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Skiathos Destination Guide - The Little Island With A Huge Heart!

Skiathos is located in the Northwest Aegean Sea, east of the Pelion Peninsula and about 130 km from Athens. It is the most popular of the Sporades Islands, Greece. 

It's about 12 Km long and 6 km wide with a population of approximately 6,500 people.

But I hear many of you say "Skiatos, Skiuntus, Skiathos Greece, how come I've never heard of it?" But whether you want to sip a cocktail by the beach, hike the rugged terrain or re-create Hollywood scenes from Mama Mia, Skiathos has what you need. After your first visit, you will surely never forget the intoxicating summer dream that is Skiathos, Greece!

Top things to do in Skiathos

Skiathos has an abundance of beaches flanked by clear turquoise waters, centuries of history and a spectacular backdrop of rugged mountains topped by Aleppo pines. The sheer visual overload is often enough to satisfy the first time visitor. Upon taking a breath and delving deeper, you can explore this pearl of an island and discover a veritable smorgasbord of options to while away the long summer days. 

With a history dating back 2,800 years, exploring the heritage of Skiathos Island is a delight. From the Persian wars, Byzantines, Venetians, Ottomans to the modern world, if the walls could speak, you would be in for a story as epic as Homer's Odysseus itself. It is here the first modern flag of the nation was proudly flown in the heady days of early 19th century revolutionary Greece.  

First stop, Skiathos town, a little gem in its own right. Although you may be tempted to get a map of Skiathos, getting lost amongst the cute alleyways lined with Venetian facades is a joy in itself. But perhaps a walking tour or visit to Bourtzi Fortress with its views of the old port will help to appease any other cultural cravings. Need more? The Papadiamantis House Museum, nearby Skiathos town and once the former home of the eponymous poet is a leisurely stroll. And finally for Mama Mia fans head to the Agios Nikolaos Church and Clock Tower. If you can handle the many steps, you will be rewarded with a spectacular panorama over the white houses, mountains and harbour, not to mention a small location from the movie. Perfect as the sun dips behind the inland peaks.

Further afield is the 18th century Evangelistria Monastery, where freedom fighters first swore their oath of liberty. The highlight of the museum includes the loom once used to craft the first Greek flag. 

A little off the beaten track, you can find the now abandoned 14th-century capital Kastro. Lying on a peninsula on the northern end of the island, Kastro was built to protect from the threat of pirates. Small traces of this once most important settlement can be seen upon exploring, including three churches, a mosque and the remnants of streets that once formed the strategic protector of Skiathos. 

Want a little more action?

Complimenting the beautiful beaches, one can take on a multitude of high-octane water-sports to get the adrenaline pumping. Alternatively, a relaxing paddleboard or kayak might be what the doctor ordered. The 30-metre visibility, coupled with 25°C+ summer waters, is perfect for underwater diving. Two diving centres operate with PADI courses available throughout the season. Numerous boat trip excursions are also available including to Lararia Beach.

Leaving the sea, why not discover the picturesque hiking trails, play a game of tennis, hire a quad bike or jeep, ride a horse, or explore the island via scooter to find that perfect spot of your own.

Best places to stay in Skiathos

From campgrounds, private apartments, boutique hotels to luxury 5-star resorts, there is no best place to stay in Skiathos, but rather something for everyone. To briefly break it down via a compass, you have: 

  • SOUTH – The most popular and lively area, including Skiathos town. All the main beach resorts, including most 5 star and luxury hotels are located here on the southern stretch.
  • WEST – Includes famous beaches like Koukounaries and Banana, plus walks through Mandraki forest. Much Quieter than Skiathos town but still has a nice selection of places to stay, eat and drink. 
  • NORTH – Remote beaches, rugged, rustic, complete with dirt tracks. For those after a quieter stay with no beach resorts.
  • EAST – Close to the airport, the Punta peninsula, Xanemos beach and a cluster of small islets

If you want to be in the hub of the action, look no further than Skiathos town. The bulk of accommodation can be found here, with many package holidays finding their temporary abode in and around this lively area. With it's proximity to countless restaurants, tavernas, bars, nightlife, shops and cultural sights, it is an obvious choice for many of the island's visitors. Accommodation can be found not only in the town but in the beaches close to Skiathos Town, such as Ftelia, Vassilias, Megali Ammos and Ahladies.

