Thassos Island is a regional unit on it’s own with 1 municipality : Thassos
Limenas quite simply means “the port”. It is the capital of the island and is commonly called “Thassos Town”. It’s the home of the main harbour from which you can easily travel to and from mainland Greece via the ferry port of Keramoti.
The village offers a wide variety of attractions and activities, many more than can be undertaken in one short holiday! It is in the northerly part of the island, surrounded by the densely wooded pine green mountains, and large swathes of olive groves, making the whole a very picturesque setting.
It is just a short distance from mainland Greece, where the city of Kavala can be clearly seen, both during the daytime and at the night-time when it is wonderful to watch the lights of the town and of the villages around. From Limenas one can enjoy spectacular sunsets, as the sun dips behind the mountains, while enjoying a cool drink in the evening warmth.
In the village itself and all around it there is a wide choice of beaches where you can swim and relax after a day of exploring the old part of town. The nearby beaches are the old town beach (Limanaki Beach), Makryammos Beach, Nisteri Beach, Agios Vasileios Beach, Tarsanas Beach, Glyfada Beach, Papalimani Beach and some other small beaches in between. These are all sandy beaches and all have facilities for the thirsty and hungry tourists, many of them also providing sunbeds and umbrellas, showers and changing booths and toilet facilities as well. They can be reached by foot, by the around-the-island bus, or by car or taxi with adequate parking at all of them.
Limenas is the commercial centre of the island. All the government offices, the utilities, the major Greek banks, and the offices for the ferries, the buses and the port police and customs are located here. It can get busy even in the quietest days of winter.
Thassos Town has shops, kiosks, stalls and even street vendors, supplying all the needs of the visitor. There are restaurants that cater for every single taste and pocket, in a wide range of prices. Cafés, traditional coffee shops, bars large and small, quiet and cozy, discotheques, quiet beachside bars, and in fact facilities to cater for every age and every taste. The shops here range from small souvenir shops selling some of the original Greek folk art, right up to some very smart clothes shops with the latest style clothing, shoes and accessories which would not look out of place on high streets in some of the larger cities. There are supermarkets with the full range of international goods, and small corner shops which are family run, who provide local and fresh produce and will happily provide sample tastes of some of the more unusual products, then take your order and deliver them to your door.
The village boasts three harbours. The harbours have facilities for all vessels and attract some very fine boats and yachts of all sizes throughout the season. In the winter, the ancient harbour is full of the local fishing boats. The harbours and the marina provide an attractive diversion for those who enjoy just strolling around and admiring the beauty of some of the crafts that dock there.
By ferry it is only 35 minutes from the port of Keramoti on Greece’s mainland. Ferries run frequently every day, particularly during the summer, and so access is quick, easy and comfortable. For the very rare stormy winter days, there is a fully enclosed ferry which is usually still able to make the crossing, so the island is connected with the mainland year-round.
Limenas has a very rich and interesting history. There are numerous archaeological discoveries – some still being excavated and explored – inside and all around the village. From just outside the walls of the ancient city, everywhere, in and amongst all the modern developments, there is evidence of the ancient past – how the people in this town lived – the way of life that was imported into Thassos from other Mediterranean areas, and the influence that had on the rural Thassian life at that time. Today, treasures and fragments from Thassos and other antiquities can be found, not only in the local museum here on the island but worldwide in some of the most prestigious museums such as in the Boston Folk Museum, Istanbul and the Louvre.
Named after the Virgin Mary who is also the patron saint of the village, Panagia is one of the most picturesque and photogenic villages on the island of Thassos. Located only 10 km from the capital of the island, it is built into the side of the mountain, giving spectacular views to the sea, across the bay, and to the mountains beyond. Natural springs provide this village with pure, clear, ice cold water, they bubble up on the outskirts of the village, run down alongside the narrow streets where one can actually walk and follow the route of the water down. This is a particularly attractive, traditional island community, still maintaining many of the old customs and ways of life.
The village has attracted many visitors both for day trips and as a place to stay on their vacations for many, many years now, and, because it is a year-round community, it is attracting an increasing number of people to live there permanently. The village square is the focal point of the entire village, morning, afternoon and evening, summer and winter, where the locals and visitors gather in the cafés and bars around the fountains, drinking the locally produced ouzo, called tsipouro, passing the time of day, sometimes with important discussions and sometimes with just small talk, teasing each other and creating an atmosphere, a sense of belonging, which is unique to the mountain villages on the island.
Panagia is the centre of celebrations for the carnival of Dionysos, the God of wine, women and general carousing, which is prepared for many, many weeks in advance, as soon as Epiphany ends. The carnival parades and performances are presented to the local people and to tourists alike on the last Monday before Lent begins. For some first-time visitors the parades, the dances, the performances, and the way that they act them out, can seem inappropriate and shocking, but in the end everybody has fun and participates in the spectacles together with the local people, singing and dancing in the village square and the streets all around. It doesn’t really need to be pointed out that many of the participants have already been merry on the local wine for a number of days leading up to carnival! On the day of the carnival itself, wine is made available by the village to all the visitors, and the wine runs freely as the restaurants offer the very tastiest meat dishes to the hundreds of visitors who arrive to take part in this famous and festive occasion.
Historically, Panagia became the capital of the island immediately following the Greek revolution against Ottoman rule in 1821. Most of the village is still the same and retains the old Macedonian model of that period, with narrow streets, turns and twists, and with the balconies of adjacent houses almost touching, so that the inhabitants could escape easily from one house to the other if pirates were to raid the village. These same escape routes were developed also from fear of invasion by the Ottoman Turks, who for many generations had control of the island. This was one of the main reasons why the residents of the original capital of the island, Thassos Town, had abandoned their homes down by the sea, and gone to live in the hills in order to have more security. Alas, the twisting narrow streets prove to make it difficult for cars – although they were absolutely perfect for mules and donkeys! This is why Panagia is a village to be explored on foot.
The patronage of the village saint brings out a marvelous and historically rich culture that is celebrated every summer during the peak of the summer tourist season. Panagia, the Greek name for the Virgin Mary and mother of God, is cheerfully celebrated with a festival and great feast on the 15th of August. Across Greece, this day is know as The Feast of the Assumption, and is the second most important day of the year, second only to Easter. In the village there is a huge celebration, so big that the ring road of Thassos is closed off around the village and you can only make it into Panagia by foot, sometimes having to park up to a kilometre away. People fill the village’s main church that is named after the patron saint while numerous visitors, Greeks and foreigners alike, come to the church to pay their respects and to receive the saint’s benediction.
Another important feast day celebrated in the village is the festival of St. Panton. She became a saint who was renowned for having restored to life, for a reason as yet unknown, a roasted lamb, and not only that, gave it the most beautiful shades of wool ever known to man. On this day, the women of the village prepare the traditional “koyrbani” from ground wheat and cooked meat in the courtyard of the church, and the faithful offer her this food after the liturgy to her. This very day is also All-Saints Sunday, which commemorates all the Saints of the church who have remained anonymous. This feast day is celebrated on the Sunday following Pentecost.
Panagia, apart from her associations with these important saints from the Orthodox Church, is a very beautiful, very traditional village, with stone houses, their roofs and pathways clad in the local grey slate, narrow winding streets, and the spring waters which cascade down in and amongst the houses – between the pine and the fig trees – tumbling into the fountains in the square, or even lower down the mountainside, where the holidaymakers can quench their thirst. The village square is really picturesque, with a huge plane tree at its centre, and it is here where visitors from all over the world assemble to sit, sip a Greek coffee or a cold beer and to relax and enjoy the most wonderful of Greek pastimes, watching the world go by.
It is from here that one can commence one’s walk up to the summit of the Mount of Ipsarion, the tallest peak on Thassos island, and its underground caves, or walk or drive down to the beautiful bay of Golden Beach, which is spread out like a beautiful painting across the whole bay just below the village. The village and its location, nestled into the hills is breathtaking. Panagia village has a unique beauty, and has attracted many Greek and foreign visitors to buy summer or permanent homes here, and it will continue to do so for many years to come.
This spectacular beach resort has become one of the most popular destinations for visitors to Thassos. The resort is located along the shores of the fabulous Golden Beach, one of the longest sandy beaches in the whole of the Aegean Sea. The beach is two and a half kilometres long and spans to the south to the village of Skala Potamia.
The beach has fine white-golden sand, and only in a very few places are there to be found pebbles and stones. The sandy beach shelves gently into the sea, making it very safe for children and those who are more nervous swimmers. In places, the gently-shelving shore can become deeper, making it an exciting place for the stronger swimmer or for older children.
