Thessaloniki’s bus network covers a lot of territory. In addition to reaching any part of the city, with Thessaloniki’s public bus system (OASTH), you can enjoy a tasting and tour at a world-class winery, hit the beach (two beaches!), go bird-watching at a national wetland preserve, and bathe in an authentic Byzantine Bath that’s over a thousand years old. Any of these destinations can be reached for the price of €1 (ok, €1.20 if you need to change lines). In some cases, there will also be a walk, but they’re scenic ones.
1. The Kalochori Lagoon – Wetlands of the Delta Axios National Park
Directly after Thessaloniki’s industrial zone is the Kalochori lagoon, part of the amazing Axios Delta National Park. The lagoon is about a meter below sea level, and is full of exotic looking, leggy waterbirds. There are great flocks of flamingos, and dramatic Pelicans. Ducks, herons, avpcets, and plovers are among the birds to see here. And it’s not just birds. Sometimes if you’re lucky, you’ll see great herds of beautiful black water buffalo, coming to graze. These majestic beasts are popularly thought to be the descendents of buffalo originally brought by the Persians, during the Greco-Persian wars of the 5th century, BC. They’re prized for their rich milk and thick cream, called Kaimaiki.
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Stroll along the dirt roads and through the fields to enjoy some lovely flora, with a magnificent view of the city in the distance, and of Mt. Olympus.
In the near distance, you’ll see the cranes of the industrial harbor, and beyond that, all of Thessaloniki. This wildlife preserve is all the more magical for being right next to the industrial zone of Thessaloniki.
How to Get to the Kalochori Lagoon:
The bus 40 to “Kalochori” (ΚΑΛΟΧΩΡΙ) leaves from the train station and passes the courthouses before heading west, where you can also board. Any of the last three stops will work, with the fourth to the last – “Miltiadi 2” being closest to the wetland preserve. The bus takes a slightly different route back – to catch it, you’ll need to walk to the last stop. Ask the driver before you get off the bus, or locals can direct you.
2. Ktima Gerovassiliou, Gerovassiliou Winery, Epanomi – a World Class Winery and Museum
The world-class, award winning winery is not just a destination for oenophiles. Ktima Gerovassiliou (Domaine Gerovassiliou) has a fantastic setting overlooking the vineyards with the snowy slopes of Mt.Olympus in the distance. They also have a fascinating museum devoted to everything you could wish to know about the history of wine and viticulture, from the time of the symposia of Ancient Greece until the present. There are ancient artifacts, viticultural tools, and displays illustrating the vital and beautiful role of wine in our lives. There is also one of the largest collections of corkscrews in all the world – it’s a delight. The Gerovassiliou family are also serious and inspired art collectors, and this is an excellent place to view sculpture from some of Greece’s leading contemporary artists – many designed for the site. In the tasting room are more works. There is also an excellent seasonal menu if you’d like to stay for lunch. The admission which includes a tour of the winery and the museum and concludes with a tasting costs just 7. There are also more elaborate tasting options available, which should be booked in advance. For more information about scheduling a visit, please see here.
How Get to Ktima Gerovassiliou:
Take the 2K or 3K to IKEA. Then change to the bus 69 towards Epanomi. Get off at the stop “28 Oktorbriou.” – about 30 stops. Note the bus only makes stops when requested, so it may only make a few stops before you reach your destination. Listen to the stop announcements, and ask the driver and other passengers. The estate is 2 kilometers from the bus stop on foot.
3. Perea Beach, Agia Triada Beach
The beach suburbs of Thessaloniki the hug the bay of Thermaikos to the east, past the airport, are very easy to reach by bus, and if you’re very lucky with your connections, it may take only about 45 minutes. The beach of Perea, the first suburb, is a narrowish beach with lovely water. It’s sandy on the bottom, and deepens very, very gradually. The waters, being shallow, are generally very calm. This is a child-friendly beach. The beach extends from the boardwalk from the stop “Paralia Pereas” all the way to Agia Triada, the next town over. Along the way, there are areas of open beach, interspersed with beach bars with sun loungers and umbrellas, and some ouzeries with tables right in the sand. The prices out here for coffees, drinks, and food are much lower than in neighboring Halkidiki.
