Provocolate https://www.provocolate.com Greek Culture, Travel, and Lifestyle Mon, 06 Jul 2020 09:52:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 https://www.provocolate.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Provocolate-Favicon.png Provocolate https://www.provocolate.com 32 32 10 Greek Islands for Your Next Vacation https://www.provocolate.com/10-greek-islands-for-your-next-vacation/ https://www.provocolate.com/10-greek-islands-for-your-next-vacation/#respond Thu, 28 May 2020 12:37:57 +0000 https://www.provocolate.com/?p=2817 The Greek Islands are at the top of many vacation wish-lists. And for good reason – or rather many good reasons. Greece has 6,000 islands. Of these, over 200 are inhabited, and each of them unique. There is not one Greek Island experience, but many. Try one – or several – of these 10 Greek […]

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The Greek Islands are at the top of many vacation wish-lists. And for good reason – or rather many good reasons. Greece has 6,000 islands. Of these, over 200 are inhabited, and each of them unique. There is not one Greek Island experience, but many. Try one – or several – of these 10 Greek Islands for your next vacation. A travel designer can help you create your own perfect Greek Islands vacation.

Santorini – For Drama and Sheer Beauty

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The dreamy view of the caldera, Fira, Santorini

Yes, it’s an obvious start, because this is probably Greece’s most popular island. But with good reason. Santorini is entirely unique. It’s not just an island, but a volcano. An eruption over 3,000 years ago created from an intact island this dramatic crescent. Cliffs rise nearly 400 from the Caldera – the bay that form in the eruption. The volcano – still active – is in the center of the Caldera. It’s otherworldly.

Besides the legendary sunsets, Santorini boats unique beaches – including a red beach and a black beach. There are wonderful volcanic formations.The traditional villages of the island have classic cycladic architecture, whose purity only enhances the experience. This is one of the very sophisticated Greek Islands. You’ll find lots of art, creative dining, and boutique wineries on Santorini for a cultured Greek vacation.

Mykonos – For Sophisticated Indulgence

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Mykonos Town is lively from Sunset until the early hours

Another obvious choice, but again for good reason. For decades now, Mykonos has been synonymous with absolutely shameless glamour. And you’ll get plenty of it – celebrities and paparazzi, designer luxury shopping at midnight, famous international chefs – the whole nine yards.

But there is also another Mykonos. This island has a proud traditional culture, with dancing and music and delicious local cuisine. And that is what makes Mykonos truly special. This spectacular island unites authenticity with luxury, making it high on the list of the top 10 Greek islands for your vacation.

Mykonos also has glorious beaches, and of every style. Some are premium locations for water sports – thanks to the glorious “Meltemi” winds that stir the seas. Other beaches are peaceful and family friendly. But perhaps the most classic Mykonos beach experience is the full-service deluxe beach, with your own private cabana, and someone to bring you chilled champagne. If you don’t have the right beachwear, don’t worry – there are even luxury boutiques on the beach. Whatever you wear though, you’ll look great. Mykonos seems to have its own magical filter, making everything and everyone look like a dreamy Instagram feed.

Syros – Neoclassical Elegance

Ten Best Greek Islands for your Next Vacation
A Sunset over the Aegean from Syros

Now for something completely different. Syros, whose elegant capital Ermoulpolis serves as the capital of all the Cycladic islands, trades the pristine blue and white of classic Cycladic architecture for neoclassical grandeur. The mansions of shipping captains and the glorious buildings are bathed in delicious pastel shades. It also trades international DJ’s for classical music – at a yearly festival held in the Apollo theater – the grand opera house of Syros that is like a small “La Scala.”

And with a large Catholic population joining the Greek Orthodox population, there is no lack of splendid churches. Come at Easter to enjoy it at its very best, when both communities come together in celebration.

Patmos – Divine Spirituality

The 10 Best Greek Islands for your Vacation
Patmos has a serene and profound spirituality.

Glorious Patmos, in the Dodecanese, is both a vacation destination and a significant site of pilgrimage. Patmos generally is a miraculous sort of place. The island announces its sacred identity from afar. The glorious Monastery of Saint John towers above the Chora. It was established by Agios Christodoulos in 1088. The monastery is a magnificent Byzantine fotress, with ramparts and towers, and a lovely courtyard.

The imposing terrain of high cliffs made Patmos an ideal place of refuge for St. John. This is where he is said to have written the Book of Revelation, in the Cave of the Apocalypse. The cave is still here, and is a moving sight for pilgrims – a place that radiates divine energy.

Chora, the delightful white-washed capital of Patmos, is a charming village overlooking the Aegean. Of course, Patmos also has some lovely beaches with pristine seas. The island also has many old footpaths, connecting small chapels, tiny villages, secluded beaches, and hilltops with stunning views.

Rhodes – Culture and Beaches

10 Best Greek Islands for your next Vacation - Rhodes
The Acropolis of Lindos, Rhodes

One of the first islands in Greece to welcome international tourism on a large scale, Rhodes has much to offer. This is an exotic island, for it has spectacular monuments from various eras. The Colossus of Rhodes – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world is long gone. But there are spectacular monuments from ancient Greece, such as the acropolis of Lindos. The Palace of the Grand master – a medieval castle from the era of the Knights of St. John (the Knights Hospitaller) – sets a romantic tone, as does the whole of the old town of Rhodes. The Ottomans also left monuments, including the Suleimaniye Mosque and the Hafiz Ahmed Agha Library, a UNESCO World Heritage site

Of course, most visitors come to Rhodes for the beaches. There are spectacular beaches to explore here, for both excellent swimming and for water sports.

Corfu – The Emerald of the Ionian

10 best Greek Islands for your next Vacation
Corfu is an emerald island in a turquoise sea.

The Ionian Islands are glorious. Known for being green and lush, they are surrounded with pure waters that glisten like jewels in hues of turquoise and deep blue. Glamorous Corfu is like Greece with an Italian accent – you’ll even taste it in the delicious local cuisine. This is a sophisticated island, and also an unbelievably romantic one. Corfu town has a magnificent Venetian fortress, a palace – which is now the Museum of Asian Art, and the famous palatial villa Mon Repos, now open to the public and housing Ionian treasures. The center of social activity is the elegant Liston, a promenade that feels like Paris’ Rue du Rivoli and in fact its design was based on it.

But of course, you have not come to the Greek Islands for your vacation to stay in town only. Corfu’s coastline is absolutely magical. The norther coast in particular offers one magnificent beach after another. The island is also famous for its many hidden coves. Explore by boat and you are sure to find a secret paradise.

Lesvos – Beauty and Character

 Greek Islands Vacation
Ouzo is a ritual in Lesvos, and like most things, even nicer by the sea.

The North Aegean is spectacular. Lesvos is one of the most interesting and diverse Greek Islands for your vacation. Mytilene, the glamorous capital, is filled with Belle Epoque mansions from international merchants, each in their nation’s individual style. The great cathedral – Agios Therapon – crowns the skyline in the center. The Gatalusi Fortress – one of the best preserved Byzantine fortresses of the whole Mediterranean – looks over from above. From here, you have a vast island to explore. Overlooking the sea Molyvos is famously enchanting. Skala Kallonis is a central point, a harbor town nestled in the crescent of the island. Inland, there are glorious villages like Agiassos and Asomatos. Here, the quintessential picturesque Greece of decades past is thriving in style.

History lovers will be in heaven here. This is where Aristotle basically invented biology with his friend the philosopher Theophrastus. The ancient Greek dramatist Menander lived here. And this is famously the birthplace of the poet Sappho – in Eresos.

Lesvos of course has many excellent beaches to choose from, such as the beaches of Molyvos and Eresos. There are also more secret beaches, such as the tiny and exquisite Agios Hermogenes, lines with luscious pines.

This is the perfect place to try Ouzo. There are many distilleries on the island. The heart of the culture of ouzo is on Lesvos, and it is a culture, with a certain etiquette and grace. You’ll be initiated quickly. The sweet fragrance of ouzo is a fantastic pairing with seafood.

Hydra – A Center of Arts and Culture in the Saronic Gulf

Greek Islands Vacation
Sophisticated, cultured Hydra

Hydra is a fascinating small island, very conveniently reached from Athens. This island is more about culture than it is beaches, although it does have some excellent swimming. Hydra is serene. In part, this is because there are no cars or motorcycles – this is as much of a boon for the vistas as it is for the noise levels. Hydra is also cultured. For decades this has been the retreat of artists, with novelists and poets visiting (notably Henry Miller with Giorgos Seferis). Also – famously – this was home to Leonard Cohen for decades.

Hydra has just the one main town, curved around a lovely port. This was an island of ship captains and merchants, and they built in beautiful style. You’ll dine superbly, here in the romantic alleyways or port side. Or you can take stroll or take a water taxi to Kamini for more choices. For art, you can visit the slaughterhouse, where the Deste foundation has created a project space hosting exhibitions of international artists. Hydra is definitely one of the best Greek Islands for a cultured vacation.

Crete – Bold, Adventurous, Beautiful

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Chania’s Venetian Charm

Magnificent Crete, largest of all the Greek islands, is a wonderful vacation destination. It’s almost like its own country. For starters, instead of the glory of ancient Greece, they have the glory of the much more ancient Minoans – an advanced Bronze Age Society you can get to know at Knossos, their glorious palace. Crete also has its own fantastic cuisine, the purest and most elemental of the Mediterranean. And the wine is glorious – Marouvas is aged and rich like a sherry. Cretan music is among the most famous in Greece. Go to a “Panigyri” – a feast day honoring a village’s patron saint – to hear it, and see some of Greece’s liveliest and most stirring folk dancing.

Crete is home to some of Greece’s most famous beaches. Balos – where Prince Charles and Princess Diana are said to have stopped on their honeymoon, Elafonissi – a Natural 2000 biotope with pink sands and a dreamy lagoon, and Matala – the beach with a high cliff full of caves where the hippies lived. These are just a very few of the spectacular beaches. Besides this, there is the Samarian Gorge, a world-famous hike that will take you to the shores of the Libyan sea. This is one of countless gorges – Crete is a hiker’s paradise.

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A Luxury Vacation in Greece – Athens and the Islands https://www.provocolate.com/a-luxury-vacation-in-greece-athens-and-the-islands/ https://www.provocolate.com/a-luxury-vacation-in-greece-athens-and-the-islands/#respond Sat, 23 May 2020 12:48:06 +0000 https://www.provocolate.com/?p=2796 Greece is a generous destination, packed with attractions and activities, sights and flavors. It’s also a destination that defines luxury in a unique way. It’s not simply elegance and amenities that define luxury in Greece, but the uniqueness of the experience. Luxury accommodations will be rich in authentic local character. Gourmet restaurants showcase carefully sourced […]

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Greece is a generous destination, packed with attractions and activities, sights and flavors. It’s also a destination that defines luxury in a unique way. It’s not simply elegance and amenities that define luxury in Greece, but the uniqueness of the experience. Luxury accommodations will be rich in authentic local character. Gourmet restaurants showcase carefully sourced Greek ingredients with pride. A luxury vacation in Greece means being able to experience it all, without the chaos of high season travel in one of the world’s most popular destinations.

Luxury Destinations in Greece

Greece is home to some world-famous destinations. Because of their unique qualities, they have become immensely popular with visitors from all over the world. In places like Santorini and Mykonos, luxury is more than refinement and convenience. A luxury vacation in Greece equates to access and exclusivity. On a luxury holiday in Greece, you will get to have a bespoke, private experience, away from the larger crowds. Local experts can ensure you have an unforgettable experience, and also make sure you don’t waste time getting around. And recharging in the comfort of a luxury air-conditioned car while a chauffeur brings you directly to the all the best sights saves not just time, but spares a lot of stress.

Exclusive Experiences on a Luxury Vacation in Greece

When most people come to Greece, the Archaeological sites are an essential part of their agenda. Your experience of the sites can be magical if go at the right time, and – importantly – with the right person. A skilled guide can bring ancient sights to life and give you valuable context. This makes the experience more meaningful and memorable.

Luxury Hotels in Greece- Destination Accommodations

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The views from the edge of the cliff over the caldera

The hospitality industry in Greece has been careful to preserve what is essential about a destination. Quality over quantity is the goal. Some of the most beautiful places on the globe maintain their integrity – and their beauty. The best destinations in Greece are not overrun with unsightly high rise hotels. Development is tasteful, elegant, and often site-specific. A luxury hotel in Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, or Crete – the most popular Greek destinations – provides much more that just a deluxe experience. The finest hotels offer you a truly unique experience of their destination, such as signature views, unparalleled architecture, and inventive, authentic dining experiences. They embody a sense of place.

Tailored Experiences on a Luxury Vacation in Greece

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Dinner by the sea in Greece

When people fantasize about their ideal luxury holiday in Greece, they’ll have certain vignettes in mind. Maybe it’s dinner at a table at the very edge of the dock, with the only music the lapping of waves and the gentle murmur of conversation. Jumping straight into the jewel-like Aegean from your boat, in a hidden cove, is another image many hold. For others, there will be moments of authentic connection that they look forward to, moments that give insight into culture.

Whatever your specialized interest, you can enjoy it on a bespoke luxury holiday in Greece. Oenophiles can visit boutique wineries, and have a unique experience. A tasting of Greek varietals or a special lesson in pairings, featuring ultra-local foods, is an experience you take home with you, in an enhanced knowledge and enjoyment of wine. Are you a diver, or would you like to learn? Then you would enjoy a private diving excursion, to the most exotic spots, with a personal dive master. Private lessons with a chef can introduce you to the foundations of local cuisines. You’ll learn about new ingredients and approaches to food and your Greek luxury vacation will enhance your life at home, at the table.

Destinations for a Luxury Vacation in Greece

There are over 200 inhabited islands in Greece. Yet, on a first trip to Greece, so many visitors choose from among just a handful of them. These are Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, Corfu, and Rhodes. They are popular for a reason – they each offer truly unique experiences. These islands each have a distinctive and unique character. On a luxury vacation in Greece, you can have a privileged experience that reveals what makes each island extraordinary.

Related Post: A Vacation in the Greek Islands – Best Greek Islands to Visit

Athens

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The Acropolis aglow by nigh – one of the most romantic sites in Europe

Greece’s capital is a wonder. This high-energy modern Mediterranean city has some of the most famous sights in all the world. But it also has an unexpected serenity. You’ll exerience this in the romantic alleys of Plaka and the steps of Anafiotika, where time has stood still. You can start your Athenian experience with private tour of the Temple of Poseidon at sunset. This is a sight so beautiful that visitors often greet it with a spontaneous round of applause in style. Then you can continue in style, by seeing an opera under the stars in the Herodes Atticus Theater, at the base of the Parthenon.

Of course you’ll dine superbly, because Athens has much of Greece’s most inventive and authentic gourmet cuisine. The capital is full of fine restaurants, and the Guide Michelin agrees. Finally you’ll return to your world-class hotel. Enjoy being surrounded in luxury after your days of adventures and sightseeing.

Santorini – One of the Most Beautiful Places on Earth

Luxury vacation in Greece
The Unforgettable view of the Caldera (Antelope Travel)

This geological wonder owes its magnificent and unique topography to a volcano. From the views over the caldera, to the otherworldly colors of the beaches, to the flavors of the tomatoes and the wine, the volcano is the source of everything unique and sensational about Santorini. On a Greek luxury vacation of Santorini, you can have the ultimate Santorini experience. It can include a private sunset cruise in the caldera, and also a trip to the active volcano. Then you can enjoy private tastings of Santorini’s completely unique wines. Luxury accommodations in Santorini are like no other hotels in the world, because they harness the beauty of the island’s magnificent geology for a unique and unforgettable hotel experience. Because it is so breathtakingly romantic, Santorini is also one of the world’s premium honeymoon destinations.

