Best holiday ever on the Greek Island of Thassos.
Greece has lived through troubled times recently and Greek Island holidays have suffered a drop in visitors as a result. Street riots and country-wide strikes left me worried, along with many others, about booking a Greek Island holiday this year. Having just returned from a holiday on Thassos I should not have been concerned. I can honestly say it has been one of the best holidays ever.
Thassos beaches are just a lovely, the weather was perfect, the prices much lower than I expected and the welcome was all you would expect from the ever-hospitable Greeks.
The only other notable differences, apart from the low prices, were fewer German holidaymakers and many more East European families on the more popular Thassos island beaches.
We spent a week in the Thassos capital of Limenas at the excellent Danae Hotel. It scored very high on Booking.com and rightly so - basic no-frills Greek but spotlessly clean, sheets changed daily and terrific husband and wife hosts.
The hotel is close to Limenas town centre and a short walk took us to the main shopping strip, a bright and busy pedestrian-only street packed with craft and souvenir shops, street cafes and music bars, bakeries and tavernas.
As usual, the best, and cheapest meals, were away from the tourist hotspots and our favourite was was Meorgios in the new harbour where delicious meals for two cost under €25, with wine.
Locals say visitor numbers are slightly down this year, but this comes on top of two years of increased numbers, so the popular Thassos beaches such as Golden Beach, Potos and Limenaria are as busy as ever.
We hired a car but spent most of your time in and around Limenas. Not only does the capital town have its own excellent sandy beach but there are a string of sandy coves to the west - all within walking distance.
The beaches are marked Agios Vasilios on the map but the coves are variously named after resident beach bars or nearby hotels such as Papias, Gourgoulis, Tasarna and Nysteri.
Further around the cape are splendid family beaches at Pachis and Skala Rachonis and a pleasantly spruced up port area at Skala Prinos where there are regular ferries to the mainland at Kavala.
The south of Thassos has more than a dozen beaches between Limenaria and Astris with Pefkari boasting yet another Blue Flag award this year.
Thassos has such a surfeit of beaches it is hard to understand why it is not more favoured by package tour companies. Thomson and First Choice have been here for years and Olympic Holidays have recently added Thassos to its brochures, but other companies have shied away.
With a flight time of just three hours to Kavala and a short ferry hop from the nearby port of Keramoti, the island of Thassos is ideal as a last-minute Greek island break.
Cheap flights to Kavala are on offer from fliers such as Thomson Fly and Thassos is just a short taxi ride and ferry ride away with ferries leaving hourly or less.