Whenever we visit Thessaloniki, we are impressed by its hospitable, warm and kind people, who represent the essence of the destination. The city always invites congress guests from halls onto its picturesque streets and squares brimming with life, energy and fascinating history. Falling in love with the city is effortless. Visitors are beguiled by the unbelievable contrasts and authentic culture layered in history. Thessaloniki belongs among L – sized meeting destinations that can, on average, host up to 2,000 congress guests. Currently, the largest capacity for international events is 2,200 attendees in the largest hall in the Helexpo Exhibition Centre. In recent years, Thessaloniki has been placed among the top ten regional meeting destinations in the company of Ljubljana, Zagreb, Bratislava and other distinguished cities. The city’s greatest advantages are its excellent tourist infrastructure, meeting capacities and natural and cultural factors. In addition, the destination has leapt forward due to the proactiveness of the Thessaloniki Convention Bureau. Consequently, its image has been perpetually developing.
The cosmopolitan city of Thessaloniki is open to all. As such, it became a success story and a role model for the whole of Greece. Yet, something strikes out above all else; the love for the city is expressed through the everlasting affection for Thessaloniki’s sports clubs. When supporters take over the city, Thessaloniki is literally on fire. Such discrepancies are an essential and intriguing part of this astonishing city. Thessaloniki is also an important university hub of South-East Europe, home to the largest Greek and Macedonian Aristotel University. This unique mix renders Thessaloniki youthful and playful. The Mediterranean spirit embodied in one of the most interesting stories in Europe is waiting to be discovered by meeting planners.
NEED TO KNOW 2022
Thessaloniki has been welcoming hotels one after another. In early January 2021, the eclectic, hipster and charming Onoma Hotel opened its doors and heralded a new era of hotels. In the summer of 2021, Thessaloniki became home to the Vanoro Hotel, set in the very heart of the city. At the start of 2022, the boutique On Residence hotel opened its doors, followed by Hotel Teight in February. These are only a few among the latest openings on Thessaloniki’s dynamic hotel front. Additionally, there have been several announcements of new hotel openings. Thus, in July, The Monasty, Autograph Collection by Marriott International will welcome its first guests.
Further novelties have been implemented by Thessaloniki Convention Bureau, which has been extensively connecting, educating and motivating its members. The oldest Greek convention bureau has undergone several transformations and is now a good practice case of a public/private convention bureau. The latest event organised by the convention bureau is TCB Crossroads, which connected over 100 representatives of the regional meetings industry in April. The event fostered knowledge exchange and networking opportunities. The second event TCB Connect will bolster the promotion of the entire region of Central Macedonia. The matchmaking event will take place in May in Thessaloniki Concert Hall. Encompassing regional fam trips, TCB Connect is expected to host 35 exhibitors and the same number of hosted buyers. The bureau’s representatives regularly attend other events in the meetings industry, and you will be able to meet them in person at Conventa 2022. You can get a taste of the city’s energy and spirit through their innovative campaigns for Thessaloniki. We recommend watching one of their most-watched videos below: Time to live again – Visit Thessaloniki.
BEST INCENTIVE IDEA
You will meet the city’s historical mark on every step. Since 1978, Thessaloniki has been on UNESCO’s heritage list. We deem it particularly important that the city is the heart of the Greek winemaking industry. Therefore, our advice is simple: offer your congress guests a private tour and wine tasting at one of the estates in the city’s vicinity. We recommend opting for the Kir-Yianni estate in Naousa. The estate, founded by Yiannis Boutaris in 1997, boasts kilometres of vineyards in Naousa and Amyndeon in the North West of Greece. Numerous activities in the city of Naousa and its surroundings and a visit to the estate are a winning combination.
BEST KEPT SECRETS
The exhibition centre in Thessaloniki is among the largest in the Balkans. A thorough renovation set to conclude by 2026 has made a splash in the city. The destination will solidify its leading role in exhibition activities with the renovation. More than 175.000 sqm will enable an urbanistic intervention that will, in return, provide the city with a world-class venue, areas for commercial use, the creation of a metropolitan park and underground parking for more than 2,000 cars. The project ConfEx Park is the fuel behind the developing meetings industry. The project team of Sauerbruch Hutton (Germany), Gustafson Porter + Bowman (Britain) and Elena Stavropoulou (Greece) won at the international architectural competition. Thessaloniki will thus boast new alluring exhibition halls and pavilions that will feature distinct oval roofs. Another striking feature will be a grand amphitheatre for events and performances. Given the venue’s aspiration to become the greenest in Europe, the entire architecture will be sustainably-oriented. The project is currently in the design development phase, supported by all key stakeholders.