Related Post: Santorini – Best Beaches, Sights, and Experiences

Mykonos – a Glamorous Luxury Island with Celebrity Appeal

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Mykonos Harbor by Evening (Antelope Travel)

Flooded with international tourists, celebrities, and paparazi, Mykonos has an incredible energy. One of the most famous destinations in the world, it also has a unique beauty. You’ll see the iconic windmills, get lost in the romantic white-washed alleys of ‘Little Venice,’ go clubbing, and indulge in some designer boutique shopping – even at midnight. After all this high-octane activity, you’ll also be able to experience one of the most magnificent archaeological sites of the world – the sacred island of Delos. A private guide will introduce you to its fascinating history. it’s nice to experience the elite luxury of Mykonos – the beaches with private cabanas and beach-side service, the gourmet cuisine of internationally renowned chefs. Mykonos has some of the world’s finest hotels, offering an unparalleled serene, chic Mediterranean experience.

Related Post: The Best Things to Do in Mykonos

Crete

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Chania’s Venetian Charm

Crete, Greece’s largest island, is a culture unto itself. It’s almost like its own country. Including Crete in your itinerary of a Greek luxury vacation adds something truly special. First, there is the history. Crete trades the wonders of the Golden Age of Athens (5th century BC) for the Bronze Age civilization of the Minoans – millennia earlier (3000 BC to 1450 BC). This advanced society left art and myth that resonate deeply still. A private guide can introduce you to the mysteries of this lost exotic world on a luxury vacation in Greece.

Then, there is the cuisine of Crete. It is entirely unique. Crete’s cuisine is the most bold and elemental of Mediterranean cuisines. Crete is famous for not just the sea, but also for its rugged mountains. This means you can also have an adventure-packed experience on Crete, with everything arranged to your wishes. It’s a large island, so it’s nice to have all the groundwork taken care of in advance. And Crete’s luxury accommodations are also extraordinary – stylish, exclusive, and with a strong sense of place.

Rhodes

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A crystal lagoon on Rhodes

This is another extraordinary and unique island. What characterizes the Rhodes experience is the tremendous diversity. There is the exotic flavor of the east, after long Ottoman presence. It also has the romance of the Middle Ages – the great Palace of the Grand Master, of the Knights Hospitaller – also called the Knights of Malta and the Knights of Rhodes. And of course there are the antiquities, like the great Acropolis of Lindos. There would be enough to do even without the endless spectacular beaches and the wonders of nature inland. Rhodes’ cuisine has exotic influences and great refinement- on a luxury vacation in Greece you can experience it at its best. And Rhodes’ luxury hotels are also extraordinary, earning top marks from the worlds’ most discerning travelers.

Corfu

The Ionian islands have their own unique character. They are famously green and lush. And the waters of the Ionian sea are uncommonly clear, like jewels. Queen among the Ionian Islands is the supremely elegant Corfu. So this is an island made for a luxury vacation in Greece. For one thing, it has an outstanding pedigree. In fact, this is the birthplace of Prince Phillip of England – he was born in the palatial villa Mon Repos. There were over three centuries of Venetian presence. This ensures a certain Italianate elegance and romance in the architecture of Corfu.

You’ll dine superbly. The best of Italian and Greek cuisines unite in the dishes of Corfu. And you’ll also have some of Greece’s most romantic swims. Corfu is full of hidden coves and beaches. On a Greek luxury vacation, you will reach them by private yacht. Corfu’s lush scenery and amazing views also make for some of Greece’s most magnificent luxury hotels. Because there is so much to discover on a private excursion, Corfu is a wonderful destination for a family vacation in Greece.

Luxury Holidays in Greece

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A Winery on Santorini

Greece is one of the most popular destinations in the world. On a luxury vacation in Greece, you can enjoy a privileged experience. With everything from transportation in luxury cars, staying in some of the world’s most exclusive hotels, and bookings for cultural events and tables at the hottest restaurants, you’ll enjoy the finest that Greece has to offer. Moreover, a bespoke luxury vacation in Greece will be tailored to your interests. You’ll have exclusive experiences – diving, yachting, wine-tasting, historic tours – that will leave you transformed. An experienced travel designer – such as Antelope Travel – can create your perfect bespoke luxury holiday in Greece.

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Academia Time Out – Making Pastéis de Nata in Lisbon https://www.provocolate.com/academia-time-out-making-pasteis-de-nata-in-lisbon/ https://www.provocolate.com/academia-time-out-making-pasteis-de-nata-in-lisbon/#respond Thu, 21 May 2020 12:03:17 +0000 https://www.provocolate.com/?p=2775 The rich and delicate Pastéis de Nata are the signature pastries of Lisbon. We loved making Pastéis de Nata at the Academia Time Out Workshop. Before your first trip to Lisbon, friends who have been there will rave about lots of things- the people, the tiles, the seafood, the fado, the bookstores, the wine (there […]

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The rich and delicate Pastéis de Nata are the signature pastries of Lisbon. We loved making Pastéis de Nata at the Academia Time Out Workshop.

Before your first trip to Lisbon, friends who have been there will rave about lots of things- the people, the tiles, the seafood, the fado, the bookstores, the wine (there is no bad wine in Lisbon) and pastéis de nata. These are custard tarts. They don’t sound like something to rave about. But pastéis de nata are incredible – rich, delicate, fragrant. They’re blistered nearly black on top, while the custard remains delicate and soft – like a crème brûlée in a flaky shell. We ate them in the morning and in the afternoon. We bought boxes of them to have in bed with wine from the mini bar.

They’re always fresh from the oven – although the midnight snack ones were not bad. But this isn’t something you can stock up on to bring home. They are too delicate to travel well. The only solution was to learn how to make them. We were in luck, because at the Academia Time Out, they were offering a pastéis de nata class. So now we can have them whenever we like.

Related Post: Experiencing the Time Out Market, Lisbon

Where to Try Pastéis de Nata in Lisbon

Making pastéis de nata in Lisbon- confeitaria Nacional
Confeitaria Nacional
Confeiteria Nacioanl - Making Pastéis de Nata in Lisbon
The Confeitaria Nacional – Lisbon’s Oldest Patisserie

We had pastéis de nata at every opportunity in our three days in Lisbon – they’re everywhere. So after a while knew what makes a good pastel de nata (‘pastel’ is the singular). There are many opportunities to enjoy a pastel de nata in Lisbon.

Pastéis de Nata at the Confeiteria Nacional

Confeitaria Nacional pastéis de nata
Pastéis de Nata at Confeitaria Nacional

Our first was at the Confeiteria Nacional, the oldest patisserie in Lisbon. The Confeiteria Nacional is a destination in itself – essential on your Lisbon itinerary. Since 1829, this opulent patisserie has been operating on the Praça da Figueira, serving hot, frothing café com leite and a range of traditional Portuguese pastries. It has been in hands of the family of the founder – Balthazar Castanheiro – for six generations.

There is table service at the Confeiteria Nacional, and there is even an elegant prix fix lunch menu. But we enjoyed standing up. You order your coffee at the marble counter, and select your pastry. Then you bring them over to one of the pretty marble stands. This is the prettiest and liveliest part of the cafe, filled with chatter and the sound of the espresso machine. The ceiling is covered with mirrors and carved wood, and beautiful antique molds and baking tools are displayed in glass cases. All the cakes are in front of you, and the passers by at the Praça da Figueira are right outside. This is the most beautiful place in Lisbon to have pastéis de nata, and they’re excellent.

Confeiteria Nacional, Praça da Figueira, Praça Dom Pedro IV 

Pasteis de Nata at Manteigaria

Making pastéis de nata in Lisbon
Midnight Snack in the Hotel – Pastéis de Nata from Manteigaria

We had heard that Manteigaria (“dairy”) makes some of the finest pastéis de nata. They have a main shop, but we had ours in the Time Out Market Lisboa. This was also a good sign, because this is a curated experience, with only the best shops getting a spot. Pastéis de nata are characterized by the contrast of the crisp and delicate pastry crust and the creaminess of the custard filling. By that measure, these were excellent. The crust was shattering crisp and buttery, and the filling only just barely help its shape.

Pastéis de Nata at Pastéis de Belém

Making Pastéis de Nata
There’s often a line outside Pastéis de Belém

Belém is the historic district in the west of Lisbon, on the banks of the Tagus. You’ll be coming out here to see the Torre de Belém, where the explorers embarked on their journeys. The grand 16th century Jerónimos Monastery is also out here. And as it turns out, the monks of the monastery were instrumental in inventing the Pastéis de Nata. Convents and monasteries closed in the liberal revolution of 1820, and the nuns and monks needed to earn a living. It turns out the monks of the Jerónimos Monastery were skilled bakers. Their pastries – called Pastéis de Belém – became popular with the many visitors who came to enjoy the sights of Belém. Pastéis de Belém preserves the original recipe of the monks, and makes them still. They’re delicious, and it’s fun to try them in this historic shop, which has been making them since 1837.

Pastéis de Belém, Rua de Belém nº 84 to 92

Making Pastéis de Nata at the Academia Time Out

Academia Time Out - Making Pastéis de Nata in Lisbon
Our Pastéis de Nata Workshop at the Academia Time Out

So now, we knew what we wanted to achieve – a rich custard filling, barely set and blistered on top, wobbling gently in a crisp and flaky shell.

Academia Time Out - Making pastéis de nata in Lisbon
The Academia Time Out is in the festive main hall of the Time Out Market, Lisbon

The Academia Time Out is in the main floor of the high-energy Time Out Market Lisboa. All around us were people drinking wine, eating, and snacking on warm pastéis de nata from Manteigaria – a good inspiration for us. Each pair had a gleaming work station, with all of our equipment and ingredients before us. They gave us natty aprons – large professional aprons with a pocket (I bought one afterwards). To hear our instructors, we had earpieces.

First we started with the custard. The pastéis de nata we had eaten up to now were pure, but not plain – they had a full and delicate fragrance. We see now why. A cinnamon stick and some lemon peel steep in the milk we heat for the custard. Also, for body, we see that the custard is thickened not just with egg yolks, but also with some flour. It’s already a little thick and silky when it goes into the pastry shell for baking. That makes sense, because our instructor tells us these take a blisteringly hot oven – 400° F – for a brief amount of time.

There is a large screen where we could watch what our instructor is doing via an overhead camera. As she worked, another instructor came by to see how we are all doing. We had all the information we needed, and time to get it right. I bake all the time, but my partner was a novice and she had no trouble at all.

We used ready puff pastry, so there was no messy rolling and cutting. Shaping it into a roll, we sliced off disks, and pressed them with our thumbs into the forms. First we started with just four, so we could see how they turned out and make adjustments. The instructor came by to give us essential tips for success, like making a rim above the form, and not filling them too full.

Making Pasteis de Nata at Home

Academia Time Out - Making pastéis de nata at home
Making Pastéis de Nata at Home

We used the recipe given us at the Academia Time Out for the custard. It worked as perfectly at home as it did in Lisbon. We made our own puff pastry for the crust, and pressed it thin. Our home oven goes to 270° F, and as soon as they were black in spots, we took them out. The thin crust did not need much time to brown. It was a perfect success.

A new skill is the perfect souvenir to take from your travels. See what’s going on at the Academia Time Out when you’re in Lisbon – they had a full program of workshops when we were there.

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Family Vacations in Greece https://www.provocolate.com/family-vacations-in-greece/ https://www.provocolate.com/family-vacations-in-greece/#respond Thu, 14 May 2020 14:24:26 +0000 https://www.provocolate.com/?p=2755 Greece is a premium family vacation destination, for every family’s personal travel style. This is one of the most inspiring destinations in the world. Family vacations in Greece can offer something for every interest. Maybe you have a future archaeologist in your tribe. Or perhaps some young marine scientists? Or active teenagers who enjoy hiking […]

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Greece is a premium family vacation destination, for every family’s personal travel style. This is one of the most inspiring destinations in the world. Family vacations in Greece can offer something for every interest. Maybe you have a future archaeologist in your tribe. Or perhaps some young marine scientists? Or active teenagers who enjoy hiking and canyoning? Most families also love spending time at the beach together – there are many to choose from. Many of these have calm, shallow waters and silky sands – perfect for a kid-friendly, safe and fun day at the beach. And all families enjoy good wholesome food – you’ll discover the best of Mediterranean cuisine together in Greece. Family holidays in Greece offer you a wonderful array of experiences to enjoy together.

What Makes Greece Ideal for Family Vacations

There are many factors to consider when planning a family holiday – convenience, safety, cultural climate. The lifestyle of Greece is already shaped around family. They will love welcoming yours.

A Family-Friendly Culture

Greece has an incredibly family-friendly culture. For instance, Greek families often socialize together in large groups, and young parents often enjoy evenings out with their children. The sight of a table full of meze, french fries, wine, and orange juices – children sitting on laps – is a familiar one in Greece. Greeks adore children – they’ll also adore your children. You and your family, of all ages, will be warmly welcomed wherever you go.

Greece is Safe and Civilized

Family Vacations in Greece - Things to do in Mykonos
Dinner by the sea in Greece

Greeks are passionate people. But they are not angry people. It’s true – you’ll hear some shouting in Greece. That’s probably someone calling out – “Come over for dinner – I just caught a huge fish!” And while passionate, they’re also very moderate and responsible in their habits. You know how they say in vino veritas? Just watch Greeks at an ouzerie, and you’ll see nothing but laughter and joy. This is not a country for drunken brawls or any other sort of violence. Mainly because people are busy enjoying life, and admiring how adorable your children are.

Greece is Clean

This is the Mediterranean – so we mean, super clean. Greece has a high standard of cleanliness. This is a country where they whitewash the sidewalks in villages in island villages. Greeks are very serious about standards of hygiene and health.

Greece is Hospitable

Greece offers a great experience with another culture. We bring our children on holiday not just to see the famous sights and enjoy the sea and the mountains. We also travel with them so they feel comfortable out in the larger world. This is what happens when they are able to connect with the culture. Greece is a fantastic place to start. This is the birthplace of the concept of hospitality – philoxenia. In Greek, the word translates to “a love of strangers.” Greece is not only a place where your family will be welcomed; it’s a place you can all truly connect with. Frequent travelers will tell you, the places you connect with leave a lasting impression – they broaden the soul.

Diverse Activities on a Family Holiday in Greece

Family Vacations in Greece

Your family vacation in Greece can include a great variety of activities. Greece is a country with many, diverse facets. Besides the hundreds of glorious beaches, there is culture and archaeology, hiking and canyoning, gastronomy and agro-tourism. Your family holiday in Greece can combine adventure, learning, and lots of time just enjoying each other’s company in the world’s most beautiful and inspiring settings. You can combine any or all of these experiences. Here are some of the things you can include in family vacations in Greece.

Island Hopping

Family Vacations in Greee - island hopping
Island Hopping – Visit The charming town beach of Mykonos

The Greek Islands are glorious. They’re on the itinerary of most family vacations in Greece. Each island has its own distinctive character. There’s no reason to limit yourself to one – many islands are just a short ferry ride apart. Getting there is part of the adventure. Your children will love seeing their destination come into view. On the way, they can keep an eye out for dolphins – they’re not at all uncommon and they like to swim alongside ferries for company sometimes.

