By car to Thassos and back
You can travel to Thassos and back from Belgrade by car via two main roads. It is almost 15% shorter and cheaper for Belgraders to travel through Bulgaria, but you will travel safer through North Macedonia, and much safer if you want to travel at night.
This “safer” reference refers exclusively to traffic safety. The route through Bulgaria is especially favorable for travelers from some parts of eastern Serbia, especially those from Pirot who are much closer. For those who want to travel at night, I cannot recommend this direction for now, primarily because from Niš to Keramoti, via Dimitrovgrad, Serres and Kavala, which is the shortest route, there are only about 100 km of highway. The other 400 km mostly belong to the category of highways, which are largely of high quality through Bulgaria, but therefore quite loaded with trucks and reckless drivers, while through Greece they are not high quality, but they are not overloaded. In addition to the fact that this significantly slows down traffic, statistics show that the frequency of traffic accidents is four times lower on the highway, so highways should be avoided if there is an alternative in the form of a slightly longer highway.
Belgrade (Bubanj Potok) - Preševo - Gevgelija - Thessaloniki (ring road) - Keramoti - Limenas
This is the most common route through the Preševo border crossing, then through North Macedonia to Gevgelija, and when you enter Greece, from the Evzoni border crossing you continue for about 50 kilometers to the circular ring (ring road) around Thessaloniki where it is best to follow green signposts for Kavala. This way you will bypass the passage through the Thessaloniki industrial zone, in order to reach Kavala by the highway, which was completely completed in 2009. So, follow the green signs “Kavala” because there are blue ones that will also take you to Kavala, but you will travel three times longer because it is not a highway.
When you approach Kavala after 140 km on the excellent highway from Thessaloniki, don’t turn towards it, but continue, ie follow the green signs for Xanthi for about 30 kilometers until you see the sign for Thassos - Keramoti together with the sign for ferryboat. There, turn off the highway, follow the signs for Keramoti and you have about 20 km of solid road to the port where you will board the ferry which sails to the main place on Thassos - Limenas. The ferry travels 8km, which in the best case with all boarding and disembarking takes less than an hour. During the peak season, ferries from this port depart, during the day, every 30-45 minutes. The two companies run alternately, the ferries depart exactly on time, there is no transportation at night and you can see the timetable at www.thassosferries.gr and at www.anethferries.gr. A one-way ticket for a vehicle up to 4.25 m costs 16e, while for a longer vehicle the price is 20e. It is 3e for adults and 1.5e for children from 5 to 10 years old. There is no possibility to book (and it is not necessary) nor can return tickets be purchased. When you disembark in Limenas, you have a maximum of 50 minutes of easy driving to any place on the coast.
So, this road from Belgrade (toll ramps in Bubanj Potok) to Limenas is a little more than 800 km. When everything is added up (staying at the border crossings, 2-3 coffee breaks or breaks and ferry transport) the car journey does not last less than 11 hours. If you travel on July 1 or 15, and especially on August 1 or on weekends around these dates, the trip can take a few hours longer. Since all arrangements start at noon, ie after 12 noon, it means that (from Belgrade) it is necessary to leave around midnight in order to enter and stay in your room / apartment from the moment it is prepared for you (usually entering the rooms after 12 noon, local time).
Some young parents with smaller children find it convenient to travel at night, and when both parents are drivers and take turns, this trip is bearable. However, you should take maximum care of your family’s safety, so keep in mind that most traffic accidents, as a result of driver tiredness, occurred between 5 and 7 o’clock in the morning. Therefore, it is a much safer and more comfortable option (and a little more expensive) to travel during the day by leaving Belgrade at around 9 am and arriving in the south of N. Macedonia, Bulgaria or northern Greece in the late afternoon and sleeping in one of the most decent a hotel that can cost a family of four from 40-100e with breakfast.
