Thassos is a refreshing combination of pine, chestnut and olive, mountain villages and golden beaches. It is the only island in Macedonia.
This greenest and most northerly of the Greek islands is just 40 minutes by frequent ferry from Kavala on the mainland, and in this way combines the attractions of island life with the fertile soil and rich eco-system more usually associated with the Macedonian heartlands. It is the archetypal 'island of contrasts': its 115 kms of coastline has a huge variety of beaches, from small, rocky coves to long, golden sand, whilst inland mountains rise to peaks of 1200m, with dense forests of cypress and pine; and ancient ruins are surrounded by modern facilities.
Particularly in the east and south, small resorts have sprung up alongside its array of splendid sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. Many of the beaches are organised - sun beds are generally free on the island, subject to purchasing a drink or snack - but you can, with a car, find plenty which are not. The beaches being so good of course attract large numbers in high season - so if you can, we'd recommend you avoid the period from mid-July to end of August when the island and roads are very busy - but there are so many beaches here, and some are so long, that is not hard to escape the crowds away from the central resort areas.
All over the island there are places to explore. In the capital itself (known locally as Limenas rather than Thassos) there is a 5th century B.C. Ancient Theatre, as well as an Agora and Acropolis; in the south, at Aliki, an Ancient Temple and Sanctuary. As part of its Byzantine heritage, there are monasteries located in the most precipitous spots, like the monastery of Archangelos Michael, clinging to the cliffside near Aliki. High in the mountains, the traditional village of Kazaviti is typical of many, its stone-built houses with wooden terraces and balconies, and a village square complete with plane trees that give shade to a couple of restaurants and the sleepy kafenion.
The island is criss-crossed with mule and goat trails that give you access to the dense colonies of herbs, flowers and shrubs that cover the interior; hawks, white-tailed eagles, owls, greenfinches and doves can be spotted. In many of the villages, Carnival is celebrated in traditional fashion, and who would want to miss the Sardine Festival in Skala Kallirachi?
Thassos is a relatively easy island to get around independently. A good coastal road encircles the island and there is an island bus service to and from Thassos Town to the main resort areas and villages, although this can be a little erratic and/or infrequent depending on the season and where you stay. The hire of a car is certainly recommended for at least part of your stay in order to explore in your own time, and perhaps seek out that perfect beach away from the crowds.
Excursions include 'around the island' and boat trips to various beaches. More options present themselves on the mainland. A fast hydrofoil service links Thassos Town and the NW port of Skala Prinos with the historic city of Kavala in just 40 mins., well worth a day trip - highlights include museums, the beautiful old houses and narrow streets of the old town, the aqueduct, and a fab harbour ringed by smart shops, tavernas and coffee shops. And from here it is just a short bus or taxi ride north to the ruins of the great ancient city of Philippi, now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where St Paul first preached in Europe. For something different, how about sampling a little gentle river kayaking along a 20 km stretch of the River Nestor high in the mountains?
The delight of a holiday in Thassos is that the island has adapted to the needs of the modern visitor without affecting its allegiance to the values and beauties of the past. It is a large island which rewards exploration, and a very beautiful one from its forested heights to its many miles of white-sand beaches.