General Information on Thassos
Thassos is part of the northeastern Aegean islands and it is located just off the coast of mainland Greece. Its shape is almost circular and its landscape is mountainous and verdant. The island was called “emerald of the Aegean” because of its large and verdant pine forest and olive groves; a huge part of these forests, though, were burnt between 1981 and 1993. Only the northeastern quadrant of the island and the area around Astris and Alyki escaped the fires.
Very wealthy in ancient times, Thassos may nowadays be outside the top league of Greek islands, but it offers a great deal to the more discerning visitor. Much of its archaeological heritage has been lost in the fires. However, the island still has a plethora of archaeological sites. The island escaped exploitation by the big package operators and remains authentic and charming. The island is small enough for any resort to be reached within a short drive, beaches are rarely crowded and the interior hills are cloaked in pine forest.
History of Thassos
According to Greek Mythology, the name of the island came from Thassos, son (or grandson) of the King of eastern Phenicia Agenor. Agenor had three sons and one daughter, Europa. Zeus, king of Gods, fell in love with her and by transforming himself into a bull, he kidnapped Europa and carried her on his back to the Dictaean Cave in Crete. Agenor ordered his sons to search for her and not return without her. His sons spread around looking for their sister. Thassos searched for her in various places until he came to an island off Thrace. Captivated by its marvellous climate and lush vegetation and unable to return without Europa, he gave up his quest and settled on the island, which bears his name ever since.
According to another myth, Thassos was the island of the Sirens, women with fish tails and a beautiful voice that all men listening to them fell under their spell. In the famous voyage of Odysseus, the Sirens who tried to enchant him were supposed to live on the island of Thassos.
According to excavation findings, Thassos was colonized at an early date by Phoenicians, attracted probably by its gold mines. Around the 7th century B.C., a Greek colonist from Paros came to the island. Trade became their main source of income. In 477 B.C. Thassos became part of the Delian League controlled by Athens. When the inhabitants of the island revolted in 465 B.C., the Athenians quenched their rebellion and destroyed their ships and the walls of the city. After a short period, while the island was under Spartan occupation (404-393 B.C.), Thassos once again fell under the control of the Athenians who, this time, brought democracy and gave the island its independence. Around 340 B.C. the island became part of the Macedonian Empire.
In 197 B.C., the Romans took over Thassos and rebuilt the old town and ancient theatre. After the division of the Roman Empire, the island became part of the Byzantine Empire and during the 14th century A.D., the island came under the rule of the Genoese. The Ottomans seized the island at the end of the 15th century. During the 19th century, the island was governed by an Ottoman Egyptian who let the islanders govern themselves and exempt them from taxation. Thassos was liberated and reunited with the rest of Greece in 1912.
Towns & Villages in Thassos
The town of Limenas: known locally as Thassos Town or Limis is the island’s main town and port. It is located on the northern coast of the island, on the site of the ancient city of Thassos and has the largest percentage of the population. The town can be divided in three parts: The new harbor which offers many hotels, restaurants and shops, the main town, and the old fishing harbor, which is the most beautiful part of the city. Brightly painted fishing boats, well preserved old houses, an interesting museum and various ruins scattered all around create a warm, rustic atmosphere.
Panagia: This hillside village is situated a few kilometers south of Limenas. The village is buried in deep woodland and has a very old and famous church, which gave its name to the settlement. The houses of Panagia are traditional, with covered balconies, schist roofs and their interior is adorned in wood. Hotels, rooms for rent and many excellent taverns are available here.
Potamia: This hillside village is located a few kilometers south of Panagia. It was built on the slopes of Mountain Hypsarion and offers a panoramic view. Due to its position, Potamia is famous because of the dense vegetation that surrounds the settlement. The village is full of old houses with stone walls and wooden roofs. Taverns, cafes, hotels and rooms for rent are available here.
Theologos: It is a small traditional settlement situated south of Thassos Town. It is a very beautiful village with magnificent old houses and mansions. The village has been declared a traditional settlement by the Greek government and all houses are restored by their owners. The visitors may find few cafes, taverns and rooms for rent.
Limenaria: This is the second biggest town on the island after Limenas and a highly developed place. The settlement has some very impressive and beautiful houses which were built by the Turks to house German mining bosses around 1900. The long waterfront promenade of Limenaria is lined by taverns, cafes, bars and shops, creating a lively atmosphere. Hotels, rooms for rent, and clubs are also provided. The beach of Trypiti, to the west of Limenaria is long and sandy and relatively quiet.
Maries: This village was built during the Middle Ages, and it is one of the oldest and most beautiful villages of Thassos. The settlement is situated on a gorge in the central-western part of the island, at a high altitude and offers a magnificent view. The houses of the village have been built close to each other and are fine examples of traditional architecture such as their particular balconies and their carved ceilings. A few taverns, cafes and rooms for rent are available here.