In a short time you can find yourselves in a different world. For example, from cosmopolitan and elegant Corfu, you can visit Paxos – a secret favorite of the well-travelled. Here you’ll find olive groves and a beautiful tiny port town – a slice of true island village life. You can visit the “Blue Caves” by boat. These are sea caves where the chalk cliffs if the island have worn away. Maybe Paxos (just 12 km long) is too big for you though – in that case, go to Antipaxos – 4 square kilometers of paradise. Places like these will reward you and your family with a sense of discovery.

Related Post: A Vacation in the Greek Islands – Best Greek Islands to Visit

Try Some New Water Sports

Family Holiday in Greece - Scuba Diving
Scuba Diving in the gorgeous waters of Greece

Of course you imagine spending time at the pristine beaches – an essential component of a vacation in Greece. But in addition to the swims in jewel-toned waters, the beaches of Greece offer a host of other activities. Many beaches have lessons for parasailing, windsurfing, jet skiing, and other thrilling, adrenaline-boosting activities. These are also great family bonding experiences.

For the more adventurous, you can also explore the sea from below. Greece is the perfect place to learn ho to scuba dive. There are many licensed professionals with excellent equipment who can guide you through your first diving experiences. Children from 10 and up can start learning how to dive. The underwater world of Greece is as beautiful as the land. It’s teeming with colorful fish and all manner of aquatic life.

Get Cooking Together with a Private Lesson

Many families love to cook together. Greece is a land of farm-to-table – and sea-to-table – sustainable cuisine. Having a hand-son private lesson is a great family activity. Your children will get an introduction to new flavors and broaden their palates. And you can all relive part of your family vacation in Greece when you get back home.

Hike through the Gorges and in the Mountains

The Gorges and Waterfalls of Greece - Family Vacations in Greece
The Gorges and Waterfalls of Greece make wonderful hiking destinations.

The beaches get all the attention. So many people are surprised to find that Greece is also a superb hiking destination. Some of the most famous hikes in Greece include the Vikos gorge in Epirus, the Samarian gorge in Crete, and of course Mt. Olympus, home of the gods. These are just three of the hundreds of options you can explore on family holidays in Greece.

Explore the Caves of Greece

There are many famous caves all over Greece, from a total of over 8,000 caves. They make exciting family destinations. You can, for example, visit the Diros cave in the Peloponnese. You explore this majestic natural cathedral by boat. You’ll find another magnificent cave with lakes in Kalavrita, Peloponnese. Kastria cave features 13 lakes, and fantastic rock formations. Other magical caves are Perama cave in Ioannina, Petralona in Halkidiki (famous for its anthropological findings), and the Aggitis cave in Drama – the only river cave in Greece.

Be Transformed by Drama at an Ancient Greek Theater

One of the most magical experiences of culture and ancient history you can have is seeing an ancient Greek Drama or Comedy, staged at one of the historic ancient theaters, such as Epidaurus. This may not be for the very youngest children, but older children and teens will be fascinated. Even though the performances are in Greek, you can have a full experience. There are subtitles at many performances now for international audiences. But, besides that, the language of drama is universal. Moreover, many of these stories will be familiar to young students of history. Seeing an ancient Greek play in an ancient Greek theater is one of the transforming experiences that you can share on family holidays in Greece.

Discover the Thrill of Archaeology Together

Family Vacations in Greece
The Naxion Terrace of the Lions, one of the most famous sights of Delos

The Ancient monuments of Greece are by no means just for grown-ups. The imaginations of children can quickly be inspired after a trip to the Parthenon or a walk around the ancient Agora. And a sunset trip to the Temple of Poseidon at Sounio is a must. With a little advance preparation, they will imagine ancient ships far below, Poseidon guiding them safely back to port after heroic adventures at sea. And if you visit Mykonos, a visit to the sacred island Delos – one of the most fascinating archaeologoical sites of Greece, is a must.

Family Vacations in Greece – a Great Reunion

Do you have a large, multi-generational family? Greece can also be the dream destination for a family reunion. You can have private activities arranged to suit your group. You can also be together in an elegant villa, in an exotic location. It’s the ideal combination of relaxation and adventure, togetherness and solitude.

Family Vacations in Greece

Greece is an excellent destination for your family holiday, however you imagine it. This marvelous country is compact – it’s possible to pack many different experiences into your agenda. But it is also complex – there are many types of experiences and diverse locations. Having an experienced travel designer, like Antelope Travel, plan the logistics – like booking ground transportation, getting you between destinations, finding theater tickets and booking scuba diving lessons – can be a great help. That way you can just relax and enjoy what will surely become a legendary family experience.

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Visiting the Tile Museum in Lisbon – Museu Nacional do Azulejo https://www.provocolate.com/visiting-the-tile-museum-in-lisbon-museu-nacional-do-azulejo/ https://www.provocolate.com/visiting-the-tile-museum-in-lisbon-museu-nacional-do-azulejo/#respond Sun, 10 May 2020 11:06:38 +0000 https://www.provocolate.com/?p=2722 The first impression most travelers have of Lisbon, Portugal, are of the tiles. Lisbon is awash in color. Ornate glazed tiles cover the facades of buildings, from simple to grand. Visiting the Tile Museum of Lisbon – the Museu Nacional do Azulejo – gives you insight into this unique characteristic of Portugal. Here, the entire […]

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The first impression most travelers have of Lisbon, Portugal, are of the tiles. Lisbon is awash in color. Ornate glazed tiles cover the facades of buildings, from simple to grand. Visiting the Tile Museum of Lisbon – the Museu Nacional do Azulejo – gives you insight into this unique characteristic of Portugal. Here, the entire history of the Portuguese tile unfolds, from its beginnings to its use in modern and contemporary art. This was one of the highlights of our three days in Lisbon.

Visiting the Tile Museum in Lisbon – Museu Nacional do Azulejo at the Madre de Deus Convent

The Baoque Chapel of the Madre de Deus Convent - Museu Nacional do Azulejo
The Baoque Chapel of the Madre de Deus Convent – Museu Nacional do Azulejo

The Museu Nacional do Azulejo has a fantastic setting – the Madre de Deus convent, founded in 1509. In addition to the many displays of historic Portuguese tile from throughout the centuries, you’ll be seeing many splendid examples in situ. The convent has its own church, dating to the Barque period. It’s splendid, featuring gilded and carved wood, paintings, and of course, many tiles.

How to get to the Tile Musuem in Lisbon

From the Praca do Comercio, you can board the bus 759 – “Estação Oriente.” Ride nine stops – it takes a little over 10 minutes – and get off at “Igreja Madre Deus.” The entrance to the museum is just a minute away on foot.

Visiting the Tile Museum in Lisbon – Learning about the Azulejo

This lovely word for tile comes originally from the Arabic ‘azzalij’ or ‘al zuleycha.’ It means a ceramic piece, glazed on one side.

The Early History of the Azulejo in Portugal

The first Azulejos were glazed tiled pavements of one color, in use since the 13th century. But the aesthetic potential of the Azulejo was introduced by the Moors, initially to Spain, as one can see in the Alhambra of Grenada, and in Seville.

The Development of the Art of the Azulejo – Cuerda Seca

Visiting the Tile Museum in Lisbon - Museu Nacional do Azulejo - Decorative panel
Decorative panel in poly chrome Faience of 1590 -1620

Throughout the 15th century, the technique of cuerda seca developed. This means, roughly, ‘dry string.’ The effect of the technique on decorative tiles was great. Initially, colored glazes would run into one another during the firing process. Then cuerda seca changed this. By using an oil-based substance, often mixed with something black such as manganese carbonate, the water-based glazes remained in place and separate from one another. The method made it possible to keep sharp outlines and clear patterns. Elaborate and intricate patterns developed.

The Auzejo in Portugal in the 16th century – King Manuel I

King Manuel I, on a visit to Seville, saw the Spanish – Moorish tiles and brought the taste for them back to Portugal. Azulejos became fashionable, indispensable. The covered walls. The Sintra Palace, and particularly the Arab Room, has fine examples.

The Azulejo and “Horror Vacui”

Visiting the Tile Museum in Lisbon - Museu Nacional do Azulejo
At the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, an example of Horror Vacui

The Portuguese adopted the ornate Moorish aesthetic tradition. Along with it, they also adopted the aesthetic philosophy of ‘horror vacui.’ As it sounds, this means a horror of empty spaces. In physics, it means that nature abhors a vacuum. In art, it calls for filling empty surfaces with patterns and decoration. The effect of horror vacui on both the great monuments of Portugal and on the urban landscape of Lisbon is fantastic. Azulejos define the urban aesthetic of Lisbon.

Azuleos and Abstract Patterns

Visiting the Tile Museum in Lisbon - Museu Nacional do Azulejo
Simple geometric patterns from individual tiles were some of the earliest Azulejos, like this panel of 1600 -1625

Azulejos initially were abstract geometric patterns, as above. Or they had decorative botanical motifs and interlocking geometric patterns. Azulejos were Moorish in origin. Thee abstract and botanical designs are consistent with Islamic design, which forbids representational imagery. These aesthetics are still popular today. You’ll still find elaborately patterned tiles that create interlocking and connected patterns on Lisbon’s shimmering facades.

Tiles and Style – Visiting the Tile Museum of Lisbon

When we think of Portuguese tiles, we nearly always picture the elaborate ornamental interlocking patterns over a large surface. At the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, you’ll be able to see that tiles have been an essential medium throughout centuries of Portuguese art. Azulejos express all the dominant artistic trends of the eras in which they are made – from Renaissance, to Rococo, to Art Deco and Contemporary. Tiles are an essential medium in the Portuguese aesthetic vocabulary.

Pictorial Scenes on Azulejos

Visiting the Tile Museum in Lisbon - Museu Nacional do Azulejo
Visiting the Tile Museum in Lisbon – A Polychrome Religious Scene of the 16th Century

Throughout the 16th century, there were more and more European motifs. Among these were large scale narrative scenes, both secular and religious. Polychromatic tile pannels depicted mythological, allegorical, and religious scenes, in a Renaissance style.

The Blue and White Panels

Visiting the Tile Museum in Lisbon - Museu Nacional do Azulejo
Lady at the Dressing table, 1713 -1725

The most prevalent type of large scale scenes rendered in tile are blue and white. These reflect the predominant aesthetic of the second half of the 17th century and the popularity of Delftware. This pottery had intricate and elaborate designs of blue and white from Delft, in the Netherlands. Initially, wealthy Portuguese clients commissioned great historic scenes in blue and white tile from manufacturers in the Netherlands.

Production then shifted to Portugal when King Pedro II stopped the import of tiles in 1687, until 1698. Academically trained Portuguese artists started designing scenes rendered in blue and white tile. These eventually became the dominant fashion. The began to take precedent over the abstract motifs and repeated patterns.

The Golden Age of the Azulejo – the 18th Century

The Golden Age of the Azulejo, in the late 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries, was a time of incredible productivity. There was demand not only from within Portugal, but also from the Portuguese colony of Brazil. It was not just for churches and monasteries, but also homes. These were decorated inside and out with tile work. The 18th century work expressed the Baroque style of the era.

Azulejos in the 19th Century

This was another significant era in the development of the role of the Azulejo in popular culture. In the 1840’s, immigrants from Brazil opened a tile factory in Porto. They brought with them the Brazilian fashion for using tiles to decorate facades of houses. The fashion caught on. Along with Fado, bacalhau, and pasteis de nata, tiles on facades are one of the first things we think of when we think of Portugal. In the 19th century, industrial mass production methods were in use. Fine hand-painted tiles remained important.

20th Century – Azulejos and Modern Art and Design

Visiting the Tile Museum in Lisbon - Museu Nacional do Azulejo
At the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, an Art Nouveau panel featuring grasshoppers

The beginning of the 20th century brought the popularity of Art Nouveau tile designs. The medium proved ideal for ornate and stylized designs inspired from botany and even, very beautifully, insects. Works by Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro and José António Jorge Pinto are fine examples of the genre.

Visiting the Tile Museum in Lisbon - Museu Nacional do Azulejo - Carlos Ramos
Visiting the Tile Museum in Lisbon – Carlos Ramos- Fabrico do Pão, 1934

In the 1930’s the Social Realist artist Carlos Ramos made interesting use of the Azulejo. He applied the blue and white Delft aesthetic that was so popular for allegorical and historic scenes in the 17th century to scenes celebrating the contribution of the working class. In panels like Fabrico do Pão (the Bakery) and A Ceifa (The Harvest), the worker is elevated to the status of an allegorical figure, a hero.

Visiting the Tile Museum in Lisbon - Museu Nacional do Azulejo
Jorge Colaço – “Lagos”

The artist Jorge Colaço, working in the same era, saw the Azuejo as an essential expression of Portuguese culture, the preeminent national medium. His blue and white panels reflect his distinctive painterly style, impressionistic and romantic. His agricultural scenes and fishing scenes reflect Portuguese life.

Querubim Lapa, for the Portuguese Pavlillion at the Comptoir Suise, 1957

More modern woks too are on display at the Tile Museum in Lisbon. Maria Keil’s Pastores (Shepherds) of 1955 plays with composition and the juxtaposition of the figurative and the abstract. The 1957 panel by Querubim Lapa for the Portuguese pavilion at the Comptior Suisse of 1957 is a highly stylized figure reflecting a popularization of cubism and abstraction.

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A section from a wall covering of a Lisbon metro stop of 1989 by Julio Pomar captures effectively the figure Fernando Pessoa – 20th century poet, writer, and philosopher – in an impressionistic sketch in faience on white tile.

Visiting the Tile Museum in Lisbon - Museu Nacional do Azulejo - Lourdes Castro
Lourdes Castro – “Welcoming Shadow”

Azulejos are also the medium for this work by Lourdes Castro, entitled “Welcoming Shadow” (1980-1990). The title suggests the life-sized welcoming figura de convite. These were placed at the entrances to palaces or stairs in the 18th and 19th centuries. Such welcoming figures are unique to Portugal.

The Cafe at the Tile Museum in Lisbon

The Museu Nacional do Azulejo has a lovely garden cafe with a self-serivce restaurant.

Visiting the Tile Museum in Lisbon – the Bookstore and Gift Shop

This small store is as classy as the Museu Nacional do Azulejo itself. Try to leave enough time. We wish we’d had more, but I had a class in how to make Pasteis de Nata at the Academia at the Time Out Market.

Related Post: Time Out Market Lisbon

The Museu Nacional do Azulejo – Rua Madre de Deus 4

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Time Out Market, Lisbon – at the Mercado da Ribeira https://www.provocolate.com/time-out-market-lisbon-mercado-da-ribeira/ https://www.provocolate.com/time-out-market-lisbon-mercado-da-ribeira/#respond Mon, 04 May 2020 12:18:20 +0000 https://www.provocolate.com/?p=2680 Everyone raves about the Time Out Market Lisbon at the Mercado da Ribeiro. Now we see why – this novel culinary destination is an essential Lisbon experience. I like a classic southern European central market, fish heads and all. But this turned out to be the best, and most authentic, market experience I’ve ever had. […]

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Everyone raves about the Time Out Market Lisbon at the Mercado da Ribeiro. Now we see why – this novel culinary destination is an essential Lisbon experience.

I like a classic southern European central market, fish heads and all. But this turned out to be the best, and most authentic, market experience I’ve ever had. It has all the energy of the southern-European, intimate, high-contact shopping experience. But none of the chaos or questionable hygiene. This is a prime destination for culture and cuisine on a visit to Lisbon.

History of the Mercado da Ribeiro and the Time Out Market, Lisbon

The historic Mercado da Ribeiro has all the presence and mood of a grand European central market hall, surging with energy. This central market hall in the Cais do Sodre is part of the story of Lisbon. The Marquis de Pombal set up the first Mercado da Ribeiro, near the current spot – you’ll know his name from the Pombaline architecture of the Praça do Comércio and the surrounding Baixa. He re-imagined Lisbon after an earthquake in 1755 had leveled it. The market opened in 1771, one of a network of several. 

