Back in early July when we began planning a trip to one of the Greek islands, we did not really know where we wanted to go. We made a list of all the possible islands and then did some research in regard to accommodations, ferry costs, and what each island might offer that was unique. Finally, we settled on Thassos Island in the north after being intrigued by the photos we had seen of this island, and with the fact that it would require a long drive to the north-east of Greece. This would provide an opportunity for a road trip where I could see more of Greece – a big benefit in my eyes.
The next challenge was selecting accommodations. On Thassos, there’s a lot of choices available and choosing one can be dependent on the type of beaches you might prefer (the island has everything from sandy to rocky beaches), and what you might want to visit on the island. Personally, I prefer sandy beaches – my feet are ultra sensitive and while some might think this is wimpy, walking on rocks in my bare feet actually causes a lot of discomfort and even pain. So, with this in mind, we focused on finding accommodations in the area of “Golden Beach” at Skala Potamia.
In the end, we were pretty excited about the opportunity to rent a bungalow instead of a hotel room or small apartment, when we were researching possible accommodations. Did we make the right choice?
Discovering Athos Bungalows
In browsing the https://www.go-thassos.gr website, we discovered what appeared to be quaint bungalows for rent, one of which was built from stone. They looked great and so an inquiry was made of the host as to how close they were to the beach and to request an offer in price. Our first choice in requested time period was not available, but the host emailed us back and offered us 6 nights beginning August 6th, 2020 for 70.00 Euros per night.
70.00 Euros per night?? “Wow, that’s what we want then,” I exclaimed when I heard the price. There were small apartments and hotel rooms available for less, but not much less, and personally I prefer a bit more privacy than what can be offered at a hotel or apartment. I’m guessing that any other year before COVID-19, the price for the quaint cottage here would be much more – but for us, it made the trip highly affordable – especially considering traveling in Greece is not inexpensive when you consider the cost of fuel and tolls on the highways.
Another bonus for us was that our hosts were willing to consider allowing pets – although arrangements needed to be made first. We had first had some other plans for our Boston Terrier, Beans, but as time went on between booking the bungalow at Athos Cottages, those plans fell through. So in the end, Beans also joined us for our road trip and stay on Athos.
Arriving At The Bungalows
After a beautiful drive (we began at Exarchos, near Atalanti) north and then east from Thessaloniki, we arrived at Keramoti where we took the ferry to Thassos Island. Once on Thassos, the roads were well marked and pointed us in the right direction toward Potamia. A short time later, we were in the area of Athos Bungalows but had a little trouble finding it – disbelieving Google Maps about a road we were directed to turn on to. But eventually, we figured it out and arrived at the property. On our arrival, we were met by Panos who introduced us to our stone cottage that we would call “home” for the next six nights.
While I did not take photos of the interior, and just a couple of the exterior, to say we were happy with our accommodations would be an understatement. In fact, we were delighted! The bungalow was very clean, modern, and perfect for a couple wanting to get away for a week or so. The bedroom, which was very roomy, contained a large comfortable bed, a sofa, closets we could hang and place our clothes, and an adjoining bathroom.
It should be noted that the bath was impressive by Greek standards as well – most are so small and not the most comfortable for me and my large feet and body frame to take a shower in. The bathtub in our cottage was a typical North American sized one, which I could have easily taken a bath in, if I had wanted to.
The kitchen and dining area was equally roomy and well equipped, although we did not use the facilities for making our meals, choosing instead to sample the food of local restaurants.
Many people going on an island vacation will want the beach to be within a few steps distance from their accommodations. For a lot of people, its all about the beach. However, while I do enjoy the sea beaches of Greece, I also enjoy nature walks and hikes. Athos Bungalows is about a one minute drive to the beach at Skala Potamia or a 15 minute walk. It’s location up on the slope of the mountain however also affords plenty of opportunities for quiet and privacy, along with some hiking along the dirt paths that are close by.
