Though lesser known than Greek island hotspots like Crete or Santorini, Thessaloniki is a beautiful city on the sea replete with buildings in every style and from every period. Magnificent 3rd century remains stand next to neoclassical mansions, colorful markets and old oil warehouses converted into trendy wine bars and restaurants. Food and wine are part of the culture here, and the city is considered a gastronomic paradise among locals. The cuisine combines the simplicity of Mediterranean dishes with Balkan influences, enriched with spices and memories brought by immigrants from Asia Minor and Black Sea regions during the 20th century. Thessaloniki’s surrounding wineries are ideal for those who cherish good wine. —Maria Netsika
The native grapes found in the region’s meridian or mountainous vineyards include the white Malagousia and Assyrtiko varieties. Reds include Xinomavro, an unrivaled variety in Northern Greece, as well as Limnio and Mavroudi. There are also international varieties from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Many boutique wineries have gone to painstaking lengths to seek out the right mix of site, soil and grape plantings to produce high-quality wines. Look for Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) appellations like Thessaloniki, Epanomi, Nea Messimvria and Slopes of Vertiskos on labels.