Thessaloniki is a thriving Greek port city located on the Thermaic Gulf of the Aegean Sea.

Sprawling but atmospheric and lively, it is a city with evidence of Roman ruins as well as Byzantine and Ottoman history. While much of the city was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1917 the rebuilt 20th-century city has a modern European layout and retains numerous examples of its rich historical past.

Unlike Athens, it is a city easy to navigate with horizontal streets and the beachfront makes getting around a simple task.

As Greece’s second largest city it is located in the north of the country in the Macedonian region of Greece.  Its most symbolic monument is perhaps The White Tower although these days it is a city more known for its gastronomic diversity by way of hundreds of cafes, bars, traditional tavernas and gourmet restaurants.

All of these venues help to serve up and create a lively nightlife known as one of the best in the Balkans.

Being one of the foremost the business hub of the region Thessaloniki offers excellent infrastructure by way of excellent train links both internationally and domestically. The city has numerous museums and hosts several major exhibitions and conferences every year, including an International Film Festival.

Like Athens, numerous internationally renowned archaeological sites are easily accessible from Thessaloniki.  The city is also known as being close to the fabled Mount Olympus which sits to the south.

Being Greece’s second centre this is a city with three football clubs all of which have tasted success on the national stage at some time.

The most centrally located are Iraklis Football Club who play at the large Kaftanzoglio Stadium.  This is the club made famous more recently by Vassilis Hatzipanagis, a player acquired by the club in 1975.

A Soviet national of Greek descent he was in later years voted Greece’s greatest ever player.  It was his goals in 1976 which won Iraklis the Greek Cup with both Panathinaikos and Olympiakos being defeated en route to the final.

One of Greek football’s most traditional clubs Aris were founded in 1914 as a founder member of the Hellenic Football Federation.   The clubs’ colours are the distinctive golden yellow and black colours; the dominant colour of Macedonian and Byzantine culture.

The club is named after Ares the son of Zeus and one of the twelve ancient Greek Olympians.  His image is displayed on the club emblem.

While recent years has seen limited success for Aris (the club were relegated to the third division in 2014) it’s slightly different at cross-city rivals PAOK.

Both PAOK and Aris contest the heated Derby of Northern Greece a game known for its extremely intense atmosphere. With the domestic decline of Aris, 2018 will see the clubs meet again in the derby for the first time in 4 years.

Known as PAOK (Pan-Thessalonian Athletic Club of Constantinopolitans) PAOK are one of the top four teams in Greece alongside the three Athens giants.

Established on 20 April 1926 by Greek Constantinopolitans who fled to Thessaloniki from the city of Constantinople, PAOK plays their home games at the intimidating Toumba Stadium which has a capacity of 28,701 seats.