The waters here are spotless, and there are numerous possibilities for activities on this wide and long beach. There are volleyball nets for the active beach-goers and beach tennis along with other ball games that are very popular. In the water, snorkelling, jet-skis, the banana boat, parascending, sailing, wind surfing, kayaking and water skiing are some of the activities one should expect to find. For the more laid-back visitors, there’s never a lack of sunbeds where one can lounge and gaze into the deep blue horizon. Golden Beach is also a proud winner of, for many years now and counting, two Blue Flags of excellence.
Golden Beach is a relatively new resort, having been developed just over the last couple of decades. Ever since the very first visitors who came to Thassos, this is one of the areas to which they were drawn again and again. More and more people are choosing to come and live here on a permanent basis as attractive new residences are being built into the foothills of the mountains, and as more shops and year-round services are becoming available.
Fine hotels and bungalow complexes as well as holiday studios and apartments are being built, from the more humble, though comfortable and spotlessly clean, right up to the 5* hotels. Plots of land here have acquired a particularly high value since Skala Panagia and Skala Potamia have been developing fast due to a high demand from tourists – from all over the world – who visit and love it and want to have their own little piece of this island paradise.
It is indeed a true paradise, and a unique area of the island of Thassos, of the Aegean and the Mediterranean, with the steep grey granite of the mountains rising sharply behind, the green of the pine trees and plane trees in the foothills of the mountain, interspersed by the silver grey of the olive trees. Wildlife abounds here, a bird watcher’s and a nature lover’s dream, it is pleasant to stroll along the trails leading back from the beach. Then you always have the beautiful sweep of the golden sand of the long bay of Golden Beach, calling you to swim at the end of the day.
During summertime, a water taxi makes the trip twice a day between Limenas and Golden Beach, stopping at Makryammos Beach on the way. This boat ride is a pleasure in itself, giving a lovely view from the sea inland, to coves which one would possibly not visit unless one had a jeep, rugged motorbike, or sea vessel.
During the summer months there is every type of shop, restaurant, bar, café and snack bar that anybody could wish for. A plentiful supply of very fine quality rooms to suit all budgets exist, but it is necessary to book well in advance for the six peak weeks of the season, as this is such a popular destination. In this area there are some very fine restaurants providing local delicacies, home-cooked, and the freshest fish, meat, vegetables and salads. For those who wish to visit and do not have a car, it is well served by the local bus service which offers smooth, comfortable and air-conditioned journeys, an excursion in itself, as well as the very reliable and comfortable island taxis.
The small resort is full of life and people during summertime but is quiet and peaceful in the winter season. Most of the business owners move to their winter residences in the villages of Panagia and Potamia and deal with their other occupations which are namely fishing, beekeeping and honey collecting, picking and pressing their olives in the local co-operative olive press, (Thassian oil is some of the finest in the world) and, once the grapes have been picked, making Tsipouro, the fiery but aromatic drink which is typical of the region and which is drunk regularly by visitors to the island as an appetiser at the start of a meal. Try it, you’ll love it (or maybe not – it’s strong!!).
In the winter the beach becomes a beautiful place for solitary walks or for taking regular exercise – a fabulous time of the year to be at peace with oneself and to enjoy the unique beauty off this region.
The village of Potamia is nestled in the foothills of the highest and most majestic mountain on the island of Thassos: Ipsarion (1,204 m.). The village got its name from the abundance of water that comes down from the mountain, especially during Winter and Spring.
This northern part of the island of Thassos receives more than twice the rain fall compared to southern parts of the island. The small rivers and streams formed by the surplus of groundwater gave the name to the village Potamia, “rivers”.
The people who live here are very warm and friendly, and they have extraordinary passion for their village and for the surrounding natural environment. The 1200 inhabitants, in addition to stunning views of the mountain which provide a natural shelter for the village, live in a fabulous environment of naturally lush vegetation. The physical environment is shaped by many springs and gurgling crystal clear waters. This creates small streams between the numerous mountain trails which are eminently suitable and very well organised for climbing and hiking.
There is a magnificent view from all parts of the village notwithstanding the fact that the village itself is actually built into the wooded areas of the lower slopes of the mountain. Only 3 km to the east of the village, there is the seaside resort of Skala Potamia with its fabulous Golden Coast Beach, which attracts many visitors every summer time. Today, many of the residents work in the tourism trade, developing the unique skills that interaction with tourists requires, meaning that there is greater wealth coming into the village than in former years, but this does not mean that they have forgotten their traditional trades and skills, such as fishing, cultivating olive trees, farming and tending to their land and animals generally.
It is worth visiting the church of St. Demetrius here. It was built in 1845. One of the most famous people to be born in the village is the renowned sculptor Polygnotos Vagis, who emigrated and achieved great fame in America and subsequently bequeathed a large part of his work to the village. His work is displayed in the Polygnotos Vagis Museum so as to be shared with the local community as well as the wider audience of visiting tourists, and is open to be seen by all. He died in America in New York on the 11th of March 1965, without ever having changed his Greek citizenship.
The community of Potamia also includes the picturesque little island opposite, the island known as ‘Krambousa’, a type of wild cabbage which grows vigorously there. It is worth mentioning a little known jewel of this region of the island, the chapel of Blessed Daniel who was born in Thassos during the reign of Leo the Armenian 813-820 A.D. The Blessed Daniel was followed by a group of ascetics who settled here. Access to the site of this chapel on the island is only from the north side since every other area is too steep and rugged to be easily climbed. It is impossible to explore much of the island as it is overrun by this wild cabbage. The locals visit this tiny island in their boats each year to honour the memory of this blessed man.
The inhabitants of Potamia are still characterised by their unique accent, their outspokenness, and the jokes that they make against each other constantly, so that one feels inclined to laugh along with them and forgive them if they say something harsh. It would seem that this might be a natural consequence of the importance of the Carnival in this village, which is prepared for many months and weeks in advance. Lasting for many days, Carnival is the highlight of the village life, climaxing on the Sunday before Clean Monday, the day before Lent begins.
Do not miss a visit to this splendid village. If you are willing, you would have the opportunity to get to know some of the local people, who would welcome you with the typical hospitality of everybody in the village, and offer to share with you the local tsipouro, which is similar to ouzo but more potent to say the least, made from grapes that they will have grown themselves, and distilled in the village distilleries. Over a glass or two of this strong alcoholic drink and some delicious “mezes”, small snacks usually consisted of delicious meats, fish, cheeses, or vegetables, they will share with you some of the strange and unique stories which have evolved over the years and which will give some element of insight and understanding into who these people are.
Skala Potamia is a popular summer resort on the island of Thassos and borders Golden Coast Beach, the southerly end of Golden Beach, which is in this fabulous sandy blue bay, surrounded by the spectacular deep grey granite mountains, clad in bright green of the pines, the silver grey of the olive groves, and the deep green of plane trees. Right behind, one can see the highest peak on the island, Ipsarion, at a breath-taking height of 1,204 m.
Golden Coast Beach together with Skala Panagia’s Golden Beach is about 2 1/2 kilometres long, mostly fine golden sand, with a few narrow pebbly stretches.
In the past, these two beaches were separated by areas of sand dunes and a small river, but now they constitute one long and deep swathe of sandy beach, which is the pride of the Aegean, and indeed of the entire Mediterranean.
The fine sand here is clean and well maintained, and it is the perfect environment for children to play and build sandcastles. The beach is named after the colour of the sand when the sun is at its zenith, it sparkles and one could really call it golden. The beach has been awarded two Blue Flags of excellence.
For visitors to this area, not only will they be able to enjoy the beautiful beach and a clear clean sea, but there will also be able to immerse themselves in the beautiful natural beauty of the surrounding environment, a really picturesque locations for such a fine resort. If you are an early riser you will be able to watch the sun rise from the endless sea at dawn, and when it is a full moon, it is glorious to sit on the beach looking out at the moon dipping into the sea just at the edge of the Cape.
Access to the resort is a very easy, with excellent road connections, a good and regular bus service, and the opportunity of hiring cars and motorbikes for those visitors who do not have their own transport. The resort has its own taxi rank with regular taxi service in the summer.
Staying in the resort allows easy access to all the other beaches around the island, many antiquities and archaeological discoveries, and the nearby towns and villages, each having its own unique attractions.
Skala Potamia has developed and become an attractive small seaside village, and place of permanent residence for many Greeks and foreigners who have had built attractive, often stone clad houses here. More and more shops and restaurants are added each year, and the village is now offering facilities and attractions to its residents and its visitors throughout the winter months as well.