Part of the Mercado da Ribeiro that we now see was built in 1882. The fabulous cupola dates from 1930, when the market expanded. That distinctive, modified onion dome decorating the top inspired the nickname “Turnip Mosque” (Mesquita do Nabo). 

Time Out Market Lisbon - Mercado da Ribeiro Main Hall Mercado da Ribeira
The main hall of the hall of the historic Mercado da Ribeira is now home to the Time Out Market Lisbon, a culinary playground and essential destination

Like in other cities,  wholesale food moved out of the center of town. That happened in Lisbon in 2000. Then, in 2010, the Time Out Lisboa magazine team won the concession for a large part of the market from the city council. Three years later work began, and the Time Out Market Lisbon opened in the spring of 2014

The Time Out Market Lisbon Experience

Time Out Maket Lisbon - Mercado da Ribeira - Tiles
Original tiles in the entrance to the Time Out Market Lisbon, in the Mercado da Ribeira

Fine authentic details preserve the atmosphere of the Mercado da Ribeira. This being Portugal, that means beautiful tiles. Those in the market’s entrance announce the essentials of life on sale inside the Mercado da Ribeira – from langoustines, to fresh flowers. As soon as you enter the grand main hall, the scent of butter, sugar and egg greet you. That’s logical; this is, more or less, the signature scent of Lisbon. It comes from the superb and ubiquitous Pasteis de Nata. On your left is Time Out Market Lisbon’s outpost of Manteigaria. Their stellar pasteis de nata are baked fresh throughout the day. People enjoy them still warm on the spot, standing up.


All around the edges of the great hall are the outposts of Lisbon’s most interesting chefs, food artisans, and purveyors. The selection is curated by the Time Out Lisbon team. Everything is excellent.


In the center, there are bars for drinks, coffees and juices, and tables to share with other visitors. There is also a set-up for workshops and events – more on that later. And also, there’s the best in non-food shopping. Actually it was shopping for people who don’t usually like to shop. A Vida Portuguesa’s shelves are stocked with everyday items that have generations of history. These are icons of Portuguese culture, to use and adore at home.

Dining at the Time Out Market Lisbon

Time Out Market Lisbon - Shellfish
Dining at the counter gets you a view of glistening heaps of pristine shellfish on ice

Food is central to the experience, as it always has been at the Mercado da Ribeira. If you’ve come to Lisbon in part to explore the cuisine, then you’ll find that Time Out Market Lisbon is the epicenter. From traditional purveyors of artisanal foods to the most innovative chefs, this is the place to sample the best of both traditional and auteur cuisine.  

Time Out Market Lisbon - Mercado da Ribeira - Octopus
The light marinade on this succulent octopus dish let the clean ocean flavors shine.

For a casual lunch, we first had the classic homestyle dish Bacalhau à Brás. Crisp matchstick potatoes, sweet onions, and generous flakes of salt cod were bound with with barely set egg. This was from veteran chef Miguel Castro E Silva, a chef originally from Porto. He’s famous for his superb renditions of Portuguese classics. His motto is promising: “Fearless Tradition.” Then at the next counter, the young two star Michelin chef Henrique Sá Pessoa‘s bright octopus dish dazzled us. Fat chunks in a delicate marinade kept their ocean tang.

We ordered our dishes from the respective counters, and got a device that would buzz when our dishes were ready for pick up. Then, at O Bar da Odete, we chose from wine critic Odete Cascais’ selection of all Portuguese wines. After finishing every smear of rich eggy sauce from the Bacalhau à Brás, we tried a flourless chocolate cake, crisp on top and nearly back within, with another glass of wine. The common dining area is festive, and constantly bused by cheerful personnel.

The Time Out market Lisbon offers a novel, and very affordable, way to try the best dishes of Lisbons’ top chefs. It’s an ideal combination of fine dining and closer-to-cantina prices, with excellent portions. This is a great way to learn about what’s going on in Lisbon’s culinary scene.

Time Out Market Lisbon - Oysters
We drank vinho verde with our crisp and briny oysters on the half shell

It’s also the place to taste the unbelievable bounty of the sea, preferably with as little done to it as possible. Portugal has top quality seafood. There is nowhre better to experience it than Marisqueria Azul. We sat at the counter and started out with crisp, briny oysters on the half-shell. We’ve never had better. A display before us that put 17th century dutch still life painters to shame included spiny crabs, colossal vermillion prawns, lobsters, and unassuming, unexpectedly succulent barnacles. All the while, a cheerful staff casually and superbly prepared dishes to order, right at the counter.

Time Out Market Lisbon - The Freshest of Shellfish
At Marisqueira Azul, Time Out Market Lisbon, the freshest of shellfish

Sea foods fresh from the tank were cooked right at the bar.

Enjoying raw seafood was a highlight of the Time Out Market Lisbon experience. Because of the such evident standards of cleanliness and freshness, we ate with sweet confidence. We love raw seafood. But if a raw bar opened at the Varvaieikos market in Athens or the Kapani in Thessaloniki, we probably wouldn’t be eating there. 

Learn How to Cook Something Fabulous at the Academia Time Out

Time Out Market Lisbon - Academia Time Out
Our entertaining Pasteis de Nata took an hour and a half, and made experts of us. We’ve already made them at home.

We fast acquired a taste for Pasteis de Nata, which we found all over Lisbon, including at the Time Out Market Lisbon. These egg custard tarts transcend that humble description – silky and rich with egg yolk, aromatic, and blistered until blackened in patches on top, barely set and creamy in their delicate and flaky shells.   

Related Post: Academia Time Out – Making Pasteis de Nata in Lisbon

In the cheerful open space of the main hall of the market, there’s a well appointed open kitchen, outfitted with several stations. This is the Academia Time Out. They host a variety of cooking workshops of all levels, some with clever themes (something like a dinner party menu for difficult friends was one of the choices when we were there). Pasteis de Nata were the focus of one workshop, and there was nothing I’d rather have brought home from Lisbon than a way to enjoy Pasteis de Nata at home.

Time Out Market Lisbon - Making Pasteis de Nata
Our own Pasteis de Nata, from the Academia Time Out Lisbon Workshop

We had a charming instructor. When we arrived we found stations for two with everything we needed, with our ingredients all measured out. We had earpieces to hear instructions against the background of the cheerful noise of the market hall in full late-afternoon swing. First, we made the custard, which we cooked and thickened slightly with flour before filling the shells. Then we pressed the pastry into half of the tart forms. Initially, just half went into the oven first so we could see how to improve on our technique. We all turned out a second perfect batch. After I came home to Greece, I tried them out with the recipe from the workshop, and had identical results.

Discovering the Traditional Mercado da Ribeira

The Mercado da Ribeiro - Time Out Market
The historic Mercado da Ribeiro keeps traditional hours – 6 am – 2 pm.

Under the same roof as the Time Out Market Lisbon, the traditional Mercado da Ribeira still operates. The main hall has local and imported produce. It’s a beautiful display. Along a side aisle, you’ll see the freshest local catch.

For a complete experience of the Time Out Market Lisbon and the traditional Mercado da Ribeira, you can rise early to shop with the chefs, followed by your first café com leite at one of the market cafes. Then check out the Time Out Market while it’s still relatively early – it opens at 10:00. This way you can plan what to have in the evening, after a full day of sightseeing in the meantime.

The Mercado da Ribeira - fresh fish
A fresh catch on ice, early in the morning at the Mercado da Ribeira

For information on visiting the Time Out Market Lisbon, including a complete catalogue of the experiences to be had there, please see here.

We had a fantastic time in Lisbon, and the Time Out Market ended up being a highlight of our stay.

Related Post: Visiting the Tile Museum in Lisbon – Museu Nacional do Azulejo

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Three Days in Lisbon: A Three Day Itinerary for Lisbon https://www.provocolate.com/three-days-in-lisbon-a-three-day-itinerary-for-lisbon/ https://www.provocolate.com/three-days-in-lisbon-a-three-day-itinerary-for-lisbon/#respond Fri, 01 May 2020 21:31:27 +0000 https://www.provocolate.com/?p=2599 Three days in Lisbon is just enough to give you a great first taste. This is a shimmering, delicious fairy tale of a city, and not just for the (excellent) cuisine. The tiled buildings sparkle with juicy colors. And Lisbon smells delicious too – that scent in the air is either probably a savory Pastel […]

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Three days in Lisbon is just enough to give you a great first taste. This is a shimmering, delicious fairy tale of a city, and not just for the (excellent) cuisine. The tiled buildings sparkle with juicy colors. And Lisbon smells delicious too – that scent in the air is either probably a savory Pastel de Bacalhau (a salt cod croquette), or a hot and buttery Pastel de Nata – more on those delights later. A three day itinerary for Lisbon includes culture, leisure, and lots of walking. Plus delicious wine and plenty of steaming milky coffee.

Hilly with magnificent vistas and winding alleys, and grand plazas near the sea, Lisbon offers many different moods in a compact space. There are wonderful, intimate museum experiences, elegant cafes, and casual neighborhood restaurants to discover. So yes, on a three day itinerary of Lisbon, Portugal, you can see enough to get a feel for the city. And probably to start planning your next trip, which is exactly what we did.

Three Days in Lisbon, Day One – Getting Oriented

One of the things that makes Lisbon ideal for a three day city break is the fact that you won’t waste a half day – or the price of a good meal – getting from the airport to the center of town. Lisbon’s Metro connects the airport with the center in a matter of minutes, so you can begin enjoying your three day itinerary of Lisbon right away.

The geography of Lisbon is pretty extraordinary. It’s perched on the shores of the broad Tagus river, opening dramatically onto the Atlantic in the west. Once a major colonial power, Lisbon feels like a geographic frontier, now exuding a quiet, laid-back confidence. This is a city with nothing to prove, perfectly content to embrace its beautiful loneliness at the very edge of Europe.

Lisbon – A City of Seven Hills

So many cities lay claim to the title “the city of seven hills” – Rome, Athens, Istanbul, San Francisco. However, Lisbon deserves the title more than most, because these really are serious hills. They’re much more like the hills of San Francisco than the hills of Athens. In fact, there’s even an elevator to get from the Baixa to the Bairro Alto – the Santa Justa Elevator. And there are also two funiculars.

All these hills mean incredible views, and enchanting winding paths, along with lots of enchanting architecture suited to small and sloping lots. The rooftops of Lisbon are beautiful, and you’ll see lots of them.

A Colonial Past and a Multi-Cultural Present

The riches of colonial days have left glorious monuments we will visit on our three day itinerary for Lisbon. Portugal’s history has brought people of former colonial lands together in Lisbon. Inspiring young people from across the globe have filled the city with vibrance and verve. Lisbon’s multicultural energy sings from the (elaborately tiled) pavements.

Three Days in Lisbon, Day One – Coffee and Pastry at Confeitaria Nacional

Three Days in Lisbon - Coffee and Pastry at Confeiteria Nacional
Confeiteria Nacional – Lisbon’s oldest pastry shop – has delicious Café com leite and pastries in a beautiful setting. Have yours standing up and the indulgence will cost you very little.

By the time you check into your hotel or apartment, it may be afternoon. A light snack and a coffee at Lisbon’s historic Confeitaria Nacional will give you a sugar and caffeine lift to help you cover a lot of territory on foot. The Confeitaria is also Lisbon’s oldest and loveliest cafe, with a mirrored ceiling and beautiful marble stands for resting your coffee and pastry. Don’t waste time sitting at a table – not only is the coffee more expensive, but the action – the hum of the espresso machine, the melodic sound of Portuguese – is all in the self-service section in front. Jewel-like confections golden with egg yolk glow in the display cases.

The Confeiteria is on the Praça da Figueira – one of the principal squares of the Baixa and a perfect starting point for exploring the cosmopolitan city center.

That to eat in three days in Lisbon - Pão de ló
Pão de ló – tender Portuguese sponge cake. This roll has a silky filling of egg yolks.

Three Days in Lisbon, Day One – The Baixa: Rossio Square, the Rua Augusta, the Rua de Sapateiros, and the Praça do Comércio

A Three Day Lisbon Itinerary - Praça do Comércio
The Praça do Comércio, on the banks of the Tagus, showcases the Pombaline architecture of the reconstruction of Lisbon after a great earthquake in the middle of the 18th century.

The Baixa is the flat and central part of Lisbon, and it has a consistent architectural character that gives it a distinct and elegant identity. This is owning to an earthquake that devastated Lisbon in 1755. The Marquis of Pombal was prime minister under King Dom José I. Under Pombal’s direction, military engineers – particularly Eugénio dos Santos – rebuilt in elegance and intrducing a grid plan of broad avenues. It’s from the Marquis de Pombal that the area sometimes has the name “Pombaline” or the “Pombaline Baixa” Notable are the anti-seismic measures, as well as the restrained neoclassicism of the facades. These reflect both the architectural rationality of the enlightenment, and the expediency of the rebuilding.

Rossio Square is one of Lisbon’s defining plazas, for centuries a center of civic life, whether in celebration or revolt. From here the broad Rua dos Sapteiros (the street of the cobblers) leads towards the Tagus. So does the Rua Augusta. This pedestrian street has beautiful patterns of lacj and white tile. It leads to a grand arch that opens on to an immense plaza. This is the Praça do Comércio – the defining square of the city and a great place to both feel the majesty of Lisbon and get oriented.

This was the location of the Ribiera palace before the earthquake. Now grand arcades line three of its sides while the bank of the broad river Tagus makes up the fourth. This is one of Europe’s most impressive public squares, somewhere between Piazza San Marco in Venice and St. Peter’s Square in dimension. That equestrian statue in the center is of King Dom José I. Called “The Reformer,” it was during his reign that the Pombaline Baixa took shape.

A Three – Day Lisbon Itinerary, Day One, evening: The Santa Justa Elevator, the Bairro Alto, and Chiado

“Baixa” means “low,” and “Alta” is high. The Bairra Alta is so much higher than the Baixa that there is a beautiful elevator to get to it. The Elevador de Santa Justa takes you from Rua Aura directly up to the Largo de Carmo – Carmo Square. It’s approximately 7 stories up – 45 meters. This Art Nouveau beauty has been taking people up to the Largo de Carmo since the beginning of the 20th century.

Bairro Alta is one of the favorite neighborhoods for going out. Though many say it only really picks up around 10 pm, there are still plenty of excellent restaurants up here for both traditional home-style dishes and more novel cuisine.

Nearby elegant Chiado is also a favorite neighborhood for dining out. If you’re here in Lisbon for a special occasion, you might mark it at the supremely elegant, legendary Tavares restaurant – one of Europe’s oldest restaurants.

Three Days in Lisbon, Day 2 Morning – Pasteis de Nata, the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, and the Time Out Market

Three Days in Lisbon - The Museu Nacional do Azulejo
At the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, centuries of Portugal’s distinctive aesthetic heritage are on view.

Much of our second day in Lisbon can take place along the banks of the Tagus river. We’ll start in the northeast, then stop off somewhere just west of the Praça do Comércio for an unbelievable seafood lunch. After lunch, we’ll continue west, on to dramatic Belém.

Breakfast – Pastel de Nata and a Café com Leite

A Three Day Itinerary of Lisbon - Pasteis de Nata at Confeiteria Nacional
Pasteis de Nata at Confeiteria Nacional

The most famous pastry of Lisbon is without question the Pastel de Nata. It sounds like nothing special – an egg custard tart. But it’s fantastic – a rich cream with a light fragrance of orange and cinnamon in a crisp pastry shell, blacked in spots like a crème brûlée. You eat them fresh from the oven, still warm. There is probably no such thing as a bad Pastel de Nata, but there are plenty of great ones. Over our three days in Lisbon, we had several.

