Earth > Europe > Southern Europe > Balkans > Greece > Thessaloniki
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Thessaloniki is a city in Greece.
This route is widely perceived to be difficult. If you are lucky it can be easy if you get to a Turkish truck. Take bus #27 from the centre (e.g. Kamara) until the very end of the line. [UPDATE: bus #83 no longer starts where bus #27 finishes. Instead ask your #27 bus driver where to get off for bus #83] Switch to bus #83 and go a few stops until you see the motorway. Get off when you see a JetOil rest area on the other side of the motorway. Just follow the bus and go under the motorway to reach the other side. Once you are there, rally the petrol station personnel to help you (they are very nice!). Show them your Istanbul (or Kavala or whatever) sign and ask them to tell you if they notice someone going to Turkey. Be prepared to convince the paranoid drivers that you are not wanted by the police and show them your passport. Getting a ride can take anything between one minute and five hours. If it just does not work at the petrol station see the options below (thumbing up on the road etc). Also, there should be a toll station (peage) about 15 km east of Lagynas, near Analipsi (where bus #83a is supposed to go). When you get to the border you might want to switch to a passenger car because the truck could be stuck in customs for a while.
Attention: The Jetoil rest area is now rebranded to 'BP Oil' in green colour.
Another option: Bus #83 goes all the way to Lagkadas. If you stay on the bus until it reaches this small town, you can try hitching out in the direction of Kavala, Istanbul, etc.
North-West to Skopje (North Macedonia)
"Don't bother to hitch hike to the border!!!
There is a free bus from the city centre to the border! These buses belong to the casinos you can find at the border just before Gevgelija. You can find theses buses on Tsimiski street. They are easy to recognize (the name of the casino is printed on the bus, and it is written "free shuttle"). The buses leave at 17:00 and 21:00 though, so it might be quicker to hit the road directly, but more comfortable taking the bus.
Take a bus #8 (or #31?) from Egnatias street in the centre to KTEL (last stop). You can also take bus #45 which goes between KTEL Makedonia and KTEL Halkidiki (you want to go to Makedonia). Then switch to bus #81 which you can find on the upper platform. Afterwards, you can do different things. You can get off at a first bus stop after you drive over the highway Athens-Skopje - here. Be careful, the first big crossing you going to come to is the crossing with the ring road (you are going to driver underneath it) while only the next on is the one you need (you are going to drive above it). Then you have to walk almost 2km backwards (if you walk fast it takes 20 minutes) and you can hitch on the junction to the highway to Skopje. However, if the bus goes into Agios Athanasios you can better get off and find your way from there (it seems that this bus goes differently depending whether it is #81 or #81A and depending on some external stuff; you can talk to the driver to make sure).
Bus 81A from KTEL busstation to Agios Athanasios. Got off when it turns from the highway. From there hitched to Polykastro and another ride got me to the border. At the border asked the car in front of me for a ride, which got me to Skopje. Standing on the highway there, it was very quiet
South to Athens
Take Buses #31, #12, #8 or #78 to the bus station called KTEL. From there take bus #80 or #80A to the village called Malgara. You can go down on the station "25 Martiou" which is the closest to the tolls (in Greek ikostis pemptis martiou if you want to ask the driver). There you can ask and find the toll station (in Greek diodia) easily. You'll have to walk about 2 km to find it, but then there is a possibility to get a ride even straight to Athens. Before you enter the motorway where the toll station is, you will have to go through some fields. If it's night be careful, just before the motorway there is a small ridge that is a bit steep and there is water flowing down, you need to find your way around it. If it's day, from the fields you can see a small canteen on the motorway, head to that direction, you can bypass the ridge there very easily and also you don't need to jump the fence (easy to jump though) because there is an entrance/exit for the canteen. From the canteen you will see the tolls, they are less than 50 m away.
 First of all, it appears greek bus stops do have several names. "25 Martiou" is written on the roadsign but on the bus, it's announced differently. I messed up because of that various times so always be sure to ask the driver to signal your stop. Finding the canteen is a bit of trial and error, but still easily possible. In case you don't find the toll station, from the canteen go right (following the "Athen" roadsign) for about 1,5km to find a small (but picturesque) side stop (August 2017).
 Some of these buses don't go all the way to Malgara so you have to get out at one stop in the middle of nowheren before the bus turns back to Thessaloniki and wait for another bus with the same or different number that goes to Malgara. It can be a little confusing so the best way is to tell someone on the bus where you want to go and let them tell you when to get off for the next bus and the station ikostis pemptis martiou. (September 2019)
For those not wanting to take a bus or want to hitch closer to the city (and aren't scared to walk), go to the the A1 motorway going towards Athens. It runs right beside the city centre. Starting from near the train station after walking 2kms you will arrive at the international bus station. From there it's a 6km walk along the motorway to where the E90 highway joins on to the A1 road to Athens. This is a good spot due to the high amount of Turkish trucks coming straight from the border and bypassing the city as well as any traffic coming from the north. Stand at the end of the onramp where there is a shoulder for traffic to pull over and you can get a ride to Larissa or even Athens.