It is a popular resort, and there is a wide range of hotels and rooms available, but this popularity means the rooms are booked very early on, and it is wise for the intending visitor to reserve their rooms well in advance.
Kinira is a small, charming village on the beautiful east coast of the island. It captures the hearts of its visitors, and the people who visit here come again and again because it is one of the quieter regions of Thassos and has a fabulous natural beauty.
Directly opposite this quiet coastal resort is the island of Kinira, the “Kiniriotiko” a small, offshore island, covered in pine trees and with its own small rocky beaches and as such is part of the natural topography of this area, providing an additional unique appeal. It is very difficult to access but the waters around provide the local fishermen with one of the richest fishing grounds in the area. The home of the original owner can still be seen there. Kinira has a rich history, going back to the Phoenicians. Kinira together with Ainira, the present Palaiochori, was the centre of the mining in this region. Nowadays it is also known locally as Loutra, (the bath).
In the village you will find all the necessities that you need for your holidays. There are restaurants and tavernas, pizzerias, a supermarket, and you will find the locals will greet you warmly and welcome you to their area. The majority of visitors who come here are those who are looking for a traditional Greek environment and to experience and enjoy the simple life, and the hospitality which is freely offered.
Kinira has two long beaches along the full length of the village, one mostly smooth white pebbles and sand, the other entirely sand, and they are divided by a small and picturesque cape. If you go swimming and sunbathing here, you will most certainly lie down and relax and admire the natural beauty of this region which surrounds the gently curving beaches, the olive trees and the pine trees which cover drawn the deep grey/green mountains all around the region. The landscape really will take your breath away.
There is always plenty of space on the beaches as big crowds do not gather here. As all around Thassos, the waters are sparkling and clean. Those who don’t mind to drive a little further on, a couple of kilometres distant, can find the fabulous and sandy Paradise Beach, a name truly deserved by this location.
According to ancient history, written by Heroditos, the Phoenicians exported timber and gold from this area of the island, from around the end of the 16th century before Christ, until the Parian Greeks came and colonised the island.
Here one can still see the ruins of baths from the Byzantine era, and also the remains of an important Christian king ‘s tomb (Basilica) were excavated here. During one of the darkest period’s history, pirates killed many Christians here in an area of this village which is called “ the slaughter”. As in all areas of the island, Kinira has experienced good and bad moments in its history, but it is an enchanting place to visit, and one is certain to have a warm welcome and a peaceful and relaxing experience while visiting this beautiful Greek coastal village.
This beautiful bay with a shallow sandy beach, bordered on both sides with granite grey rocky promontories, is a true paradise on earth. It offers a magnificent beach far distant from all the hustle and bustle of the busy towns on the island, in an environment which will take your breath away. Here God used all his creativity and skills, in order to create a true work of art in this natural environment. It gives you a real sense of the beauty an island paradise can offer.
The bright green pine trees intermingled with grey granite rocks, sweep down to the crystal, deep blue waters. The overall impression of this beautiful small bay is of a perfect landscape and natural work of art. It is a place of unparalleled beauty, far distant from the more developed resorts and attracts lovers of nature. The sea is crystal clear, sparkling blue and turquoise, the sand is fine and shining, almost gold, and symbolises exactly what it is that Thassos and its sea and beaches offers to its visitors. It remains today one of the most beautiful beaches on the island and indeed, we believe we can proudly claim, one of the finest in all the Mediterranean.
Paradise Bay remains relatively undeveloped, with facilities just to provide for the most basic needs of the visitors, and little else. It is 26 km distant from the island’s capital, and only 2 km to the south of Kinira. The around-the-island bus stops at the top of the path that connects to the ring road of Thassos, which leads down to the beach. There is limited parking, but one must walk onto the beach, and then choose to go to the beautiful deep sand or on to the rocks, which formerly used to be (and sometimes still are) the naturist beach. The swimming and snorkelling here are exquisite, and there are many fish to be had for the keen amateur fisherman, and rock pools to be explored – a wonderful day for the whole family.
Paradise Beach is particularly worth a visit and we wholeheartedly recommend that you visit, if you can, in the quieter months, at the beginning and at the end of the season so as to enjoy this bay and this beautiful beach at its very best.
Alyki is a breath-taking peninsula leading out steeply into the sea and forming two beautiful coves on the south-east coast of the island. The settlement of Alyki has a history which can be traced back, uninterrupted, to the 7th century B.C.
Alyki translates literally as “the salt pans” (throughout the salt marshes), but this strikingly beautiful small fishing hamlet is world renowned for its antiquities and for the beautifully preserved and well presented demonstrations of how quarrying and shipping the local Thassian marble was undertaken during ancient times.
The ancient quarry is located on the most southeastern point of the Cape itself. Nearby there are two temples which are located inside the holy rocks Northeast of the cove, carved into the rocks themselves – where the faithful placed their votive offerings. Between these two points, the quarry and the temples, there is a natural stretch of high ground which was used in the 12th century before Christ as a transportation and commercial centre. It enabled the transport of marble and marble products by sea, and it functioned throughout the Greek, Roman and Byzantine empires, right up until the seventh century A.D. when the raids and the invasions from the North began.
As an interesting side note, Christianity in Thassos began when Paul the Apostle travelled from Troada in Asia Minor to Kavala – which was a part of the Roman Empire until the fourth century A.D. – which became an integral part of the Byzantine empire when it was established in 323 A.D. Megalos Konstantinos came to the throne of the Eastern Empire.
On the eastern side of the cove there are shrines dating back to the fifth and the six centuries before Christ, dedicated to the gods of Dioskourous and Apollo, gods who protected the boats and the sailors on their travels. The ruins of one of the shrines right next to the sea can still be seen, whilst the first Christians on Thassos built two basilicas on top of the second temple, using material from the original pre-Christian shrines, which was the usual practice. (It is quite normal to find Christian shrines or temples built at the same locations where there had been ancient shrines or holy places.)
At the very end of the Cape, the ancient quarries which were used throughout the entire period of the Roman Empire are still evident. This is where the marble was cut, processed and loaded onto the boats from the 7th century B.C., right up until the 7th century A.D. Thus today one can still see huge chunks of cut marble which either fell or were abandoned into the sea all around this area. Still a source of marvel how they cut, transported and carved them! The bay of Alyki is renowned throughout the world as a location from which the genuine, high-quality crystalline white Thassian marble and its products were exported world wide. The whole area is beautifully presented and described by the French Archaeological school who have worked hard and long to uncover its secrets and present them to us today.
Today the crystal clear waters and the serenity of the natural environment are the reasons for which ever more visitors come to appreciate these beautiful small coves, with their striking natural beauty which could not be readily found elsewhere in the world. These bays are considered by many to be the most picturesque bays in the whole of the island of Thassos.
There are numerous excellent fish restaurants and tavernas along the perimeter of the beach, most using the original fishermen’s shacks, fully restored and modernised, while there are also both private and state-owned and managed bungalows available for holiday lets.
There is a good path which leads down to the beach on both sides of the peninsula and in and around the ruins which are beautifully restored and presented. There is also a good path across the top of the promontory itself, leading past all the locations of historical or local importance, and giving exquisite views out across the ocean. It is the perfect place for the visitor who wishes to swim in crystal clear waters, and eat an excellent lunch from locally caught fresh fish, and to stroll around the antiquities and just absorb some of the history and glory of this very unique location.
Some call it Astris, others call it Astrida; both have the same unique meaning – the village of the stars.
Two villages with similar names? Two separate places? No, they are one and the same – a beautiful area of unspoiled natural beauty with long, gently sloping beaches, rocky outcrops, olive groves and small fruit orchards, fields offering pasture for the local sheep and goats, small fishing settlements and above all the wide open spaces for the visitor to sit and marvel at the superb views of the major constellations of stars in the clear night sky.
An idyllic, clean Mediterranean landscape. Sun, sea and a year round mild climate all combine here, in this beautiful spot, to provide the best growing conditions for olives, the most precious of all the Mediterranean fruits. In the olden days, in order to collect their crops, the inhabitants of Theologos came down on foot and on their donkeys, down foot paths and goat tracks that were lit only by the stars. So they named the place Astris, the village of the starry skies.
At the entrance to the village is a small picturesque beach, Psili Ammos – the ‘Bay of Fine Sand’. The reason for this name is obvious. A deep and wide bay of fine, white sand shelves extending gently into the sea, surrounded by gentle tree clad hills, pines, olives, figs and planes framing this superb beach in a natural and peaceful environment. This is considered by many to be one of the best beaches on the island. It has all the facilities one could ask for, with sun beds and umbrellas as well as cafes, bars and tavernas open all day, every day during the tourist season.
