Thassos is a wonderful island in the north of Greece, just a short ferry ride from the city of Kavala, and an even shorter one (just half an hour) from Keramoti. It’s extremely easy to reach and delivers a great island experience.
Thassos is known for its lush, green landscape and its truly marvellous beaches – more than enough reason to visit. But Thassos also has a rich history and a unique archaeological site.
Thassos’ natural splendour is more than skin deep, and it’s directly tied to its history. Its gold mines attracted the Phoenicians, who colonized the island. Later, it was another source of mineral wealth that Thassos became known for. The Parians (people of the island of Paros) colonized Thassos for the marble. They were already familiar with marble, as the marble of Paros was greatly prized in the ancient world. The quarry of Thassos was famous – from here, marble used at Ephesus was quarried, and much was also used in Rome.
Thassos knew great wealth. It had also colonized parts of the mainland, where there were also gold mines. Besides the gold and the marble, Thassos was wealthy in wines – the wine of Thassos was prized in the ancient world, and coins reflected this – grapes on one side and the head of Dionysus, the god of wine, on the other.
Thassos, like the nearby mainland, was part of the Byzantine empire and was then conquered by the Ottomans. The island finally became part of modern Greece in 1912, along with the surrounding region.
Things to do in Thassos, Greece
1. Check out the Beautiful Beaches
The Beaches of Thassos are not merely beautiful, they are in some cases also very unusual and dramatic.
This is the most photographed beach of Thassos, and in person, it’s every bit as stunning. Technically it’s also not really a beach – more of a very dramatic natural swimming pool by the sea. A large expanse of golden stone frames a pool of seawater in a deep opening in the smooth rock.
There is a small hike down to this natural wonder. You park above then walk down a steep hill. There is a cantina and restaurant on the way where you can stop for a cool drink and an outstanding view. The walk takes a relaxed 10 – 15 minutes each way
Marmara beach is another of the famous beaches of Thassos. The colours of the water are almost unbelievably vivid – jewel-like turquoise and jade. This is because of the white marble sand bringing out depths of colour. Marmara means marble, and in fact, to get to this beach you drive on pure white roads through a marble quarry.
Down at the beautiful beach, you will find sun loungers, umbrellas, and a cantina. Trees surround the beach. It is a short drive off the main road and totally worth it- the drive is also gorgeous.
Other Fantastic Beaches
Psili Ammos actually means “fine sand” – and it is – an expanse of silky white sands is framed by rocks and trees, and the water here is gorgeous. At the golden beach, the sand shimmers, and the beach is also bordered with trees. His is one of the longer beaches on the island. For some privacy, you can try the wilder beach Kalamaki, a pebble beach on the south side of the island that is not organized and has stunning waters.
Aliki beach is right by the marvellous archaeological site. This sandy beach is surrounded by pines and lines with pleasant beach-side tavernas. Around the other side of the peninsula that has the archaeological site, you can – very carefully – enter the water from the ancient quarries.
2. Visit the Island’s Unique Villages
One of the more popular towns on the island, this expanse of beach lines a town with pleasant beach bars, cafes, and traditional tavernas. His is a convenient place to stay.
Potos village, just 2 kilometres from Limenaria, is a great combination of a cosmopolitan mood and fun nightlife, with gorgeous beaches. Besides the beach in the village centre, there are also the beaches of Agios Antonios, Psili Ammos, Pefkari, and Rossogremos, all popular for watching a gorgeous sunset.
Thassos’ capital town is completely charming, with an old harbour that is perfect for an evening promenade. There is also a modern harbour with boats coming and going frequently between Thassos and Keramoti on the mainland, filling the harbour with cheerful activity. Following the sea to the east are many beach bars and tavernas by the sea, under the shade of trees.
Limenas has a small and excellent Archaeological Museum with findings from different eras of Thassos’ rich history. Exhibits include a splendid larger than life-sized Kouros figure and a bust of Pegasus, and representations of important figures from throughout the island’s eras – a head of Alexander the Great, a statue of the Roman emperor Hadrian, and busts of Claudius and Julius Caesar.
3. The Mountain Villages of Thassos
This is such a green island, so it’s no surprise that – unlike many islands – Thassos has abundant water. In Panagia, the sound of a spring flows through the village. You can follow the springs up to a lovely fountain, and there are also fountains of this cold sweet water throughout the village, and thriving plane trees.
The traditional buildings of this hillside are topped with silvery slate roofs, giving it a distinctive character. In Panagia, you’ll find classic tavernas and cafes, as well as shops selling lovely traditional handcrafts.
Other villages, like Mikro (“Small”) and Megalo (“large”) Kazaviti are twin mountainside villages. These green villages are considered some of the loveliest of Thassos. Like Panagia, there is a lot of water flowing. But here, the traditional houses are surrounded by forests.
The villages are known for their traditional tavernas, specializing in superb quality meats. This is a wonderful place to come and enjoy the tranquillity and the fresher, cooler temperatures in the shade.
4. Enjoy Traditional Cuisine
With such lush nature, it’s no wonder that the cuisine of Thassos is wonderful. The cooking style here embraces the natural bounty of the island.
