Skiathos, a small island in the Sporades Archipelago, is a picture perfect example of a what you would imagine a Greek Island should be, with its sandy white beaches, gentle lapping waves of the Aegean and verdant green hills in the background; it is simply gorgeous.
Not surprisingly given its natural charms, it is also very popular, to the point of full to capacity over the peak summer months. It is relatively easy to get to, with most UK airports running charter flights during the holiday season. Reputed to be the shortest runway in Europe, flying in and out is an adventure in itself. The speed at which they slam on the brakes the second the plane hits the tarmac is slightly terrifying, and we did finally stop perilously close to the end of the runway, but luckily we made it in one piece. The end of the runway is right next to the beach and a popular pastime on the island is to get blown backwards by the plane engines during take off. Sitting in the harbor in Skiathos town is a great place to plane watch; the planes are so close you can actually wave at the passengers as they zoom past to complete their white knuckle ride.
But enough about planes, Skiathos itself is an island of 2 halves; the north is rocky, hilly and covered in forest. The southern coast is where you will find all the main conurbations and those beautiful sandy beaches. With the exception of Skiathos Town, the resorts you will find are all fairly low key, catering more for families and couples than wild partygoers.
We stayed at Megali Ammos beach, which is a short walk from the main hub of the island, Skiathos Town. Whilst not the most scenic of places on the island, its location in my opinion makes up for this. The beach here is very narrow, and every square inch is utilized with sun-loungers. Not surprisingly it is very crowded, but it still made a great base for the week. We stayed at the Angeliki Beach Hotel, a small family run business which I would highly recommend. The hosts couldn’t be more obliging and it has a beautiful shady garden which leads directly onto the narrow overcrowded beach, meaning you never need to fight for a sun lounger whilst still being stumbling distance from the sea. Many a happy hour was spent here reading a good book whilst making occasional forays to the adjoining beach bar to pick up refreshments.
Due to the size of the island, and excellent bus service, which connects up all the resorts along the coast, exploring the island is easy and inexpensive. We visited several beaches during our stay. The most popular and famous beaches are at the end of the bus route, for example the tree lined horseshoe shaped beach at Koukounaries which is indeed very beautiful, but again, very busy.
If you want to get away from the crowds, I would recommend hopping on a bus to Koukounaries, but rather than heading south from the main road, head in the other direction to the Mandraki beaches in the north. This involves a walk of around 2 kilometres along shaded forest trails, until you reach a fork in the road. Either fork will take you to a beach on either side of the peninsula. Both are beautiful, wilder and windier than the beaches in the south but definitely worth the effort of a short stroll. Incredibly given the lack of infrastructure on this part of the island they both still manage to have a little beach taverna. I would also strongly recommend catching one of the regular boat taxis from Skiathos Town to Tsougkrias island, where you will find a beautiful sandy beach with the clearest blue waters you will ever see.
It’s impossible to describe Skiathos without mentioning its wonderful capital, Skiathos Town. As well as being incredibly picturesque, it has a fantastic nightlife, positively bursting with tavernas, bars and shops. The harbour area is classy and sophisticated, full of enormous yachts and cruisers, and being pedestrianized, a nice place for an evening stroll. It’s a noisy , busy and bustling town and I loved it.
In summary, Skiathos is a gorgeous place and definitely somewhere I would return to, perhaps next time with a combined trip to the neighbouring island of Skopelos. Whilst it is also very crowded, it is always possible to find quiet spots if you are prepared to wander away from the hot spots. Possibly my favourite place on the whole island was on the small peninsula that separates the main harbour from Megali Ammos beach. It’s just a small woody area with some rocks to sit on jutting out into the sea. The abundance of contrasting colours, the blue of the sea and the sky, the whitewashed buildings and stunning purple flowers climbing the walls literally took my breath away. And not a sun lounger in sight!
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