The Greek island of Thassos in the Aegean Sea is relatively unknown. Yet amongst Greeks it’s famed for cool greenery (something you won’t find too much of in mainly rocky, volcanic Greece), fantastic views from the roads and villages that transcend the island and several pristine beaches. Others talk about Thassos’s famous hospitality, tasty wine and its fantastic pine-tree honey.
The island is very near the mainland and easily accessible from Keramoti by boat to either Limenas (Thassos town) or Skala Prinos. The nearest airport is in Kavala with frequent flights from Athens or direct charter flights. There’s also the option to get there by flying into Thessaloniki, in the north of Greece, then taking the frequent coach to Kavala.
Did you know that Thassos was the island of the Sirens, the devilish fish tail women? Their beautiful voice attracted passing sailors to a horrible death.. Ulysses and his crew just escaped their clutches during their return trip from the Trojan wars. In antiquity, Thassos was famous for its gold mines and marble production; and you can see the marble factories still churning out the lovely stone, destined for international export, nowadays.
Thassos was most powerful around the 5th century BC.when it became part of the Delian League, controlled by Athens. During Roman occupation in the first century AD, Paul the Apostle brought the Christian Faith and built churches on the ruins of ancient temples. After destructive spells by Saracen pirates and the rule of the Byzantines, Turks seized the island at the end of the 15th century. Thassos was eventually liberated and reunited with Greece in 1912.
Apart from the main Greek holiday island pastimes such as sunbathing, swimming, eating out, partying to the sounds of bouzouki into the wee small hours in tavernas (for which Thassos is world-famous), Thassos pastimes include scuba diving, with the school based at Pefkari in the south of the island. You can also visit ancient sanctuaries in the hills, as well as the acropolis and the great archaeological museum in Limenaria. Thassos also boasts huge pine forests, perfect for hiking in the shade – just buy a map from the tourist office and pack some food and plenty of drinks – strong shoes essential.
Visiting Potos, a traditional fishing village before the onset of tourism, you’ll appreciate the splendid beach, a blend of white and golden sands. Skala Potamia, a beautiful stretch of deep golden sands and crystal clear water on the western side of the island is ideal for families. In contrast Alyki, a steep climb down from the car park at the northern part of the island, is a crescent shaped beach amongst dramatic cliffs, woodland and even some Roman ruins.
The Folklore museum In Potamia, 9km south of the capital, provides a fascinating account of the island’s ancient history and it also showcases paintings and statues by local artists.
Posted : Monday, March 7th, 2011 at 12:00
Karen Bryan is the founding editor of the UK based, multi author Europe a la Carte Blog which features Europe travel tips about the best places to visit in Europe.