A Book Lover’s Guide to Greece: Thessaloniki and Surrounds
Thessaloniki is a city of contrast, with a long history of conquest and war stretching back into antiquity. We delved into her hidden bookish interior; buried deep beneath layers of culture, degradation, hope, despair and history, a literary heart beats steadily on. In this edition of Babbling Abroad, we’re bringing you the best book haunts of Thessaloniki and the surrounding area.
Traveler Bookstore Thessaloniki
Proxenou Koromila 48
The only independent bookstore we managed to visit during our time in Thessaloniki, Traveler is, as the name suggests, a bookstore dedicated to books and writings on traveling. Here you’ll find Lonely Planet guides, maps for Europe and specific cities, all sorts of travel-related accoutrements as well as driving guides, notebooks and more. With its high ceilings and airy atmosphere, you’ll feel like you’re stepping into an adventurer’s lounge more than just another bookstore.
X-Factor: The décor! There are dozens of different-sized globes positioned around the shop, available for purchase. It really made the shop stand apart from other stores without being too cheesy.
Tsimiski 24, Thessaloniki
Public is what can only be described as a ‘general goods’ store. It sells everything from Laptops to Lego, DVDs to record players. They also stock a wide range of books, both in Greek and English, which is what landed them on this list! We couldn’t resist purchasing a Greek language version of HP and the Philosopher’s Stone from here, and were captivated by the floor to ceiling bookshelf dedicated to Agatha Christie. Their English language section includes both Middle Grade and Young Adult books, as well as an impressive adult collection across all genres but with a special focus on classics.
X-Factor: Did I neglect to mention that this bookstore is built on top of ancient Greek ruins? Well, it is, and you can read (in a bean bag!) to your heart’s content on the glass floor overlooking what Thessaloniki once looked like thousands of years ago.
11th km National Road
Another Public store, this time located in one of the quirkiest (and largest) shopping centres we’ve ever visited. The layout of the store and book selection is mostly the same, though slightly smaller, and with a very small selection of books for younger readers. However its location in Mediterranean Cosmos means that you can get your fill of shopping without having to brave the scorching heat during summer, or the chill winds of winter as you peruse from shop to shop.
X-Factor: While the bookstore itself may be similar to the one above, keep an eye out for the Cosmos food court. Did someone say Cinnabon cinnamon scrolls?
Note! Public is a very prolific chain store in Greece. If ever you find yourself somewhere slightly off the beaten path, there’s a good chance a Public store will be present for book-perusing in your closest major city. We also visited a Public store in Kozani, which had smaller, but still respectable, selection of English books.
Ianos Books Aristotelous & Cosmos
Aristotelous 7, Thessaloniki 546 24
11th km National Road
Ianos Bookstore is a Greek-speaking booklover’s dream. You’ll find everything here, from pre-school picture books up to philosophical essays by obscure modern Greek scholars. Text books, music CDs, rare books, books on travel, culture, science, art, education – the list goes on. The Aristotelous bookstore is much larger than Cosmos, covering three storeys along with a separate bookstore dedicated solely to children and tween fiction, and even then it gave the impression that they simply didn’t have enough shelf-space for all their books. You won’t find many English books, however, as this bookstore’s target market is the Greek-speaking local populace. We couldn’t find any English books in the Cosmos store, and Aristotelous has only 3 small shelves of English classics and a couple of mass-market paperback new releases.
X-Factor: Both the Aristotelous and Cosmos bookstores use our new favourite library mechanism: rolling bookshelves! Experience the wonder of pushing aside a bookshelf to uncover a totally new one beneath. Worth a visit for the shelves even if you can’t read Greek!
Stay tuned for our next Book Lover’s Guide To: post, where we’ll be covering the literary delights and surprises that the ancient city of Athens has to offer!