"The Emerald Isle in the Northern Aegean"
To visit the Thassos picture gallery - click HERE
Journey to Thassos
We visited in June 2003.
The nearest airport to Thassos is Kavala on the mainland. It takes about 20 minutes to reach the small port of Keramoti. From here it is a 30 - 45 minute crossing to the island of Thassos depending on your port of arrival. Owing to a dispute between the tour operator and the port authorities in Thassos town, our ferry was destined for Skala Prinou. A further coach journey of about 20 minutes finally saw us arrive in the main town. Of course by arriving in Skala Prinou, anyone staying in the south of the island saves some 20 minutes on the transfer time. Overall the journey was quite pleasant particularly as your luggage stays on the coach from the time you leave the airport until you reach your resort. It will probably not come as a surprise to learn that prices for food and drink on the ferry are highly inflated - on a par with airport prices. The good old captive audience syndrome!
Thassos Town (Limenas)
This was our first visit to Thassos. From speaking to others it was clear that Thassos attracts many repeat visitors mainly from the UK and Germany.
We stayed at the Evridiki studios about 10 minutes walk from the town centre. Our route into the town took us past the new port area. This seemed somewhat unattractive at first but somehow gained in charm as the days passed.
In the evenings the town has a vibrant feel as locals and tourists alike parade up and down the harbour front and the lanes that run behind. There are a number of pedestrian only streets lined with different kinds of shops. An ideal opportunity to buy some of the local specialties of the island such as olives, oil and honey.
A walk to the acropolis via the amphitheatre, is recommended. It may be stating the obvious but try to avoid attempting this in the mid-day sun. Once at the top there are great views of the town below and the surrounding area. We set out at 07:15 am and only just managed to be the first there. In the evening the pathway is illuminated to guide you to the top.
Around the Island
There is an excellent paved road which, for the most part, follows the coastline. It is well surfaced with few potholes. As such a scooter or motorbike would be a viable option to hiring a car. The road was often very quiet. Ferry arrivals at Thassos town and Skala Prinou seemed to be the only times when anything like traffic congestion occurs.
Signposting is fine until you head inland. Some mountain tracks do have signposts but often you just have to guess. What you need is a good map. Unfortunately, the tourist maps that are available do not fit that description. Best advice is once you head off road, make sure you have a full tank, a compass and plenty of water. You may be gone some time!
The eastern side of the island is more mountainous and consequently the road is more twisty. On the west coast the road is able to run quite close to the sea and in many places is flat and straight. Overall we found it very easy to travel around the island. Often the most difficult choice is which way to go, clockwise or anti-clockwise.
Wherever we went we always found the people to be exceptionally friendly. A little use of Greek was always appreciated although in no way essential.
Before we came to Thassos I had noted some comments on the excellent website Greek Island Postcards that Thassos has a problem with rubbish. In fact we found Thassos town particularly clean. There were at least 2 street cleaners on permanent duty. Who knows, however, if they will be able to cope with the excesses that the crowds of July and August will bring.
It no longer comes as a surprise to look out at a wonderful scenic view only to look down and find that rubbish has been dumped over the edge of the road. You can almost always guarantee that one of the items will be a fridge. This seems to happen all over Greece. Next time you stop to look at the view check to see if an old fridge is keeping you company!
Marble quarries dominate the landscape in the north east of the island. Don't panic if you hear the occasional loud bang. Whilst up in the mountains we were able to get quite close to one of these quarries and it was interesting to watch how the marble was extracted etc. Marble can be seen everywhere and is used to fill potholes in the dirttracks and to provide gardens with ornamental borders etc. Every now and then a huge slab of marble will be seen just lying on a beach as if it has fallen off the back of a lorry. The marble leaves the island on articulated lorries which just about manage to transport 2 massive blocks at a time.
The beach in Thassos town is quite small and gets very crowded. It is backed by tavernas and bars, some of whom offer free sunbeds if you use their premises. If you continue to the end of the beach and then past the boatyard there is a nice bar from where you can watch the sunset - again free sunbeds. Alternatively, for early risers, walk over the rocks and catch the sunrise. The beach to the west of the town is a narrow strip of sand and shingle and is not too appealing. The first decent beach in this direction is at Tarsanas.
All around the island there are many excellent beaches. The vast majority are easily accessed from the main road. This does mean, however, that it is not easy to find good beaches to yourself. Any decent beach is usually populated with sunbeds and backed by a taverna or two.
Going east (around the island clockwise) from Thassos town, the first main beach is at Makryammos. This has a gated entrance and a fee is payable to enter. We decided to carry on to the right and followed a reasonable dirt track. From this point until Golden beach there are a number of small coves which if you are lucky, you can get to yourself. Marble quarries dominate the backdrop. It is best to visit these beaches at the weekend when it is somewhat quieter.
Golden Beach is a long stretch of sand and shingle with no obvious centre. Having said that it always seem to be very popular. At the southern end, the beach becomes Skala Potamia. Nice looking beach with the usual facilities available.
Continuing round the coast you come to Kinira which is comprised of 3 long, narrow stretches of sand and shingle. Followed by Paradise beach, the unofficial nudist beach. From this point a number of small coves can be seen from the road before reaching Alyki, where beaches lay either side of the headland. This is a picturesque and popular location. On the southern side there are a number of good beachside tavernas and an opportunity to walk off any lunchtime over indulgence by following the footpath out and around the headland. Ancient marble quarries sunken in the sea can be viewed at the end of the headland.
