Some of the island’s delicious products can be found in supermarkets and Greek specialty shops around the world. Others are made purely for local consumption and can be found only on the island.
Summer on Thassos offers endless sunshine, magnificent beaches, and fun sea activities that attract tourists year after year.
Many, however, don’t realise that Thassos is more than a Summer destination… it’s a year-round island!
Spring, Autumn, and Winter on Thassos offer unique choices and opportunities, making it a Greek island you can visit at almost any moment your heart desires.
Welcome to one of the most remarkable islands in Greece and all of the Aegean Sea!
The list of watersports available on Thassos island is only limited by your energy, ability and imagination! In addition to the most traditional of water sports such as swimming and jumping into the sea, there is also wind surfing, body surfing, kayaking, banana and donut riding, water skiing, parasailing, snorkeling, pedalos, jet skiing, motor and speed boats, and sailing.
Places where you’ll find organised watersports include Golden Beach, Pachis Beach, and Skala Rachoni Beach in the north, and Pefkari Beach, Potos Beach, and Psili Ammos Beach in the south.
If you bring your own equipment, however, the possibilities are endless!
All around the island there are countless rocky outcrops and jetties from which you can often catch a variety of fish and sea food with the simple Rod and Reel. Spearfishing is quite popular in some areas along the island’s coast, especially during the periods when octopus is most plentiful. Boats are also available for rent, which allow tourists to explore the bounties of fish in the island’s deeper waters.
Some of the kinds of fish and seafood you may expect to find around Thassos are Grey and Red Mullet, Sea Bream, Sea Bass, Blacktail, Sardines, Gilt Head Bream (also known as Royal Bream), Lobsters, Whitebait, Mackerel and Octopus.
A piece of advice to the unfamiliar or novice fisher is to just watch where the local guys fish, and follow suit! Try using the bait and casting methods they use, and with a little bit of luck, you’ll be certain to eat free at least once during your stay!
There is nothing quite as special as arriving by boat at a lovely secluded beach, and to swim, wade or row ashore, or to simply stay on board and to lie on deck in a sheltered bay while taking in the beauty surrounding you. To bear witness of a group of dolphins gliding through the water alongside the boat (which takes a bit of luck), or seagulls coming down from the sky to greet you, are very life-inspiring experiences to be had on Thassos island.
There are many boat trips from which you can choose! They all vary by their starting locations, the distances they travel, and the beautiful locations they visit. Among them are the Around The Island Trip, which tours the island’s entire coastline, and the Beautiful Beaches and Bays Trip, a shorter tour with longer stops at some of the best beaches the island has to offer – both trips complete with a delicious barbecue on-deck!
Additionally, there are small group fishing trips you can join, or of course, you can organise your very own private boat hire!
Thassos has some of the clearest and cleanest waters in the Aegean, probably even in the Mediterranean. It’s really exciting to explore these crystal clear waters, with diving masks and air tanks, and to discover the natural treasures that are hidden underneath the surface.
There are diving schools with internationally approved diving instructors for private and small group sessions in several locations on the island including Limenas, Skala Prinos, Pefkari and Potos.
Sailing and Yachting
Just imagine skimming like a bird or a flying fish over the gentle waves, with only the sounds of the wind in the sails and the water against the hull. It’s an experience which calms the soul and revives the senses in ways you never thought were possible!
A yacht or a boat under sail, big or small, either alone or with a small hand picked crew, enables such a dream to come true. There are numerous sea vessels, from small and basic to big and luxurious, available for hire on Thassos.
Marinas and other moorings for island-hopping visitors, who arrive on large ocean-going vessels, are available in many of the ports around the island – the facilities available vary.
Limenas, the island’s capital, is known for its large marina and modern facilities for vessels of all sizes. So well-known in fact, that it hosted and served 95 competing sail boats in 2010 when Thassos was the starting point of the Aegean Regatta – an annual international sailing competition.
Bicycling and Mountain Biking
The landscape and geography on Thassos is a paradise for both leisurely bicycling and adventurous mountain biking. Mule and goat trails into the lush and peaceful interior of the island will appeal to anyone of an adventurous nature and provide a challenge for the most enthusiastic and intrepid mountain biker. The island’s ring road, well maintained and fully asphalted, may also provide a very pleasant and yet occasionally challenging ride.