Hotel Pamela in Negotino in N. Macedonia is an excellent choice for accommodation, both in quality and at affordable prices. See more information by clicking [here]. You can, of course, sleep in Thessaloniki, but suitable hotels there, are more expensive and you often have to pay for parking, except on Saturdays after 3 pm and on Sundays when parking on the street is free, if you can find a place. After breakfast continue your journey and you are on Thassos around 1pm.
In addition to greater safety, a trip with sleeping halfway, can make your vacation more interesting and additionally, you will not come to your accommodation on Thassos exhausted from the trip and then sleep all day, but fresh enough that you can use the first afternoon actively resting.
Belgrade (Bubanj Potok) - Preševo - Dojran - Kilkis (Liti) - Keramoti - Limenas
We recommend this route to Thassos to those who will spend the night in the south of N. Macedonia or in one of the cheap and very decent accommodation in Dojran on the border with Greece. You will usually pass quickly Dojran - Doirani border crossing because there is no big crowd. So, after entering N. Macedonia, drive 145 km to the place Udovo where you come across large and clearly visible signposts for Dojran. From there you have about 32km to Novi Dojran where you can sleep in great apartments for about 15e per bed, but it is necessary to book in advance.
For those whose cars use gasoline or diesel fuel, right behind these apartments, about a hundred meters away, is the last gas station before entering Greece (where fuel is much more expensive) and where a full tank needs to be filled. The pump works from 08-22h, they accept cards. For those who have LPG and want this way, the last gas station in Macedonia is about 20 kilometers before Dojran, in Valandovo.
In the morning, rested, continue 3 km to Stari Dojran, where you can eat an excellent burek in the center of the town next to the market. At the end of the place is the border crossing, you enter Greece, follow the signs for Kilkis - Thessaloniki and continue along the good road next to Kilkis to “descend” to Thessaloniki, but after 53km from the border, at Liti you join Egnatia Odos, or highway and continue towards Kavala, and further towards Keramoti. This large interchange with loops (“interchange”) is not yet completely finished, so you will be tangling a bit through Liti and its surroundings until you turn onto the highway towards Kavala. Of course, there are signposts everywhere and there is no big trouble, the roads are well marked, and before the trip it is advisable to look at the road map to have an idea of where you are traveling. If you have a GPS navigation then you have no problem with this.
If you do not want to meander through Liti, a simple but several kilometers longer option is to at the crossroads with traffic lights, where the signpost directs you to turn right towards Kavala, continue straight where the green sign for Thessaloniki leads you. There you will join the highway to Thessaloniki, and exactly 8km from that crossroads, when you cross the hill, turn off the highway, go under the overpass and turn in the opposite direction, towards Kavala.
From this inclusion on the highway to Kavala you have a little less than 140km, and as described in the previous route, do not enter Kavala but follow the signs for Xanthi until you come across the sign Thassos - Keramoti.
Belgrade (Bubanj Potok) - Dimitrovgrad - Sofia - Kulata (Promahonas) - Serres - Kavala - Keramoti - Limenas
The shortest and cheapest route. When everything is taken into account - shorter trip, lower fuel consumption due to speed limit, cheaper toll, lower price of accommodation if you decide to spend the night in Bulgaria. Calculate that you will have at least 20% lower costs this way. The disadvantages of this route are that it is quite busy and has “bottlenecks”, while the part of the bypass around Sofia is completely finished. So, as soon as you enter Bulgaria, buy a vignette immediately because it is mandatory for all highways and some other roads, and not just for the highway. In recent years, it can also be purchased online. When you reach the suburbs of Sofia, follow the signpost “Kulata” which will appear at an intersection with a traffic light where you turn right. Then you will drive a few kilometers on the part where there is work in progress on and you should be very careful there. However, it doesn’t take long and then from Sofia to Blagoevgrad, towards the border crossing with Greece - Kulata / Promahonas, first there is a section of an excellent newly built highway in the length of about 90 km, and in front of the border crossing with Greece in the length of 18-20 km.
