The Greek island of Thassos had its hey-day in the ’90s then tourism seemed to dry up (perhaps there were too many shell-suit fires in that heat?). The landslide in holidaymakers is a good thing though and totally not a reflection of what lies behind the Hawaiian style slopes of this northern Greek island. And yet despite not really being on anybody’s radar and still managing to keep its secrets to itself, I still had this constant urge to look over my shoulder just to make sure we weren’t being followed by a Lonely Planet photographer or Telegraph travel writer. I was quite prepared to strike up a conversation about Thassos being the supposed hideaway for a dangerous serial killer, or how lethally toxic local mountain goat poo is. I genuinely feel that all my efforts to keep the island of Thassos a secret will be well worth it in the long run.
But, you’re here now and there’s nothing I can do about that. I can see you with your lobster-toned decolletage on your hotel bed, googling ‘things to do in Thassos Greece’ because you’ve spent a few days on the beach and you can just sense there is more to see and do on this magical hideaway island. Well, you’d be right and I will kindly share with you all the hidden gems of Thassos that made our holiday a wonderful one. Welcome to my Thassos Travel Guide, what to do in Thassos when you really want to explore the island…
10 Things To Do On The Island Of Thassos In Greece
1. Giola’s Natural Pool
Warmer than the sea and no slick of suntan lotion on the top to remind you of all the bodies you have been sharing a large chlorinated bath with back at the hotel, the natural pool at Giola is only worthy of those willing to make the 5 minute steep descent past naked bathers and daredevil divers. It’s truly beautiful and a definite Instagram favourite with those who make the effort to find it.
TIP: The signage to Giola is inconspicuous and requires the detective skills of Hercule Poirot, and quite right – if you’re not prepared to put in the effort then you are not deserving of what I would say is the most beautiful hidden gem on Thassos. Look out for the Hotel Aeria, close to Astris village – the dirt track is nearby. There is also a cute little taverna on this dirt track with amazing sea views.
2. The Best Beach In Thassos – Paradise Beach
Big words? There are many beautiful beaches of Thassos and several of them we have sipped a few Mythos on ourselves. But none that are so audacious as to name themselves Paradise Beach. And, this particular beach lives up to its autograph in a fine manner. It’s small enough to hold on to its prettiness but clever enough to station 2 well-appointed beach bars to serve its visitors. Add to that a very small volcano-like protrusion just out to sea and you have enough natural and man-made photogenic objects to warrant its Paradise title. Honestly, not one to miss.
TIP : Throw away your watch – you won’t be needing it here!
3. Visit The Bees Of Thassos
Beehives dot the hillsides of Thassos island and the locals are proud of their pine-scented organic honey. You can buy the produce in many establishments but take a drive up to the highest point of the island and you get to meet a few of the families who keep this ancient tradition going. The town of Maries is where you need to head to to buy yourself a jar of local honey. Then, if you’re up for a bit of walking in Thassos there are a few little hikes to waterfalls and streams, lined with the flora that gives Thassos honey its distinct flavour. The hum of bees is a constant up here in the hills – either that or Michael Schumacher has a place nearby.
TIP : Back down the road to the coast is the lovely little beach town of Potos with ample beach bars and restaurants and quaint little gift shops selling souvenirs to those wanting another teatowel with cats of Greece on!
4. The Wedding Cake At Thassos’ Golden Beach
Also known as the Wedding Cake, La Terrasse at Hotel Enlavion is possibly one of the nicest restaurants we have ever eaten at. Not quite the architecture you would expect on the island of Thassos, or any Greek island, so when I say it’s nicknamed the Wedding Cake, it’s not because of the dessert menu. However, don’t be put off if you think it looks like the house Barbie would live in with Hugh Hefner because once you have climbed the steps onto the first ‘tier’ you may as well be reliving your wedding day. You are about to be doted on by the most attentive yet discreet maitre d’ duo you’ll find anywhere, then, fed with a first-rate menu fit for the choosiest bride and groom. Definitely the best restaurant we found on the island of Thassos.
TIP : The menu of the day includes 3 courses and bread and costs only €12. An absolute bargain for this level of cuisine.
5. The Best Sunset Spots In Thassos Greece
Some of the best sunsets in the world are in places where the landscape adds to the beauty and the island of Thassos is no exception. From the northern tip all the way down the west coast you look over to a mountainous mainland Greece and are treated to one of the prettiest evening scenes you will see anywhere. There were 2 places on our Thassos holiday which fought for our sunset vote and both included alcohol!