Beaches in Thassos
Chrissi Amoudia (Golden Beach): This is one of the most beautiful beaches of Thassos. Stretching along the coast between the resorts of Skala Pangias and Skala Potamias, the beach is long, with golden sand and clear shallow waters; it is surrounded by dense vegetation. Chrissi Amoudia is an organized beach.
Paradisos (Paradise beach): This is the best beach of Thassos and it reminds of a tropical paradise. The beach has soft white sand and azure, shallow clear waters and green hills surrounding the cove. When winds are blowing, the beach is ideal for windsurfing. Paradisos is an organized beach with access via a narrow alley. The path starts in the nearby village of Kinira and passes through a small woodland.
Astris: This is a small but beautiful resort with an amazing beach. From the settlement marble steps slope down to the medium sized beach from the roadside car park. The beach has golden sand and the sea usually has large waves and strong underwater currents. The beach is organized and during summer, can get really crowded.
Makriammos (=long beach): This beach is located near Limenas and it is the most attractive of the area. The beach is organized, long and sandy with shallow crystalline waters and amazing surroundings composed of a thick forest and verdant vegetation.
Pefkari: The beautiful beach of Pefkari is located near Potos and is quite popular. It offers sea sport facilities, sunbeds, and umbrellas, fine sand and clear waters. Pine trees surround the beach. Restaurants and lively bars can be found in the area.
Alyki Beach: This beach is located in front of the village with the same name, on the southeastern coast of Thassos. The beach has been transformed into a busy tourist resort in the last years. This small but beautiful organized beach has white sand, clear waters, pine and olive trees and it is surrounded by ancient marble quarries.
Skala Prinos: This is a bus and ferry stop, located near the village of Prinos on the upper western coast of Thassos. The beach is narrow and close to the port. According to locals, there is a nearby, unknown beach at Dasilio Prinos –the forest in the sea– which is excellent.
Skala Sotiros Beach: This resort is located about 3km away from Skala Prinou, on the western coast of Thassos. It is a peaceful beach with soft sand and shallow waters. It is organized and extends in front of the settlement of the same name.
Top Things to Do in Thassos
1. Ancient Agora: The ruins of the ancient agora lie next to the ancient harbor of Limenas. It is the place where the ancient markets were located. The remains of the Agora were found during the excavations of 1948 and 1955. Construction of the Agora started in the 6th century B.C. and it was the cultural, state and trading centre of the ancient town Limenas. At the northwest, southwest and southeast part, there were arcades, department stores and depots. Even today, visitors may find remnants of the altar of Theogenis, the Basilica, which is about 23 meters high and more.
2. Kastro: This is a castle, built at an altitude of 450 meters, surrounded by deep ravines and gorges, in the central part of Thassos. It was a lively and wealthy place during the Venetian times but nowadays, it is totally deserted. The castle was built by the Gattilusie, a Genoan family and some of its walls still have inscriptions on it. The ruined walls surround the Church of Saint Athanassios, which is the oldest of the island.
3. Mountain Ypsarion & The Lake: This is the highest mountain of the island, ideal for long excursions among greenery and wildlife. Paths are well defined and the view from the top is more than amazing. Except for the Mountain itself, another interesting excursion is at the lake which lies close to Maries village. This is an unknown place because it’s not on the map. To reach the lake you must drive to Maries and then follow the street on the right side. Once you are outside the village, follow the dirt road. 3km away, the lake will appear on your left side.
4. Museums: The island of Thassos has few museums, the most interesting ones being the Archaeological Museum of Thassos and the Vagis Museum. The archaeological museum is located in the capital of the island near the ancient Agora at the old port. It exhibits various findings from the island such as pottery, statues, terracotta figurines and many more. The Vagis Museum is a small museum located in the village of Potamia, southeast of Limenas. It is dedicated to sculptor Polygnotos Vagis who emigrated to America and became an established artist. The museum exhibits realistic and abstract works of the sculptor.
5. Archangelou Monastery: This monastery was built directly on the rocks southeast of the island and basically it is a branch of the monastery Philotheou of Athos. It was build to honour archangel Michael. The view is amazing. Remember to wear long pants and at least knee-long skirts.
How to Reach Thassos
Ferry: There is a service every two hours between Kavala, on the mainland, and Skala Prinos (1¼ hours). There is one daily ferry between Limenas and Kavala.
Hydrofoil: There are six hydrofoils every day between Limenas and Kaval (45 min).
Getting Around in Thassos
Bus: Thasos (Limenas) is the transport hub of the island. There are at least seven buses daily to Limenaria and many to Skala Potamia at the south end of Hrysi Ammoudia via Panagia and Potamia. Also, there are five buses daily to Theologos and three to Alyki. Timetables are available at the bus station.
Weather in Thassos
Located in the northern part of Greece, Thassos possesses a colder climate than most of the other islands. In winter, temperatures are low and rainfalls are frequent. The temperature rises in April, and springtime is mild and sunny.
Summer is hot, but temperatures do not rise as much as in the Cyclades islands.
Top 10 Destinations in Thassos
All Destinations in Thassos
Map of Thassos