Café com leite – like a richer and slightly darker caffè latte – is perfect with them. You can get this combination many places – we returned to the Confeitaria Nacional for ours.

If you want more than one pastel, order Pasteis de Nata.

The Museu Nacional do Azulejo – Highlight of a Three-Day Itinerary for Lisbon

A Three Day itinerary for Lisbon - the Museu Nacional do Azulejo
In this work of Social Realism – ‘Fabrico do pão,’ of 1934 – the artist Carlos Ramos makes pointed use of the aesthetic of the Age of Discoveries.

After trying Lisbon’s definitive pastry, we’ll visit a museum devoted to its definitive design characteristic. Azulejos are the ornate tiles you’ll see on even the more humble of the buildings. Glazed tiles give beauty and elegance to every corner of this enchanting city. They’re also central to the aesthetic heritage of Portugal.

The word “Azulejos” comes from the Arabic “az-zulay,” which is logical. Tiles were first introduced to the Iberian peninsula by the Moors, and then became popular in Portugal.

There is not one style of Portuguese tile. Rather, this is a key medium that expresses various artistic currents. Elaborate geometric patterns – depicting no figures as is consistent with Islamic law – were initially popular. These were then joined by specially commissioned tiles depicting figurative scenes – entire narratives. The blue and white so commonly in use dates from the Age of Discoveries (15th to early 17th centuries). Delft China, which imitated in turn Chinese porcelain in its color scheme, was much in fashion. The scenes were originally done in Holland. Later, Portuguese workshops began production.

Tile has always been an essential medium, reflecting all eras of art. There are heroic scenes of peasants and workmen from the early 20th century, art nouveau decorative tiles, art deco, and even contemporary art.

The Museu Nacional do Azueljo is beautiful and fascinating. A morning here gives light history and deep insight into Lisbon’s rich aesthetic heritage, and is a highlight of three days in Lisbon.

Related post: Visiting the Tile Museum in Lisbon – Museu do Azulejo

Time Out Market

A Three Day Itinerary for Lisbon - Time Out Market
The Time Out Market is a great place to try the best tastes of Lisbon, both traditional and inventive. It has a lively atmosphere in a beautiful space.

The people of the Time Out magazine have done an incredible job of revitalizing the old Mercado da Ribiera. The Time Out Market keeps all of the energy and excitement of a classic European covered market. It’s also a playful venue for Lisbon’s evolving contemporary food scene.

Local restaurants, bakeries, artisanal food craftspeople, and wine bars are represented around the edges of the market. In the middle are tables for strangers to congregate over Lisbon’s most creative and traditional dishes, in a lively and casual setting. We found we really loved the Time Out Market Lisbon experience. We even learned how to make Pastéis de Nata there.

Related Post: Academia Time Out – Making Pastéis de Nata in Lisbon

Three Days in Lisbon - Sea Food at the Time Out Market
A light and festive meal of fresh Sea Food at the Time Out Market is a highlight of a Three Day itinerary of Lisbon.
What to Eat in Three Days in Lisbon - Oysters at the Time Out Market
A glass of Espumante and some Oysters on the half-shell makes a refreshing light lunch before an afternoon of more sight-seeing.

For a supreme treat, visit the arm of the market parallel to the central hall. Here you’ll find raw bars beautifully stacked with sweet fresh shellfish. The variety is staggering. Beside them are tanks of lobsters and crayfish and other specialties. These are prepared in front of you. Seating is shoulder to shoulder at the counter. You’ll have a delicious view of heaps of barnacles, crayfish, oysters, clams, lobsters. 17th-century Dutch painters couldn’t make up a more lavish display. Vinho verde – a refreshing white – or espumante – Portuguese sparkling wine – will not make you too drowsy, or conceal the sweet tastes of the sea. This feast might set you back a little, but it won’t weigh you down. That’s good, because we’re off to Belém next.

A Three Day Itinerary of Lisbon, Day 2 – Belém

A Three Day Itinerary for Lisbon - Pasteis de Nata at Confeiteria Nacional
Pasteis de Nata at Confeiteria Nacional

Hugging the banks of the Tagus to the west is the district of Belém. It’s best known for its tower of the same name. But this is also the district for its fine museums, a botanical Garden, and a famous monastery. It’s an essential destination for a fulfilling three days in Lisbon.

The Torre de Belém – Tower of Belém

This majestic fairy tale of a tower has guarded the entrance to Lisbon since the 1519. The Tower of Belém – or Torre de São Vicente (Tower of St. Vincent) served as a ceremonial gateway. It was from here that the explorers embarked on their great journeys, and here that they triumphantly disembarked on return. As such, it’s a powerful symbol of Europe’s Age of Discoveries. A mosaic, roughly across from the Gulbenkian Planetarium, shows the vast reach of Portuguese explorers at the height of Portugal’s power.

The fanciful architectural style of the tower – Portuguese late-Gothic – is often called Manueline. This is because it is named for King Manuel I, whose reign of 1495-1521 coincided with the style.

The Mosteiro dos Jerónimos – The Jerónimos Monastery

Three Days in Lisbon - Jerónimos Monastery
Nautical motifs in the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos

Also in the Manueline style, this grand monastery took a century to construct, beginning in 1501. Money was no object, because Portugal was in the process of amassing great wealth through exploration. The source of funding was a 5% tax on commerce from Africa and the Far East. The Hieronymite monks – or monks from the Order of Jermone – prayed both for the King’s immortal soul, and for the great navigators and sailors who set off on expeditions from the nearby port of Restelo. The ornate decoration fancifully incorporates many maritime motifs, true to both its purpose and the source of wealth that built it.

Pastéis de Belém

Three Days in Lisbon - Pasteis de Nata
Pasteis de Nata, hot from the oven, are like little crèmes brûlées in a flaky, buttery shell. They’re an all-day pleasure in Lisbon. We enjoyed them many times, at different places.

Before you leave Belém, you’ll want to have yet another Pastel de Nata. Those fabulous pastries were invented in Belém, by the monks of the Jerónimos Monastery. During the Liberal Revolution of 1820, convent and monasteries were closed. Because of this, the monks and nuns needed a means to survive. The monks established a sugar cane refinery and began to sell these pasties. Belém, on account of the beautiful monastery and the tower, was a destination for people from Lisbon. The pastries of the monks quickly became popular. Pastéis de Belém opened in 1837, using the authentic recipe of the monks. Master confectioners here have preserved the tradition and the original recipe to the present.

Enjoying a Pastél de Belém at this charming old-world shop is to enjoy the pastry at its source.

Pastéis de Belém, Rua de Belém nº 84 to 92

The Museums of Belém

Depending on your schedule, you can slip into one of Belém’s fine museums. The futuristic building of the MAAT announces its identity. This is the Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology. The Berardo Collection focuses on modern and contemporary art. The Calouste Gulbenkian Planetarium is also here. If you’re looking for something fanciful and not at all modern, you can try the National Coach Museum. It houses one of the world’s largest collections of horse-drawn coaches. There are some extremely elaborate examples of the craft, the vehicles of famous monarchs.

A Three-Day Itinerary of Lisbon, Day 2 – Evening – Dinner and Drinks in the Cais do Sodre

A Three Day Itinerary of Lisbon - Sol e Pesca
The appeal of Sol e Pesca is the minimal intervention. This classic bait and tackle shop has wine on tap and the best in tinned seafood.

After a short rest, we can go back to one of the liveliest parts of town, the Cais do Sodre, near the Time Out Market. “Cais” means pier. Just like in many of the world’s more interesting cities, this waterfront district was once one of the rougher parts of town, and it’s now one of the most fashionable. The Cais do Sodre retains plenty of character – although some some may say grittiness. But not us – two of our very favorite spots that we discovered on our three days in Lisbon were in the Cais do Sodre.

Dinner at Sol e Pesca

Three Days in Lisbon - Sol e Pesca
The display cases at Sol e Pesca

Sol e Pesca is a delight. There’s no place that captures the authentic character of the Cais do Sodre better, because Sol e Pesca has changed almost not at all. This former bait and tackle shop has become a restaurant with the absolute minimum intervention. This is not a theme restaurant, or some tongue in cheek clever and ironic statement. Its stylish original sign sets the tone. The owners just left everything in the cozy space exactly as it was, nets and floats and all. Except that they added a few low tables. And they stacked the glass display cases that once held tackle with an assortment of canned fish.

That’s what you’ll be eating – the best selection of canned fish that Portugal has to offer. If you haven’t heard, Portugal is famous for impeccable canned fish in stunning variety. You can look at the menu, or just look at the display cases and ask for your selection. There are a few salads and accompaniments. We had a fava bean salad along with our mackerel canned in a light curry sauce. The bread was delicious. We also had a small carafe of aerated white wine, which we drank from low tumblers. After that we had another, and another tin. The music is great, low enough for conversation.

Sol e Pesca is on Rua Nova do Carvalho, popularly called “Pink Street” – for obvious reasons. Just look for the sign.

An After Dinner Drink at Pensão Amor

A three Day Lisbion Itinerary - Pensao Amor
A cocktail at Pensao Amor – right around the corner from Sol e Pesca – is treat. The music and the service are excellent, and so is the Pisco Sour.

The Hostel of Love is another place that plays to its theme, with just as much authenticity and a little more humor. At this cozy and sex-positive bar and lounge, you can settle into a slightly shabby velvet couch and sip a pisco sour beneath the ceiling of the Sistine chapel. This former Pension/brothel has many rooms. After your drink you can wander and explore, enjoy the burlesque murals and cheerful phallus displays. The experience is somehow not tacky. Instead, it’s more playful, with fantastic service and music, and delicious drinks.

Three Days in Lisbon, Day 3 – The Tram 28

Three Days in Lisbon - the classic "Remodelado" trams
Lisbon’s yellow “Remodelado” trams of the 1930’s add charm to the city streets.

Yes – it’s super popular with tourists, and there’s a line. But you’ll regret not doing it. It’s an essential experience on a three day itinerary of Lisbon. Moreover, it takes you to some prime destinations. The famous Tram 28 really does exist though to take locals through Graca, Alfama, Baixa, and Estrella. This long route goes through some of Lisbon’s most interesting neighborhoods. Because we skipped breakfast and got there quite early, we were the only non-locals on a not very crowded tram. We could even look out the windows as we rode.

A Three Day Lisbon Itinerary - Drinking Ginja in Alfama
Running into this charming lady and having a shot of house-made Ginja in shot glasses made of dark chocolate is one of Alfama’s many delightful experiences.

We boarded at the square Martim Moniz, rode up through Alfama, and then descended at a high point to wander downhill through Alfama. This is Lisbon’s famous delightful hilltop neighborhood of tiled buildings, delicious food, Fado, and grandmothers selling shots of Ginjinha out of doorways.

The classic yellow trams themselves are things of beauty. They are called “Remodelado” because they were renovated with new brakes and electric systems in the 1990s. But their original wooden interiors are just as they always were. Getting around on these stylish remodelados helped us make the most of out three day itinerary of Lisbon.

Three Days in Lisbon, Day 3: Browsing and Shopping

I hate wasting time shopping when I travel. But I love buying food and browsing in old bookstores, and looking at antiques. On a three day itinerary of Lisbon, there’s definitely time for a little hunting for souvenirs – edible, antique, or both. Our shopping expedition brings us through charming Chiado and Baixa.

Conserveira de Lisboa

Three Days in Lisbon - the Conserveira de Lisboa
The charming Conserveira de Lisboa is a great place to get some edible souvenirs

After that meal at Sol e Pesca, you might want to stock up on canned fish. Lisbon is full of trendy, high-design canned fish boutiques with outrageous prices. Therefore, a much better and more authentic option is to join the matrons at the Conserveira de Lisboa. This is an enchanting small shop with wooden shelves behind the counter. There is one of each tin displayed on the counter. You point and ask. Soon you have a tidy bundle, which they will wrap in brown paper and tie up in twine. Warm service, delicious goods, and supermarket prices.

Conserveira da Lisboa, Rua dos Bacalhoeiros, 34

Three Days in Lisbon - The beautiful tins of fish at the Conserveira de Lisboa
Beautiful tins of fish at the Conserveira de Lisboa

The Bookstores of Chiado

In Chaido, you’ll find the world’s oldest bookstore, Livraria Bertrand. It’s been open since 1732. But once you’re inside, Livraria Bertrand doesn’t look so old. Even more importantly for bibliophiles, it doesn’t smell old, either. For more serious old book browsing with that great old book scent, plus maps and charts and other wantable curiosities, we loved Livraria Sa’ da Costa, across the street.

Livraria Sa’ da Costa – Rua Garrett, 100-102

Antique Azulejos at D’Orey Azulejos

Not a five-minute walk from livraria Sa’ da Costa is a unique and fabulous antique store. D’Orey has a beautiful selection of antique tiles. These even include entire pictorial scenes, such as we saw in the Museu Nacional do Azulejo. Some are designed for walls, others to ascend grand staircases. There are also smaller decorative panels. Additionally, they have related objects including decorative plates, busts, statues, and smaller decorative objects, as well as furnishings. It’s like a museum where you can buy things.

A Three-Day Itinerary of Lisbon, Day 3 – A Fun Farewell Dinner

What to Eat in Three Days in Lisbon - Bacalhau
Bacalhau – salt cod – is a serious thing in Lisbon, and comes in several grades of quality, including the most expensive “aged” bacalhau.

We still haven’t had two classic tastes of Lisbon – a shot of the famous cherry liqueur Ginjhina, and a meal of salt cod. This is a perfect way to end our trip

A Ginjinha Espinheira

A Three Day itinerary of Lisboon - Ginjinha
Ginjinha – a liqueur of sour cherries – is an affordable everyday pleasure in Lisbon.

There are a few small traditional places around Rossio square selling shots of Ginjinha. Best known among them is A Ginjinha Espinheira. It opened in 1840, and not much has changed since then, including the family who owns it. This tiny and exquisite shop has just one thing – Ginjinha – a liqueur made of sour Morello cherries (the ‘ginja’). When you walk in to this tiny, sweet and boozy-smelling shop – the floor sticky with liqueur – you’ll notice a small sink to your right. Order a shot – with our without a cherries. The cherries are 20 cents extra and because they’re delightfully bitter you may want them. You get a short shot that’s overflowing, and then drink it right at the bar or standing outside. This is an everyday kind of treat for locals, and a pleasant custom. Your hands will definitely be sticky – that’s what the sink is for.

A Ginjinha Espinheira, Largo São Domingos 8

Dining on Bacalhau – Salt Cod

Although Lisbon has an overwhelming selection of glistening fresh Atlantic sea foods, a traditional Lisbon favorite remains salt cod. Salt cod finds glorious expression in prepared in a host of home style dishes. We had it more than once in our three days in Lisbon.

Don’t pass up simple steamed salt cod, because they have such good quality bacalhau that it shines on its own. But we also enjoyed two of the many preparations. Pastéis de Bacalhau are crisp fried croquettes of cod – a popular bar snack or appetizer. The sumptuous main dish Bacalhau à Brás features cod blended with crisp fried matchstick potatoes and onions and bound with silky, just barley set egg. We enjoyed Bacalhau à Brás at the Time Out Market, and at Faz Frio – a restaurant tip we got from 2foodtrippers.

This is such a staple of Portuguese cuisine that there is a great variety of grades of salt cod. even at the cheapest places, we found that even the simple steamed salt cod was a better quality of raw material than we are used to. We saw stacks of butterflied whole cod displayed and celebrated all over.

