Just 10 km from mainland Greece, Thassos (or Thasos) is not your typical postcard Greek island. No white houses and no arid and barren landscapes: Thassos has a mountainous landscape with lush vegetation for which it is not uncommon to hear it called “the Emerald Isle”.
No fear: in common with Ireland Thassos has only the predominance of the green color, for the rest is warm, little rainy and full of beautiful beaches as other Greek islands more known. It is characterized by an almost perfect circular shape and is crossed by a coastal road all along its perimeter that makes it easy to move around.
A rental car is recommended, so you can stop along the way to look for the most beautiful beaches, while the ideal way to explore the inland trails is by mountain bike. Thassos is in fact considered the best Greek island for mountain bikers and here is held the most important national race.
On one side of the island it is possible to see in the distance Mount Athos, the sacred mountain of the Chalkidiki Peninsula, while on the other side your gaze is already turned towards the East and the Slavic countries.
It is precisely from Bulgaria and the countries of the former Yugoslavia that the tourists arrive who, until today, together with a minority of Germans and Scandinavians, have fed the local tourist industry. But the secret of Thassos, a peculiar and still very cheap island, will soon be discovered by other European tourists as well.
Although Thassos winters are colder than those of the more famous Greek islands, this island also enjoys a mild climate. The best time to go to Thassos is summer; for those traveling in high season, it’s a great choice because it’s cheaper and less crowded than the most popular tourist destinations.
An off-season vacation in Thassos is recommended for those who love nature and instead of basking in the sun all day prefer an active vacation during which explore the island on foot or by bicycle. You can take advantage of very low prices for hotels and apartments, but it may be difficult to reach the island due to reduced connections in low season.
The beaches of Thassos are mainly sandy, but you can also find pebble beaches and some small rocky coves.
The most famous beach of Thassos is the enchanting Golden Beach (Krisi Ammos), a 3 km long sandy beach of fine white sand framed by green mountains. The sea is an expanse of turquoise with emerald patches; the waters are calm and transparent and the seabed slopes gently.
Golden Beach is an equipped beach easily accessible from Limenas, which is only 13 km away. It is a perfect mix of comfort and scenic beauty and is also suitable for those traveling with young children.
A beach that is easily accessible from Limenaria instead of Limenas is Metalia Beach. This lovely sand and pebble beach set in a small bay owes its name to an old iron mine.
Remains of the old plant are still visible, but do not compromise the beauty of the landscape, indeed this nostalgic touch makes the place even more fascinating. The waters are crystal clear and of an incredible blue color; there is a small bar and a rental of deck chairs and umbrellas.
One of the most popular beaches of Thassos is Paradise Beach, a name that many find more than appropriate. It is a beautiful sandy beach reminiscent of exotic faraway countries, bathed by a crystal clear sea from which emerges a characteristic rocky outcrop covered with vegetation perfectly conical in shape.
Hidden from view from the main road, it was once an oasis for nudists, mostly German and northern European tourists, while today it is accessible to all and also has an equipped area for those who want the comfort of umbrellas and deck chairs. It is located 2 km from the village of Kinira and about twenty from Limenas.
A hidden gem of Thassos is the natural pool of Giola, a pool of turquoise water created by the rocks, close to the blue sea. The more intrepid can dive from the top of the rocks, others can splash around in relaxation in the calm waters of the natural pool. It’s not easy to find, but it’s worth a try: look for a dusty path near the Aeria hotel in the village of Astris.
Other beaches not to be missed in Thassos are: Makri Ammos, Alyki, Papalimani, Salonikios, Skala Maries, Skidia, Vathy Marble.
Thassos is an island full of things to see, perfect for those who want to combine days on the beach and cultural visits.
Beaches and bays aside, the top attraction of Thassos is the archaeological site of Alyki, where you can admire the remains of an ancient temple dedicated to the protector of sailors and other fascinating ancient ruins.
To learn more about the thousand-year history of this island, conquered over the centuries by Persians, Romans, Byzantines and of course Greeks, visit the Archaeological Museum of Limenas. Inside this large, modern museum, located just 100 meters from the port, are statues and other artifacts from the classical and Roman periods, including a giant kouros (archaic male statue) dating back to the 6th century BC.
Leaving the museum, look for the remains of theancient agora, which are right next door. From there you can reach theacropolis, which was profoundly altered during the Middle Ages, and an ancient theater still used for performances and events.
For breathtaking views of the sea go to the Moni Arhangenlou Monastery, west of Alyki, set in a scenic hilltop location.
Put in the program of your vacation also a visit to the lovely mountain village of Panagia, in the hinterland of the island south of Limenas.
Thassos hotels and vacation apartments are concentrated in the island’s two main resorts, Limenas and Limenaria: the former is located on the northeastern tip of Thassos and the latter along the southwestern coast. They are both excellent bases for exploring the island and are recommended for those who want services and ease in getting around.
Other resorts with a good choice of accommodation are Skala Potamia, Chris Ammoudia, Potos, Kinira and Prinos. If you dream of a lazy vacation, in which the only movement you will do is from the hotel to the beach, you can stay in small resorts along the coast.
The good news is that hotels, b&b’s and vacation homes in Thassos are much cheaper than on the other Greek islands, so even in August you can find good quality accommodation without spending a fortune. However, it is advisable to book well in advance if you are traveling in high season.
The majority of tourists on vacation in Thassos choose to stay in Limenas, the main town of the island: it is a small unpretentious town that, however, conquers all with its simplicity, a short distance from the most famous beach of the island.
Instead of the white and blue houses typical of the most famous Greek islands, you will find small houses with red tiles, arranged in a somewhat haphazard way, without a real city center. Strolling through the streets of Limenas you will come across ancient artifacts that testify to its long history, while a few steps further on the countryside already begins.
It takes half an hour to get around all Limenas on foot, but there is a sufficient amount of stores, bars, restaurants and typical taverns plus a nice waterfront to spend a couple of days relaxing without getting bored.
Limenaria is the main beach resort of Thassos island, 38 km away from Limenas. Here too you will find pastel-colored houses and red roofs, a promenade perfect for evening strolls and beautiful beaches nearby.
There are no direct connections to the island of Thassos from the UK: you’ll first have to arrive in mainland northern Greece and reach Kavala or Keramoti, then from there take a ferry to your final destination.
The closest airport to Kavala and Keramoti is Thessaloniki, which is connected by low-cost flights, operating mainly in the summer months. The distance is about 170 km from Kavala and just over 200 from Keramoti.
If the coincidences of flight arrival and ferry departure times are good, renting a car at the airport of Thessaloniki and embarking at Keramoti it is possible to reach Thassos in only three hours.
Taking a flight to Athens is not recommended because it greatly increases the duration of the trip: consider that the capital is located over 600 km from the ports of Kavala and Keramoti.