- Accommodation & Hotels
- Things to see
- Things to do
- Money & Shopping
- Stay safe
Skiathos (population: 6,088 ) is the entry point and main island of the Sporades Islands. Although it is neither the biggest nor the most attractive of the Sporades islands, because it is the first port of call for most ferries and possesses the sole airport, most tourists don't venture beyond Skiathos. For most, why would they want to? There are great beaches, good accommodation on offer, decent public transport... But be warned, the 5000 or so natives are vastly outnumbered in season by tourists from across the world!
While it is undoubtedly the most tourist-intensive island of the Sporades, it does have many faces, so don’t be fooled by the brash cover to this book full of splendid Greek secrets. Steer away from the main drag and you will find stunning scenery, quaint tavernas and lots of luscious green terrain perfect for gentle strolls or more intensive hikes.
There is one town on Skiathos which is literally called "The Village" by the locals, or Skiathos town. It is located on the east end of the island with the airport, port, a variety of shops and water fronts, bars and clubs.
The island has a north to southwestern direction and is about 12 kilometres (7 miles) long and 6 kilometres (4 miles) wide on average. The coastline is indented with inlets, capes and peninsulas. The southeast and southwest parts have gentler slopes and that is where most settlements and facilities are located. The terrain is more rugged on the north coast, with the highest peak at 433 m (1,421 feet) on mount Karafiltzanaka
The main town is Skiathos (pop. 4,883 in 2011), in the eastern part of the island. Other main settlements are Kalyvia (312), Troullos (158), Χanemos (143), Koukounaries (119), and Achladias (118).
The Municipality of Skiathos includes the islets of Tsougria, Tsougriaki, Maragos, Arkos, Troulonisi and Aspronisi. The municipality has an area of 49.898 km2. They are scattered a few kilometres off the southeast coastline and are clearly visible from the town and the beaches. The island of Skopelos is visible from Skiathos with the more distant islands of Euboea and Skyros visible under very clear weather conditions.
The main paved road runs all along the southeastern stretch of the island with several narrow dirt roads branching off towards the interior and the northern coast. Farmland exists around all the major settlements on the island.
Despite its small size, Skiathos with its many beaches and wooded landscape is a popular tourist destination. It has over 60, mostly sandy, beaches scattered around the 44 km (27 mi) coastline. Some of these are Troulos, Vromolimnos, Koukounaries, Asselinos, Megali Ammos and Mandraki.
Much of the island is wooded with Aleppo Pine and a small Stone Pine forest at the Koukounaries location where there is a lagoon and a popular beach. The island's forests are concentrated on the southwest and northern parts, but the presence of pine trees is prevalent throughout the island.
Transportation - Get In
Skiathos is accessible via ferry from Volos, Agios Konstantinos, and Thessaloniki. Cruise ships dock at the port in the centre of Skiathos town.
The island is served by the "Alexandros Papadiamantis" international airport. The airport is situated north-east of Chora. It is served from Greek destinations by Olympic Airways, and from northern European destinations in summer months by charter and some regular scheduled airlines (currently including Austrian Airlines,) usually only once or twice a week.
The ≈1600m runway is an excitement in itself; as you descend towards Skiathos you are met with sea, sea and more sea before out of nowhere appears a precarious strip of runway across the end of this small island. If the pilot misses his spot, you’ll have to circle and try again!
Transportation - Get Around
Public buses operate on one line that runs from the port to Koukouniares along the southern side of the island. The port station is 200m to the right of the port. Tickets are bought on the bus from the conductor. Stops are marked with a sign and a number.
Taxis are easy to get from the port to anywhere on the island.
By car or motorbike
It is not worth the hassle to bring your own car to the island, although it is in theory possible. You can rent a car or a motor scooter. Asphalt roads run across the south of the island. Roads in the interior turn out to be little more than dirt paths.
Motorbikes and mopeds are popular alternatives to cars. Especially mopeds are frequently used by local youths and can go to many places that cars cannot go - for example the twisted narrow streets of Skiathos city. An additional advantage is that they are cheap to rent - €10-15 a day is the usual price.
If you start a day-trip with a moped, make you sure you do so on a full tank, as gas stations are sometimes hard to find. An extra stop at a gas station can save a lot of nerves. When renting a moped, check if the profile of the tyres is ok if the brakes work properly,lights,turn indicators and petrol gauge. If it doesn't look good don't be bothered to rent it, it could be the one that needs a repair badly. it can cause you a lot of troubles if it breaks down.Make sure the insurance stands on the contract. Helmets are required on Skiathos.
Accommodation & Hotels
There is a good variety of beaches on Skiathos with over 60 in total. The south side of the island has sandy beaches with calm waters. Beaches on the north are less crowded. The wind mostly comes in from the north and also the sea tends to be somewhat rougher to the north.
- Koukounaries. Covered with umbrella pines is the most famous beach on the island.
- Lalaria. Beach only accessible by daily boats, crystal clear water and large stones on shore.
- Big Banana. Next to Koukounaries is the beach for young people .
- Small Banana. Next to Big Banana is a naturist beach.
- Asselinos. Large and quiet undeveloped beach.
- Kanapitsa. Amazing beach, water sports, and a nice taverna.
In Ancient times, the island played a minor role during the Persian Wars. In 480 BC, the fleet of the PersianKing Xerxes was hit by a storm and was badly damaged on the rocks of the Skiathos coast. Following this the Greek fleet blockaded the adjacent seas to prevent the Persians from invading the mainland and supplying provisions to the army facing the 300 Spartans defending the pass at Thermopylae. The Persian fleet was defeated there at Artemisium and finally destroyed at the Battle of Salamis a year later. Skiathos remained in the Delian League until it lost its independence. The city was destroyed by Philip V of Macedon in 200 BC.