For those seeking solitude and a little bit of adventure, one can look for the hidden gem of Giola, located near Astris and accessed only by means of a rough track. This is the most beautiful natural pool one can find hidden among the cliffs along the coast of Thassos.
It is now common knowledge that, in this particular area, many ancient ruins and artefacts have been found, proving that this area has a long historical and archaeological interest. After years of excavations in the area, many ancient ruins have been uncovered, from outdoor storage warehouses for wine to defensive towers. There are also numerous old names of particular parts of the area, such as ‘Kokina’ which means ‘Red,’ and ‘Misampelia’ which means ‘Tipsy’. These two names in particular show that the plain of Astris was once an immense vineyard during antiquity.
The island ‘Astriotiko,’ or ‘Little Astris,’ overlooking the bay of Kalami was considered by the ancient historian Herodotus to be the island home of the Sirens. According to Homer, these mythical creatures lured travellers to their watery deaths by their enticing songs. The legend says also that perhaps here is one of the places where Odysseus came on his return from Troy.
A few kilometres south of Astris, underneath Aegean waters, lie ruins of an ancient city that was uncovered during recent underwater excavations. Some believe that it could very well be the ancient lost city of Atlantis, so for this reason, a programme has been launched by Greek and foreign research groups to answer this question. They aim to discover more about the fragments of the ancient underwater city, to study them, and to learn the history behind these treasures that have been hidden from man’s sight, under the sea, for so many years.
The entire area of Astris has a spectacular and unique natural beauty, numerous small beaches – some well equipped, others untouched, something for all tastes: Agios Vasilios, Bambouris, Amdela, Salonikios, Kalami, only to name a few. Also, a few kilometers away from Astris and in the direction of the Monastery of Archangelos, we find the bays Thimonia and Livadi, which will impress even the most demanding visitor with their excellent, often secluded beaches and beautiful natural landscape of hidden bays, formed by large vertical cliffs that descend steeply from the mountain sides tipping almost, it seems, into the sea itself.
Holidays here are a unique experience for visitors. The village of Astris, and indeed the whole area, has had some investment in tourism infrastructure and development. There are well appointed and well organised hotel facilities, rooms and tavernas with excellent fresh seafood daily, as the small island across the bay of Kalami, ‘Astriotiko’ is an ideal fishing ground for anglers.
Astris is an ideal place for relaxing vacations, close to nature. Who could want anything more?
Potos is a wonderful sea-side village and beach resort on the island’s southern coast. During the Summer, this village is a very popular holiday destination among tourists, especially for the younger and energetic age groups. It is especially busy in July and August when schools and universities are on Summer break. Young families tend to enjoy coming here as well due to the excellent facilities and younger crowds.
The narrow streets are lined with shops, restaurants, snack bars, cafés and bars while cars and motorbikes are limited to only a few roads in town. After a long day at the beach, tourists fill the streets and walkways in the evening to do some shopping, followed by a search for a good venue where they can enjoy a cool drink or tasty meal next to the beach and watch the sun set on the horizon, and then party the night away at the numerous bars and night clubs.
Potos is located next to a very long and sandy beach. The water is clear and fantastic for swimming and water sports. The cafés serve on the beach so just relax, work on your tan and enjoy an endless supply of what ever cold beverages your heart desires. It’s a lively place during the day and even more so at night. As you walk along the numerous cafés and bars you will hear all kinds of music, and very likely you’ll find something of your own personal taste, where you can hang out, have a drink, and enjoy all the positive vibes around you.
At night the area is loud and full of colour, very busy and crowded at times. Young people tend to enjoy the noise and vibrancy, visiting Potos for this unique party atmosphere which is not found anywhere else on the island.
Potos has developed into a bustling town with permanent residents in just the last few decades but it hasn’t always been this way. In the past, it was primarily a fishing harbour used by the residence of Theologos, a wonderful mountain village just 10 minutes away by car.
Fishing is very good on the South side of the island. The waters here are deeper and offer a great quantity of fish and a large variety as well. This makes Potos quite a busy area all year round. The Winter season is arguably the best time to go fishing because of the numerous kinds of fish that are available to catch, including local favourites like squid and octopus.
Theologos, which means ‘the Theologian’ or ‘the word of God,’ is one of the most renowned villages of Thassos, attracting visitors from far and near, both because of its long history, and because of its spectacular location and the natural beauty of the area in which it’s built.
In the distant past, the mountain villages of Thassos were established, developed and existed independently of one another since communication between them was almost impossible. Due to the lack of any organized road network or any other infrastructure, it took days to travel from one village to another, either by mule or on foot along footpaths, mountain trails and often goat tracks.
The very first written testimony known to exist, regarding the village of Theologos, was set down in the year 1287. The testimony, made by Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos, mentioned that the Monastery of Philotheou on Mount Athos had a dependency located where the village stands today. The dependency was named John the Theologian, which is the apparent origin of the village’s name, and which later became the administrative capital of Thassos and remained so up until the Ottoman era.
Ottoman Turks settled in Theologos between 1479 and 1538. From then it began to evolve into a large village with two settlements “Upper and Lower Town’, with two parishes and two schools. The residents maintained their very close connections with the coastal settlements of Potos and Astris where they owned land.
On March 30, 1813 the area was granted to governor Mehmet Ali Pasha of Egypt, who loved the island of Thassos thanks to his life-long connections with the island. Theologos underwent rapid development during this time period and because it had been gifted to Ali Pasha, it retained its relative autonomy and was governed by a local leader, a kind of prime minister – Bass Tsorbatzis, Chatzistamati, Hatzigeorgio and Hatzigiannis amongst the greatest of them.
The chieftain, Hatzigeorgio, became an emblematic figure for the village by declaring a revolution and repelling the Turkish warships from Psara. However, the area’s final release from foreign rule back to the Greeks came only on October 18, 1912 after many years of bloody struggles.
In modern history, Theologos was declared the cultural capital of Thassos in 1979 on account of its remaining as a traditional settlement. Visitors can tour the village by walking along the paved main road which runs through the village, visit the folklore museum with its many important exhibits of folk clothing, tools and architecture, and visit the home of prolific author Vassilis Vassilikos Thasitis.
At every step, the visitor feels the incredible influence of centuries of history, which the present village resiliently endured and of which reminders can be found at every corner. For example, the arched bridge – in the style of continental European architecture – just outside the village, and the churches of Agia Paraskevi and Agios Dimitrios (built in 1803 AD) with their impressive and elaborately carved iconostasis. Similar carvings can be seen in the small chapels of Panagouda and Archangelos. This unique Byzantine style dominates the area dating back to 1430 AD and is unique to Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, the region in which Thassos is located.
The nearby waterfalls of ‘Kefalogournas’ and the old limestone ovens take one back to the olden days, when the local people found that nature and local resources provided for most of their everyday needs.
In Summer, many tourists flood the village to sample its many unique charms. The Thassian wedding is a representation of a traditional marriage. It attracts many, many locals and tourists to this lively celebration, which is renowned throughout the region for its authenticity.
In the tavernas all around the village, one can enjoy unique traditional, local products, with the honey of Thassos and traditional sweets and pasties, typical wedding fare, and snack to one’s heart’s content. Other culinary delights to feast on include the delicious spit roast lamb – a mouth-watering local speciality that every taverna here offers and we whole heartily recommend.
This charming little beach resort stretches along a lovely sandy and pebbly bay, completely surrounded by green pines – giving the resort its name from the Greek word “pefkos”, meaning pine tree.
Pefkari is a village tucked away in the trees along the sparkling Aegean coast on the south side of the island. The village consists mostly of beach bars, cafés, restaurants and hotels – an obviously specialized summer holiday resort, catering to its visitors and guests. It is a quiet place to visit that has everything one needs for a wonderful and relaxing vacation. The beach is large with mostly sand and pebble, crystal-clear water and even water sports. Families love to bring their children because of the calm nature of the area, which provides for a perfect family holidays. It is very convenient for those who would like a quiet and relaxing vacation but also offers a variety of things to do and places to go.
Pefkari was one of the first areas in southern Thassos which developed as a tourist resort, even when there were few private cars and limited public transport. Locals and visitors were able to access this fabulous beach by boat from nearby Limenaria. The beauty and appeal of the area has hardly changed since then – the green of the trees, the gold of the sand and the clear, blue waters still provide a beautiful natural aspect which impacts on all who visit here.
