The best hiking paths of Thassos
Known for its exotic beaches and the pure-white marble gracing many Greek monuments, Thassos is also a wonderful destination for lovers of outdoor activities and hiking holidays in Greece. More than 70% of the island is taken up by the slopes and foothills of Mt Ipsarion, much of it covered by pine, olive and chestnut trees and other greenery.
There are countless footpaths to follow, some connecting mountain villages hidden within forests and others winding down to coastal settlements, following trails used by the earliest villagers who lived in the hills as protection from pirate raids. Or you can turn your attention to Mt Ipsarion (1,204m) and enjoy one of the routes towards the summit, experiencing even more incredible sea views. Either way, you’ll be gifted with rich nature and (especially during spring and early-summer months) plenty of running water.
There are hiking paths in Thassos for all ages and abilities. We focus here on two options – the first, a gentle stroll for the whole family around the port-capital, Limenas, in which you’ll be introduced to Thassos’ ancient monuments, and the second (for more adventurous hikers) exploring the footpaths up Mt Ipsarion.
The ancient path of Limenas
This popular 3.5km route introduces you to the ancient city of Thassos, on which Limenas was built. Setting out from the Old Harbour (protected by two circular towers in antiquity), you walk past the Kalogeriko (a handsome 19th-century, two-storey building used for cultural events) and the 5th-century BC Gate of Hermes and Chariton – the first of the remains that appear, as if out of nowhere, beside houses or hidden within the greenery surrounding Limenas. From here, the path follows the contours of the tree-filled peninsula, past the tiny Chapel of the 12 Apostles (with a fantastic sea view) and Thassos’ Ancient Theatre (which hosts the annual Festival of Ancient Drama). It continues towards the remains of the Acropolis of Thassos (at 137m, probably the best view of all, especially at sunset) and the Temple of Athena and Sanctuary of Panas. From this point, many opt to return to Limenas on the same forest path. However, you can complete a circular route back to the port, past the Gate of Silen (or Selene, goddess of the moon) and the Sanctuary of Hercules and the Ancient Odeon. The distance is the same. Either way, your walk ends at the Ancient Agora, the heart of Thassos in antiquity, just above the Old Harbour.
The footpaths of Mt Ipsarion
There are numerous ascents towards the peak of Mt Ipsarion but the most popular sets out from Potamia village. It is a demanding hike of around 12.6km, but you’ll be richly rewarded because of the intense greenery. Initially, you follow a mountain road for 1hr before heading on an uphill path for 1hr30min, bringing you to the refuge of the Mountaineering Association of Thassos. As you head higher, you flip between views of the sea and the upper slopes of Mt Ipsarion. The highlight comes at the 1,204m summit, with unbeatable views of the coastal settlement of Skala Potamia and Golden Beach. Alternative hikes up Mt Ipsarion are on the old footpath from Theologos village and (slightly more demanding) from Maries, on a water-filled route that starts from the mountain lake near the village. If you want to minimise your walk, you can reach the refuge by car, from where it is a 30min-1hr hike to the summit.
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What is the best way to reach Thassos island in Greece?
- There are regular ferries from Keramoti to Limenas (approx. 40mins, from €4 for passengers) and from Kavala to Prinos (approx. 1hr20min) More info here.
- Keramoti port is 40km by car or bus from Kavala, which has an international airport and is also a fascinating addition to a holiday in Thassos.
- Kavala is 171km (1hr50mins) from Thessaloniki (which has an airport for international and domestic flights).
- The best weather conditions for hiking in Thassos are in spring and summer. Autumn can also be magical, as long as weather conditions are good. Winter is best avoided because the weather can be changeable.
- If you are visiting in the summer months, it is best to leave early in the morning to avoid the midday heat (despite most of the route being in the shade) or in the afternoon to catch the sunset.
- Ideal months are April-May and September-October, when it is cooler.
There are other hiking routes in Thassos that link villages in the mountains or along the coast.
Popular routes are:
- From Astrida village to Giola lagoon
- The old footpath connecting the villages of Panagia and Potamia
- The longer and more demanding paths from Theologos to Potos or the Monastery of the Archangel Michael
- From Potos to the archaeological site of Kastri (where one of the most significant prehistoric settlements in Eastern Macedonia was discovered)
For the more demanding hikes on Mt Ipsarion, it is worth first contacting the Thassos Mountaineering Association and hiring a local guide.
What to pack:
Path 1: Old Harbour to the Ancient Agora (circular)
- Distance: 3.5km
- Starting point: Old Harbour
- Highest point: 188m
- Walking time: 1-2hrs (depending on stops)
- Difficulty: Easy to medium
Path 2: Potamia to summit of Mt Ipsarion
- Distance: 6.3km (12.6km return)
- Starting point: Parking of Potamia village
- Highest point: 1,204m.
- Walking time: 2.5-3hrs to the peak (5-6hrs including return to Potamia)
- Difficulty: Medium to hard
Let’s all try and keep the magic of Greece’s natural wonders alive for future generations.