A Three Day Itinerary of Lisbon, Day 4 – Snack on the way to the Airport

What to Eat in Three Days in Lisbon - Petiscos
Neighborhood snack bars specialize in all-day Petiscos, Bifana, coffees and drinks.

If you’re lucky, you’re flight leaves late. And there is no city I have ever visited anywhere that has an easier airport connection than Lisbon. So you can make the most of your morning. Maybe in your three days in Lisbon you didn’t manage to try a petisco – such as a Pastel de Bacalhau. These are snacks with to have with a beer or wine. They’re available any hour at casual neighborhood snack bars. This is also the place to try a bifnana – delicate thin slices of seasoned pork, saucy and sauteed and piled into a crusty roll.

Or maybe you can stop in at the Confeiteria Nacional one more time, for a sponge cake roll; its silky filling is rich with egg yolk.

We got up early and did both.

Three Days in Lisbon - Cafe com Leite and Pão de Ló
Cafe com Leite and Pão de Ló, at the Confeiteria Nacional

Three Days in Lisbon

This is one of the greatest European city break destinations I have visited in years. Lisbon is perfect for culture, dining and drinking, browsing in old bookshops. It’s a lively, warm city and extremely relaxed. Moreover, Lisbon offers everything great about the southern European experience, with none of the stress. It has a strong character that shines through whatever you happen to be doing at any moment, whether you’re having a ginja standing up in the street in the afternoon sun, taking in the sights, or just rambling through the hilly streets and their gorgeously tiled facades. Three days in Lisbon was just enough time to see a couple the highlights. Best of all, we got a good feel for the relaxed pace of life, and sampled many of the city’s small pleasures. I can’t wait to get back, and hope you have a wonderful time.


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Best Things to Do in Thessaloniki: Sights, Activities, and Cultural Experiences https://thessalonikilocal.com/best-things-to-do-in-thessaloniki-sights-activities-and-cultural-experiences/#new_tab https://thessalonikilocal.com/best-things-to-do-in-thessaloniki-sights-activities-and-cultural-experiences/#new_tab#respond Tue, 07 Apr 2020 14:00:01 +0000 https://www.provocolate.com/?p=2445 Whatever your travel style is, you’ll find a wealth of interesting things to do in Thessaloniki, famous for its culture, lifestyle, and rich history. This beautiful Mediterranean port city has over two millennia of history. Thessaloniki has been an important urban center for a full 23 centuries. There are beautiful historical sights from its Roman, […]

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Whatever your travel style is, you’ll find a wealth of interesting things to do in Thessaloniki, famous for its culture, lifestyle, and rich history. This beautiful Mediterranean port city has over two millennia of history. Thessaloniki has been an important urban center for a full 23 centuries. There are beautiful historical sights from its Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman eras, as well as fantastic examples of Belle Epoque architecture. We’ll explore here the top 10 historic sights of Thessaloniki. But it’s not all about history – this city also has a reputation of being one of the most fun cities in Europe, famous for its 24 hour a day lifestyle. Enjoy it like a Mediterranean, by experiencing 10 of the locals’ favorite activities in Thessaloniki. Besides the incredible history and enviable lifestyle, Thessaloniki has a dynamic contemporary cultural scene. Explore it through some of the 10 best cultural experiences in Thessaloniki.

Thessaloniki, an Easy City Break Destination

This is a very easy city to get to know. Thessaloniki has all the makings of an ideal, hassle-free city break. It’s very easy to get into the city center from the airport. It’s also now very easy and inexpensive to get from Athens to Thessaloniki. The city has an excellent reputation for gastronomy, from classic to creative. Also, the city has a long history of hospitality. The historic caravanserai and hans have given way to some luxury hotels with style and personality. There are also several excellent boutique hotels in Thessaloniki, expressing the city’s unique character and architectural heritage.

Related post: The Best Boutique Hotels in Thessaloniki

An Ideal Base for Exploring a Fascinating Region of Greece

Thessaloniki is in the center of a region rich in every kind of attraction. My. Olympus is less than an hour away, and the museums of Pella and Vergina are also very close to the city. Even closer, on the city’s periphery, there are famous wetlands, natural thermal spas, and first class wineries (here’s more on our absolute favorite – Ktima Gerovassiliou).

Thessaloniki is also just an hour from Halkidiki and its gorgeous and glamorous beaches. It’s very easy to get to Halkidiki from Thessaloniki.

Related post: How to Get From Thessaloniki Airport to Halkidiki by Public Transportation

There are even fine beaches in the eastern suburbs of Thessaloniki. After a day of sightseeing, you can cool off with an evening swim and some fresh seafood and ouzo in the sand.

Related post: Best Beaches in Thessaloniki by Public Transportation

There are many easy and excellent day trips you can make from Thessaloniki, whether you’re a swimmer, a hiker, an oenophile, a bird-watcher, or a devoted fan of history.

Related post: Day Trips from Thessaloniki – Discovering Northern Greece

Best Things to Do in Thessaloniki: The Top 10 Historic Sights in Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki has a rich, complex urban texture. Those 23 centuries of history have played out in a compact area. This means that within the same square you can, for instance, find a Roman Agora, a Byzantine Church, and a luxurious 15th C Hamam. Or you can see a famous Ottoman Market with a glamorous Belle Epoque apartment house right next store, all just steps from the site of the Caravansarai. Sightseeing in Thessaloniki is effortless – it’s just part of the everyday experience of the city. Here is a selection of the top 10 historic sights in Thessaloniki. They represent different periods in Thessaloniki’s centuries of history. Most of them are within a short walk of one another.

1. The Top 10 Historic Sights in Thessaloniki: The Byzantine City Walls of Thessaloniki

The Byzantine Walls are one of the top 10 historic sights in Thessaloniki
The Kastra – or Byzantine City Walls, are a UNESCO World Heritage sight and popular monument – a symbol of the city

The Byzantine city walls are Thessaloniki’s most obvious monument. They crown the city – glowing golden by night. The Byzantine walls are often called the “Kastra” – the Castle, or Fortress of Thessaloniki. Many of the original walls remain, principally in Thessaloniki’s charming Old Town – “Ano Poli.” The Byzantine city walls once extended to the sea. They also went along the sea front, from the White Tower to the harbor in the west. The Byzantine Walls are in part additions to earlier fortifications. Walking along the city walls brings you to the impressive Eptapyrgio – the Castle of the Seven Towers – which is also called by its Ottoman name ‘Yedi Kule’. below this and to the east is Trigonio Tower – one of the best places in Thessaloniki to enjoy the sunset. From here, you have a spectacular view of the Thermaikos bay and even Mt. Olympus beyond.

The Byzantine city walls themselves are a UNESCO World Heritage Monument. In fact, they’re one of 15 UNESCO World Heritage Monuments in the city. This was a significant center during the Byzantine Era. Among the UNESCO World Heritage sights of Thessaloniki, there are 13 glorious Byzantine Churches, and the Byzantine Bath of the late 12th/early 13th century. This beautiful bath closed in

2. The Roman Agora

The Roman Agora is one of the top 10 historic sights in Thessaloniki
The Roman Agora is in the center of one of Thessaloniki’s most interesting neighborhoods for contemporary culture

Exactly in the center of one of the most dynamic and creative contemporary neighborhoods in the city is the Roman Agora. It makes a fascinating historical counterpoint. The Roman Agora is one of the most engaging Roman sights in Thessaloniki – definitely one of the most fascinating of the top 10 historic sights of Thessaloniki.

The Roman Agora of Thessaloniki was the administrative, cultural, and commercial center of the city from the 2nd century, with much of it in use until the 6th century. The agora – or Roman forum – was built on the site of an earlier agora. Its ruins tell a lively story. We can clearly see an elegant Odeon, the baths house, the mint, and the shops. There were stoas – arcades – along three sides of the Roman Agora. An elegant cryptoporticus on the south side takes advantage of the natural slope of the site.

There’s a museum underground, in the northwest corner of the archaeological site. Here, artifacts and text narrate the history of Thessaloniki from the Roman era until the 20th Century.

One of the most interesting facts about the Roman Agora of Thessaloniki though is perhaps the fact that it’s “new”. The Roman Agora was only discovered in the 1960’s, during excavations for a new courthouse. Now, it’s impossible to imagine the city without it.

3. The Church of St. Dimitrios – Agios Dimitrios

Agios Dimitrios is one of the top 10 historic sights in Thessaloniki
The Crypt of Agios Dimitrios – a former Roman Bathhouse – is now a museum

Agios Dimitrios is the church of the patron Saint of Thessaloniki. According to tradition, this military saint was martyred in the Roman bath house that is now the crypt of the church. Agios Dimitrios is Thessaloniki’s most revered saint. In fact Thessaloniki celebrates liberation from Ottoman rule on October 26th, the feast day of Agios Dimitrios. Because of its cultural and spiritual importance, the church of Agios Dimitrios is one of the top 10 historic sights in Thessaloniki. The church we see today, a large five-aisle basilica, dates from the 7th century. It has several wonderful mosaics.

The great fire of 1917 destroyed much of Agios Dimitrios. It remained in ruins until its reconstruction, which finished after WWII. The plaza outside the church has a dark history – tombstones of Thessaloniki’s Jewish Cemetery pave the outside. Other building projects during the reconstruction also used tombstones from the Jewish Cemetery as raw materials.

4. The Bey Hamam

The Bey Hamam is one of the top 10 historic sights in Thessaloniki
The Roof of the 15th century Bey Hamam is one of the most exotic places in Thessaloniki’s complex urban landscape

Thessaloniki was conquered by the Ottomans in 1430. For nearly five centuries this was an important port city of the Ottoman empire. The Ottoman influence in the city, and the centrality of the sight rank the Bey Hamam among the top 10 historic sights in Thessaloniki.

The Bey Hamam, one of several exotic Ottoman monuments in the city, was one of the first built. The luxurious hamam is close to the present Church of the Panagia Achieropoietos. This is because the church became a mosque as soon as Thessaloniki was conquered. The hamam was therefore essential for preparing for worship. It was built in 1444, and has extraordinary architectural details, like the ornate muqarnas above the main door. This magnificent hamam long outlasted the Ottoman empire. In fact, it functioned all the way until 1968.

The Bey Hamam of Thessaloniki now sometimes hosts exhibitions. Also, it has a beautiful cafe. You can enjoy a glass of wine on the roof amid the tiled domes of the hamam – one of the most interesting and intimate settings in Thessaloniki.

Related Post: Ottoman Thessaloniki – An Exotic Heritage

4. Aristotle Square

Aristotle Square is one of the top 10 historic sights in Thesslaoniki
Aristotle Square is the heart of the city, a lively cosmopolitan plaza on the bay of Thermaikos.

This beautiful plaza with its surrounding colonnaded arcade defines the city. Aristotle Square – or Plateia Aristotelou – looks like it’s always been here. But actually, it’s a relatively new addition. Much of the downtown of Thessaloniki was lost in a great fire in 1917. As a result, the formerly dense Byzantine and Ottoman city was re-imagined. Thessaloniki adopted the character of a European capital, with grand public spaces.

The architect and urban planner Ernest Hebrard was in Thessaloniki during WWI as part of the Entente forces. He designed an urban plaza that expresses Thessaloniki’s distinctive Byzantine character. The cream and Bordeaux color scheme, as well as the incorporation of Byzantine decorative motifs, join the classical rhythms and proportions of the buildings surrounding the square. The plaza opens at the sea to embrace the gulf of Thermaikos. Moreover, it perfectly frames Mt. Olympus.

Although the plaza only took shape over the middle of the 20th century, it is so definitive of the city that it definitely ranks among the top 10 historic sights in Thessaloniki.

5. The Top 10 Historic Sights in Thessaloniki – The Modiano Market

Thessaloniki’s covered market is a glorious example of industrial architecture. Eli Modiano, of the prominent Jewish Modiano family, designed the market in the 1920’s. In this lively marketplace under its soaring glass and steel roof, people shopped for produce, meats and poultry for generations. The Modiano Market – just steps away from Aristotle Square – is undergoing an extensive restoration to become the hub of the commercial center once again.

6. Agia Sophia

This Constantinople-style Cross-in-square church with a dome, is one of the most famous churches of Thessaloniki. Agia Sophia, defining the heart of downtown in its own plaza, dates from the 8th century. The interior is magnificent, like a cool drink of water on a scorching day. Painted in quenching shades of blue and green, it features botanical motifs and tromp l’oeil marble. Interestingly, much of this dates from the Ottoman era, when the church was a mosque. More interesting still are the original mosaics, because they represent so clearly different theological periods. In the apse over the altar, a simple Cross represents the iconoclastic period (726 – 787), while the central dome has an elaborate mosaic of the 9th century.

7. The Rotonda

The Rotonda of Thesaloniki - one of the top10 historic sights in Thessaloniki
The Rotonda, Thessaloniki’s oldest building, is a dramatic and beautiful space.

Among the top 10 historic sights in Thessaloniki are definitely these famous Roman sights, defining the cityscape for centuries: the Rotonda, and Kamara – part of the Galerian Complex. You can;t miss the Rotonoda – it’s Thessaloniki’s largest and oldest building. The magnificent Rotonda of Thessaloniki dwarfs the surrounding buildings. At 30 meters high and 25 meters wide, it’s massive. And the uninterrupted space under the soaring dome is extraordinary. After their recent restoration, the splendid mosaics of the Rotonda glow.

The Rotonda of Thessaloniki is unique in that it expresses the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman eras. It was built by Roman Tetrarch Galerius in 306 AD. Soon after, in the late 4th century, it became the Church of St. George. In 1591, the Rotonda became the mosque of Hortaz Effendi, acquiring its minaret, the only one remaining in Thessaloniki. Additionally, you’ll see an iscription in Arabic Turkish above the door, and if you walk around the Rotonda, you’ll see the tomb of Hortaz Effendi.

8. Kamara

Emperor Galerius won a great victory against the Persians in the battle of Satala (present day Armenia). The relief sculpture on this glorious triumphal arch tells the story of the great battle. The surviving arch was once part of an impressive 8-pillar gateway spanning via Egnatia – still Egnatia street. One of the top 10 historic sights in Thessaloniki, Kamara is also one of the most popular landmarks, a meeting point for centuries.

9. The Palace of Galerius, the Octagon, and the Roman Baths

The Galerian Palace - one of the top 10 historic sights in Thessaloniki
As you wander In the ruins of the Galerian Palace, you can find beautiful original details.

If you continue from the Rotonda, past Kamara, and cross Egnatia, you are following the ruins of the great Galerian complex. Today, this is a lively pedestrian zone that is the heart of the student quarter, with the partially excavated ruins running through its center. The Galerian Complex culminates in the Palace of Galerius. This is one of the most significant Roman sights of Thessaloniki. A large excavation reveals the foundations of an impressive palace complex. This includes the Octagon – once a throne room, wit a magnificent mosaic floor. There are also the foundations of a grand Roman house. Additionally, you’ll see the ruins of the original Roman Baths. Beautiful original mosaics survive. But perhaps mot interesting of all are the engravings of game boards in stone – a pleasant echo of the backgammon you will hear students playing at the cafes all around the ruins.

10. The White Tower

The White Tower is one of the top 10 historic sights in Thessaloniki
Landmark and symbol of the city, the White Tower is now also an excellent museum of the history of Thessaloniki

More than just chief among the top 10 historic sights in Thessaloniki, the White Tower is the undisputed symbol of the city. It’s on the postcards, refrigerator magnets, and souvenir coffee cups. However, it’s anything but kitsch. This magnificent round tower was once the easternmost bastion of the city walls.

