Splendid Skiathos, the Star of the Sporades Islands
By Gary Van Haas
Skiathos is one of the most popular places in the Sporades island group of Greece, located in the north eastern Aegean Sea region and lush-packed with pine trees and natural landscapes with over 60 stunning beaches.
If you’re a nature lover then Skiathos will be a natural fit and a particular delight for you. It may be a small island, but it attracts thousands of visitors every summer and it’s a great place for families and young people who love the wild and crazy nightlife!
Skiathos town is the biggest and most popular spot on the island and its romantic waterfront is a draw for most travelers, who hang loose and sit at the seaside tavernas enjoying international or traditional dinners before heading out to the hot bars, getting lost in the town’s twisted back streets and alleys.
Walking around Skiathos Town
Skiathos town is actually a medium sized village where the heart of the island thrives offering an abundance of fine restaurants, markets and shops, and exotic thriving nightlife.
The best time to visit town is in the evening when all the action starts; Enjoy a relaxing drink or party till sunrise at the many hip bars. Whatever your taste might be, you’ll soon find nightlife in town the perfect place to hang loose!
There are taxis available you’ll find almost everywhere and cheap modern buses leaving from the town center that head out to all the southern beaches of the island.
There are also tourist excursion boats available going to Lalaria Beach, Tsougria island, and more boat excursion trips to Skopelos and Alonissos Islands, available from the town’s port.
Dazzling Skiathos Beaches
The island has 60 superb beaches, among which Koukounariés or Golden Sand in the southwestern part of the island stands out. Koukounariés beach is also famous for its lush pine forest- whose needles “touch” the water offering unique natural shade- and Strofiliá, a rare wetland nestling amidst the pine forest, which has been declared a protected area due to its enormous ecological value. Among the accommodation options there is a campsite, popular with young people, at Koukounariés.
There are also plenty of tavernas and lively cafes and bars. If you like, you can also rent a boat, play tennis at one of the local hotels’ tennis courts or try out some exhilarating sea activities! Meyáli Ámmos, on the road to Koukounaries and Ahladiés, is a popular beach with crystal clear waters and picture-perfect tavernas by the sea.
Banana (or Krassa bay) is an amazing beach surrounded by pine trees that attracts young people thanks to its water sports facilities and the frenetic parties that take place in its cafes and bars all day and all night! Banana’s sister beach, Small Banana, next to it, is ideal if you want to avoid the crowds or if you are looking for some peace and seclusion. It is famous for its clear blue waters and its pine trees.
Those who want to get away from the crowds should also check out the western part of the island: Mandráki, Eliá, Agkistros and Small and Big Asélinos are all ideal choices to escape the crowds. Lalária, on the northeastern part of the island, is the kind of beach you find once in a lifetime.
Impressive white rock formations; small round pebbles (which is what lalaria means in Greek), beautifully clean waters and the “hollow rock” standing imposingly on the beach provide a beautiful natural backdrop that will take your breath away. Just remember, you can only reach the beach by boat departing, weather permitting, from the port of Skiathos.
Trekking in Skiathos
Nature lovers will be thrilled by the 25 197-km long, well signposted walking routes and trails which pass through some of the most beautiful and unspoiled parts of the island. Depending on your stamina, you can go on walks which last from one to six hours.
Follow the routes and discover the pristine interior of the island or fabulous secluded spots with amazing views of the Aegean.
A suggested route to explore the beauties of the island starts from Asélinos and goes past Kounistra Monastery, Small Asélinos Beach and Alygariés Beach ending at Kehriá Beach. The routes Ayia Eleni to Krifi Ammos and Madraki-Elia-Agkistro for discovering excellent beaches of unique beauty!
Local Island hopping
Skiathos is a great base for island hopping to the rest of Sporades islands. If you haven’t traveled to the Sporades islands before, you’ll be surprised by its natural beauty green surroundings and fantastic beaches.
Skopelos is the island where the famous movie “Mamma Mia” was filmed. Remember all those stunning landscapes? The island’s natural beauty is incomparable, especially the forests and breathtaking views, abandoned monasteries, and secret beaches.
If you want to relax away from noisy crowds then Alonissos is your destination since it receives far fewer tourists than the rest of the Sporades, and as a result, it is a tranquil delight. Alonissos stands out for is its secluded beaches, the turquoise sea, and its cozy little villages.
Museums: An important site to visit in Skiathos Town is the Museum of Alexandros Papadiamantis, who was one of the greatest Greek novelists and regarded as the father of modern Greek literature. He was born on March 4, 1851 and died in 1911 on Skiathos.
The museum is housed in the family home of this historically famous Greek author where you will see how the writer lived and the rooms where he worked.
Skiathos Travel Tips
Flights: Skiathos Airport is located 3 km from the town, on the eastern side of the island. It receives regular internal flights from Athens all year round and the flight time length is only 30 minutes. In summer, it also receives many charters and international flights from abroad. Outside the airport, there are taxis to get you to hotels all over the island.
Ferries: There is no direct ferry from Athens to Skiathos, so ferries for Skiathos depart from Agios Konstantinos, a port town in central Greece, or from the port of Volos. To go to Agios Konstantinos or Volos from Athens, visitors can take the bus from Liossion KTEL Station. There are also ferries to Skiathos from Mantoudi, a small port in northern Evia, and the trip takes 2 hours. There is also frequent ferry connection between Skiathos and the other two islands of Sporades, Skopelos, and Alonissos.
The Skiathos Palace Hotel (5-Star) at Koukounaries Bay,
Tel.: +30 24270 49700,
This luxury hotel is built on a hillside, overlooking “Maratha” beach and one of the most widely known beaches in Europe, the famous “Koukounaries” beach and situated only 10kms from Skiathos Town, set in a pine forest where the hotel’s pool and restaurant areas offer spectacular views that will take your breath away!
Pension Margarita (4-Star)
23 Agiou Nikolaou str. 37002,
Skiathos Τel: +30 24270 21288
Centrally located in Skiathos town, just 300 metres from the port, Pension Margarita offers air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi and balcony. It features a rooftop terrace with views of the Aegean Sea where guests can have breakfast.
Most visitors prefer to take a bar crawl, rather than staying in only one bar. There are two main bar concentration poles in Skiathos Town, one to the eastern side of the settlement, after the marina, by the harbour front, on the way to the airport. Here you could find many young people having fun, drinking and dancing inside or outside Remezzo and the other bars in the area such as Kalhua and BBC.
The second pole is in the old town, around “Trion Hierarchon” square, Papadiamantis street and the west end of the harbor. Here you can find mainstream clubs like Admiral Benbow or more sophisticated places like Kentavros where they play jazz and classic rock. Finally one of the newest bar districts of the island is the old port where you can find clubs such as Slip Inn and Cassablanca and enjoy the chill out ambience while having your exotic cocktail drink.
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Looking for a “bouzouki” night (traditional Greek music instrument) will prove to be a fascinating experience. You will, of course, understand nothing of the song’s words (it’s all Greek to you, right?), but the atmosphere and the “kefi” (high spirit), will be remembered for years to come. Try the Apothiki Bar playing authentic Greek music until morning, one of the most popular in the island.
If you prefer to stay away from the busy downtown nightlife you can choose one of the Greek bars in the southwest of town where you can relax listening to mellower music while sipping shots of Ouzo, the local traditional drink that will give you a heck of a headache if you overdo it!
Gary Van Haas worked for many years as a feature writer for The Athens News, International Herald Tribune, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Time and Newsweek Magazines. His author page with his books can be found here Amazon.com.