Bicycles and mountain bikes are available to hire from the many bike hire shops around the island.
Walking and Hiking
The hills and valleys of the island welcome walkers and hikers year-round, during all four seasons, each offering a unique experience. There are several trails and paths that criss-cross the island and go from village to village. Just be sure to carry enough water for the journey, especially during the heat of the summer. The mountain peak of Ypsarion, at 1,204 metres high, is a special challenge but a real delight to climb, and extremely rewarding – the view you are gifted by reaching the top is absolutely breathtaking!
You can find books for sale at several bookshops which suggest the best walks on the island in great detail. Some agencies on the island organise various walking tours as well.
If you have a warm interest in flora and fauna, equip yourself with a book about Mediterranean plant species, or do a swift search online either before or during your visit. The island’s fertile soil lends itself to dense colonies of many Mediterranean herbs, flowers and shrubs. Spring brings out masses of wild flowers, while in the summer and the autumn, the landscape is decorated in all the various different shades of green from plane trees, oak trees, horse chestnuts, pine trees, the silver-grey of the olive trees, and the deep yellow of the gorse.
Keen photographers and ornithologists will find Thassos an absolute paradise, in terms of its variety of species of birds. To name a few, there are hawks, European and white-tailed eagles, many varieties of owls, golden orioles, greenfinches, and partridges and doves abound.
Mountain trails lead to some of the least-discovered nooks and crannies of the island. The experience is different from walking and riding a bike because you miss out on some of the smaller details that nature hides from the inattentive, but you can explore the island’s interior more comfortably and much faster this way.
The island’s mountain trails are primarily dirt and rock; not suitable for regular cars or mopeds, if you value your springs and the bones in your back and your neck! Vehicles especially built for off-road driving is highly recommended.
Modern and reliable 4×4 jeeps and all-terrain vehicles are available for hire from car and motorcycle hire companies around Thassos.
Or you can take a Thassian Jeep Safari – an organised tour of the island’s mountainous inner beauties, consisting of a jeep caravan with a local guide who knows all of the best places and the quickest and safest ways to get to them all. A jeep safari is typically an all-day affair and includes a delightful barbecue (very carefully and responsibly executed) surrounded by nature, and with other happy tourists that make good company!
Most Greek islands do not offer the invigorating experience of riding a horse along the sea’s shore or high up into the mountainside, which is another thing that sets Thassos apart from the rest of Greece.
As a pleasant alternative pastime, the island’s horse-back riding school in Skala Prinos offers horse riding lessons in the school’s large paddock, as well as pony trekking in the rolling hills, lush valleys and sandy beaches of Thassos.
Whether it’s for a romantic occasion, a fun family experience, or just for your personal pleasure, riding in a traditional horse-drawn open carriage is a lovely option that’s available during the summer months in Limenas and Skala Potamia.
They typically give a short tour of the village for a small charge, but you may also book one for a special event or as a unique taxi ride home after a fun night out!
Technically, they are long carriages drawn by a train-engine-shaped motor car. However, when they’ve got people in them, the magic begins! Fun trains are great at putting a smile on peoples’ faces, even those you’d least expect!
There are two fun trains on Thassos. One of them offers toursist a laid-back tour of the sea-side villages of Skala Panagia and Skala Potamia, and their sister-villages in the mountains, Panagia and Potamia. The other one offers evening and night tours of cosmopolitan Limenas.
Caution: When riding a fun train, be prepared to do a lot of waving!
The ancient past has left the island a bounty of priceless treasures. This is apparent to visitors when they witness some of the finest examples of world archeological sites around almost every street corner of Limenas, on the peninsula of Alyki, and beyond. These sites display the individual character of Thassos while also representing the spirit of Greece.
Among the best archaeological sights that you absolutely must visit on Thassos are the Ancient Agora (Marketplace), the Ancient Theatre, the Acropolis, the remains of the walls, gates, and temples of the ancient city in Limenas, and the ancient temple, sanctuary and quarry in Alyki.
The island’s vast ruins are a testament to the thriving culture and significant power of the ancient Thassians. They are indeed a part of the island’s unique identity among Greece’s many islands and ancient societies.
Undiscovered ruins continue to be found, unearthed and restored even today.