The popular symbol was not always so beloved, nor was it even white. Built in the 15th century, it had many names over the years. It was the Lion Tower, then the Tower of Kalamaria. Finally, when the tower was used as a prison, the tower was called the “Kanle Kule” – the Tower of Blood.

It finally became the “Beyaz Kule” – White Tower, in the 1880’s. This was part of a campaign of the Ottoman Empire to rebrand its image. Clearly, it worked.

Today, the White Tower has a museum of the history of the city. The displays are primarily in Greek but there is a great free audio guide. The interior spaces are fantastic, and so it the view from the roof.

If you would like to learn more of the story of the White Tower and information about visiting, please see this related post: The White Tower of Thessaloniki

Top 10 Locals’ Favorite Activities in Thessaloniki – Enjoy the City Like a Local

Set among monuments from many centuries of culture, there is a playground of a city. Thessaloniki has a lively Mediterranean temperament. This is a city made for pleasure. Join the locals at their top 10 favorite activities in to get the true flavor of Thessaloniki lifestyle.

1. Enjoy the Seafront Promenade of Thessaloniki

A walk along the seafront promenade at sunset is among the top 10 locals' favorite activities in Thessaloniki.
A walk along the seafront promenade at sunset is among locals’ favorite activities in Thessaloniki.

Thessaloniki has one of the most impressive seafront promenades of all Europe. In every season, and especially at sunset, you’ll find Thessaloniki’s waterfront promenade jammed with locals. Pretty much all of the city – plus their dogs – enjoy an early morning or an evening stroll here. The stroll begins at the “Palia Paralia”- Old Seafront – stretching from the pier in the west to the White Tower. From here, the promenade widens into a parkland. The skateboarders practice their jumps at the statue of Alexander the Great, while both tourists and locals line up to take instagram shots at the famous Umbrellas sculpture. This has been topped the list of the locals’ favorite activities in Thessaloniki for generations.

A walk along the seafront is essential. This is definitely one of the best things to do in Thessaloniki. The promenade is quite long. So to explore more, you can rent a bike or a scooter, or just enjoy a leisurely sunset walk towards the Thessaloniki Concert Hall. It’s a little over 3 kilometers to the east.

2. Shop Like a Local at the Kapani Market

Shopping for food is one of the locals’ favorite activities in Thessaloniki? Oh, you bet. First, Thessaloniki has a serious reputation for excellent food. And besides that, Mediterraneans in general are not one-stop convenience shoppers. In the central market, shopping for food is more like a sport. It’s also one of the liveliest and best things to do in Thessaloniki. The marketplace is pure pleasure, and it’s also serious business. Join the locals at the Kapani Market, supplying the city since the Ottoman era.

Fish scales fly, vendors shout, customers haggle, and meats swing from hooks. The best of the season’s produce glistens in heaps. Cheeses, poultry, eggs and dry goods are at the edges of the marketplace, and housewares – including religious articles, are in the eastern plaza. After you browse around the marketplace, you can stop for a coffee right amid the chaos. You’ll find a cafe across from the olive vendors. A visit to the marketplace is one of the best cultural experiences in Thessaloniki.

3. Have a Koulouri in Aristotle Square

Thessaloniki is famous for “Koulouri” – a simple bread ring covered with toasted sesame seeds. Although they don’t look like anything special, they’re actually really delicious. Vendors sell them in the mornings, and especially around Aristotle Square. Enjoying a koulouri in the square, humble as it sounds, is one of locals’ favorite activities in Thessaloniki. Do like the old men, and share the crumbs with flocks of pigeons as you stroll along the colonnade and gaze out at the sea – it’s like a little Greek Venice, via Angelopoulos.

4. Have a Very, Very Leisurely Coffee by the Waterfront

Thessaloniki loves leisure as much as it loves caffeine. And besides, everyone loves a view. This is why the seafront, from the port to the White Tower, is lined with cafes. First find the one with the mood you like best, then stake out a table. No one will rush you as you sip on your Frappe or thick Double Greek coffee. How is something as simple as drinking coffee one of locals’ favorite activities in Thessaloniki? Because here, coffee is not a beverage; it’s an event.

5. Explore Ano Poli

Hiking up to the Byzantine City Walls for the sunset view of one of local's favorite activities in Thessaloniki
Hiking up to the Byzantine City Walls for the sunset view of one of local’s favorite activities in Thessaloniki.

The Old Town of Thessaloniki – “Ano Poli” (upper town) is the most charming area of the city, with its authentic historical character intact. One of the locals’ favorite activities is hiking up along the Byzantine city walls to explore the Kastra and catch an amazing view. First, get lost in the winding alleys, and admire the traditional architecture. Then discover the some of the hidden historic sights of the city, including several UNESCO World Heritage monuments. One of these is the Byzantine Baths. These baths served the community from the late 12th/early 13th century all the way until 1940 (but you can still bathe in an authentic Byzantine bath in the nearby Loutra Lagada).

Old Town Thessaloniki is an essential destination. For everything you need to know about Ano Poli, including a complete list of things to do and a map, please visit this related post: Things to Do in Old Town Thessaloniki – Ano Poli.

6. Eat Fried Salt Cod and Drink Retsina

Having Salt Cod off of a sheet of grease paper, accompanied by chilled retsina and conversation, is one of locals' favorite activities in Thessaloniki.
Having Salt Cod off of a sheet of grease paper, accompanied by chilled retsina and conversation, is one of locals’ favorite activities in Thessaloniki.

After your hike in Ano Poli, you’ll have an appetite. This traditional dock workers’ lunch is just the thing – a Thessaloniki specialty. Even though there is so much fantastic fresh fish and elegant meze, this classic meal remains a favorite. Tender salt cod is fried in a crisp and fluffy batter. On the side are “skordalia” – a spread with an indecent amount of raw garlic – and a searingly hot fried pepper, zingy with vinegar. The bold combination is delicious, and one of the classic tastes of Thessaloniki.

This is the perfect time to get to know retsina, because its clean aroma of resin stands up perfectly to the bold flavors. You enjoy this fabulous meal in the alleys near the harbor. Service is no-frills – you eat right off of a piece of grease paper. Salt cod in the afternoon is one of the locals’ favorite activities in Thessaloniki, and definitely one of the best things to do.

Related post: The Fabulous Food Specialties of Thessaloniki

7. Have a Beer on a Mini Cruise

A cocktail cruise of one of the top 10 locals' favorite activities in Thessaloniki
The view of Aristotle Square is very fine from the sea

By the White Tower, there are several boats lined up that offer harbor cruises for the price of a drink. They look like a tourist attraction, but locals love them. In fact, having a cocktail on a mini sunset cruise is one of the local’s favorite activities in Thessaloniki. Choose the boat with the music you like best. Then order your drink, and enjoy a 30′ – 40 minute cruise around the Bay of Thermaikos. The schedules for departures, as well as the drink prices, are posted outside each boat.

8. Enjoy a Film Under the Stars

Catching a film at a summer cinema is one of the top 10 locals' favorite activities in Thessaloniki
Catching a film at an outdoor summer cinema on a hot summer night, with the scent of jasmine in the air, is one of locals’ favorite activities

Between May and October is the season of the Outdoor Summer Cinemas. Thessaloniki was once full of many “Therina” Cinemas (“therino” is summer), and a handful remain – still very popular. This has been one of locals’ favorite activities in Thessaloniki for decades. In these fragrant gardens open to the sky, you can see a first run film or a classic, in its original language with Greek subtitles. There are light refreshments, snacks, and even hard liquor available.

9. Join the Locals for the Nightlife of the Kato and Ano Ladadika

Because Thessaloniki is so famous for nightlife, one of the best things to do in Thessaloniki is to ignore the hour like the locals do and join them for some late-night culture. A typical Thessaloniki evening out starts with a long and festive dinner. Then there’s some bar hopping, followed by dancing as night turns to dawn. A late night out is an essential – one of the best cultural experiences in Thessaloniki. You can start in the Ladadika. This is a historic neighborhood of converted warehouses right by the port. This area is now full of lively restaurants, places for ouzo and meze, and popular bars.

Across Tsimiski street is the now extremely popular “Ano” (upper) Ladadika – with more chic restaurants, bars, and multi-purpose spaces. Further up is a younger and slightly louder crowd gathers along Valaoritou street. Enjoy the fray, then escape to one of the rooftop bars for cocktails and starlight. This is definitely one of the locals’ favorite activities in Thessaloniki, especially on a hot summer night.

10. Enjoy a Nightcap, Thessaloniki-style

An after-hours bowl of Patsas is one of the top 10 locals' favorite activities
Having a bowl of patsas, a soup of tripe and trotters that’s famous for preventing hangovers, is a classic Thessaloniki after-hours ritual.

No one goes home hungry in Thessaloniki. There are two favorite after-hours’ meals. One is the cult ritual dish “patsas”- a tripe and trotter soup. Patsas is served with garlic and hot red pepper. With its high collagen content, it has the reputation of healing joints, banishing crow’s feet, and – most importantly – warding off hangovers. An after-hours bowl of Patsas ranks for locals among the locals’ favorite activities in Thessaloniki, and it’s definitely one of the best cultural experiences. However, this potent, strong-smelling brew is definitely not for everyone. Don’t worry though, because no one goes hungry after hours in Thessaloniki. There’s a tasty alternative. Around 5 or 6 am, the Best Bougatsa shops start opening. This hot flaky pie from Asia Minor comes with fillings of sweet cream, minced meat, cheese, or spinach, It’s a delightful bedtime snack – or early breakfast.

The 10 Best Cultural Experiences in Thessaloniki

This city has an incredible contemporary cultural scene. There are many unique museum experiences. But there is more going on in Thessaloniki’s cultural scene. Here are the 10 best cultural experiences in Thessaloniki:

1. Visit the Port of Thessaloniki for the Excellent Museums

Visiting the port and its museums is one of the best cultural experiences in Thessaloniki
The Port of Thessaloniki is an essential destination for leisure and culture.

There are many things to do in the Port of Thessaloniki. The beautiful brick warehouses of the port are now some of the most exciting cultural venues in Thessaloniki. Some serve as screening rooms for the international film festival and the documentary festival. Also,there are three excellent museums here. There is the MOMus Experiemental Museum, where you can experience avant garde art encompassing various media and performance. There is also the MOMus photography Museum, the only museum on Greece solely exhibiting photography. Lastly, Greece has a strong affinity for cinema and an impressive history of cinema – get to know it at the Thessaloniki Cinema Museum.

These are just three of Thessaloniki’s many excellent and diverse museums. Please refer to this related post for more: Museums in Thessaloniki : Archaeology to Contemporary Art.

2. Go to a Concert

Thessaloniki has a very active contemporary music scene. One of the best cultural experiences in Thessaloniki is to enjoy live music with the locals. For international concerts, check the calendar of the Principal, a large and comfortable venue with excellent facilities and the best concert calendar in town. Smaller alternative clubs in town and even some bars have live bands several nights of the week – check posters around town.

3. See Local Contemporary Art at Thessaloniki’s Art Galleries

To see what’s going on in the contemporary art scene and some of the best works of local artists, go gallery hopping. Some of our favorite spaces for art include Nitra, Lola Nikolaou, and Zina Athanassiadou.

4. Experience Live Theater

Yes, of course it will be in Greek. But you will enjoy some top quality productions for a very reasonable price. If you pick a classic ancient Greek tragedy or comedy, you’ll enjoy one of the best cultural experiences in Thessaloniki, especially if it is at one of the outdoor venues. Check out the program of the National Theater of Northern Greece.

5. Discover Centuries of History of the Jews of Thessaloniki at the Jewish Museum

Thessaloniki was home to one of the largest communities of southern Europe, until the mass deportations during World War II. The city is currently building a very large new Jewish Museum. Until then, the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki, in a historic commercial arcade, will absorb you with a moving story. The Jews of Thessaloniki have been part of the city from the founding of the of Thessaloniki until the present. The Jewish contributions to the culture, architecture, and society of Thessaloniki tremendous. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn about this precious and vital part of Thessaloniki’s rich heritage. This is much more than simply one of the best cultural experiences of Thessaloniki. Visiting the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki is an essential human experience.

6. Glimpse the Mystery and Beauty of Ancient Greece through Music at Seikilo

Fans of music and fans of ancient history will find Seikilo absolutely fascinating, and so will anyone else. A visit to Seikilo, whatever your interest or age group, is one of the 10 best cultural experiences in Thessaloniki. This family of musicians and scientists have realized an incredible project, reproducing ancient instruments by uniting science and archaeology. The instruments themselves are things of beauty. Get to know the Chelis – the original lyre formed of a turtle shell (of course at animal-friendly Seikilo, they are a beautiful replica) – the invention of Hermes as a gift to his older brother Apollo. Come for an experience to immerse yourself in a world of ancient music, mythology, and universal artistic values. A visit to Seikilo is among the very best things to do in Thessaloniki.

7. The Olympion Cinema

Seeing a film at the Olympion is one of the top 10 cultural experiences in Thessaloniki
The Olympion Cinema is in one of Thessaloniki’s most beautiful buildings, curving around Aristotle Square

Thessaloniki is a serious cinema town, and seeing a movie with your fellow cinephiles while you’re here may be one of the best cultural experiences in Thessaloniki. The Olympion Cinema of Thessaloniki is in one of the defining historic buildings that curves around of Aristotle Square. The building is from 1950, by architect Jacques Moshe. This venue has had the city’s largest theater and screening room since its opening, and is now the main screening room for the Thessaloniki International Film Festival. This is where all the first quality international films and art films screen. It’s an excellent space to enjoy a film.

8. Visit the Villa Bianca

The Municipal Art Gallery of Thessaloniki has three intimate exhibition spaces. Each of them is historic and beautiful. Because of both the setting and the exhibitions, visiting the Municipal Art Gallery is among the 10 best cultural experiences in Thessaloniki.

The main space of the Municipal Art Gallery of Thessaloniki is the eclectic mansion Villa Bianca, a work of the architect Vitaliano Poselli. In this Belle Epoque wonder, you can see excellent contemporary exhibitions. Additionally, there is an excellent collection of the works of Nikolaos Gyzis, a late 19th century artist of the Munich school. It’s a beautiful collection of paintings, prints, and sculpture. And it has an extraordinary space to match. There’s a pleasant cafe in the garden. After your visit, enjoy a stroll, because this neighborhood east of the center is beautiful for exploring.

9. Visit a Dynamic Cultural Center at the Bensousan Han

Visiting the Bensousan Han is one of the top 10 cultural experiences in Thessaloniki
The Bensousan is one of the most atmospheric spaces in Thessaloniki.

Thessaloniki was once full of “Hans” – inns for travelers and merchants with space for their pack animals and goods. The Ano Ladadika district had several. The Bensousan Han operated until the 1930’s, and then was abandoned for decades The inspiring space was then used occasionally for avant-garde theater productions, concerts, and other arts events. Now, it’s an active cultural space with a full calendar of events throughout the week in its diverse, extremely atmospheric spaces. When you are exploring the city in the evening, stop by for one of the best cultural experiences in Thessaloniki. You may even get an impromptu tour – the director of the space is warm and dynamic.