Pefkari has been awarded every year with a blue flag of excellence, for the cleanliness of the water and the beach, as well as for the quality facilities that are available. It offers all kinds of water sports, beach-front restaurants, cafés and bars and holiday accommodation, even small luxury hotels. All these have given the area a cosmopolitan feel and the resort is a lively holiday resort, day and night throughout the summer. There is a very well organised camp site for those who look for an alternative holiday next to the sea.
One cannot fail to be impressed that such a small resort can provide so much to its visitors, and yet still manages to offer such a relaxing environment. There is so much choice available in the surrounding area that even the most demanding of visitors can find all they need for a lively, active or a totally relaxing holiday.
The village of Limenaria is just 2.5 kilometres Northwest from here where you can spend the day shopping or explore the old mine next to Metalia Beach. Go in the other direction and you can reach Potos just 1.5 kilometres East from here, where you can spend an evening and enjoy the most lively nightlife that Thassos has to offer.
This lovely village is located on the island’s south-west coast and forms a community together with the neighbouring settlement of Kalivia. Limenaria has a beautiful harbour and offers absolutely gorgeous views of the Aegean Sea and the holy mountain, Mount Athos.
Limenaria is in an area which has one of the mildest climates on the island, and it has become a very popular destination for holidaymakers. It has retained its unique local culture and many Greek traditions. Visitors can enjoy a wide choice of tavernas and restaurant, serving local Greek dishes, and many of these restaurants are located adjacent to the sea, all along the coastline of the town. There are also to be found numerous cafés, bars, shops and kiosks all providing a very wide range of necessities and souvenirs. All of the facilities are within walking distance, and it is a very pleasant environment to walk around, and absorb the simplicity of this way of life which hasn’t changed for many, many years.
There is however plenty to do in the town. There are beautiful beaches up and down the entire stretch of its coastline, and even within the town itself there is a sandy beach. One barely has to walk far from the beach for a snack or a meal in the adjacent restaurants and sandwich shops.
If you travel to the east of Limenaria you will immdiately find Metalia Beach, an enchanting and picturesque stretch of sand and pebbles in a fabulously beautiful location. Also, in this area one can explore the remains of the mines if one wishes to acquaint oneself with the history of the area.
About 2 1/2 kilometres further along the coastal road, one can find Pefkari Beach, named after the pine trees which surround it, with its absolutely beautiful sandy and pebbly beach.
A little way beyond this as well, there is the village of Potos, only about 4 kms from Limenaria. It is very much an environment for young and energetic people, providing an exciting and vibrant atmosphere for a fun night out as well as a beautiful sandy beach.
Further still, and the road is so good it will be no difficulty for anybody to explore either by car, bus, motorcycle or bike, one can find Rossogremos Beach (carved into the pink rock) the fabulous wide and sandy beach which every visitor to the island must spend some time at, and after that the deservedly renowned beach of Psili Ammos – “fine sand”.
As you can see, Limenaria should not be overlooked when visiting Thassos. It has so much to offer plus endless possibilities for fun and entertainment in the surrounding areas.
Limenaria has a very interesting history, although it only really began at the start of the 20th century when the mining of the minerals in the area was commenced by the German company Speidel. This mining began in 1905 and continued up until 1912. The local mines were rich in reserves of cadmium and zinc. After the war, mining recommenced from 1925 onwards, by an Italian company known as Vielle Montagne, right up to 1930, and they installed new machinery to extract the minerals, building mining engines with combustion mechanisms and chimneys, the remains of which can still be seen today.
The head office of the Spiedel Mineral Company was built right on top of the prominent cliff on the east of Limenaria. It dominates the town, and is certainly worth a visit. It is called the Palataki, the little palace, and beneath it, there is an old mine that can also be explored. Nearby there is a Folklore Museum with many local finds and offering a variety of musical and theatrical events in the summer.
As the mining industry here grew, it provided a good income and a good quality of life for the workers. The population of this area grew rapidly and peaked during the early 20th century for several reasons. Firstly, residents of the mountain village of Kastro, where there had been little well-paid work, and which had been somewhat distant from the modernisation of other towns on the island, came to Limenaria to work in these local industries.
At the same time, the Treaty of Lausanne led to the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey. Many Greek refugees from Asia Minor who had been forced to abandon their houses in Turkey, so came back to Greece by ship and landed in the harbour of Limenaria. These refugees brought with them their culture, their different ideas, different ideologies and gave new life to this thriving community. Many of them settled in the area just north of Limenaria and built their modest homes there. This settlement became known as Kalivia, which means ‘the village of huts’.
Kastro, quite literally means ”the castle”. The village is to the north east of Limenaria towards the centre of the island. The village is built at an altitude of 450 m. above sea level, and because it is nestled in the mountains, it cannot be seen from the coast. This was a deliberate policy in the past and throughout the ages, to help protect villages and their residents from being despoiled and pillaged by pirates in the Mediterranean.
It’s name derived from the ruins of a castle that once stood there. Jacob Gatelluzzi, a Genoan to whom Byzantine Emperor Emanuel II Palaiologus gave both of the North Aegean islands of Thassos and Lesvos to in 1414, built the castle on the mountaintop at which the village is found today. The Gattilussi family ruled Thassos for 40 years. Evidence of this can be found on three plaques on a wall of the Church of St. Athanasios.
The village was deserted for very many years. The original residents had abandoned the village in order to work at the island’s coast. Many of them went to the flatter areas where they were able to cultivate their land, and take care of and benefit from their olive trees. Others went to work in the mines near Limenaria, to excavate the minerals on behalf of the Speidel Company. This work of course generated better income for them, and that led to a better standard of living for them than what they had previously been able to have in the village.
More recently, many of the old houses have been renovated, and are used as summer holiday homes, or by Greeks when they come and visit for the weekends. Apart from this, it then becomes quite a dormant village during the colder months, especially the winter. However the village comes to life once again on January the 18th to celebrate the Saint’s day of St. Athanasios, the patron saint of the village. For an entire week many Thassians go to the village of Kastro to celebrate with food, drink, music, dancing and generally enjoying themselves, so as to celebrate the Saint’s name day.
It is easy to get to the village of Kastro from Limenaria, it takes about 35 minutes in the car. If you are more energetic, you can walk from Limenaria or Theologos. It is a very pleasant walk, and you would be able to see all of the local flora and fauna on the way. The walk lasts between two or three hours depending on how energetic you feel. If you do decide to drive, it is better to go with a four-wheel-drive car or a car which has a high wheelbase, as the roads are not well made and can damage your car if you do not take care!
KASTRO (CASTLE) A Hundred Winters of Loneliness…
The traditional settlement rouses from its lethargy for a few days only to celebrate the memory of St. Athanasios. The messages of protection and ecotourist development haven’t arrived here yet…
Being built up on a stony flat at Thassos’ mountainous heart and surrounded by deep ravines and gorges, the Castle preserves many signs of the past, medieval erections and vestiges of Gattilusie of the Genoa dynasty. Throughout the centuries, the settlement moved through periods of glamour and decline but remained however an everlasting place of secrets and miracles, a cradle of culture and harmonic coexistence of man and nature. In present days, being already abandoned by its inhabitants, the Castle rouses from the lethargy for few only days, being in the middle of winter, to become again the center of St. Athanasios’ celebration day. Music and songs reverberate through the medieval narrow streets, the house chimneys smoke and the inhabitants meet around the big common table, “the coulbani”.
The days of fiesta pass ever so quickly and Castle is left again into ravages of time and the barbarity of certain arbitrary settlement since 1978. It seems that many more years of loneliness are still to come, until it will be protected and promoted…
Like an impervious ring…
Being built up on an altitude of 450m (the highest of all Thassos settlements), the Castle was a fortress site of Gattilusi of the Genoa dynasty that had the island in its occupancy during the period 1414-1455. Based on three inscriptions that are now walled in St. Athanasios’ church, the first fortification on the settlement was made on 1403 including the castle, the water reservoir and the tower. Gattilusi family reinforced the fortification on 1414-1416.
After the Turkish occupancy, the number of Castle inhabitants seemed to increase with people from other settlements of the island and refugees from Constantinople. The third inscription, made in 1462, attributes the Castle’s reconstruction to two Constantinopolitans, Constantine and Ioannis. The fact is that the settlement became an important commercial center of the island, flourishing until the end of the 19th century. The Castle owns its historical identity partially to its location. It has been erected on a flat area of rock that is detached by deep ravines from the surrounding mountains, and shapes therefore a small impervious ring.
In the settlement’s center, the most flat and even part of it, the church with its bell-tower and arched arcade remains standing along with the ruins of an old cafe and the school built in 1897. A high stonewall with two entrances, one on the east and another on the northwest side encompasses this complex. By the rocky edges of the settlement, the precinct of modern day’s communal cemetery – that coincides with the medieval precinct – and the arched-roofed reservoir stands by the tower foundations that were used as an ossuary.