West to Igoumenitsa
Go to the train station, which is also the inner-city bus station. From here, take bus 8 KTEL (the KTEL are the blue and white buses) to Makedonia bus station. From there, you can catch the bus #80 to the end of the line, then follow motorway signs walking (approx. 2km) to the toll station. Or rather than taking bus #80, just walk across the road (roundabout) till you come to an on-ramp
Take bus 83 (any of them will get you there, even the express) from Aristotellous Square stop (on Egnatia Street). You want to get off at the Kombo Gerokomeiou exit (Google maps doesnt show the bus stops this far north, but on the opposite side of the highway is a gas station called Derveni Gas S.A.). MAKE SURE you explain to the bus driver you want to get off at this exit. Otherwise, he might not get off the highway here and the next stop is too far to walk back from. Stand on the shoulder of the ramp. There is not a lot of traffic here, so it might take you up to an hour to get a ride, but I think its worth it because most of the cars going as far as Bulgaria will get on the highway here. Good luck!
Basically you need to take 2 buses. Very similar to the above direction to Sofia. But this time it is bus #27 / #27a and bus #84 / # 84a. You can change buses in two different places.
- This way is faster as you don't need to stay on bus #27 so long. Take bus #27 or #27a and get off at Minerva stop in Oreokastrou suburb. If you walk some hundreds of meters from the bus stop where you get off, in the direction the bus was going, you will reach a crossroads and on your left you will see another bus stop. From there you can take bus #84.
- This way is easier because you don't need to change bus stops, it is the way mentioned in the Northeast to Sofia section. Take the bus #27 or #27a from the centre the the final s top Platia Stavroupolis (Stavroupolis square). Then at the same place take bus #84 / #84a and you're already on your way.
Stay on bus #84 whilst it passes through 2 villages, Liti and Melissochiori. When it is out of Melissochiori, at one point the bus will cross the road going to Kilkis and you will see signs for Kilkis. When you are at the cross roads you can press the stop button on the bus and it will stop just after the cross. There is a bus stop there. Then you are at a great spot for hitching a ride to Kilkis, Gallikos or even North Macedonia (but not the most common way to Skopje. it is a different border).
There are many hospitality network members in the city, so try your luck there.
Some have had luck asking the good people at Mikropolis/Micropolis Social Space, (see ). They were very friendly and could advise on where to squat for the night.
The university campus in Thessaloniki is just in the city centre and it's the perfect place to sleep in your van/tent/sleeping bag, because it's the only green place in the city and because the police are not allowed to enter the university! There are few guards but don't have the right to touch you. It's generally safe, though perhaps not suitable for a single female.
It's not so safe anymore. The drug business moved there, as unbelievable as it sounds. People selling drugs and fighting over things related to them, passerbys get attacked.. If someone has a van maybe it's okay. But sleeping in a tent or sleeping bag is an invitation to get robbed. It's the worst place to sleep, really. Try Seih Sou, the forest on the hills above the city. Or any crowded place in the center.
We slept at a deserted camping space by the beach in Ag. Triada, which is really worth a visit. We even made a big fire at night and it didn't disturb anybody. This place is about 30km south of Saloniki and you can reach it within 1,5h by bus. From the famous ottoman tower take the bus to ikea. At the last stop ask for the bus to Perea and Ag. Triada. The last bus will pass by the airport and enter a cupple of villages before you get to Triada. Ask for the old camping at the beach, locals will guide you.
The tickets for the buses in the city cost 0.80€ and sometimes 0.90€. Blackriding is possible. If you speak to the controller in a foreign language (showing that you're a tourist, not an illegal immigrant) they'll just leave you alone. If not, they first ask 30 euro for the tax, you say you don't have. Then they ask your id card, you say you don't have it with you and then they'll just give you a paper to note your name and address, where you can write any fake name. Or even simpler you can give your real passport and they are supposed to send you the bill to your country. It's 100% SURE that they will not.
There were big movements in this city about not paying for public transport. Many people don't pay and controls are rare. Spent a whole month in this city taking buses daily and never got checked.
I took one shower in one hospital 500 metres from the television broadcast antenna. There are three hospitals close to each other and I just tried one. After walking around in the hospital and talking friendly to some nurses I was able to take a shower and shave. May 2012. Len
There is also the "national swimming pool" which is open to the public for some hours during the day. Swimmers have to take a shower before entering the pool and nobody checks who enters them, so you might grab the chance for a bath there. It is located in the center of the city, near the University. Location on map: https://goo.gl/maps/q9XRl (Jan 2015) Last time checked, the national swimming pool was out of service. It worths to ask around about it first if it's still not in use. (July of 2018)
One even safer option is the student residence. Noone here checks who enters. Ever. Even if they see you like a complete stranger with a tons of baggage and ask you anything, just tell them that you are visiting a friend or whatever. After you enter, go upstairs to any floor and you'll find common baths everywhere. It is located near the swimming pool at the city center. You can enter 24h. Location on map: https://goo.gl/maps/H8WZU (jan 2015)
Thessaloniki is perhaps the only place in the world where you can eat everyday for free easily. Next to the campus of Aristotles university, Egnatia street, after the crossroad with 3rd September street there is the university canteen. Ask anybody for fititiki leschi/φοιτητική λέσχη. There you can find a free full meal twice a day. 12.00-15.00 and 18.00-20.00. These free meals are provided for the university students, but even if you're not one, you don't have to pay and you don't have to show a student ID or any document. Just follow the queue, take the food and eat it. There's never any checks. There's nothing to be afraid of, just try to look more or less like a student. Only disadvantage is that it is closed on weekends, summer holidays and not-working days for the university in general. Picture of the building here.
Alternative entrance: when you are there look to your right. At the end of the grass there is a stair case, you can go up directly to the dining hall. I don't think you really need this because it's very is easy to enter trough the main door.