10. Have a Unique Experience of History with Thessaloniki Walking Tours

A tour with Thessaloniki walking tours id one of the 10 best cultural experiences in Thessaloniki
On a tour by sailboat with Thessaloniki Walking Tours, our guide Tassos Papadopoulos narrated a series of fascinating events from throughout the history of Thessaloniki

Of all the ways to get to know Thessaloniki, this is one of the very best. The team of Thessaloniki Walking Tours is the most engaging group of scholars in town. They presents fascinating views of history. With a complete historic context, and attention to vivid details, their thematic tours cover a broad range of topics. Thessaloniki Walking Tours delve deeply into various aspects of the city’s history. These tours are a combination of solid history, spellbinding performance art, and meaningful dialogue with the past – one of the best cultural experiences in Thessaloniki. Here’s another excellent experience with Thessaloniki Walking Tours:

Related post: Kinda Blue – Exploring the Roots of Rebetiko

The Best Things to Do in Thessaloniki – Just Wander and Let the City Happen to You

Of course should should see the top historic sights, and taste the best dishes, drink coffee with the locals, and experience the city’s culture. And you will – Thessaloniki is so compact, so dense with fascinating activities, sights, flavors, and experiences that you cannot help but have a great time. Be on the lookout for these highlights of Thessaloniki, and you are sure to run into them as you just enjoy getting lost in the beautiful urban tapestry, take-out frappe in hand.

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Etiquette for the Epidemic – Gracefully Navigating Our New Social Reality https://www.provocolate.com/etiquette-for-the-epidemic-gracefully-navigating-our-new-social-reality/ https://www.provocolate.com/etiquette-for-the-epidemic-gracefully-navigating-our-new-social-reality/#respond Tue, 31 Mar 2020 10:32:05 +0000 https://www.provocolate.com/?p=2420 No handshake, no hugs, no kisses on both cheeks – in our strange new reality, etiquette plays a valuable role. While we learn how to handle new physical perils in the outside world, we also suddenly need to gracefully navigate an extremely stressed social climate. Etiquette for the epidemic isn’t superficial; it protects and strengthens […]

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No handshake, no hugs, no kisses on both cheeks – in our strange new reality, etiquette plays a valuable role.

While we learn how to handle new physical perils in the outside world, we also suddenly need to gracefully navigate an extremely stressed social climate. Etiquette for the epidemic isn’t superficial; it protects and strengthens our social fabric.

Social Distancing, Social Media

Social media may help to fill the enormous gap left in our lives because of social distancing. But it can only go so far.

Just as before, social media can connect us across geography and time, which is something we can appreciate now more than ever before. But social media can also serve as an ersatz social life. Quantities of friends and numbers of likes can mask the absence of meaningful connection.

Etiquette for the Epidemic: Using Social Media Well

On the plus side, social media gives us the chance to find out how far-away friends and family are coping. It can also connect us with more distant friends – people we see infrequently and aren’t in close contact with. I’ve been moved by the genuine interest that acquaintances have shown. I’ve also been surprised by the superficiality, or even absence, of exchanges with people I’d thought I was closer to.

We can shape a meaningful virtual world by using social media with sincerity. One way is to connect with people on an individual level. Another is to share constructive information. I’m always grateful for something novel to read – some new ideas. Some people have a gift for inspirational or entertaining content.

You’re Not Alone

You’re not the only person experiencing the pandemic, even if social distancing makes you feel like you are. That’s what the word pandemic means – everyone is experiencing it. Everyone else is also experiencing the same isolation, the same concerns, and many of us are going through much worse. Unfortunately, it’s not just about you.

Boredom Is Not in Fashion

Complaining about boredom is out.

Time is a gift, not a burden. Speaking of ways to pass time, to kill time, is in poor taste. The essential workers protecting us would be grateful for the reflective time we have. More to the point, people struggling for their lives are struggling for more time. Time is life itself, and if it’s abundant, we can only be grateful.

Pushiness Is Also Not in Fashion

Maintaining safe social distancing isn’t just about good manners; it’s an essential for public health. For some of us, it’s even a survival skill. We’ve all seen altercations arise from people taking advantage and squeezing in between responsible people waiting 2 meters apart in line. Then the shouting – shouting of course was never in, but now it’s simply unsafe.

Keeping a safe distance from others can be an exhausting exercise in vigilance. We’re trying to stay to one side of the pavement when we do go out. Particularly when someone can’t see us, we take responsibility for maintaining the appropriate distance.

Socializing During the Epidemic

Etiquette for the Epidemic - Writing postcards is a nice way to create a tangible connection.
Writing postcards is a nice way to create a tangible connection.

It would be nice if some of our new ways of relating to one another could stick. We’re all missing human contact. To stay socially connected, we can revive some pre-social media customs:

Communicating with Strangers

I was walking the dog. Another woman was walking her dog. As we passed each other across a distance of 3 – 4 meters, we gave a courteous nod. Then, we saw each other again 20 minutes later. We were both disproportionately thrilled.

Face masks hide our smiles so we have to incorporate gestures – a wave to say hello, touching our chest to say thank you. Maybe we’ll make up new gestures along the way.

Reinventing the Neighborhood

We’re also getting to know our neighbors better, calling across from balcony to balcony. No one seems to want to miss an opportunity for socializing.

It’s really nice to shake off a little of our urban cool.

Talking on the Landline

Etiquette for the epidemic - Try a long phone call, with no distractions.
Try a long phone call, with no distractions.

Some of remember a time when there was such a thing as a long distance call. They were really expensive. We counted the moments and enjoyed the voice on the other end as long as we could afford to.

A phone call was an event. We didn’t have any distractions, like a TV on in the background. We focused totally on the other person. We can make conversation matter the same way now.

Analog Communication: Using the Mail

We’re missing physical contact more than anything. It’s nice to get an instant message or an email. But a letter or postcard you old in your hands is a rare treat. Writing them is also a meaningful way of connecting for you.

Virtual Cocktail Party

To these vintage communication standbys, we can add another favorite with a 21st century twist. The other night, all of us in Travel Bloggers Greece had an evening of wine and conversation via Skype. It was strangely touching to see the faces of friends gathered together again.

Etiquette for the Epidemic – How to Communicate with Compassion

Etiquette’s not about making an impression; it’s about showing care for others. Kindness and sincerity are the foundation of good manners.

It’s nothing more than a set of guidelines to help us gracefully through social situations, particularly unfamiliar ones. The epidemic is the definition of an unfamiliar situation, and that makes etiquette indispensable now. It’s essential for nurturing our personal relationships – no matter how casual or how close. But more importantly still, it keeps society intact. We don’t just survive as individuals; we survive as a culture.

It’s comforting to be able to rely on these rules. Just when we need them most though, in a situation of panic or distress, they seem to abandon some of us. All we need to do is treat people as we wish to be treated. If that’s challenging, we can just take our cue from the other person, by responding in kind.

Responding in Kind

When people reach out to inquire about you, trust in their sincerity. No one’s asking you about yourself just to get you to ask how they are. But do ask – and not just because of conventional etiquette. Not showing an interest in others now can communicate an unseemly self-absorption. Good manners are fundamentally an expression of character.

Following up with a reciprocal inquiry is also important for you, for preserving your own humanity. There’s so little most of us can do about the pandemic. But one thing we can do is to take an interest in others. It’s also a relief to take a break from having life just be about you.

Questions vs. Good Wishes

Asking how your friends, neighbors, and family are faring actually does two things. You get the information you need, but you also engage more deeply. Good wishes are nice, but eliciting information demonstrates a more sincere interest – you’re not just hoping they are well, you want to know.

What to Ask During the Epidemic?

Most of us aren’t as concerned about ourselves as much as we are about the others in our lives. Some have friends and family doing essential work that puts them in harm’s way. And most of us have more vulnerable people in our lives – our older parents, or friends and relatives who are in delicate health. Also, many also have family and friends who are separated from them by oceans, continents, and closed borders, or who live in countries that have been hit particularly hard. It’s nice when someone takes an interest in the people we care about.

We can meet distress with compassion. And on the other hand, many of our inquiries will be rewarded with good news, allowing us a moment to experience gratitude.

Compassion and gratitude both are becoming essential survival tools. It’s helpful to seek every opportunity to practice both.

And Whom Do We Ask?

Some of the most meaningful and sincere exchanges I’ve had have been with people I haven’t seen in a very long time. Others have even been with people I don’t know that well. It’s the distance itself that makes them so meaningful, proving the strength of our society in tough times. We can strengthen it further by widening our circle.

There’s nothing obscure or arcane about good manners. Etiquette at heart is an expression of character and compassion. Doing what feels natural and kind is always the right thing.

Wishing you all good health.

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Lagada Baths: Experience Historic Byzantine Baths at Loutra Lagada https://thessalonikilocal.com/loutra-lagada-experience-historic-byzantine-baths/#new_tab https://thessalonikilocal.com/loutra-lagada-experience-historic-byzantine-baths/#new_tab#respond Wed, 25 Mar 2020 20:34:50 +0000 https://www.provocolate.com/?p=2404 Just outside of Thessaloniki, in the suburb of Lagada, there is a unique historic bathing experience. The Loutra Lagada – or Lagada Baths – have a history centuries’ long. Therapeutic waters have been flowing into these baths for over a millennium.  Thessaloniki has a history of bathing culture, but many of these historic baths are […]

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Just outside of Thessaloniki, in the suburb of Lagada, there is a unique historic bathing experience. The Loutra Lagada – or Lagada Baths – have a history centuries’ long. Therapeutic waters have been flowing into these baths for over a millennium. 

Thessaloniki has a history of bathing culture, but many of these historic baths are now closed, and serve as monuments. This is the only historic bath among the best spas in Thessaloniki.

The Mygdonia Bath of 1400 - Lagada Baths - Loutra Lagada
The Mygdonia Bath of 1400

The Baths of Lagada


Inside this clean but dull municipal facility is a fabulous surprise: there are two Byzantine era baths, beautifully intact. The Mygdonia bath is from 1400, and the Justinian is from a full 500 years earlier – 900 AD. Bathing here is not just therapeutic and enormously pleasurable; it’s a novel way to experience history. The baths have enjoyed centuries of uninterrupted use. 

Visiting the Lagada Baths – Loutra Lagada is one of the best things to do in Thessaloniki – combining history, luxury, and health. It’s a great way to experience local culture.

Related post: Best Things to do in Thessaloniki – Sights, Activities, and Cultural Experiences

History and Legend of the Lagada Baths

The history of the baths starts long before their construction. The rich therapeutic spring that fills the baths was fabled centuries earlier. Legend has that Constantine the Great (272 AD – 337 AD) and his mother Helen (according to legend the discoverer of the true cross) bathed in these healing springs. Constantine the Great and his mother Helen are now Saints in the Orthodox church. The chapel at the baths is dedicated to Saints Constantine and Helen. Moreover, the town of Lagada celebrates these Saints on their feast day – May 21st – some with an astonishing ritual of fire walking.

The first pool of the Lagada baths – the Justinian Bath – dates from around 900. There are two explanations for its name: one gives credit to a military physician Justinian, another to a Roman general of the same name. 

After the Ottomans conquered this region in 1430, under Murad II, they redid the Byzantine pools in the Ottoman style. The great domes over the baths have characteristic Ottoman brick arches, while the original Byzantine masonry is still in evidence. The baths, very much as we experience them today, appear in the famous 17th-century chronicler Evliya Çelebi’s Seyahatnâme: Book of Travels. Other visitors to baths include the Ottoman geographer M. Halzi-Salfa, who attested to the effectiveness of the waters in 1670, and the British traveler Martin William Leake, who came here in 1835.

Experiencing the Lagada Baths – Loutra Lagada

The Koroneia Bath at Loutra Lagada - Lagada Baths
The Koroneia Bath is available for private groups by reservation


Each of the moderately-sized pools – comfortably holding perhaps a dozen bathers (maximum capacity 18) – has wooden planks on the floors which is very pleasant. Marble lines the baths and there is a high dome overhead, and plenty of natural light. The water is about chest high, and at 39° C  (102° F), perfect for wallowing in and still just cool enough to paddle around in slowly. More therapeutic water cascades from fountains from the edges of the pool, making for a fine massage of the shoulders and neck. 

There are also additional pools at the baths which are available for private groups by reservation. The Artemis and the Koroneia are modern pools.

There are also many private whirlpool baths with thermal therapeutic water available, also by reservation.

The Water Composition of the Lagada Baths

The warm waters of the Lagada springs are rich in beneficial minerals. They contain sodium (Na), calcium (Ca2), sulfate (SO4), bicarbonate (HCO3), potassium (K), and fluorine (F). This mineral composition renders it useful for a number of ailments. In additional to being beneficial for the joints and bones, the waters are useful for motor and rheumatic disorders, disorders of the circulatory and nervous systems, gynecological disorders, dysfunction of the liver and kidney, sensitivities of the gastrointestinal system, and skin diseases. The water is also suitable for drinking cures. 

Even those who have no particular complaints will benefit from these healing waters. Its mild alkalinity makes it particularly soothing to the skin.

What to Bring to the Lagada Baths

The therapeutic waters of the Lagada Baths leave the skin silky soft. So you will not need any body lotion. Bathing suits however are required at the baths. You’ll also need a towel or two and a plastic bag for your wet bathing suit. A bathing cap is always advisable.

There are no lockers at the baths. You can leave valuables at the front desk.

Are the Lagada Baths Loutra Lagada Single-Sex or Mixed Gender?

Single-Sex and Mixed- Gender bathing are both available at the Lagada Baths - Loutra Lagada
Single-Sex and Mixed- Gender bathing are both available at the Lagada Baths – Loutra Lagada

The main pools at the Loutra Lagada – the Justinian and the Mygdonia – are single sex. They alternate between men and women on a daily basis. This applies from when the baths open until 19:30. After that time, the pools are available for private parties until the baths close.

Private groups of mixed or single gender can book the Koroneia (capacity 15) or Artemis (capacity 18) baths for a private session.

What Are the Hours of the Lagada Baths?

The Loutra Lagada are open every day from 8:00 – 22:00. The may close on some holidays. Consult their Facebook Page here.

How Much do the Lagada Baths Cost?

Not much! Individual entry to the Lagada Baths is €6. To reserve one of the Loutra Lagada pools – including the Justinian and Mygdonia (by evening) – call ahead. The price is €20 per group of four, and €4 for each additional person.

How do You Get to the Loutra Lagada?

The 83M brins you to the Lagada Baths - Loutra Lagada
The 83M brings you from the landmark arch Kamara to the Lagada Baths in just over half an hour.

The Lagada Baths are in the town of Lagada, a suburb of Thessaloniki. It’s easy to reach by public transportation. The bus line 83M leaves makes several departures a day, between one and two hours apart. You can board the bus 83M at the bus stop “Kamara” on Egnatia. This is about 40 meters before the triumphal arch, as the traffic flows. Many buses say 83 and they all go to Lagada, but only the 83M will take you to the Lagada Baths, which are just outside of town. You can also get the bus at other stops further along Egnatia. For schedule information, please see here.

The bus makes a loop. Therefore, in order to return to Thessaloniki, you get on one of the buses arriving from Thessaloniki. Calculate approximately 40 minutes from the departure time. The people at the desk can help you with the schedule. You may need to transfer buses at the terminal in Lagada. The bus drivers will guide you.

The Loutra Lagada are less than a half hour away from Thessaloniki by car, along the E79/E90 Thessaloniki – Kavala highway. Follow signs to Lagada, then turn right at the sign Lagada – Lagina. Turn left at the traffic lights and drive into the town. After that, turn right at the first traffic light in town. Continue on this street until the next lights. Finally, make another right and the road leads directly to the Loutra Lagada.

The Loutra Lagada – Lagada Baths

Especially if you’re visiting Thessaloniki in fall, winter, or spring, this makes a relaxing outing – like a beach day, but with more history. You won’t soon forget the experience, and your skin will not forget the therapeutic treat.

Have you been to a natural spa in Greece?

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