Then you continue on the main road all the way to Sandanski, which is well done and well marked, but quite loaded with trucks as well as arrogant drivers. Something similar to the Ibarska highway, with the fact that the road in Bulgaria is of better quality, but the drivers surpassed ours in arrogance. Who knows what it would be like if there were no numerous police patrols as well as a series of “black dot” traffic signs.
There are not many large refueling stations on the part of the road through Bulgaria, so we suggest you refuel near Sandanski, which is 22 km from the border with Greece. The price of fuel is similar to ours, but the accommodation in the Sandanski spa is therefore very cheap and my suggestion is to spend the night there on the way to Thassos. You can choose and book accommodation through the website www.booking.com and for many, you do not need credit card information upon bookking. In the evening you can walk through the town and in the morning, after breakfast, you rest and after a little more than 20km on the road that is under construction, you will find yourself at the common border crossing BG / GR. There is no crowd here, Bulgarians, Romanians, Greeks and other EU citizens linger long enough to present their travel documents while our citizens, Ukrainians, Russians … stand in a separate lane and wait until their passports are scanned and printed.
Till Kavala and joining the highway to Xanthi you have about 130km on a road that is bearable - in some places it is worn out, there are no holes, and in some places quite good. When you join the highway towards Xanthi near Kavala, you have a little more than 20 km on the highway, and then turn towards Keramoti and after about 20 kilometers you are on the ferry.
So, our recommendation (and also the recommendation of SAT tv shows) is to travel on this route only during the day.
What to visit and where to make break on a way to Thassos
Monastery of Saint Prohor Pčinjski
If you are traveling to Thassos via North Macedonia and intend to spend the night somewhere along the way, pay attention to the date of travel. If it is the 1st or 15th in the summer months and the surrounding days, and especially if the weekends coincide then, then expect big crowds from the early afternoon until the evening at the Preševo border crossing. The reason for this crowd are, above all, Albanians from the west of North Macedonia - workers that work in foreign countries, who at that time go to their homes. They mostly work in Switzerland, so they are recognized by Swiss plates.
Then you can turn off the main road somewhere after Vranje and follow the signs for the Prohor Pčinjski monastery. I say somewhere after Vranje, because the works on the construction of the section of the highway from Vranje to Preševo are in progress, so there are frequent changes on this part of the road. But where you can turn towards Ristovac and further to the monastery, the road is solid, and the last 3-4 km of serpentines descend into the valley of Pčinja. So, after about 30 kilometers from the turnoff from the highway, you will reach a beautiful monastery, and from there there is another 3 km to the newly built border crossing. When you enter N. Macedonia, you pass through Staro Nagoričane, ie exactly 20 kilometers from the border crossing to a “T” intersection where you can turn left or right, and where a possible navigator suggests you go right, but no, turn left there and after only a hundred meters you have signposts for Skopje, that is, you join the main road to Kumanovo - Skopje, and then the highway to Thessaloniki.
Monastery of St. John of Rila (Bulgaria)
When returning from Thassos and if you are traveling via Bulgaria, I suggest you spend the night in Rila, which is located 273 km from Keramoti. If you leave in the morning after breakfast from your accommodation on Thassos and board the ferry around noon, you will arrive in Rila between 16-17h. From the main road, behind Blagoevgrad, it turns towards Rila, which is about 10 km away from the turn. It is a small place through which signposts lead you to a very decent hotel Kentaur (www.hotel-centaur.com/) where you can spend 31e in a double or 44e in a quadruple room, with breakfast and where you will be hosted by very kind hosts. The hotel is small, so accommodation must be booked in advance, and if you want even cheaper accommodation then continue towards the Rilski Monastery, which is a little more than 20km and along the way you will come across several hotels where accommodation is even cheaper, though not as good as in Centaur. As soon as you settle into the hotel, continue towards the monastery, which is open to visitors until 7 pm (although the main gate is still open after that time). You can visit the monastery the next day, you have enough time because after that you will need another 6 hours of travel to Belgrade, so without much effort.