If you admire original fashion products and accessories, the city will amaze you with an array of spectacular conceptual shops. Here, shoppers can find unique clothing, accessories, and jewellery with a sustainable and personal note. Visiting the city’s shops is a holistic experience where the consumer feels comfortable and relaxed. Among these shopping gems, Hellofrom Thessaloniki is one of the most prominent and offers brands that cannot be bought anywhere else. Another fascinating store is the Juddah Club which connects cuisine and fashion. There is an array of eclectic combinations in Thessaloniki, which we warmly recommend.
TOP EVENTS IN 2022
The list of cultural events in the city is endless, and it is challenging to choose the most important ones. Nonetheless, the flagship event is undoubtedly Thessaloniki International Film Festival. The list of trade shows is extensive; among the largest is the iconic Agrotica, the exhibition of agricultural machinery. Sports events, likewise, are plentiful in Thessaloniki. For starters, we suggest viewing a football or basketball match. Sports enthusiasts will be familiar with iconic clubs such as Iraklis, Aris and PAOK, whose matches are a special experience.
Thessaloniki is home to an array of influential festivals, including the Thessaloniki Storytelling Festival, Dance Festival and Coffee Festival. The legendary, second-oldest cultural festival in Greece, Dimitria Festival, has been organised since 1966. The event includes theatre, music, art and other forms of creative expression. It is hard to encapsulate all of the city’s numerous happenings, yet, we can ensure that you will come across a truly interesting event, exhibition or festival at any time.
The unmistakable taste of the Mediterranean merged with various cultures and traditions through the ages to create a one-of-a-kind gastronomic story. Ranging from Ottoman influences to the cuisine of Sephardi Jews and diverse groups of immigrants, the fusion food has a typical Mediterranean twist. The easiest way to feel the energy and taste the flavours is by visiting the Modiano market, which was built in 1917 and recently restored. It represents the culinary heart of Thessaloniki. You will undoubtedly dine like kings both at congresses&events and in your spare time. Considering the restaurant selection is endless, we recommend a local guide. It is no surprise that some of the best Greek chefs come from Thessaloniki, including the star chef Akis Petrezikis. The craziest fact is that the street food is superb. In our opinion, the street food is one of the main reasons to organise an event in Thessaloniki. If you are still not convinced, we suggest attending the Thessaloniki Street Food Festival, taking place at the start of May, where over 40 food providers will present themselves.
FACE2FACE ATHENS vs THESSALONIKI
A current comparison of the closest competitors on the MTLG scale 2021
|MTLG Index:||4.53 (2021)||4.40 (2021)|
|Sunshine hours:||2.769 per year||2.338 per year|
|Numbeo Quality of Life Index 2022:||113,29||113,61|
|Number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms:||17.656||4.966|
|Number of 4* and 5* hotels:||176||42|
|Theatre hall maximum capacity:||15.000||5.000|
|Three best ranked MTLG criteria:||5.00 - ACI Airport Connectivity Index|
4.97 - Meetings infrastructure
4.95 - Tourist infrastructure
|4.96 - Tourist infrastructure |
4.96 - Meetings infrastructure
4.94 - Natural and cultural factors
|Stay in 5* style:||Hotel Grande Bretagne||Onoma Hotel|
|Comparison with the region:||A historic city with excellent connectivity to the rest of the world is where you will find infrastructure befitting a major European capital, but with better weather and in a more interesting location. The Athens allure includes 300 days of sunshine a year, more than 30,000 hotel rooms in 439 hotels, 95,000 sq.m of conference space, 1,000+ restaurants and 200,000 flights per year. All major hotels in the city underwent a refurbishment before the 2004 Olympics. Athens is an attractive destination in its own, very special way. It is a unique combination of the old and the new, set in a spectacular Mediterranean landscape.||A diverse and holistic meetings offer is well-connected through Thessaloniki Convention Bureau. The organisation has been placing the destination on the map with a fresh and innovative approach. Above all, the city impresses event organisers with its unmistakable energy and eclectic Meditteranean spirit. In this light, the destination seems like the rockish alter-ego of the larger meeting capital Barcelona. Thessaloniki is also the capital of Greek gastronomy which will surely impress event attendees. In addition, the city has an excellent value for money.|
MTLG EVALUATION 2021
DESTINATION FINAL GRADE
|THESSALONIKI INDIVIDUAL GRADES 2021|
|Natural and cultural factors||4.96|
|General and transport infrastructure||4.72|
|ICCA index - worldwide ranking||4.15|
|Numbeo Quality of life Index||3.02|
|Numbeo Safety Index||4.06|
|ACI Airport Connectivity Index||3.33|
|Nomad List Overall Score||3.22|