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Salonika, Greece

It’s not all doom and gloom in Greece. The country may be suffering financial problems but ironically this has made it prime territory for bargain-hunting tourists, reports the New York Times, who have put the coastal city of Salonika, aka Thessaloniki, on its ‘Best places to go in 2011’ list.

Chosen because of its growing vibrant cultural scene as much as for its more obvious beach attractions, the city, often overlooked by tourists in favour of Athens, has a new mayor who is ardently promoting major cultural and tourism initiatives. One of the newest additions to the town’s arts scene includes the non-profit Dynamo Project Space, which provides a venue for up-and-coming local artists, architects and designers. The eco-conscious design firm 157173 opened last summer, and is enjoying success with its off-beat minimalist lamps, mobiles and other quirky modern design objects. And you may or may not catch a Sfina event, as the self-termed ‘urban prankster network’ organizes mob-style events in public spaces on the spur of the moment.

Salonika is Greece’s second largest city so it is cosmopolitan and vibrant enough to provide plenty of entertainment, while hopefully avoiding the transport strikes and protests that the capital, Athens, suffered last month. Working with a tour operator who has local connections is a plus at this moment in time.

British Airways has just added a direct route from London to Salonika and Ryanair and Easy Jet fly there (select Thessaloniki) from London’s Stansted and Gatwick airports respectively.

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