Pick up your hire car at Thessaloniki and you're ready to explore the vibrant and bustling capital of Macedonia.
"Everybody and anybody goes to Athens. Only those who want to really see Greece and know its history come to Thessaloniki. "
Yes, the capital of Macedonia really does pack some history, bequeathing to Greece some of its most famous artists, musicians, poets and thinkers. But it's also home to beautiful beaches and fine restaurants.
While the pace by day is distinctly chilled and laid back, the student spirit kicks in after dark for some lively Greek action.
There is a decidedly youthful feel to Thessaloniki, thanks to its larger-than-average university population who always give a warm, Greek welcome.
With a Mediterranean climate, this little gem offers decent holiday weather nearly all year round. During the hottest months, those in the know head to the cooler mountainous area.
Being a port, there is plentiful fresh fish and seafood to sample. But, if you fancy a meatier dish, try a big souvlaki - Thessaloniki's answer to the doner kebab.
There must be something in the water, as several of the biggest celebs to hail from here, notably Peja Stojakovic of NBA fame, are basketball players.
Thessaloniki is the second largest city of Greece and capital of the Madeconian region.
"Everything begins in Thessaloniki, everything wants to be, to become something, and nothing continues the way it started." - Poet and painter Nikos Gavriil Pentzikis.
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The striking White Tower, set on the waterfront, is a must-see with a rather murky past. Back in the 19th century, following mass executions within its walls, it went by the far more sombre title 'Tower of Blood'.
You can park at either Symis or Doiranis.
Immerse yourself in everything Thessaloniki with this museum, dedicated to the art and ideologies of the Byzantine era and beyond. Featuring both permanent and temporary exhibitions, you'll leave knowing more than the locals.
A car park is provided for visitors.
Satisfy your thirst for culture with a trip to this little beauty, built in 1962 and designed by the architect Patroklos Karantinos. Make sure you check out excavated treasures in the awe-inspiring 'The Gold of Macedon' exhibit.
Street parking is available on Andronikou Street. Alternatively you can park at the Classical Makedonia Palace car park.
This magical 17th-century bath house, built on Roman ruins, now occasionally doubles as a concert hall thanks to some truly mind blowing acoustics.
You can park at Odos Kassandrou.
While there isn't a great deal left of the Emperor Galerius's palace, the low ruins are still impressive to say the least, thanks to a massive central courtyard and beautiful floor mosaics that have stood the test of time.
There is no car access to the site. Park in surrounding areas and then use the designated paths to explore.
If the trusty wide-brimmed sunhat just isn't cutting the mustard, try cooling down with a trip inside this mesmerising limestone cave instead.
Head southeast on Odos Agiou Dimitriou towards Filimona Dragoumi. Continue on Odos Agiou Dimitriou, following signs for Salonika. The journey should take around ten minutes.
Located 12 miles west of Thessaloniki, this cemetery is well worth the drive. The site of countless, priceless excavations it will send you soaring back in time - in fact the site is believed to date from the 5th century BC.
Head west on the E75/E90 and come off at the exit for Sindos village - it'll only take you about half an hour to get there.
If you want to escape from it all, head to the beautiful Lake Kerkini which lies north between two separate mountain ranges. With plenty of wildlife and breathtaking scenery, it is the perfect chill-out choice.
Take the route 12/E79/Thessalonikis-Serron for around 30 miles, following signs for Kerkini, and turn left toward Irakleias-Strymonikou. The journey should take no more than two hours.
Of course, no holiday would be complete without a beach to laze on and Aretsou beach, east of Thessaloniki, has it all. Plus, if you've any energy left, there's plenty of water sports to try.
Follow the Leoforos Konstantinou road a mile and a half, and Turn right at Voulgari. Follow signs for Kalamaria. The drive should only take 20 minutes.
" Be careful where you park in Thessaloniki. You always have to park on the right hand side of the road, and can't park on red or yellow lines. But it's definitely worth having a car for excursions from here into northern Greece, as it allows you to see and enjoy a lot more than you would from a guided tour. Driving out to attractions like Lake Kerkini, which takes around two hours, is a lot less stressful by car than it is by bus! "