For us, the location was a great benefit, being so close to the beach and centre of the village, while giving us the chance to sit and relax outside our bungalow and enjoying the great view, without the hustle and bustle of other tourists close by.
The Athos Bungalows are also within short walking distance of a “Mini-Market” where almost anything one might need from groceries, alcohol including wine and beer, supplies, beach accessories, and more, is available. If you’re close to running out of fuel in your car, there is a BP Station right around the corner as well.
Another great feature was the night skies, being up on the slope of the mountain and away from the village lights. The night skies were simply dazzling to look at, and we happened to be there during the peak of the Perseids. We did not see a lot of meteorites, but did manage to get a glimpse of some, and the view was better just a few paces away from the bungalow, towards the entrance.
One small annoyance was the mosquitoes and small biting black flies. This problem was easily solved though with a can of insect repellent which did the job in keeping the biting “zoozooni” away.
It’s a “family affair” and the husband wife team of Panos and Anastasia were wonderful during our stay. They both also operate a restaurant on Golden Beach at Skala Potamia, so they stay very busy. We both enjoyed the moments we had with them and the fact that Anastasia is originally from Vancouver, and speaks English fluently, was a wonderful benefit for us.
They also have two sons who were great. The eldest, who also works at the restaurant (their pizza maker – and a good one at that!), would quietly and unobtrusively check on us to make sure everything was okay when he was around. The youngest, Chris, was a delight as we got to know him better and his love of music! One evening, we spent some enjoyable hours with Chris as he played various musical instruments, and we thoroughly enjoyed his company. It turned out Chris, if we had known earlier, would have made a great guide to the village of Skala Potamia. He also plays a tough game of table football and air hockey as well.
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, our stay was made even more enjoyable by the fact that the bungalow has great WIFI access. While there are times I’d just like to get away from email and work, my business means that I need to be in touch with clients and often need to respond with little delay. The wifi connectivity was dependable and fast.
One of the biggest complaints about traveling and staying in travel lodgings is the lack of electrical outlets. But you won’t find this problem at Athos Bungalows. There were enough electrical outlets for both of us to keep our devices powered up, and in both the bedroom and kitchen. This was well thought out by the owners! There was even an electrical outlet outside, near the table on the stone porch we would sit at in the mornings to enjoy our coffee, or evenings to enjoy the night sky. I could even work at my laptop, outdoors.
There is also a “communal” outdoor kitchen and barbeque, which we did not make use of, but would be fantastic for a family or group, to save on dining out costs. The area was well equipped and protected from any inclement weather.
For more information and photos, visit: https://www.go-thassos.gr/visiting-thassos/hotels/athos-bungalows
One of the benefits of staying at Athos Bungalows is that they also provide a 10% discount on meals at the Athos Restaurant. Very conveniently located, and with both indoor and beach seating at Skala Potamia, the Athos Restaurant has a great selection of food, but specializes in great pizza. But if you go, be sure to consider some of their other menu items. Our first night in Thassos, we did try their great pizza along with an amazing house salad (The Athos Salad) which came in an enormous bowl and contained an apple and blue cheese dressing. I enjoyed it so much that I insisted on it the subsequent times we dined at the Athos Restaurant.
The second time we dined here, we tried the seafood grill for two – which was both large in quantity of food and very tasty!
In addition to the owners, the staff at the restaurant were wonderful; attentive at the right times, and always making sure everything was to our satisfaction.
Meal and beverage prices were very reasonable and good value for the food that we received, even if we had not received a 10% discount. It was pretty obvious to us on the nights we dined inside that pizza is a very popular option at the restaurant, but be sure to consider as mentioned, their other menu offerings as well!
So, Did We Make The Right Choice?
At the beginning of this article, I asked if we had made the right choice in our accommodations for our trip to Thassos. It was a question on our minds before we arrived. In retrospect, it was the perfect choice and we have no regrets about staying at Athos Bungalows or dining at the restaurant in Skala Potamia.
In fact, I’d love to return to Thassos and again stay at Athos Bungalows.