seich Sou Forest. 4 star hotel located in the heart of the Seich Sou forest national park, with overlooking views of Thessaloniki and Thermaic Gulf.

Park Hotel, 81 Ionos Dragoumi. Good breakfast buffet and reasonable prices. Located near the old Administration building.

Hotel Byzantio, West Peripheral of Thessaloniki. In an all green setting with sparkling water from the surrounding mountains, just a few meters from the water mills, on an area of 5.5 acre.

Excelsior Hotel, 10 Komninon St. & 23 Mitropoleos Av. 546 24, Thessaloniki-Greece. The Excelsior Hotel is a luxury 5 Star boutique hotel located in Thessaloniki center, next to Aristotelous square, right in the heart of this vibrant town.

a.d. Imperial Palace Hotel, Andigonidon 13, Thessaloniki, Macedonia. 5 minutes walk from Aristotelous Square and Timiski Street in the down town of Thessaloniki.

Electra Palace Hotel Thessaloniki, 9, Aristotelous sq. checkin: 14.00; checkout: 12.00. 5 star hotel in the heart of Thessaloniki. 130 rooms and 8 suites, some of them with view to Aristotelous square and the sea. The Orizontes Pool Bar & Restaurant provides superb view of the Thermaic Gulf.

Hyatt Regency Thessaloniki, 13 km Thessaloniki-Perea. 5 star hotel with 2 ballrooms, 5 meeting rooms and 3 boardrooms. 3 km from the largest casino in Europe.

Porto Palace Hotel, 65, 26th October Avenue. checkin: 14.00; checkout: 12.00. Porto Palace Hotel is located at the west entrance of the city, near the port of Thessaloniki. It has direct access to the new financial district and it is just 5 min away from the city center and the shopping area.

Domotel Les Lazaristes Hotel, Kolokotroni 16, 56 430. Nearby a major cultural center of the city. The State Museum of Contemporary Art inspired its design philosophy.

Mediterranean Palace Hotel, 3, Salaminos & Karatassou Streets, 54626 Thessaloniki, Greece. checkin: 13:00; checkout: 12:00. 5 star hotel with views of Thermaic Gulf.

Daios Hotel Thessaloniki, 59, Nikis Avenue 54622 Thessaloniki, Greece. Daios Luxury Living in is the absolute 5 star luxury boutique hotel which, situated right on the seaside of Thessaloniki in the city center, restates the notion of fine, luxury accommodation in North Greece.

There are many internet-cafes scattered throughout Thessaloniki, while a visit to most restaurants, bars and cafes in the city offer free wireless internet (WiFi).

Thessaloniki is regarded as a safe city, much safer than Athens, but one should watch his/her pockets and travel documents, as pickpockets are not rare, especially on buses during rush hour.

Also try to avoid the west area from the city center, and south of the Railway station, and especially at night on foot, as it has become a notorious area of the city. The police number of Thessaloniki is: 100

Tap water is safe and that's what people of the city drink, but in some places in the city center you might get a slight taste from the water, due to old pipelines in the buildings. For peace of mind, you might want to buy bottled water.

Greece is also a sunny place and if your skin is light-colored, intense sunlight can be a serious danger. Use sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses.

Thessaloniki's proximity to places such as the national parks of Pieria and beaches of Chalkidiki often allow its residents and visitors to the city to easily have access to some of the best outdoor recreation in Europe. Some classic trips out of Thessaloniki include:

Any visit to the 500 km of wonderful beaches, on the two first fingers of Chalkidiki peninsula, where many Thessalonians and tourists spend their holidays there, the third finger is the monastic community of Mount Athos.

In the summer, the Armenistis campground on the Sithonia peninsula stages concerts and other events. You can also check out the jazz and classical concerts that take place during summer at Sani (Kassandra peninsula).

Try to schedule your visit during summer so that you're not driving back to the city on Sunday evening, when you will always find heavy traffic from people returning back into the city.

Mount Olympus coast, towards Platamonas, a very scenic region which has fallen out of favour with the trendy set but has lost no business - it is now mainly catering to tourists from Eastern Europe.

Pella, birthplace of Alexander the Great and the ancient Macedonian capital, during the time of Alexander the Great.

Vergina, the spectacular site of the Macedonian royal tombs and first capital of ancient Macedon.

Dion, a beautiful archaeological site near Mount Olympus.

Olynthus, an archaeological site in Chalcidice.

Prespa and Doirani lakes near the borders with Albania and Macedonia. The national parks there offer an austere and evocative Balkan landscape and plenty of bird watching.

Tourism Observer