Thassos vs Corfu: Which Greek Island is Better to Visit?

thassos vs corfu

Thassos vs Corfu isn’t an easy one to answer. These two islands lie and two opposite ends of Greece. One is tucked into the Aegean Sea just a short ferry off the mainland of Macedonia, closer to the Bulgarian border than to Athens. The other is actually on the cusp of Italy, capping off the south end of the Adriatic Sea in the west.

But the distance doesn’t actually mean they are worlds apart. Both places are famed for their raw natural backcountry, which is carved out by great mountains and drops to forest-filled valleys and fertile farms. And there’s a hodgepodge of beaches on both Corfu and Thassos that will satisfy everyone from snorkelers to families on the hunt for sunbeds by a cocktail bar.

If you’re undecided between the two spots, check out this guide to Thassos vs Corfu. It pits seven key aspects of the isles against each other to see which comes out on top. We’ll also finish up with a summary, to give you a better idea of what you’ll be missing out on if you choose one place over the next.

Thassos vs Corfu: Natural beauty

Thassos mountain
Photo by KatarzynaTyl/Pixabay

Under the gaze of the Rodopi Mountain just a stone’s throw from the Bulgarian border at the very north-eastern end of Greece, Thassos isn’t anywhere near the holidaying heartlands of the Aegean. But that doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful. It most certainly is. In fact, at times, Thassos can seem like the lush peaks of the Macedonia region have just kept on going into the sea. It’s very verdant, packed with 100-year-old pine woods and wild thyme blooms. There are also soaring summits, capped by Ypsario at 1,205m up. Down on the coast and you get the whole shebang, from pearly rock pools to golden beaches set beneath the highlands (more on those later, though).

Corfu’s a much more famous beauty. It’s been known for its natural wealth since the time of the ancients. Even Odysseus is said to have been tempted ashore here on his way back to Ithaka after the Trojan War. And the treasures do seem to be endless. There’s a northeast coastline of pebbly coves backed by spear-like pine forests. You’ve got an interior beset by hulking peaks like Pantokrator that have views over to Albania. Then there’s the west, where uninterrupted lengths of perfect golden sand dash under limestone cliffs and olive groves.

Winner: Corfu – but only because it’s been famous for its looks since ancient times!

Thassos vs Corfu: Ease of travel

Corfu flight
Photo by Krzysztof Kowalik/Unsplash

Although you might not have heard of Thassos before, it’s not a super-tricky island to get to. In fact, it really lends itself to those traveling into Greece from northern Europe or elsewhere in the Balkans. Yep, four hours is enough to bring you south from Sofia (the capital of Bulgaria) to the port town of Kavala. That’s where the regular public ferries to Thassos go from. There are dozens per day in the peak months, arriving at either Skala Prinos or Limenas. The closest major airport is in Thessaloniki. It’s a 1.5-hour drive to the west and has domestic links from Athens, along with short-haul budget connections from the UK.

Corfu can trump Thassos here simply because it’s got its very own airport. That’s a real gift in the high season, when thousands of visitors can simply jet in without having to worry about dealing with a single ferry. Corfu International Airport is located just south of Corfu Town. It’s the fifth-busiest airport in the country and boasts a whole load of seasonal links with a variety of carriers, including budget mainstay Ryanair. Ferries to Corfu are also available. They go regularly from the mainland port of Igoumenitsa, but also come across from Bari, Ancona, and Brindisi in southern Italy (cross-Adriatic jaunt anyone?).

Winner: Corfu

Thassos vs Corfu: Price

Corfu beach
Photo by Corfu Diary/Unsplash

Both of these islands can be done cheaply if you’d like. However, we’d say it’s all-round easier to get a budget holiday together on Thassos. It’s nowhere near as popular as Corfu, so there’s not the same rush for accommodation, particularly in the summer months. What’s more, the island is in the far eastern part of Greece, which tends to be a touch cheaper overall. You could choose an affordable midrange hotel like Studio Zoi or Gorgona Rooms, and choose to come over with your own car to keep prices nice and low. That can bring it to a point where an average daily budget of just €30-40 ($35-47, not including a place to stay) should be enough.

Corfu isn’t usually quite as cheap. Thanks to establishments like the Pink Palace Hostel and the Sea View Hostel Rooms (both of which are pretty highly rated), you can score a bed that won’t break the bank. However, Corfu also has booming resort towns with pool-ready hotels that will get you reaching for the piggy bank. When it comes to eating out, the local tavernas can give good value for money, but they’re probably around €5-10 pricier than those on Thassos overall. As a general guideline, we’d say a budget of anything over €60 per person, per day (without accommodation) is needed here.

Winner: Thassos

Thassos vs Corfu: Nightlife

Thassos lagoon
Photo by Sollermann/Pixabay

There are some nightlife hubs on little Thassos. Mainly, the action is centered on the town of Limenas on the north coast. It’s where the boats come in, so you probably will have already been there after stepping off the ferry. The vibe is pretty chilled. It’s largely down to street-side cocktail bars like Nalu or boho shoreline venues like the Karnagio Beach Bar. Sometimes, the party continues on longer in the southern resort of Limenaria. There, options like the Bolero Summer Dance Club try to live up to their name with resident DJs and evenings that go on past midnight.