Heading further west, you have the Kalamaki peninsula, with Kanapitsa Bay popular among couples, local and German tourists plus those after a quiet and tranquil location. Continuing in this direction you have Kolios and in particular Troulos, popular with return visitors, offering you additional options. Troulos has a beautiful beach and a variety of dining choices for those wanting to stay close-by in the evening. Due to it's more sedate nature, it's become more popular with families and those seeking a romantic escape.

For those wanting to stay on the most famous beach, head to Koukounaries, which is in a protected natural area. That means there are no beachfront hotels, instead a short walk from the village itself for the most part.

Looking for some ideas of a place to stay?

For Luxury resorts and right on the beach try Elivi Resort and Spa or Skiathos Princess Resort. For something swanky, built in the hills and with no children under 14, Aegean Suites. If you're looking for a midrange or boutique hotel, perhaps the Meltimi Port of Skiathos or Bourtzi Boutique Hotel. On a budget, the Hotel Lalaria is only 10 minutes walk from Skiathos town. Finally, for those that seek that quiet spot, Cape Kanapitsa and Suites.

Overall, be aware that in peak season (July/August), the best places fill up and prices rise, so book early to avoid disappointment. Just remember a visit in the off-season will give you more choices and affordable prices, so keep this in mind when planning your stay.

Jaw dropping beaches in Skiathos

If one were to liken Skiathos and its beaches to a hungry holiday-maker, they must have hit the buffet first and hoarded all the best dishes whilst onlookers stare drop-jawed in disbelief. Such is the wealth of options one may find on the island of Skiathos. But, unlike the former scenario, there will be no missing out. Being only a small Island, finding your way to your personal paradise from Skiathos town is as easy going as the local inhabitants themselves. Taxis, local buses and mopeds are the common choices for those seeking their fix of summer rays. So what are the best beaches in Skiathos? With 68 soft sandy strips, which one to choose is the only hard decision you will make upon planning your fun in the sun.

Koukounaries Beach

The first name to roll off the tongue of many the sun-seeker is Koukounaries. And why not? Voted the 7th best beach in the world and proudly boasting the number 1 title of all of Greece! The name itself is the local slang for the ubiquitous pine trees that dot the island. Much more than just pines, you will fall in love with the crystal clear waters, plentiful tavernas, inviting sun loungers, and ample water-sports to make it the perfect day out. 

Maratha Beach

If you're looking for a quieter and albeit smaller stretch of sand, just around the corner from Koukounaries you will find Maratha. Although you may be competing with the nearby hotel guests, sun-loungers and a more relaxed atmosphere can be found as an alternative to the most famous beach.

Big Banana Beach

Once the party beach of the Island, the opening of a luxury resort has seen the vibe somewhat changed lately to that of island chic and style. Apart from catching up on your daily dose of Vitamin D, the inviting waters will invigorate as you admire the luscious soft sand. Like all of the west-facing beaches, Big Banana enjoys spectacular sunsets, and an ideal spot to sip cocktails whilst the glorious hues of red descend upon the Aegean's irresistible waters.

Little Banana Beach

For those with fewer inhibitions, head just north and you will find Big Banana's little cousin. Traditionally the favourite of the "Naturalist", these days one can find a slightly more mixed crowd amongst the sunbathers and a small beach bar to quench your thirst in-between enjoying the calming waters. 

Lararia Beach

Looking for that perfect beach snap not unlike to the famous Zante Beach? Only accessible by boat, this iconic beauty is a must for many holiday-goers. Although best to go early or late to avoid the peak midday crowds, you won't be disappointed by this natural wonder as the smooth white pebbles gently caress and massage your soles. The famous arch is a photographers dream with the more adventurous indulging in a swim through its rocky opening above the dreamy azure waters. Bring some water and sunscreen as this is nature in its purest form. The tavernas and shops will be waiting once you get back on shore to Skiathos Town.

What to expect from the weather in Skiathos

Boasting a Mediterranean climate, temperatures hit their highest in July with up to 33°C and down to 9°C in the coldest winter months of December and January. 

April, May and late September to October offer pleasant temperatures, often averaging between 20°C to 25°C

The driest months coincide with summer and likewise, the most rainfall coming in the off-season, in particular, November being the wettest month.

Unforgettable nightlife to explore in Skiathos

Although the first things that may spring to mind when dreaming of Greece are idyllic beaches and sun-swept shores, the locals know how to have a good time too. For those that like to dabble in the odd cool drink spiced with a tinge of fermented fruits, then you certainly won't have any trouble finding the perfect spot for you. Whether you want to party till the wee hours of the morning or sip a fruity cocktail as the sea swallows the sun, Skiathos has options aplenty.   