The island’s rich history is well documented and displayed inside the newly renovated Archaeological Museum of Thassos in Limenas. It offers a very fine array of ancient artifacts which have been found all around the island, and it helps you appreciate the culture that thrived here long ago.
Marble statues, ancient inscriptions, pottery, jewelry, coins and tools are some of the things on display here. There are also illustrations and wall exhibits pertaining to fishing, agriculture, livestock, and trade during ancient times. You can also see photographs of people excavating the very objects on display at the museum, some photographs dating all the way back to the 19th century.
The astonishingly detailed explanations of the artefacts on display can open your eyes to a new dimension in Greek history. Pay close attention and you will learn many fascinating things among the important role Thassos played in ancient Greece, and the invaluable contribution Thassians made to ancient Greek culture.
Carnival in Greece is a period of festivities just before the commencement of the Orthodox Lent. The first day of the Carnival season starts 40 days before Clean Monday (Ash Monday). During the carnival period there is an apparent spirit of joy, with dancing, parties, parades, and of course, many people in fancy carnival costumes.
On Thassos, the Carnival is still celebrated in the traditional way, focusing on the ancient pagan god Dionysus… the god of wine, feasts and good times! During the week of carnival, there are parties and special events throughout many of the villages of Thassos; Panagia, Potamia, Rachoni, Limenaria, and Skala Maries. The streets and houses are decorated in beautiful colours creating a lively atmosphere, and there is food and drink available to everyone who joins in the fun. There are parades of floats with local people dressed up as mythical, fictitious and sometimes outrageous characters, including representations of the ancient satyrs, with many of them getting quite into character during Carnival celebrations!
Every year during the summer months, a folk and cultural festival takes place, during which many events are held all around Thassos. There are cultural events, concerts, theatrical plays such as comedies and tragedies, children’s theatre, folk nights of poetry, music, songs, dancing, arts and crafts; all organised by the local Cultural Associations of the island’s villages.
Additionally, there are stagings of various traditional events as well as performances of important local traditions. One famous performance is the Thassian Wedding which takes place in Theologos. To name just a few more, the Honey Festivals in Limenaria and Skala Prinos, the Donkey Race in Skala Potamia, and in the sea-side village of Skala Kallirachi there’s a festival dedicated to a delicious local product, the Sardine Festival, with plentiful food, tsipouro (local ouzo) and local wine!
Inside the Kalogeriko building at the Old Harbour in Limenas, and in other locations around the island, there are wonderful exhibitions where local artists display their works and masterpieces for people to see. There’s a lot to view and enjoy at these exhibitions: paintings, sculptures, poetry, photography, and icon paintings are just some of the them.
Museums & Exhibitions
Museums on Thassos exist in almost every village. Apart from the fully modernised and beautifully presented Archaeological Museum of Thassos, there are several folklore museums located in villages all around the island – local museums, maintained and presented by the local communities, such as the folklore museum in Skala Potamia, the Limenaria folklore museum, the Kallirachi folklore museum, and the folklore museum in Theologos. Similarly, the Kalogeriko building at the Old Harbour in Limenas houses a Traditional Thassian Home where you can see the living conditions and traditions of previous generations.
Additionally, the Kalogeriko regularly has exhibitions of Thassian artists’ work with different themes such as Photography, Icon Painting, Painting, Sculpture, Pottery and Jewellery. In Metallia, just outside Limenaria, there are frequent exhibitions of painting, photography and sculpture, while in the former boatyard area of Skala Potamia, now simply known as Tarsanas, exhibitions of fine arts can be found. The Cultural Centre in Theologos also has exhibitions from time to time.
Another museum not to be missed is the Vagis Museum in Potamia, which displays contemporary sculptures by the local Thassian sculptor, Polygnotos Vagis, who made a name for himself internationally as a talented sculptor.
There are three monasteries on the island, all of which are holy for the Orthodox Church.
The Monastery of the Archangel Michael is a spectacular sight, clinging to the cliffside on the road to Alyki in the south of the island. It is a convent and a spiritual and administrative dependence of the Filotheou Monastery on Mount Athos. It is currently being expanded and a new chapel being built. The convent has a renowned relic, known as the “Timio Ilio”, or The Holy Nail, a remnant from one of the nails of the crucifixion of Christ. Crowds of people daily visit the monastery daily throughout the year to pray and to worship here.
