Greece is a preferred summer destination for many of my friends and family, because of the nice beaches, the clear blue water and the overall vacation atmosphere. So, when my sister came with the proposal of a trip to Greece (specifically a Greek island :D:D:D), I just had to say yes. I had some doubts about the long road ahead, but, of course, my sister delivered the counter-argument: “hmm… you’re weird… you usually love to drive”. Ups, she got me there. So… here we are :))
Since we preferred to not waste too much time on the road, we picked the closest island we could find, Thasos Island. We set off at around 5 am (yes, I know… apparently, when I am on vacation, I do not mind getting up early. That happens only on work days :D) and we were lying on a beach with a cold beer next to us by 6 pm.
The road is not as bad as people would complain. For the most part, you need to drive through Bulgaria, a country known for not so good roads. However, it seems that, in the past few years, they are starting to catch up in terms of road quality, signs and gas stations along the way.
Thasos Island is the most northern islands of the Greek archipelago and it has a surface of approximately 400 square km. Although it is only the 12th, as surface, it looked very imposing, as we approached it with the ferry that carried us between the island and the mainland.
The island is surrounded by the clear blue waters of the Aegean Sea and is a perfect place to enjoy the laid back life style of the Greeks, while delighting yourself with the breath-taking scenery, the secluded beaches and the extraordinary food. We were lucky enough to find a very good place to stay, at Terra di Olive, in the village of Potos.
One of the things that attracts you to Thasos (except for the fact that it is the closest island to the mainland and you can get there by car 🙂 ) are the beaches. We visited the most important beaches of the island, bathed in the crystal clear water and did some snorkeling. Ok, truth is all my friends did some snorkeling, while I just stood there watching them. I do not know how to swim, therefore, I felt uncomfortable trying to do snorkeling. Imagine all the jokes :))
You must know, from the beginning, that most of the beaches are located within small gulfs, surrounded by cliffs. Not all beaches are reachable from the island, some of them can only be reached by sea. The beaches we visited were reachable by car.
Our first stop was Paradisos Beach (Paradise Beach). It is named after the exotic forest that surrounds it. Although it was advertised by all our friends that it was the beach „with the waves”, we were not lucky enough to experience „the waves” on the day that we went there. You have to walk a little, in order to reach the beach, but when you do, you are simply left speechless by the color of the water and by the sandy shore – I am mentioning this because, mostly, the beaches are covered with small cobble stones and, in the water, there are many rocks, on which sea hedgehogs find homes. I enjoyed the 2 hours spent here, indulging on a well deserved coffee, after wallowing a bit in the sea – remember, I can’t swim. The water is shallow for a good portion into the sea, so it is safe for children and non-swimmers.
Our second stop was at Chrisi (Golden) Beach. It is names so, by the color of the sea, reflected on the sand. It is the only beach on Thasos Island, with a „blue flag” – I was considered ignorant when I was not impressed with the beach, especially because of this „blue flag”. Apparently, the blue flag signifies that the beach meets the standards of the Foundation for Environmental Education, which include references on water quality, safety, environmental education and information, the provision of services and general environmental management criteria (yeap, you guessed it, that’s Wikipedia talking here!). I, myself, was not that impressed. It was a little dirty, loud and crowded. We took a bath, my friends did a bit of snorkeling and we set off for our next destination.
The famous „Marble Beach” was a disappointment to the entire group. Not because of the natural environment, but because, in an effort to attract more tourists and to earn as much money possible, it was overly marketed, with high prices, extremely loud music and no respect at all for the beauty of this natural habitat. The beach itself is amazing. The sandy shore is actually formed of small pieces of marble, perfectly polished by the sea, making it a wonder for those who see it for the first time. What impressed me, though, was the amazing color of the water, a shade of blue, that I cannot exactly describe. Set in a gulf, surrounded by rocks and trees, the beach has a lot to offer, including a show performed by some mountain goats who easily proved that they can conquer any hard terrain. I truly believe that it was the highlight of our visit there.
Out of all the beaches that we got to see during our one week vacation, Aliki Beach was my favorite. I am at a loss for words to describe it. Although it was very crowded, the beautiful, natural habitat took my breath away and left me with a longing to come back. As with many other beaches, Aliki is located in a gulf and is surrounded by forest. On the hills of Aliki, there are the ruins of a sanctum dedicated to the god Apollo. Over the centuries, most likely in the 5th century, two basilicas were constructed, the ruins of which can now be seen on the hills of the gulf of Alykes. The views from the hills are breath-taking and the hour long walk around the ruins is worth it. Besides, once you get back to the beach, you can enjoy the amazing sandy shore and the clear blue water.
While we were in Thasos, as I mentioned, we stayed in the village of Potos. Potos has its own beach, as all the other coast villages around Thasos Island and we enjoyed our sunsets there, most of the times with a beer in our hands, unwilling to get up and make our way to another amazing thing that you can find in Thasos, which is … the food. Food is an important part of Greek way of life. Greeks savor their food, they do not just eat it. This is why I thought I create a Greek food guide, on the blog, for you to further experience the Greek cuisine.
If you are not a „beach person”, you can always walk around the island, rent a bike or just drive around. The Greeks are very relaxed, moving in a slow pace. You will not see too many crosswalks. In Greece, you can cross the street wherever you want, just make sure that you stay out of the way of any car :).
While on Thasos, I wanted to also visit some of the sights. One stop was at Archangel Michael Monastery. It is a nunnery, built on a cliff, above the sea surface, with an amazing view of the Aegean Sea. It is believe to have been build around 1287. Even if you are not a religious person, you will appreciate the religious art, that you can find in the small church that visitors can access. Bear in mind that a special attire is necessary. If you do not have it, it will be provided for you, at the entrance in the monastery.
During one of the days on the island, we visited two of the most important villages on Thasos – Panagia and Theologos. Both of them were, throughout history, the capitals of the island. Nowadays, the capital is located in Limenas. Panagia is well know for its olive oil industry. The combination of sea and mountain scenery makes Panagia the perfect destination for nature lovers. Moreover, it is a very picturesque and colorful village. Here, you can find an olive oil museum, that explains how olive oil was made in the past, but also how modern technology took over the tasks of the wooden equipment, in order to be more productive and to bring more quality to the olive oil industry. I enjoyed a lot walking through the narrow streets of Panagia, admiring the houses and the care free way of life of the villagers.
Another spot that I enjoyed tremendously was Theologos – a village with incredible influences of centuries of history, of having been under the rule of either the Ottoman turks or the Greeks. The traditional houses, the small church and the narrow streets make it uniquely charming. The people of Theologos are proud of their ancestry and the village is still considered the cultural capital of Thasos Island. The Theologos Folklore Museum offers a glimpse in the life of people in the village throughout the centuries. It is a must to visit it, while on your next trip to the island.
The sea around Thasos has also a lot of offer, by itself. Whether you are a diving fan or a fishing type of person, you can find many „marine” activities. We preferred to take a day long sea cruise that took us to some remote beaches, offered us some unique views and entertained us with some dips in the sea. My friends were incredibly satisfied with all the sea jumps, while I watched them and played „camera man”. I also took a dip in the sea, with a life vest, since the water was way above my own level of acceptance. It was a pleasurable experience, eating lunch on the boat and just enjoying the hot sun and warm sea :).
Thasos Island is a charming place and I am eager to return, as I feel I only saw a small part of what it has to offer and only enjoyed a small part of the dishes that Greek cuisine has to offer. The vacation was a success, from my point of view and I recommend the island to anyone who is looking for a combination of history, culture and modern entertainment, as Thasos Island offers them all.