St. Athanasios’ Church
The Church of St. Athanasios is dated, according to its proprietary inscription, back to January 1804. Based on tradition, the church was constructed within forty days after the license was obtained by the Sultan. Since time was short and none could be lost, the whole village participated in its construction.
The stones used for the contruction were coming from the old castle ruins. This explains the three medieval inscriptions on the church’s South wall. The one that depicts Gattilusi’s rule was placed up town. The eldest still remember the church as its came, the time when four priests officiated. It’s not random that the church is the epicenter of the settlement’s periodic resuscitation. It is here that they continue to celebrate the memory of St. Athanasios on January 18th. Architectonically the church is a three-aisles wooden roofed basilica with an arched arcade along its south side, where “coulbani” is roofed, the large dinner table that all inhabitants share on St. Athanasios celebration day.
It is a typical sample of Thassian ecclesiastic architecture that had a wide influence all around the Balkan areas during the Turkish occupation.
A Protection Regime (?)
St. Athanasios Church is characterized as a historic scheduled monument under a ministerial decision of 1980, “because…,it is one of the oldest churches of Thassos that preserves many authentic figures useful for the study of ecclesiastic architecture of 19th century and the island history in general”. It is subject for its protection to 12th Superintendence of Byzantine Antiquities (of Kavala) and Culture Ministry.
This remarkable place called Trypiti can be found driving south past Skala Maries, just beyond the Southeastern Cape of Kefalas. It is at this point that the vista in front of you opens out, as you are now truly in the south of the island with the Aegean Sea stretching endlessly before you.
We have heard from visitors that they found this holiday resort just by luck and curiosity, following the steep road down to the beach, just because of its strange name, Trypiti, which means ‘the place of holes’. Others were wildly impressed by how beautiful the vegetation surrounding this beach is, lush pine trees with dense undergrowth. And some were most pleasantly surprised, stopping here unexpectedly on their way around the island just before Limenaria
A visit to this tucked-away beach is truly a reward in itself, no matter what prompted the visitor to go there. The name is actually given by a large hole in the rocks, which the waves and the constant flow of the water have created through the ages. It has a wide reputation, purely owed to its natural and rugged beauty.
The beach here is a long stretch of beautiful fine sand and pebble. There is a completely unobstructed view of Limenaria in the distance, particularly of the famous Palataki, and in front of you there is the Aegean Sea, crystal clear with deep blue water, very easy access and excellent facilities. There are both simple and more sophisticated facilities here, a small outdoor beach bar, rooms and apartments for rent, and more recently, a very luxurious hotel, right on the beach itself, to welcome even the most discerning visitor.
We believe that after visiting Trypiti, one could find nowhere better that would make them feel so happy, for making the effort to find this unique, almost hidden gem of Thassos.
The picturesque small harbour village of Skala Maries spreads over three bays and virtually the entire village embraces these three small and welcoming sandy beaches.
The first and largest bay at the entrance to the village, Platanes Beach, overlooks the Aegean Sea and has fine shingle sand. Then, walking up the street that runs along the entire village, one reaches the small harbour at the heart of the village, Skala Maries Beach. This is the second small bay, providing a home for all kinds of boats of the locals who use them to catch the fresh fish that is available for all to enjoy in the local traditional tavernas. Continuing down the same road, but moving uphill again, one arrives at the the third bay, the fabulously shallow and sandy Atspas Beach.
The bay formed here, just at the exit of the village with fine golden sand and crystal waters, gives visitors the opportunity for a swim on a beach not very organized, or cosmopolitan, yet very beautiful and with a marvellous sunset.
The visitor will remark on the architecture of the houses here. They are built close together for safety from pirate onslaught, while in the many old houses that have survived one can still see the carved ceilings and colourful corbels on the balconies which are typical examples of economic prosperity of the region of bygone times.
According to records dating as far back as the Byzantine era, Skala Maries had a special relationship with Mount Athos, the holy mountain that is inhabited only by monks which is visible in all its majesty on a clear and sunny day just across the Aegean. Up until 1926 there were dependencies here of three of the monasteries on Mount Athos: Karakalou, Ksiropotamou and Stavronikita.
The evidence of the historic importance of this village as well as its attractive village centre and port and the fabulous beaches and the swimming available, provide a calm, welcoming and and naturally appealing place for relaxing holidays in complete harmony with the sea breeze and the influences of traditional life still to be seen.
Just 12 km northeast of its coastal sister village Skala Maries, one can find this enchanting mountain village, Maries (mah-ri-E-s). It is one of the oldest villages of Thassos and it is located in a deep ravine, where formerly there were iron mines.
The original site of the village was on the hill opposite, where the famous Monastery of Panagouda stands today, but it moved during the Middle Ages to its present location for fear of pirates.
As one approaches the village following the only road which goes there, one will find the Monastery of Panagouda on the left-hand side. Visitors can see here an icon of the Virgin Mary, a priceless treasure of the monastery, among other relics. On the north side of the monastery, the chapel of John the Baptist is a true masterpiece.
The village church is located near the village square, the location of an ancient mulberry tree. It was built in 1800 and is dedicated to the Gathering of the Archangels. It’s said to be one of the oldest churches on the island.
In the village square, a stop to taste the wonderful ice cold water from neighbouring mountain springs and to sample the famous roast lamb served by the surrounding family-run tavernas is strongly recommended.
On August 15, during the Feast of the Assumption, there is a folk festival that isn’t to be missed, where locals and visitors celebrate and have a great time together.
Follow the signs out of the village and continue upwards to arrive at one of the most unique natural attractions of the island – a mountain lake. With its small waterfall, and set in a landscape of outstanding natural beauty in the woods, the Thassian Forest Association has developed a beautiful and functional picnic area. Lovers of hiking, of gentle wild animals and of the natural environment can continue to immerse themselves in nature as this road leads to the top of the tallest mountain of Thassos, Ipsarion, which stands 1,204 metres tall.
Maries has very good accommodation for those who find this as the perfect holiday destination. For the rest, a day trip is a must!
No one knows which is true, but the locals speak of many origins of this sleepy village’s name…
- The fact that the village had several women named Mary.
- After a pirate invasion, the destruction of the village and massacre of its residents, only two women survived and both were named Mary.
- The village had many mulberry trees and the name of this plant sounds identical to Maries – ‘mouries’.
But, regardless of the reasons for naming this beautiful mountain village, it is still one of the prettiest in the interior of the island where the world seems to completely stop as one visits it.
Skala Kallirachi is located on the west coast of the island looking directly onto the sparkling sea and offering a remarkable view of mainland Greece opposite and the mountains of both Kavala and Agios Oros. It’s a fantastic fishing area for those who enjoy this sport and also an ideal spot for those who prefer a quiet and relaxing time away from the hustle and bustle of other larger towns and resorts.
The climate in this area is wonderful, with very little humidity and countless beaches of different shapes and sizes all along the vast coast line.
Originally the local fishermen had built their huts here, quite literally on the beach, so as to provide protection for their boats and fishing gear. Later these huts became larger and more grand and the fishermen began to live in them, providing permanent dwellings for them and their families, thus establishing the origins of a coastal village which slowly expanded along the sea front and along the island’s main ring road, the foundations of what is now a small, typical Greek island fishing village.
Every sunset here is a work of art, full of wonderful colours that only nature can masterfully create. Enjoy dinner with a glass of wine or just an evening coffee or cocktail as you are entertained by the peaceful, natural beauty that this region offers. If this naturally mellow and graceful atmosphere can’t help you to relax and find peace, then nowhere can!
Staying in the Skala Kallirachi area is great because there is no shortage of any of the necessities for an incredible holiday. There are numerous businesses and restaurants nearby and within easy reach, while the town of Prinos is just a few kilometres away with its health centre and weekly market, and Limenaria, the second largest town on Thassos, population just over 2000, just a short distance in the other direction with all the shops and nightlife one could ever want.
The island’s public transportation is very good with local taxis easily available and a good bus route that runs on a regular schedule during the summer months. You can easily go and visit any one of the many beautiful and unique villages of the island or take an enjoyable ride around Thassos’ coast.
Just as you leave the village, the road narrows, forming a type of gorge which also slopes down to the sea and which is called locally “the slope”. It is a lovely pebbly beach, with smooth, round pebbles, wonderful to collect or to skim into the water. It is well worth sampling the fresh, locally caught fish and sea food in the villages taverns, and if you are there in the evenings, just at sundown, to watch the small fishing boats being towed out to sea, one after the other, just like a necklace of floating beads bobbing about on the water, going to search for the next day’s catch.