The Monastery of Saint Panteleimon is located high above the villages of Kazaviti and Prinos. It is a convent and it has a unique cave, and behind it, an interesting story. Both monastery and cave are open to visitors. Since the 18th century, believers have been coming to the monastery to pray and ask for healing from the saint. The Feast of Panteleimon is on 27 July, and, traditionally, the faithful set off from Kazaviti the night before and travel up the mountain only by foot. They spend the night at the monastery where there’s a liturgy and feast.
The Monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary was built in 1813 and is located on the road to the sleepy mountain village Maries. Apart from its miraculous icons of the Virgin Mary, there are also parts of the holy relics of Saint Arsenius, Saints Cosmas and Damian and Osias Xenis. Crowds of local people, believers of the Orthodox faith, as well as foreigners visit the monastery throughout the year to view these holy relics and pay their respects.
Holidays and Feasts
One can easily combine their holiday on Thassos with visits to remarkable monasteries and countless beautiful churches, large and small, in every town and village. Each village has its church, usually dedicated to its own Saint as well as several other churches that can be visited at any time during your stay. The best time of course is on their Saint’s feast day.
The greatest holiday and celebration on the island, after Easter, is the Feast of the Assumption on 15 August. In the village of Panagia, the local villagers take a walking tour around the village with an icon of the Virgin Mary. Thousands of people, islanders and tourists alike, flock to the village for this major Greek Orthodox holiday and enjoy not only the religious aspects of this holy day but also the festivities that accompany it.
Olive picking usually begins in November, but sometimes it may begin as early as October. Often you see groups of family and friends moving from olive grove to olive grove, until everyone’s olives are picked.
If you have local Thassian friends or acquaintances, they will surely relish any offer of help with the collection of their olives!
Making friends and meeting acquaintances is the really easy part, and the necessary olive-picking skills can be learned quickly. However, it takes hard work and a lot of energy, endurance, and enthusiasm to successfully complete the task. It may be quite a labour-intensive pastime, but the experience is very rewarding.
Finally, when all of the olives have been picked and collected, celebration parties to acknowledge the closing of the harvest are the rich reward for hard work well done!
Olive Oil Production
Producing olive oil is an intriguing process that’s been developed and refined over thousands of years. It’s a tradition deeply rooted in the lifestyle of Thassians today. Many of the islanders have their own olive trees that have been passed down from generation to generation, and they produce their own olive oil for their personal consumption. There are also Thassians who depend on olive oil for their livelihood, producing it on an industrial level to sell on the island as well as to export.
Each olive grower or cooperative takes their freshly harvested olives to their local olive mill for pressing. There are several olive mills on the island which use different methods to press the olives. Some mills use the more traditional grinding method, the stone mill, while others use a more modern method, an industrial decanter (a large electric-powered machine that does the entire pressing process automatically).
The bulk of olive oil production takes place during the months of November and December. You are most welcome to come discover the different methods used by the Thassians, and to sample the oil produced by each method, at its freshest!
Additionally, near Skala Prinos there is an Olive Oil Museum that is open year-round. There you can see the methods used over the last 6,000 years to produce olive oil in Greece.
Elsewhere, in the picturesque mountain village of Panagia, there is a traditional water-driven olive press, built with wood and powered by water from mountain springs that run right through the village. Its owners, the Sotirelis family, is happy to give visitors a tour – which we whole-heartedly recommend!
Thassos is famous for two kinds of honey that are produced here, a darker pine tree honey and a more golden honey from the wild flowers on the island – both very delicious! If you take just a short trip through the island’s interior, you’ll notice plenty of bee yards resting quietly in open fields and dotting the mountain sides.
Beekeepers tend to their bee yards for collection in June, when the flowering and weather conditions are most favourable, and then again between August and September.
The whole process of collecting and processing honey and beeswax is very interesting to see, and is a delightful experience that you are welcome to have.
Be sure to visit the Honey Factory near Skala Prinos, where you can learn all about the many products of Thassos honey and their extremely beneficial properties. There you can also purchase all kinds of honey and beeswax products, and find out interesting facts about how they are made.