So you’ve been to Athens and seen the sights and you’ve partied on a Greek island. No, you still haven’t quite done Greece yet.
There’s no denying that those who miss out on the country’s second largest city are missing out. Thessaloniki is a small yet safe hot spot for vibrant nightlife excursions and live music events.
With the thousands of Greek and international university students that invade this city every summer it’s no wonder that the bars, nightclubs and gig spaces are aplenty. While the historical nature of Athens can be found in parts of this city, it’s the culture here that defines this metropolis.
The tastemakers agree too. While Lonely Planet ranked the city as the world’s fifth best party city worldwide alongside Dubai and Montreal, the National Geographic Magazine labelled the city as one of its best tourist destinations. While in 2014 the Financial Times’ FDI magazine declared Thessaloniki as the best mid-sized European city for the future of human capital and lifestyle.
What those lists all signify is that this Greek city might be a great place to visit now, but it’s only going to get better.
That means the large number of venues and gigs that are happening across the city now is only going to increase as the culture of Thessaloniki grows.
That’s not to say that the metropolis should be viewed as an up and coming urban sprawl though. The city is steeped in history with Thessaloniki being viewed by the old Greek songs as a romantic place.
The area is also known for being the birthplace of a significant number of Greek composers as well. The likes of Manolis Chiotis, Stavros Kouyioumtzis and Dionysis Savvopoulos all found fame for their works in Thessaloniki.
While it’s comparable to Athens in terms of its love of rock music, much like the rest of Greece, there are a wide variety of genres that are represented in this city as well (you only need to read below to see the evidence of this).
Needless to say visiting and experiencing the music scene of Thessaloniki should be high on the list of any tourist with hopes of discovering Greece.
Head to Bardos Live Bar to Check Out Some Local Bands
Come 8pm every day of the week this live music venue opens its doors to the best Greek musicians regardless of whether they’re up and coming or stalwarts of the scene. While Greek rock and avant-garde music is showcased here the venue has a penchant for picking great storytellers. The interior has a warm homey feel which provides punters with the perfect laidback atmosphere for live music.
Pick Up Some Local Vinyl Goods at On Stage Records,
Born in 2001 out of the owners intense passion for music this record label has become integral to Greek’s independent rock foundations. With plenty of national and international bands on the roster checking out On Stage Records is likely to give you the closest encounter with the local music scene of Thessaloniki that you’re likely to get. After you’ve sought out where the best local bands are playing you can buy vinyl from the label’s online shop.
Hear Thessaloniki’s Best at Block 33,
26is Oktovriou 33
A cornerstone of the city’s live music scene since 2009 this establishment prides itself on displaying the best local music there is to offer. While some international bands do play here from time to time you can also find experimental theatre shows and art exhibitions pop up sporadically. While the yellow brick building might be off putting from the outside the Greek bands within definitely won’t be.
Experience the Awesome Sound Quality of Thessaloniki Concert Hall
Maria Callas Street
Opened in the year 2000 this building comprises of a 1400 seat auditorium and a much smaller performance space. While it’s an architecturally splendid sight from the outside, its interior provides some of the best audible quality you’re likely to hear in Thessaloniki. The concert hall also comprises of a library and museum of musical instruments.
Catch Jesus Is Angry At One of His Local Gigs
We have no doubt that you’ll come across plenty of Greek rock in Thessaloniki, but by catching this experimental electronic outfit you’ll be opening up yourself to an entirely different side of the city’s music scene. A side project of another well known local band I Knew Them Jesus Is Angry is electronic music “the old fashioned way”. This act performs with analog modular synthesisers and is sure to impress come the live show, but in the meantime have listen to a song below.
Drink Tequila and Listen to Live Music at La Doze
Vilara 1 & Suggrou
Located in the hipsterville of Thessaloniki this cocktail bar has the best DJs and best drinks in this side of the city. It happens to draw a diverse crowd with its fifty different varities of tequila. Although few are keen to splurge on the one worth €500. While the venue already sounds like on hell of a party the fact that the owner George Tsiridis – an art dealer and traveller – loves foreigners and usually gives out a free welcoming beer only furthers that sentiment.
Flick Through Indie at Lotus Record Shop
Opened in late 1990 this establishment is the go to establishment for vinyl lovers. That’s not just because it’s been around for a long time either. While Lotus imports a large variety of CDs and records from overseas the owners carefully select quality and diverse music from a broad range of genres.
Witness The Live Bands Of Gaia Live
Doxis 5, Ladadika
Located near the docks of the city this beautiful brick building has plenty of space inside for punters to experience an eclectic array of live music. There are plenty of stand-alone tables in the middle of floor for patrons to rest their beverage on while they listen too. In fact much of this venue caters for the relaxed type who are looking to enjoy a few casual drinks while the band play in the background.
See The Best Audio Visual Spectacle In Greece At Reworks Festival
The first ever audio-visual music festival in Greece has become an exictable prospect on the annual calendar. While the organisers state that its mission statement was to enhance the “unbreakable relationship between music and contemporary art” Reworks has provided artists with a space display innovative new ideas since the event began in 2005. The music aspect of the event extends to a large variety of electronic threads with DJs and musicians combining with installations, exhibitions and visual works to provide a unique experience.
Check Out Mylos Club For The City’s Best Local Gigs
A trusted source of live music shenanigans you’ll often find this place filled to the brim with passionate local music fans. With wooden floors and furniture that will transport you back a few decades that music on offer should jolt you back into the present. Make sure you check their website (with a bit of help from Google translate) ahead of time to see what’s on and book yourself into the live Greek music experience.
Experience Greek Hip-Hop Via Sifu VERSUS
At the forefront of Greek’s emerging hip-hop scene over the past decade has been this underground artist. Sifu at the core of things is all about rap and Thessaloniki. Proud of his heritage and the music he makes this veteran graffiti writer (yes you read that right) has been performing for around 15 years.
Head To Noise Records For All Your Vinyl Needs
Dimitri Margariti 5
When a record store has lasted for 20 years you know it must have a few more things going for it other than just the standard slabs of records. What has maintained this store throughout its history is the fact that it is one of the only establishments in Thessaloniki to sell modern international releases. Open six days a week with varying open times Noise Records is an important location for local music enthusiasts looking to sample the best international releases at the drop of pin.
Get Historical At The Museum of Ancient, Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Musical Instruments
This refurbished three-story building was reopened in 1997 as three exhibition spaces worth of 200 musical instruments. With the instruments dating back as far as 2,800 BC there is a wide array of history that can be sampled. While some of the instruments on display can be heard there is also an electronic archive in the museum’s library where tourists can listen to different scores. A musicology research department is also apart of this establishment.