There are many beaches along the south coast. The main ones are Astris, Potos, Pefkari, Limenaria and Trypiti.
Potos is a popular resort with a beautiful but crowded beach. The beach front is lined with many busy tavernas and bars.
Limenaria is the second largest town on the island and in addition to the central beach, there is a vast stretch of sand which extends for some several kilometres to the west.
Turning up the western side of the island the beaches tend to be more stony and are inviting only from a distance. There are a few exceptions. There are good beaches either side of Skala Marion, which also has a very pretty harbour. An ideal place to take a long leisurely lunch.
We also found that there were reasonable beaches at Skala Prinou. This came as a surprise as it seems on first impressions to be primarily a ferry port. However, to the west and then south around the headland there are wide stretches of sand and a good selection of bars and tavernas.
To the west of Skala Rachoni there are also good beach areas shaded by the occasional tree.
Heading on to Thassos town there are a number of good beaches, the highlight of which is the excellent beach at Pachis. All the usual facilities and particularly clean. Further on there are a few more beaches, such as Glyfada, backed by hotels. Just before getting back to the town there is a campsite on the beach at Nisteri.
All of the main villages can be reached by good paved roads. Once beyond them, then you really need 4WD to travel over the dirt tracks.
On the eastern side of the island the villages of Panagia and Potamia are easily reached as they are served by the main coastal road.
It is well worth traveling just beyond Maries to view the lake. This can be done in an ordinary car. I have to admit that I was expecting to see not much more than a puddle. It came as a very pleasant surprise to actually find a very picturesque lake. From beyond this point the track becomes much more rough.
With luck, however, it is possible to reach the OTE aerials that overlook Thassos town. The site is also home to a Greek Army base and insects that think your car is some kind of large animal that they can feast on. The views extend to the mainland and the mountains beyond and are well worth the effort getting there. This mountain area is very peaceful and a wonderful place to truly 'get away from it all'.
The rock and dirt track road to Kastro starts from just outside Limenaria. The trip is best done by 4WD although it is not impossible by ordinary car. In fact when we arrived in Kastro it was evident that a family celebration was soon to commence in the solitary kafenion. One of the guests had arrived in a Citroen 2CV. I was very impressed. The village has a very isolated feel. Despite this a number of the houses are being renovated presumably as summer retreats.
From Kastro we decided to continue on to Theologos. Well the map indicated that it was possible and we had also seen signs to Theologos on the way. This was nearly a big mistake. Despite following the signs we traveled over 20Kms to get to the other side of the valley via roads that were definitely a no-go area for Citroen 2CVs.
Having got to Theologos all of our enthusiasm to visit had drained away, so it was a quick dash down the road back to the coast and a cold beer.
Using the 'Amstel (500ml)' cost of living index, you can expect to pay the following prices:-
Taverna - 1.80 Euros
Bar with comfy chairs - 3.0 Euros
Supermarket - 0.60 Euros
Spirits such as Bacardi were quite expensive - about 4.0 Euros. ( I knew this because I had to buy quite a few of these for my companion).
Our favourite taverna was Moyses. This is some way out of the town on the exit road from the new port area. In addition to the excellent food there was traditional entertainment provided on most evenings.
Symi, Zorbas, Pigi and the Syrtaki.
There is healthy competition for your custom. This leads to some, but not all, establishments touting for your business. This can be a bit tiresome, particularly if you have already eaten and are just out for a stroll. I find it is best just to smile and say 'avrio' (tomorrow)!
An excellent bar for pre or after dinner drinks is the Tzaki. Very friendly service and mainly Greek clientele.
Another place that we enjoyed very much was the Green Sea Restaurant located about halfway along Golden Beach. We originally stopped there when we saw a sign proclaiming"Probably the best restaurant in the world". Well we couldn't resist ! Despite not drinking Carlsberg it was still very good.
Thassos town has many sites, all of which can be visited free of charge. Good guide books are available locally that will give good explanations of what can be seen. Certainly much better than I could do! Another significant site is located at Alyki.
We only really discovered the devastating effect that the fires had on the landscape once we had ventured inland. Vast areas have been decimated. Although there are signs of regrowth in some areas the splendour that once existed is possibly lost for ever.
The North East of the island escaped the major fires and its vistas and aromas are significantly enhanced by the pine trees that cover the hillsides.
At almost every beach we visited, jelly fish were evident. Fortunately they were all of the 'dead' variety!
I had read elsewhere that in the past there seems to have been a particular problem with wasps on the island. Maybe this year the spring storms had destroyed the nests as there did not seem to be any problem at all.
In the last few days before we left (mid June), they had just started to appear in large numbers. Be warned!
It always amazes me that there has never been a Greek World Road Racing champion. There seems to be no end of talent wherever you go in Greece. Thassos was no exception.
Alongside the normal international names of Avis and Hertz there are a number of independent companies offering much lower rates. Just ask them for a price, they can usually offer a 'special' deal. We used Potos and were pleased with the service. The car we hired in the first week was brand new and the jeep we used later was in good condition.
To visit Potos Car Rental - click on the logo.
To visit the Thassos picture gallery - click HERE
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