Island of Skiathos
Skiathos lies on the western edge of the northern Sporadic Islands, and is the most cosmopolitan with a lot to offer, a wonderful mixture of international sophistication as well as traditional Greek culture in the interior. The mountainous areas inland are adorned with beautiful pine forests, and the island is ringed by glorious sandy beaches. Forays inland uncover stunning scenery and many fine untouched examples of the island's history. The island is developed but privacy can be found. It has excellent facilities for young groups and families, and there is good nightlife on offer for those who are looking to dance until dawn. If you are looking for peace and quiet, then it would be best to visit out of season in the spring or autumn.
The island's history
Originally settled in ancient times by a variety of non-Hellenic tribes, including Cretans, Skiathos become a prominent colony of the Chalcedeans. Herodotus mentions Skiathos in his account of the Persian War. After several centuries of fairly peaceful alliance with Athens, the island came briefly under the more heavy-handed sway of Sparta at the end of the Peloponnesian War, before Athens regained the upper hand in the region. Fought over for centuries by the Romans and the Macedonians, Skiathos came under Byzantine rule, then was taken over by Venetian merchants. The old capital of Kastro, occupying a spectacular position on a windswept headland, was built in the 16th-century as a fortress against the ubiquitous marauding Ottoman pirates, but was abandoned in the early 19th-century. The exceptionally beautiful Evangelistria Monastery was built in the early 18th-century. It enjoys a splendidly solitary grandeur, and during the War of Independence saw the very first Greek national flag raised by the rebels using the monastery as a refuge. Skiathos was an important centre for shipbuilding in the 19th-century.
What to do on the island
There are many good restaurants in Skiathos Town and suitable for all budgets and tastes. The town offers a vibrant nightlife, especially in the peak summer months, and there are many lively clubs and bars. Taxis are also available from the villa on request.
If you are interested in walking and exploring the quieter beauty of Skiathos it is possible to find a guide to take you on the best routes. A boat trip around the island is an excellent way to get your bearings. The Sporades are superb for sailing and chartering a yacht to some of the other islands for a day, or even longer, and is very popular. The northern part of Skiathos is beautiful, with some exceptional scenery; Lalaria, Kastro and Kehria are some of the island's must-visit places. The island of Skopelos is just opposite and can be visited easily by joining day cruises. Alonissos is also another island a little further away which is also accessible by day boats. Both these islands are more primitive than Skiathos: less populated and with beautiful scenery and fine beaches.
There is the possibility of horse riding just 10km away.
It is said that Skiathos has the best beaches in the Sporades, if not in the whole of Greece! There are over 60 beaches, most of which can be visited either by renting a small boat or by car, and many have watersports facilities. Koutsouri Beach is a fine example of the beautiful Skiathos beaches, sandy with wonderful swimming, and it also has a taverna open in the high season months. The beach is always fairly quiet although many boats do moor here, as it is a very safe bay. Kanapitsa Beach is also recommended, with a good taverna and watersports facilities. The beaches of Paraskevi and Vromolimnos on the Kalamaki Peninsula are also highly rated.
Koukounaries is reputed to be the best beach on the island, and for the adventurous there is the trendy naturist beach, Banana Beach. The north of the island has the quietest beaches, as none are accessible by car; there is a kaiki service to these beaches. The most spectacular of these is Lalaria Beach, which is covered with smooth white stones and backed by steep cliffs. For those in search of the most peaceful beaches, a boat can be hired to take you over to the islet of Tsougrias.
There is a dive centre for scuba enthusiasts on the island.