The bus travels along a small highway, then turns right towards the sea. As soon as it turns left, it stops in front of a small church. This is the “Paralia Perea” (“Perea Beach”). You can get out here and walk past the sort-of tacky tourist shops and the restaurants along the crowded part of the seafront promenade, with the sea on your right. Or you can take the bus one stop further to “Erythros Stavros” (“Red Cross”) – here, you’ll find a lifeguard during some hours in peak season, and also changing rooms and an outdoor shower.
You can take the bus a few stops farther to “Paralia Neon Epivaton” which has a slightly cuter town and more ouzeries on the beach, but it’s harder to find a changing room and a shower.
How to get to Perea Beach, Agia Triada Beach:
Take the 2K or the 3K to IKEA, and change to the 72 to Nea Michaniona. The bus will pass the airport and be on a highway for a bit. The ride from IKEA takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
Even though it’s by the sea, locals come out here for one of the best meat experiences in Thessaloniki. See this Related Post: Where to Eat Like a Local
4. Epanomi Beach
Many locals think the longer trip to the beaches of Epanomi is worth it. If you look at a map, you’ll see that these beaches are on the other side of the peninsula that enclises the bay of Thermaikos, facing the open sea and therefore better water. However, I find the waters are often rougher and sandy. The bus ride to get out here is very scenic – it’s the same one we take for the Ktima Gerovassiliou, but we stay on the bus a lot longer.
For a beach with an inexpensive beach bar/cantina, get off at Agia Marina – one stop before the end. The beach bar is called “Golden Beach.” You’ll find a shower and changing room, and plenty of snacks and refreshing drinks. You will not find a WC, however – unfortunately there’s just a portable toilet.
The last stop – called “Paralia” (beach) is not so much for swimming as for casual seaside dining. There’s a old-fashioned small grocery, and a coupe of seaside tavernas. It feels like a vacation area out here, not a suburb.
How to Get to Epanomi Beach:
Take the 2K or 3K to IKEA, then transfer to the 69. Take it all the way to one stop before the last, or the last. The trip takes about 35 minutes.
Related Post: Best Beaches in Thessaloniki
5. Lagada Baths / Loutra Lagada – the Locals’ Secret Baths
Thessaloniki has some beautiful ruins of Byzatine Baths that you can see in Ano Poli. They are are a UNESCO World Heritage monument and a popular sight.
Few visitors to Thessaloniki know there are historic Byzantine Baths that are still in use though. Just outside of the city, and easy to reach by bus, is the “Loutra Lagada” – the Lagada Baths, These authentic Byzantine Baths which have been in use for centuries. There are two historic round pools under high domes. One – the Justinian – is from 900 AD, and the other – the Mygdonia – is from 1400 AD.
It’s an incredible way to experience history, bathing in waters of a famous spring that legend says were even enjoyed by Emperor Constantine and his mother Eleni. It’s also a wonderful wellness outing, a great way to unwind after sightseeing. The waters – warm as relaxing hot bath – are rich in beneficial minerals. Your skin will feel like the skin of a newborn when you get out. You can also drink the waters – a pitcher of thermal water is provided in the dressing rooms.
This is a budget-friendly luxurious outing. The baths are run by the municipality, and cost just six euros.
How to Get to the Loutra Lagada:
Busses leave from the center of Thessaloniki along Egnatia. The stop “Kamara” – a little before the arch itself as the traffic flows – is a good place to get on. Many buses – the line 83 – go to the town of Lagada. But only one goes to the baths. This is the 83M. There are several departures a day – you can check the schedule here. The trip takes about 40 minutes from Kamara to the Lagada Baths.
The 83 M makes a loop – to return, you’ll get on the same bus. Calculate approximately 40 minutes from the departure time from Thessaloniki – the staff can help you. You may need to change to a different bus (same line) at the terminal in Lagada – drivers will guide you.
You can read all about the historic Loutra Lagada, including everything you need to bring, here: Lagada Baths: Experience Historic Byzantine Baths at Loutra Lagada