There are numerous cultural events in the summer months, from early July until late August, mostly in the area of the port, culminating in the “Feast of Sardines on 14th, 15th and 16th August.
Visiting our beloved Skala Kallirachi to plan and spend your holidays in will be an excellent choice. We’re sure that you’ll end up loving it as much as we do!
Kallirachi translates to ‘Good Ridge’ and is a beautiful village in the west of the island of Thassos, nestled amongst the many pine trees and olive groves in the region, and has maintained the old customs and traditions of Thassian island life. The wonderful climate here makes this an ideal village to enable one to spend a comfortable and relaxing holiday.
Its sister village next to the beautiful coast, Skala Kallirachi, offers a long, pristine coastline with a number of family businesses providing all styles of food, drinks, shops and snacks for the many and varied tourists who holiday here and also for those who just come for the day. The sunsets here will amaze you which includes all variety of colours and countless shades of orange, crimson and gold.
This mountain settlement was moved from its original location after a pirate raid devastated the local population. Many of the residents were slaughtered and in commemoration of this horrific incident, the original settlement’s location was renamed ‘Kakirachi’ – which translates to ‘Bad Ridge’.
Kallirachi is a village with a rich history. The village is mentioned in historical records from 902 A.D., when pirates from Tripoli used the forests here to construct an entire fleet of ships with which to launch their invasion of Thessaloniki. In 1457, Kallirachi was occupied by the Ottoman Turks, who then destroyed the village and burned its church to the ground.
Even after such great hardships throughout their history, the locals are renowned for their warm hospitality and their spirit of solidarity among each other, something rare to find in most places today.
The inhabitants work in agriculture, fishing and tourism. They also have a long tradition of seamanship, having produced very well trained and skilled sailors. During the summertime, Kallirachi is all but deserted by the men, having left to work for their livelihoods, on fishing boats off the coasts of Thassos and Kavala.
Today, visitors can wander the cobblestone streets by foot since many of them are impassable for cars. The village has 9 churches and shrines dedicated to various saints. The patron saint of the village is St. Demetrios and, on the 26th of October, the whole village throws a festival to celebrate his name day as well as to celebrate all those who share that name.
Worth a visit is the folklore and maritime museum of the village, housed in a restored building from 1800 in the village center.
To enjoy these very unique attributes in such a dream-like landscape, be sure to visit this mountain village during your holiday on Thassos!
Spread along a line of scenic and tranquil beaches, Skala Sotiros was originally a fishing hamlet for the residents of Sotiros, providing a sea-front location for their fishing boats and fishing shacks. Only after 1976 did the development of this small village slowly begin its transition to a holiday resort, in order to attract tourism and to enable visitors to enjoy a peaceful and still traditional fishing village community.
The small but beautifully presented and well maintained marina provides moorings for hundreds of small boats and an opportunity for fishing for beginners as well as for the more advanced. The beach is lined with palm trees giving an exotic feel to the place, and amongst them nestle small tavernas and bars which remain open all day, serving delicious food and refreshing drinks. Visitors can also find here the oldest olive press of Thassos, in this heart of the olive growing region of the island.
As one passes through the village, it is essential to stop to explore, and buy bread, as here one can find the arguably best, traditionally baked bread on Thassos. The village has experienced rapid tourism growth and development in recent years and therefore offers plenty of accommodation for all tastes and requirements. Restaurants and bars have opened near the sea, making Skala Sortiros a very attractive proposition for a night out and an excellent choice for a relaxing holiday in a traditional Greek island fishing village.
Sotiros is the name for ‘The Saviour’ in Ecclesiastical Greek.
On the 6th of August, the village celebrates the feast day of the Transfiguration of Christ, the miracle that the church here, and thus the entire village, was named after. The church was built in 1890 in celebration of this miracle and even today people gather from all over the island both inside and in front of the church to celebrate.
Beneath the courtyard of the church, ruins of a prehistoric settlement dating from the Early Bronze Age have been uncovered and is visible to those walking up to the church. Remains of Roman baths from the late Roman era have also been discovered in the area.
From the seaside village of Skala Sotiros there is a good, asphalt road leading to the mountain village of Sotiros. As one travels along this road, one might notice the countless shrines and small churches through the trees and the dense vegetation. For the village ahead is Sotiros – ‘the village of our Saviour’.
This picturesque mountain village nestles along the western edge of Mount Ipsarion. It rests at a height of 350 m, and 3.5 kilometres from the Thassian coastline.
The village is famous for its clean air. The air is said to have healing properties and is good for those with respiratory problems. Combine that with the natural beauty of the surrounding forest and mountain springs, and you get another piece of paradise that is waiting to be explored.
The climate is mild and dry – the breeze that blows here, clean and refreshing. Visitors are impressed by the old church, the lovely fountain in the centre of the square which was built in 1888, and the old school – now waiting in vain for the voices of children – which has been abandoned for many years now. However, few changes have been made to this traditional village and because of this, combined with the feeling one gets of time stopping in the paved narrow streets, makes it particularly attractive to those who are seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of the busier seaside resorts.
At the small cafe-restaurant in the village, make sure that you take time to enjoy a coffee or ouzo under the shade of the old plane trees and immerse yourself in one of the most romantic locations of the island, to see the spectacular sunsets which are almost guaranteed at this vantage point. The view from this height above sea level of the coastline kissing the Aegean sea is breathtaking.
This village provides comfortable accommodation for tourists of all walks of life and is wholeheartedly recommended to those who wish to enjoy a relaxing holiday close to nature.
Skala Prinos is home to the second ferry port on the island, and it connects the island of Thassos to the city of Kavala on Greece’s mainland.
At this beautiful beach resort one of the last traditional shipyards of Greece is still fully operational. Small fishing vessels, pleasure boats and larger craft are brought here into the crowded dry dock for repairs, upgrades or renovations and then returned safely to the gentle water. One can still see wooden boats being hand-made by the fully experienced shipwrights, practicing their centuries-old traditions.
Here one can find a large number of all types of accommodation, newly constructed luxury hotels, self-catering apartments, traditional tavernas and beach-front restaurants for every taste and pocket, as well as trendy cafés and uplifting beach bars.
Walking along an elegant walkway alongside the main road, one comes to the beautiful green grove of Dasilio Prinos. This is a small and charming evergreen wood on the right edge of the bay and in some parts it looks as if it’s growing directly out of the sea.
Dasilio Prinos is organised into areas specifically designed for recreation, with a barbecue, a playground and of course swimming areas. This beach here has held a Blue Flag of excellence since 2004 and will, without a doubt, maintain it for many years to come. The sand is fine and the sea is rarely rough, and shelves very gently into the water, making an area shallow and perfect for small children. This is also one of the best locations from which to enjoy the breath-taking sunsets on Thassos.
In addition to the various types of accommodation, one can find here one of the most picturesque and well-organised camp sites on Thassos, under the auspices and care of the Municipality of Thassos. A significant number of events including beach parties, barbecues and outdoor concerts are held here each summer.
Prinos is one of the largest villages of Thassos and is located just four kilometres from the ferry port of Skala Prinos
The village is built like an amphitheatre, into a hill at the entrance of the valley which leads to the higher mountain villages of Kazaviti.
A popular year-round attraction that is the only one of its kind on Thassos, for visitors and residents from all around the island, is an outdoor market (bazaar). It takes place in the town’s open square every Monday morning. Visitors can obtain excellent quality fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, pickles and preserves, curtains, cushions, bedding and towels, kitchen items and all clothing and footwear at great prices, and at the same time enjoy a unique lively atmosphere.
Throughout the year there are organized excursions and hiking in the mountains as well as nature activities which visitors are warmly welcomed to join in.
The economic development of this area was made possible by the perfect conditions for olive trees. All the surrounding hillsides are covered by the silver green of the many olive trees in the vast olive groves. It is the main olive and olive oil producing area of the entire island.
Every visitor must sample the local products, the exceptional quality Throumbes Thassian olives in all their varieties of black and green, extra virgin olive oil of low acidity from the local olive cooperative and the local honey and traditional sweets.
Local cultural associations, supported mostly by parents associations, are well organised and enthusiastically attended and supported and have significantly enhanced the cultural life of the area with their events, festivals, exhibitions and displays.
The town has a library with many and varied titles and offers classes in painting, ceramics, chess and traditional and modern dances.
Prinos also is renowned for its well-organised public health centre, thanks to the support of its residents and the tireless efforts of nurses and doctors who provide excellent primary health care.