In addition to the popular Dan-Dar hotel in Novi Dojran, see the excellent accommodation in the winery - Hotel Popova Kula located near Demir Kapija (50km before entering Greece) as well as good accommodation in Polikastro ( http://hotelastro.gr/eng/ ), at 20- even kilometers from entering Greece at the Evzoni border crossing.
There is a lot of good and cheap accommodation in Sandanski in Bulgaria.
Toll and fuel prices on the way to Thassos
From Belgrade to the border with Macedonia, you will pay a total toll of 1460.00 dinars in three cycles. It can be paid with Visa, MasterCard, AmEx cards.
There are three toll ramps through N. Macedonia to the border with Greece, 60 + 80 + 60 denars. They also accept cards, and in addition to money, you can also pay in euros, now again in metal (for a while they did not receive metal euros, and now they do not accept smaller than 50 cents). If you pay in euros, all three tolls through Macedonia cost 1.5e each.
In Greece, on the highway from Thessaloniki to Thassos, you have two toll ramps on the highway to Kavala, the toll on each is 2.4e. Another toll ramp was opened in 2018 after entering Greece, where the price of the toll is also 2.4e.
If you are traveling through Bulgaria, then you have one toll from Belgrade near Niš, 730.00 dinars, and as soon as you enter Bulgaria, you have to buy a vignette for 15e, which is valid for a month.
Fuel prices in Macedonia and Bulgaria are similar to prices in Serbia, Eurodiesel is slightly cheaper, gasoline and gas a little more expensive, but all this is significantly cheaper than in Greece (20-25% more expensive), so you will get the cheapest if you pour tanks to the top in N. Macedonia or Bulgaria. At all major way stations in N. Macedonia and Bulgaria, you can pay by card or, of course, in euros, but not everyone will charge you 60 denars or 1.95 levs for 1e. Therefore, if you do not have a card, it is best to exchange the required amount of euros for denars or levs in exchange offices that are at border crossings.
Our article Tolls and travel expenses to summer resorts in Greece also can be useful and provide informations about it. Also, when traveling through the North Macedonia, I notede that on the highway from Thessaloniki to Kavala there are no gas stations that are, as in our country and in Macedonia directly next to the highway, but you have to get off the road and loop 1-2km to find it. In addition to the better price, this is another reason to refuel in N. Macedonia before entering Greece.
Return from Thassos island
When you return from Thassos to Serbia, you have only two points where you have to pay special attention to the signs because they are not the best placed:
- When you disembark from the ferry to Keramoti, follow the signs to Kavala and the airport. After about 15 kilometers you will pass by the airport and soon you will reach the traffic lights where the blue signs direct you to turn left towards Kavala. However, you should turn right here, and if you take a closer look, you will also see a green sign for Kavala (partially hidden by bushes for years) which directs you to the right, which means that after 1 km you take the highway you came from.
- If you want to return via Dojran, then after 165 km from the entrance to the highway you have signs “Kilkis”. There, turn off the highway and later follow the signs for Doirani that appear when you pass by Kilkis. If you want to return through the border crossing Evzoni then turn off the highway 16km further, or follow the big green signs “EDESSA - ATHINA” and at the exit you will see three big green arrow signs, one says “EVZONOI - SKOPIA” ‘. You are now on the ring road and exactly 8 km away you have a turn-off with a large sign “EDESSA - THESSALONIKI” and again, now a small green sign “Evzonoi - Skopia” at the exit, and then just follow the signs for Evzoni. That exclusion is sometimes missed, but if that happens, it’s not that important because after a few kilometers you have signs for Evzoni again.
- If you are returning via Bulgaria, after a short drive on the highway, at Kavala you turn towards Serres, and there are also signposts for BG (Bulgaria).
See the latest information on toll plazas and travel costs to Greece in our text HERE.
P.S. An international driver’s license for Greece is no longer required, and a green card for N. Macedonia is still required.
See a large selection of accommodation on Thassos by clicking HERE.
Have a nice trip!
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