Thassos had its hey-day in the 90’s then tourism seemed to dry up (perhaps there were too many shell-suit fires in that heat?). The landslide in holiday makers 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 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 what to do in Thassos 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 review of Thassos…
Seven Things To Do In Thassos
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.
The Best Beach In Greece
Big words? There are many beautiful beaches in Greece I am sure, 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!
The Bees Of Thassos
Beehives dot the hillsides of the island of Thassos 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 and once you’ve bought yourself a jar or two there are a few little hikes to waterfalls and streams, lined with the flora that give 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!
The Wedding Cake
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 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 Thassos.
TIP : The menu of the day includes 3 courses and bread and costs only €12. An absolute bargain for this level of cuisine.
The Best Sunset Spot
Some of the best sunsets in the world are in places where the landscape adds to the beauty and Thassos is of 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 Thassos which fought for our sunset vote and both included alcohol!
We had the pleasure of staying at the hotel Ilio Mare and learnt quickly that we had picked one of the best hotels on 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, 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
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 Ouzo and the orange night sky, you’re in for a people-watching treat.
TIP : Don’t forget your shades so you can stare incognito.
Thassos has a rich history and a story 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 – names prefixed by Skala (sea level) ; 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 are fascinating at Aliki beach and certainly bring home the size of some of these ancient structures.
The Best Mountain Village
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.
So there you have my top recommendations for the beautiful island of Thassos. There is plenty more to see but of course you still need to leave time for sunbathing and swimming on some of the prettiest beaches this side of the Maldives.
And, if you are still in the planning stages, click here for the best hotel deals in Thassos.
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