In 1207 the Ghisi brothers captured the island and built the Bourtzi, a small Venetian-styled fortress similar to the Bourtzi in Nafplio, on an islet just out of Skiathos Town, to protect the capital from the pirates. But the Bourtzi was ineffective in protecting the population and in the mid-14th century the inhabitants moved the capital from the ancient site that lay where modern Skiathos Town is to Kastro (the Greek word for castle), located on a high rock, overlooking a steep cliff above the sea at the northernmost part of the island. The island returned to Byzantine control in the 1270s, and remained in Byzantine hands until after the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, when it passed to the Republic of Venice. Like the rest of the Northern Sporades, Skiathos was conquered by the Ottoman admiral Hayreddin Barbarossa in 1538.
In 1704 monks from Athos built the Evangelistria Monastery, which played a part on the Greek War of Independence as a hide-out for Greek rebels. The first flag of Greece was created and hoisted in the Evangelistria Monastery in Skiathos in 1807, where several prominent military leaders (including Theodoros Kolokotronis and Andreas Miaoulis) had gathered for consultation concerning an uprising, and they were sworn to this flag by the local bishop.
After the War of Independence and demise of piracy in the Aegean, Kastro became less important. In 1830s, the island's capital was moved to the original site — where it still remains. Today, the ruins of Kastro are a tourist attraction.
During the 19th century Skiathos became an important shipbuilding centre in the Aegean due to the abundance of pine forests on the island. The pine woods of the island were then almost obliterated. This was brought to a halt though, due to the emergence of steamboats. A small shipwright remains north of Skiathos Town, which still builds traditional Greek caiques.
Things to see
- Alexandros Papadiamantis House Museum, Papadiamanti Street (Skiathos main street) (After 100 meters at a small alley on your right), . 09:00-13:00, 17:00-20:00 - Tue-Sun. Alexandros Papadiamantis (1851-1911) is one of the greatest ever Greek authors. He wrote over 100 novels mostly based on island life. His house has been turned into a museum.
- Kastro. Site of the medieval center of the island. Abandoned in the 19th century (1829). There are well maintained three churches and a house, the other buildings are dilapidated.
Things to do
Most people come to Skiathos for the beaches. Let's face it, there is not much else to do on the island. However, there is a large, forested interior that can be explored. Yachting. Skiathos has a large port from where one can charter yachts either for day trips or longer periods to explore the surrounding islands. Puresailing Yachting has a selection of yachts for this purpose.
The island's airport as discussed above has a 1600 meters-long runway. As land reclaimed, for the construction of the airport, the landing path of the airplanes passes just above the spotters heads, and a asphalt road passes right in the spot, making that location ideal for experiencing the same effects as Saint Marteen, with more safety in the absence of jumbo jet airliners
Besides the following listings, there are numerous Souvlaki (Greek kebab sellers) dotted around the island, and 2013's latest craze, Froyo (frozen yoghurt) is increasingly available on Papadiamanti st.
- En Plo, Skiathos Town. (200 m. from the port to the airport.), , fax: , e-mail: [email protected]. 17:30 - 00:30.. Seafood.
- Marmita, Evagelistrias 30, , e-mail: [email protected]. Simply fantastic Greek food (albeit not typical tourist fayre) in a lovely courtyard setting. Off the beaten track, so fewer tourists and more Greeks. Best Greek food this Wikivoyager has eaten in years. Around €15-20pp.
- Medousa, Old port. Italian restaurant, with Woody fire oven.
- Olive land (Elaias gi), Katsarou. Traditional Greek food, lots of nice vines, friendly staff.
- Paralia Souvlaki Cafe, Troulos (Just down the road to the beach, past the Alfa supermarket.). Good, cheap souvlaki (Greek kebabs) near the beach. Recommended. €2.50 for a souvlaki.
The tap water is not drinkable (and even ice in restaurants is provided via special procedure from companies) and restaurants will serve glasses of ice water upon request. Local drinks include beer and Ouzo.
There are various hot club locations, though most famous clubs are located north-east of the port at around 300 meters, by the seashore.
- Kahlua. Club.
- Maraccas. Club.
- BBC. Club.
Money & Shopping
- Jewelry stores are common
- Colorful sea shells are a popular souvenir item, but very many of them are actually imported, and have no authentic connection to the island whatsoever.
- Many brand name products for sale in the tourist shops may be fakes and/or unlicensed (t-shirts, towels, hand bags, and so on)
Stay safe / healthy
Skiathos is a generally safe destination. As with all Greek islands, the summer sun is very strong all day. You should not take the risk of dehydration, sunburns or even heat strokes lightly. Wear appropriate clothes, a hat and sunglasses; use sunscreen; bring enough water on excursions and know when to stop exhausting yourself and seek the shade of a tree. Greeks take it easy in the middle of the day, from 2-5, often only venturing down to the beaches in the late afternoon/early evening.
Then aircrafts taking-off, the engines are in full thrust, isn't little 15+ thousands newtons of thrust per engine, directly on you... So then an airplane taking-off get a cover behind the wall on the other side of the road, or if you are adventurous person grab the Armco barrier and low your profile, the exhaust gasses can throw you hundred meters away. Cover your face also, very often the gasses lifting items like a tiny gravel, you don't want such a encounter that could ruin the enjoyment.