The underwater discovery of oil, which is extracted by a rig far out in the bay of Prinos, has also helped make the village’s name famous all over Greece.
The island has many mountain villages because, in the olden days, people built their homes high above the mountains so as to be able to see, well in advance, and thus avoid pirate raids. Thus most villages are perched on the slopes of the mountains, surrounded by pine trees and providing wonderful views to the Aegean sea.
Visitors wishing to explore our many examples of these traditional and beautiful mountain villages absolutely should go to Kazaviti. To get there, one must pass first through the town of Prinos, continuing up the winding paved road. You will encounter the first village, Mikro Kazaviti (Small Kazaviti), at the end of a narrow valley, nestled into the hills.
It is the smaller of the two villages that have taken their name from the Latin words casa = house, and vitus = wine. The village thus became ‘the house of wine’ – and for good reason.
Quaint brick houses, perched on the hill sides, slowly emerge through the dense green of lush vegetation that the many trees and shrubs create: cypress, hollies and natural mastic trees. All around, one finds picturesque and elegant restaurants offering all kinds of local traditional delicacies and contemporary accommodation, offering high quality hospitality yet still in harmony with the idyllic environment.
Continuing the tour of the mountain villages, one can effortlessly go on foot to the next village, Megalo Kazaviti (Large Kazaviti), since the distance between the two villages is only half a kilometre.
On the left, one finds a replica of an ancient Greek theatre, built out of local stone, nestled in a hollow that can provide seating for about 300 joyous spectators. During the summer months, the villages present music, theatre and dance events. On the 10th of February and in commemoration of St. George, and also on Easter, visitors have the opportunity to find and join in on an authentic folk festival, with religious celebrations in the villages’ picturesque chapel.
Megalo Kazaviti – the second and larger village – follows the same style of architecture as its smaller neighbour. In the village square, which one enters at the end of the climb, an ancient plane tree, huge and imposing, spreads its branches and shades the whole area, offering coolness and protection, since the sun’s rays have difficulty passing through its thick leaves and branches. Underneath this tree one will find just two of the mountain villages’ many traditional tavernas, serving delicious meats and home-made recipes, complimented with the very best red wine, locally-made, that Thassos has to offer.
These mountain villages offer visitors easy access to the natural environment as dense forest surrounds the perimeter of both villages. Local naturalist clubs have organised tours and walks along the numerous trails that lead to the surrounding forests and which provide a safe and informative way for every visitor to come into direct contact with the local flora and fauna and the unspoiled natural environment. A true delight for nature lovers, walkers, hikers, and the average tourist as well.
Visiting Kazaviti during a holiday on Thassos is like eating the icing on the cake. So don’t forget to have your fill of the delicious icing because it’s a truly awe-inspiring experience!
There are things which any visitor to Skala Rachoni immediately notices…
The first, is the very beautiful coastline – fine white sand which embraces a series of beautiful coves, all washed by the clear and shallow sea. To use umbrellas for protection from the sun is unnecessary here, since the pine trees reach right down to the water’s edge and it is always possible to find plenty of natural shade on the beach.
The second is the numerous olive trees, spreading the length and the breadth of this fertile plain. On both sides of the road, there is a maze of small country roads, in and out and around the olive groves, often leading to unexpected small coves with fine sandy beaches, restaurants and tavernas, and even small houses and rooms which are available for tourists to rent. This is truly a rural environment which welcomes visitors who want a relaxing getaway.
Few things could be more beautiful than breakfasting among the lush trees in such a green and gentle valley. Even the hotels and tavernas seem to be a natural complement to the landscape, ready to offer visitors the freshest fish, as well as a variety of other local specialities.
Besides good food and this long stretch of scenic coastline there are fully organised beaches, where visitors can participate in a variety of water sport, right from water skiing, paragliding, and even short flights in a small powered aircraft (ultralight).
There are beach bars also which will attract both young people and those who feel young at heart, offering daytime and evening parties.
In this area, one will also find some of the largest and best supplied supermarkets on the island, as well as a petrol station, pharmacies, hardware stores, and an extensive range of pastry and sweet shops.
This area attracts tourists who are looking for a visually beautiful environment and yet are demanding fine quality services so as to have the best of both worlds. Skala Rachoni offers all of this, so discover this for yourself and share in the secret!
Rachoni lies in the spectacular northern region of the island of Thassos. It is an agriculturally rich area, the second largest olive plain after Prinos, and consists of four settlements – two laid-back mountain villages: Rachoni and Agios Georgios, and two seaside resorts: Skala Rachoni and Pachis.
The village of Rachoni is literally perched on the edge of the mountain, giving it its name, ‘the Rock Edge’. The village is surrounded by spectacular and varied flora, consisting of trees and olive trees, every kind of fruit tree, bushes and shrubs. The vegetation is dense and rich, almost engulfing the village with the wonderful scents of honeysuckle and jasmine, which can be seen in many of the surrounding courtyards, filling the area with exotic and enticing perfumes.
A paved road runs around the village, starting from the Church of the Assumption, a church which is an example of 19th-century architecture with a very fine statue of the Virgin Mary to bear homage to this saint. Crowds of people gather here on August 15, the festival of Mary, to commemorate the Virgin Mary and to participate in a special folk festival in a unique village atmosphere of hospitality and warmth, which local residents create and to which visitors and strangers are all warmly welcomed.
Walking up the path and at the highest point of the village, is the paved town square. Visitors should pause awhile here and enjoy a coffee or soft drink together with one of the wonderful unique local sweets, made according to traditional recipes (often handed down from generation to generation) by the women of the village and which are famous throughout the island. Those who know that the true pleasures come from the most simple things in life will certainly find their place in Rachoni, this most traditional of all mountain villages.
It is no coincidence that many foreign tourists fell in love with the simplicity and tranquillity of the area, bought or built their homes here, giving new life and vigour all year round to the towns in this area which earlier had begun to be abandoned by local people.
Today these residents make up the largest English-speaking community on the island and are well-integrated with the local population, exchanging their cultures, and jointly bringing new ideas and new activities to the social life of both villages.
The community has a number of different interest groups which organise activities around the year, the most famous of these is be Carnival which is organised and provided by all the nationalities who live here. It fully deserves a visit! Equally, during the summer months, tourists are invited to join in all of the cultural events, which any of the local people will tell you about.
Pachis – translated oddly as ‘the fat (or thick) place’, which we believe refers to the lovely super-wide stretch of sandy beach – is a small beach-side resort and is one of the most majestic and idyllic localities of the island. It has a splendid length of fine golden sand, the deep green mountains behind, and olive trees coming almost down to the water’s edge, so that looking back from the beach and sea, one is enchanted by a beautiful and truly natural landscape with all the various beauties and colours of nature.
Because the resort is located beyond the buildable areas of the island such as towns and villages, all the development that has taken place here has been on large plots of land, so there is plenty of open space and green areas and parkland around all of the buildings giving a sense of spaciousness and openness. It is very accessible, being near to the main harbour of the island in Limenas, as well as being near the second harbour of the island, Skala Prinos
There are wide and narrow stretches of sandy beaches to both sides of this small resort and the sand stretches far out under the sea, giving a unique colour and a unique characteristic to this area. A variety of fine fish restaurants offer extensive menus, mostly with local, home-cooked food and the freshest fish that you will have ever tasted. There are small beach bars hidden amongst the pines at the far ends of the beach and excellent quality sun beds and straw umbrellas for hire.
Pachis Beach is one of the most popular summer resorts on the island, and is a must for all those who would like to spend some time lazing on the beach, swimming in the sea, and then treating themselves to a drink, ice cream snack or fabulous meal just by the water’s edge, with an easy and comfortable walk, bus or car journey home.
Agios Georgios or “Vouzas”, as the locals call it, is the sister village of Rachoni and it nestles into the wooded hillside directly opposite the village Rachoni
This settlement moved to its present location relatively recently as originally it was much higher and deeper in the mountain, where one can see still the remains of the chapel of Saint George, which can be visited along the mountain path.
Legend says that the village was the birthplace and early childhood home of Mehmet Ali Pasha of Egypt. The village church with its paved courtyard and houses with red and grey brick roofs are the original local architecture which provide a unique feel to the village, inviting the visitor to tour the streets of this small village.
Today’s busy lifestyle has no place here. The coolness of the crystal clear waters running through the village and the abundant shade of the many plane and pine and olive trees, provide a welcome to the visitor who wants to walk around the quiet streets before commencing the downhill walk to the sea about 4 four kilometres away, so as to arrive at the beach side resort of Skala Rachoni, the tourist resort of this idyllic community.