The most buzzing areas where you can meet the young and hip, dancing and drinking till their legs or wallets run empty are the so-called Bar Street or near Papadiamantis Street and the Trion Ierarchon Square. Many clubs in Greece don't open before midnight, so relax, enjoy some dinner and head out quite late. Perhaps start with drinks on the waterfront with the stunning view of Bourtzi fortress and the modest, colourful fishing boats. The nightspots on Skiathos play all sorts of music, from mainstream, electronic, rock and jazz. Several tavernas in the old town also play traditional folk music if you have always dreamed of dancing the night away to "Zorba the Greek". Taking it down a notch, head to one of the chic cocktail bars by the Old Port. Favoured by the well to do and celebrities alike, order the perfect drink, take a cushion on the stairs and enjoy the intoxicating atmosphere.

Speaking of drinks, what do the Greeks enjoy? To start with, there is nothing more typical than Ouzo, a dry anise-flavoured aperitif. It is ideally served chilled, with or without ice, though many add water, which releases the essential oils from the aniseed, turning the drink cloudy and heightening the aromas. Other strong ones include Raki, Tsipouro (both made from grapes), Metaxa (brandy) and Masticha liqueur.

Greece has several wine grapes unique to the country, which are rarely if ever used elsewhere. These are mostly white grapes, like Assyrtiko and Vidiano, but there are also red grapes like Kotsifali and Mandilaria. Retsina is a famous wine product with added pine Resin, unique to Greece. For beer drinkers, the most popular brand is Mythos. Greeks also love their coffee. Preferred types are Greek coffeefrappé (a foam-covered iced coffee drink), + iced cappuccino and espressoOther non-alcoholic drinks include Portokalada (orangeade) and Lemonada (lemonade) & Visinada (cherryade).

Sample some of the flavoursome cuisine in Skiathos

Food, glorious food! One of the greatest aspects of any trip to Greece is indulging in the local flavours. From the scents of the aromatic herbs that fill the island air to the smells of the tavernas preparing themselves for the evening to come, Skiathos is a foodie's heaven. Greek cuisine typically uses fresh ingredients and flavours, with nothing fresher than the seafood coming straight from the sea. Skiathos town itself is brimming with family-run tavernas waiting to serve you all the local classics. Eating is more like a ritual in Greece. The generous servings of typical spreads like Tzatziki and taramosalata are the perfect compliment to the salads, cheeses, (did someone say Greek salad and feta?) and freshly baked bread doused in olive oil you will no doubt discover upon starting any meal. Along with fresh seafood and grilled meats to die for, tasty favourites like Moussaka, dolmates or even fried cheese dishes such as saganaki are all worth your time. Finish off with some sweet baklava, and you'll start to understand what drives so many back to this sunny paradise. If you just need a quick bite, you can't go a past a chicken or pork gyros as the staple Greek fast food. 

Now many pages could be dedicated to the food alone, but here are a few favourite restaurants amongst various Skiathos reviews and locals alike to get you started on your gastronomical adventure.

Agnadio: Beautiful view on the water and presentation to match. Upscale modern Greek with a twist. 

Basilikos: Tucked away in a cute alley, Mediterranean cuisine, fresh seafood, and classic lamb all at a good price.

Crazy Cow wine bar restaurant: Poolside al la Carte restaurant, part of the la piscine art Hotel. All locally sourced with organic ingredients and a great selection of Greek wines.

Marmita: Some say the best in town. Get yourself a reservation and enjoy the wonderful local dishes and ambience in the heart of Skiathos town.

Taverna Varthalami: A real family-owned restaurant that is cheap and popular with the locals. With fresh fish, meat and just behind the harbour. Try the Lamp chops or grilled sardines.

Avli Taverna Skiathos: Lovely atmosphere and food, including the cakes provided by Olga and her family.

The Windmill Restaurant: Set amongst an old converted windmill on one of the highest points, it provides stunning views of Skiathos Town. Reservations needed.

Marinas in Skiathos

Located next to the Old town, Skiathos Marina is ideally located next to the beating heart of the island. Featuring 350 berths, with a maximum length of 65 m and a maximum draught of 10 m. The marina can be reached via radio channel VHF9.

This private marina has facilities such as electricity, water and showers. Due to its proximity to Skiathos Town, boaters have access to additional services such as laundry, supermarket, medical facilities, bars and restaurants, perfect for your Skiathos holiday.

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