Greece has wrapped up the summer season as Europe’s top destination, surpassing the likes of Spain, France, and even Italy.
It’s clear that tourists are flocking to the country’s idyllic, white-sanded beaches in record numbers.
What many of us couldn’t have predicted, though, is the fact that Greece is continuing to attract a remarkable amount of visitors now that the temperatures have dropped and the beaches that filled our Instagram feeds just a few weeks ago have closed down.
According to the INSETE research body, the Mediterranean country is expecting over 4 million international visitors this month, and there are three destinations that have recorded the largest increase in tourists since last year.
This highly influential port city is set to become Greece’s trendiest hotspot this fall, expecting the biggest visitor arrival increase for September – a jump of almost 20% from the same time last year.
With an estimated 315,000 tourists arriving this month, Thessaloniki is about to turn into the country’s liveliest hotspot.
You can expect some of the city’s main attractions (The White Tower of Thessaloniki, Aristotelous Square, The Archeological Museum of Thessaloniki, and the ancient Roman Forum) to be extra busy during weekends, so make sure to plan ahead.
Since Greece is mostly known as a summer destination in the international travel community, the fact that a port city like Thessaloniki can experience such a surge of visitors only once the temperatures cool down might come as a surprise.
However, if you ever get to see the city for yourself, you’ll see why it’s so much more than just another resort town.
For starters, though Thessaloniki lies adjacent to the Aegean Sea, sunbathing in the city is not an option.
Those who spend their summers here need to travel back and forth to nearby beaches if they want to tan or take a swim.
Instead of beaches, the city boasts a long, stunning promenade that borders the sea, offering unparalleled views, especially this time of the year.
Beware though, that nights can get pretty windy, so make sure to bring a jacket with you if you’re a fan of seaside walks.
Moreover, Thessaloniki is famous for its rich cultural scene and lively atmosphere, so once in the city, there’s plenty to do and see without having to go to the beach.
Aside from the more traditional attractions mentioned above, tourists can also enjoy modern exhibitions like the Museum of Illusions (a must-see, in my opinion), the vibrant bar scene, and the many diverse restaurants that offer excellent-quality food at competitive prices.
If you don’t have the time to sit down and eat between sightseeing trips, I recommend getting a bougatsa or gyro to go – Thessaloniki is known for being home to some of the best variations of both.
Shopping enthusiasts will have the time of their lives here. Aside from the numerous shops located near Aristotle Square, they can also find a great outlet center named One Salonica right near the outskirts of the city.
Some of the most popular brands in the world (Nike, Adidas, Calvin Klein, Guess, Lacoste, Levi’s, Tommy Hilfiger, etc.) sell their merchandise here at heavily discounted prices,
Though the capital comes in at number two in terms of its increase in visitors from last year (15.4%), it’s still drawing in the highest number of tourists in the country.
Over 1.2 million people from more than 45 countries are expected to visit Athens this September.
Between the Parthenon, the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora of Athens, and the many, many museums that proudly display the city’s rich history, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to filling up your itinerary with cultural landmarks.
The third spot on the list is held by Rhodes, a famous summer hotspot that continues to draw in more than 437,000 visitors a month even as its beaches start to empty.
The largest of Greece’s Dodecanese islands has apparently recovered from the devastating fires of July, seeing a 7.1% increase in visitors this fall compared to the same time last year.
Home to the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the island holds remarkable cultural value that tourists are able to enjoy all year long.
Its natural beauty, delectable cuisine, and fun year-round events further explain why tourists are still flocking to the Greek island even though peak season is over.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com