Thessaloniki

Ottoman buildings & Art Deco houses
The pebble mosaics of Pella
Vergina’s amazing Macedonian tombs

Find Mediterranean Cruises

Thessaloniki

A contemporary look for an ancient heart

Disembarking from an MSC cruise ship at Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city, it’s obvious it stands apart from the rest of the country. Situated at the head of the Gulf of Thessaloník, it seems open to the rest of the world, with a wide ethnic mix and an air of general prosperity.

There are substantial Roman remains and the many churches constitute a showcase of Orthodox architecture through the ages, while you can catch glimpses of the Turkish city both in the walled Upper City (Ano Poli) and in the modern grid of streets below: isolated pockets of Ottoman buildings, many of them Islamic monuments, which miraculously survived the 1917 fire. 


Modern Greek architecture is exemplified by Art Deco piles dating from the city’s twentieth-century heyday. Ruins, churches and buildings make Thessaloníki pleasant for sightseeing on an MSC Mediterranean cruise excursion. Pella, 40km west of Thessaloníki, was the capital of Macedonia throughout its greatest period and the first capital of Greece after Philip II forcibly unified the country around 338 BC. The site today is a worthwhile day-trip from Thessaloníki. Its main treasures are a series of pebble mosaics, some in the museum, others in situ. 


The site of Vergina, 75km southeast of Véria, undoubtedly qualifies as one of Greece’s most memorable attractions. This was the site of Aegae, the original Macedonian royal capital before the shift to Pella, and later the sanctuary and royal burial place of the Macedonian kings. From outside, all that’s visible is a low hillock with skylights and long ramps leading inside, but once underground in the climate-controlled bunker you can admire the facades and doorways of the tombs in situ, well illuminated behind glass. Finds from the site and tombs, the richest Greek trove since the discovery of Mycenae, are exhibited in the complex. 

Must see places in Thessaloniki

Discover our excursions

4 results found

  • ANCIENT PELLA

    SKG03

    Renowned as the birthplace of Alexander the Great and the capital of a unified Greece, Pella was discovered by chance in 1957 and has yet to be fully excavated. Originally a shallow lagoon linked this large city with the sea but the inlet silted up, leaving it landlocked. Your tour begins with a 45-minute coach drive to Pella, the capital of the third district of the Roman province of Macedonia and possibly the seat of the Roman governor. Crossed by the Via Egnatia, Pella remained a significant place on the route between Dyrrachium and Thessalonika. It was then destroyed by earthquake in the 1st century BC, the city was eventually rebuilt over its ruins, which preserved them. You will visit the small archaeological museum whose exhibits include a rich collection of clay figurines, classical black and red figured vases and a fine reconstruction of the interior of a Greek house with its stucco decoration. Next, you will move to the excavations site to see the foundations of large Greek houses with central courtyards and beautiful pebble mosaic floors, many depicting mythological scenes. After some free time, you will board your coach for the drive back to the port and your ship. Please note: this tour includes long walking on uneven ground; it is not recommended for guests with walking difficulty or using a wheelchair.
      • Duration
        00 m

      • Adults$79.00Price per person

      • Children$59.00Price per person

    • THESSALONIKI & ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM

      CITY TOUR

      SKG01

      Half a day of going Greek and seeking out Thessaloniki’s most popular landmarks can be yours to enjoy on a tour that begins with a coach-based round-up of city sights. A photo stop is scheduled at the 15th-century White Tower, the majestic symbol of the city and a fine example of post-Byzantine architecture. You’ll then spend an hour at the Archaeological Museum, one of whose key exhibits is the Gold of Ancient Macedonia – a trove of gold coins excavated in central Macedonia – alongside other artefacts from various historical periods. Returning to the coach after the visit, you’ll then continue on towards the citadel, or Ano Poli, passing the international trade fair grounds and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki on the way. The elevated position of the Ano Poli affords stupendous views of the city, Mount Olympus and the Thermaic Gulf in the distance. The largest church in Greece – the 5th-century Basilica of St. Demetrius – is next for a chance to see the superb mosaics and visit the crypt. A drive down one of Thessaloniki’s main avenues will then take you past the Arch of Galerius and the Rotunda of St. George, built around A.D. 300. The tour then comes to a close with your return to the port and your ship. Please note: this tour is not recommended for guests using a wheelchair.
        • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