All that might be fun, but it’s certainly nothing on the off-the-hook hedonism that carries on in Kavos, Corfu. Welcome to one of the undisputed party towns of the southern Med. With a strip to rival Kos and Ios, this one’s a major destination for young Brits, Germans, and Scandinavians throughout the summer months, all fueled by shots and happy hour deals and music that doesn’t stop until sunup. Elsewhere on Corfu – mainly in Corfu town – you can enjoy a more relaxed vibe, with tavernas and craft beer places that attract a local crowd.

Winner: Corfu

Thassos vs Corfu: Things to do

Thassos culture
Photo by Anestiev/Pixabay

There’s a real adventure waiting to happen over on Corfu. People flock to the island from miles around to enjoy its natural beauty and rich historical sites. We always recommend starting by getting lost in Corfu Town. That’s a maze of higgledy-piggledy alleys and roads, all winding back on each other around lovely, honey-tinted Venetian architecture, capped, notably, by the striking St Spyridon Church. Hikers often love the challenge of Mount Pantokrator, which tops out with views of the Adriatic and Albania in the distance. Then there are the stunning coves and monastic relics of Paleokastritsa, which is only really scratching the surface of the coastal jewels of the isle.

Thassos is tailor-made for travelers who like to venture a little off the beaten path. History abounds. Check out the acclaimed Archaeological Museum in Limenas. It’s considered one of the best in eastern Greece, known for its Neolithic and Roman artifacts. The Byzantine domes of the eye-watering Archangel Michael Monastery are also likely to catch the eye of culture vultures. Then, push on to the mountains, where hikes through olive groves and lazy lunches in old villages like Theologos beckon, not to mention olive oil tasting sessions in the farms.

Winner: Corfu

Thassos vs Corfu: Beaches

Thassos beach
Photo by alexman89/Pixabay

We know beaches are an uber-important part of most vacations to Greece. The good news here is that both islands – Thassos and Corfu – are blessed with pretty fantastic sands and coves.

Let’s begin with Corfu. Out of a whopping 57 marked beaches, there are some standout stars of the show; ones that the most dedicated beach lovers simply can’t miss. Paleokastritsa tops that list. A collection of a handful of inlets on the west coast, it offers rocky headlands topped by mystical churches, dropping down to blinding white pebbles and azure Ionian waters. Rovinia Beach is one for those in search of romance and sunsets. Then you have bays like Agni, which showcase the rockier side of the island (the east) – think jetties by swimming lagoons with seafood tavernas just behind.

Thassos’s stand-out bays are largely on the east coast. Golden Beach leads the way there, mainly thanks to its abundance of sunbeds but also the dramatic backing of the Thassos inland mountains, which really help to frame the view. Keep driving the east coast road and you’ll discover another of the special sands: Alyki Beach. Scoring the side of a wide isthmus, it’s fronted by clear snorkeling waters and backed by lush forests. Those are balanced out by options like the Giola Lagoon – a vision of the more rugged side of the Thassos coastline.

Winner: Corfu – there are just more beaches overall

Thassos vs Corfu: Food

Corfu eats
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Because these isles lie at different ends of the country, it should hardly come as a surprise that the food draws on differing influences and traditions. Don’t worry, it’s all overarchingly Greek, but Thassos does take a distinct nod from Eastern Europe and the eastern Balkans. That means dishes of peppered cabbage and the smoked mackerel of kolios that’s served in the spring with zucchini flowers. You also simply have to sample bouyourdi – a way of baking feta with tomatoes and herbs that makes a perfect mezze addition.

Over in the western Ionian, Corfu is more influenced by the cooking of Italy and even North Africa. Cue hearty stews like the pastitsada, made from chunky game meat, spices, and rich tomato sauce with a hefty dousing of parmesan cheese. Bourdeto – fish baked with onions and peppers –is another example of the lasting impact of the Latin kitchen. Of course, you can also get your usual fast-food hit of gyros on the Kavos bar strip, along with more classic “tourist” cooking in the major resorts.

Winner: Draw. Greece is always mouth-watering!

So, where’s better Thassos vs Corfu

Corfu might have won a majority of the head-to-head sections here, but we’d say that there are some unique selling points to Thassos that keep it in the mix. First off, it’s way more unknown than its compadre in the Ionian Sea. You’ll almost certainly encounter fewer people, and the island can even feel pretty empty in the main season of June, July, and August. On top of that, Thassos brings a unique flurry of Byzantine culture into the mix, infusing the ancient sites and beaches with a bit of eastern mysticism.

That said, Corfu remains one of Greece’s major draws. It’s got a little bit of everything – wild mountains perfect for hiking, stunning beaches of pristine sand on the west coast, rocky harbor towns with fish tavernas in the east, rich history in Corfu Town. Oh, and it’s even got a bumping nightlife to rival Mykonos and Ios, thanks to the rollicking 18-30s resort of Kavos in the south. 

Reece Toth

Reece is the creator and editor of Travel Snippet. He has visited more than 38 countries over a 10-year period. His travels have taken him through the majestic mountains of Italy, into the cities of central Europe, across the islands of Indonesia, and to the beaches of Thailand, where he is currently living. He is passionate about travel and shares his expertise by providing the best travel tips and tricks to help you plan your next adventure.

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