At Natura Beach Bar in Skala Prinou – a fantastic and unspoiled natural setting with great music – we enjoyed a cooking lesson. We were introduced to a huge variety of dishes on the island. We began with octopus in honey, and dolmadakia- vine leaves stuffed with rice and fresh herbs- these were tangy with lemon and deliciously refreshing.
Our hosts had planned a delicious – and ambitious – menu to prepare. Besides being involved in Thassos tourism, the dynamic young couple is also involved in the cuisine of Thassos. They have an innovative line of excellent fresh pasta – Like Old Times – which uses traditional methods and the best of local ingredients to create a range of delicious and interesting pasta that they sell throughout Greece.
So it was a treat to see them make pasta! We enjoyed “gioufkades” – rustic squares of pasta so delicious that we had them only with a little of their cooking water and butter and crumbled cheese. We also had a fresh-caught sting ray napped in a tangy fresh sauce, and “pitarakia” – “pies for the lazy,” we are told. These were “whatever the garden would give us “- in this case, zucchini and fresh mint, with other vegetables, bound with just a little flour and enriched with cheese and fried crisp. For dessert, there was a “saragli” – delicate pie enriched with olive oil and sweetened with the honey for which Thassos is so justifiably famous.
5. Visit the Monastery of Archangel
On the Southeastern coast of Thassos is a monastery with a dramatic setting. Perched at the edge of a cliff high over the Aegean, it seems to be floating. The first building of the monastery was a small church built in the early 12th century. More buildings were added over the years, and in 1974 nuns came to the Monastery and it is now a convent. Come to see the chapel, the grounds, and the marvellous view.
6. Visit the Archaeological Site of Alykes
Also in the southeastern portion of the island, Alykes is a wonderful archaeological site, an absolute must-visit destination.
Several things make Alykes a unique destination. First of all, in addition to the ruins of temples like you might see elsewhere in Greece, this is also an industrial site – at Alykes was the quarry for the marble that the island was famous for. After centuries, the marks where the marble was removed in blocks are still evident at the edge of the sea, forming jewel-like pools.
Another interesting thing about Alykes is that it has ruins from various eras. In addition to an ancient sanctuary established by the Parians in the middle of the 7th c BC, there are also the ruins of early Christian Basilicas. Not least, this fascinating site, arranged on a small peninsula, is covered with sweet-smelling pines – it makes a shady and delightful walk, as you glimpse the shimmering sea through the trees.
7. Tour the Island with a Guide
We were able to experience so much of this wonderful island – beaches, villages, the monastery, and archaeology – in just a day, thanks to having a private guided tour with Mermaid Travel Services. Our local guide knew every corner of the island, and the tales behind the beautiful sites that made them truly come alive. We made a complete round of the island over the course of the day, with plenty of sightseeing, beaches, and even time for a seaside lunch.
8. Take a Boat Trip around the Island
Thassos has such a glorious coastline that it is also fun to explore from the sea. There are several companies offering boat trips around the island, where you can see its secret coves, forests, and best beaches, as well as enjoy a traditional lunch of grilled meats. In addition to being a great way to experience the island, you will also have the opportunity to swim and snorkel in these famously sparkling waters.
Where to Stay in Thassos
There are comfortable accommodations in a variety of price ranges, and hotels in Thassos are a good value. Our chic and comfortable room at the Louloudis Boutique Hotel in Pachis had a balcony with a view of both the sea and the hotel’s lovely pool. The poolside breakfast has fresh fruits and homemade local specialities as well as excellent coffee.
How to get to Thassos
The only way to get to Thassos is by ferry either from the port of Kavala or the port of Keramoti.
How to get to Kavala
From the UK
Aegean Airlines offers flights to Athens from Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, and Edinborough. In Athens, you can connect to a 50-minute flight to Kavala.
Aegean Airlines offers flights to Athens from Paris, Strasbourg, Lille, Nantes, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseilles, Nice, and Lyon. In Athens, you can connect to a 50-minute flight to Kavala.
Alternatively, you can fly to Thessaloniki and rent a car and drive to Kavala. The 150 km drive is a lovely one and takes less than two hours. There is also al KTEL bus connecting Thessaloniki with Kavala, with several departures daily. The express buses will have you in the centre of Kavala in 2 hours.
How to get to Thassos from Kavala port
You can get the ferry from Kavala Port to Skala Prinos in Thassos. The crossing takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes and there are 4 to 5 sailings per day.
How to get to Thassos from Keramoti port
Keramoti port is only 13 km away from Kavala’s airport. From Keramoti there are ferry boats that make the crossing to Limenas (Thassos town) every half an hour in the summer and it takes around 35 minutes to reach the island.
If you wish to take a taxi from the airport to the port of Keramoti the price for summer 2019 (not including luggage fees) was 17 euros. There is a sign with the current prices at the taxi stand at the airport.
The best way to explore the island is by renting a car. We rented a car from Hertz at the airport of Kavala.
Finally, if you decide to visit Thassos I highly recommend spending 2 days in the town of Kavala. You can check out the amazing things Kavala offers on my post.
I was a guest of Discover Greece but as always opinions are my own.