          Difficulty Level
          Moderate

        • Duration
          4 h

        • Adults$65.00Price per person

        • Children$49.00Price per person

      • DION: THE MACEDONIAN SANCTUARY OF ZEUS

        CULTURE AND HISTORY

        SKG05

        Located at the foot of Mount Olympus, notable in Greek Mythology as the home of the twelve gods, Dion is famous for its Macedonian sanctuary of Zeus and its archaeological site. Leave the port and reach the site after a 1.5-hour coach drive. King Philip II and Alexander the Great celebrated victories in this place and soon a city was built next to the sanctuary so that Dion was renowned for its fortifications and splendid monuments in Hellenistic times. Your guide will introduce to the ancient site including a great part of the old city with Roman Baths, the Roman Theatre viewing the Hellenistic Theater that is used today during the summer festival for performances and the Sanctuaries of the Olympic Gods. Walking along the ancient streets of the city, you will have the chance to view ruins of old villas including the magnificent House of Dionysus with its mosaics of exceptionally fine quality. Please note: this tour includes long walking on uneven ground; it is not recommended for guests with walking difficulty or using a wheelchair.
          • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

            Difficulty Level
            Moderate

          • Duration
            5 h

          • Adults$79.00Price per person

          • Children$59.00Price per person

        • VERGINA TOMBS

          CULTURE AND HISTORY

          SKG04

          Spend a few hours off the ship and treat yourself to a tour that will take you to a gem of historical Greece, Vergina, the first capital of the ancient Macedonian kingdom. Your approx. 1.5 hour coach drive will give you plenty of time to think of the past marvels you will soon see. Along with your guide, you will visit the archaeological remains of the royal tombs, the most important of which is that of King Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great. Next on the list is the Vergina museum, whose exhibits include some of King Philip’s key belongings, such as his shield and gold-trimmed breastplate as well as other items. After having some free time, a coach will take you back to your cruise ship. Please note: this tour includes long walking on uneven ground; it is not recommended for guests with walking difficulty or using a wheelchair.
            • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

              Difficulty Level
              Moderate

            • Duration
              4 h

            • Adults$85.00Price per person

            • Children$62.00Price per person

          The excursions in the program above are intended to provide MSC Guests with an idea of the different tours that can be arranged in each port of call; this program is merely a guide and confirmation of each excursion and its description and prices will be made during your cruise.
          Shore excursions programs and itineraries may vary depending on local conditions and/or any unforeseen events in relation to the timing on the day of the tour.

           

          Some excursions are very popular and therefore availability cannot always be guaranteed, it is advisable to book in advance to avoid disappointment. The guides are guaranteed in English. Only for South America cruises, the guides are guaranteed in Brazilian Portuguese. Narration in other languages depends on the availability of guides. Please note that the final language of the tour will be confirmed on board during the cruise.

          Greece

          Under the protective wing of the gods
          Under the protective wing of the gods

          It would take a lifetime of island-hopping to fully appreciate the 227 inhabited Greek islands scattered across the Mediterranean Sea.
          With sapphire water lapping at rocky coastlines sprinkled with secret coves and sandy beaches, they are the stuff of dreamy travel posters, the very definition of the eulogized Greek summer of sun, sea and sand.

          For anyone with a cultural bone in their body a cruise to the Greek islands cannot fail to inspire. Every culture has left its mark, and almost every town or village has a link to the past, whether it’s a delicately crumbling temple to Aphrodite, a forbidding Venetian fort or a dusty Byzantine monastery decorated with exquisite frescoes.
          But the call to cultural duty will never be too overwhelming on a Greek islands holiday. The hedonistic pleasures of languor and warmth – swimming in balmy seas at dusk, talking and drinking under the stars – are just as appealing.
          Sprawling, globalized Athens is an obligatory, almost unavoidable introduction to Greece: aside from the show-stopping Acropolis it offers a truly metropolitan range of cultural diversions, from museums to concerts; well-stocked shops; gourmet restaurants and stimulating clubs.