We had the pleasure of staying at the hotel Ilio Mare Thassos and learnt quickly that we had picked one of the best hotels in Thassos. For a five-star hotel, it is really quite inexpensive, especially when you consider you have beach beds at your disposal for sunset-viewing. It’s perfectly positioned for the best view and when I say beach beds, I mean like the kind you find in the bedroom complete with cushions and soft mattresses, the only thing missing is the teas-maid. It’s an absolutely luxurious sunset and you don’t have to be a guest to use their beach bar.
TIP : Pre-sunset you can feed the sea turtles a short walk away at the beach of Dasillio near Skala Prinos
6. The Best Place For Cocktails On The Island Of Thassos
The Karnagio Beach Bar is on the northern tip and makes you feel like you’ve gate-crashed a Russian oligarch’s party. The amount of beautiful Russian girls and their rather villainous-looking husbands on Thassos will either leave you bemused or feeling utterly grotesque but coupled with a glass of fizz and the orange night sky, you’re in for a people-watching treat.
Karnagio put on lots of events throughout the year too, stuff like Latin Party’s, Greek Nights and Live Music – it’s the most stunning of locations, perfectly placed for the sunset and a really fun thing to do on Thassos.
TIP : Don’t forget your shades so you can stare incognito at all the filthy rich Russians!
7. Historic Thassos
There are lots of places to visit in Thassos for a history lesson. Stories to tell from all of times world empires – the Persians, the Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans and of course ancient Greece. They have all left their mark on Thassos in some way. For example, you may notice that several places have dual villages, like Prinos and Skala Prinos; names prefixed by Skala mean sea-level because during the Byzantine period, invasions and piracy was a major problem for the island forcing villagers to move from the shoreline further up into the mountains for safety. Its little nuggets like this that you’ll learn at the Archaeological Museum in Thassos town (or Limenas).
The ancient ruins that are dotted around the island, and more concentrated in Limenas, include old Grecian temples and amphitheatres and a market place. The ruins at Aliki beach are a fascinating bit of Thassos sightseeing and certainly bring home the size of some of these ancient structures.
8. The Best Mountain Village – Megalos Prinos
The village of Megalos Prinos was built to hide its citizens from invading pirates down on the shore and it is still a literal hidden gem today. Dense pine forests hide a load of old Macedonian mansions and a walk up and down the cobbled mazelike alleys will be one of the prettiest you will take, with the occasional gap in the trees that give you panoramic sea views. Back in the typical picturesque Greek square you have your choice of tavernas and if you eat outside under the shade of the fruit trees you get a pre-dinner show of fighting cats and table crumbs. Definitely worth the 7 minute climb (by car) from the coastal road.
TIP : Be sure to try the local walnut delicacy called karidaki gliko.
9. Visit The Archangels Monastery
The highlight for me was definitely when the gaze-averting nun asked Richard to put on a skirt to cover his legs but actually, the Archangels Monastery was a treat in many regards. Sat on a cliff above the Aegean sea there are several places to sit and enjoy the view with a calming slot of enforced quiet-time. The atmosphere is serene and welcoming and the little sweet treats the nuns are giving out are just a bonus!
It’s a beautiful piece of architecture with an even more stunning backdrop. Patio’s and terraces wind around the monastery and Bougainvillaea frames your view of the landscape down to the sea. It really is the prettiest picture.
TIP : The dress code is long trousers for men and shoulders and knees covered for women. Or your fella can just borrow a skirt!
10. Climb Thassos’ Mountain Ipsarion
Ipsarion is the highest peak on Thassos and is a 3 hour climb from the town of Potamia. Just over 1200 metres of lush forested slopes rewards you with 360 views down to the Aegean – the sea you want to throw yourself in when you immediately reach the top!
It’s a medium difficulty hike and you’ll want to set off early before the sun gets too high in the sky, but it’s also fairly shaded in parts and the heat on the trees throws out the headiest perfume of pines and cedarwood. Once you reach the top the prevailing winds will definitely cool you down as you build your own pebble pyramid. And a climb like this MUST be appreciated with a can of Mythos.
TIP : There are several companies offering Jeep rides up to the summit if 3 hours of climbing isn’t your idea of a holiday.
So there you have my ‘Thassos things to do’ top recommendations for this beautiful island. There are plenty more things to do in Thassos of course, but you still need to leave time for sunbathing and swimming on some of the prettiest beaches this side of the Maldives.
I have another post HERE that you can read which is less of a guide to Thassos and more a travel diary of our holiday with several photo’s of Thassos beaches and beauty spots if you are after inspiration.
And, if you are still in the planning stages, we have stayed at a few hotels on Thassos and I write about our favourites HERE
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