Skiathos is a beautiful, wooded island, far greener than one would expect a Greek island to be, which has between 60-70 fine sandy beaches, many of which have not become overcrowded and some of which can be virtually empty, even in the height of summer. It’s a small island which can be circumnavigated in a couple of hours with a speed-boat, or more leisurely in 4 to 5 hours by local caique or sail. The environment is incredibly varied and can range from hidden, wooded valleys to Monasteries set against a backdrop of barren rock, from shallow beaches with pastures behind to plunging cliffs with beaches nestling below them, only accessible by boat. There are several offshore islands which are worth visiting and where you will find beaches with less people on them than the main island ones.
At the eastern end of the island is Skiathos Town, surrounding a well sheltered harbour which fills in the summer with every type of vessel from 3 metre fishing boats to 11 metre yachts to 40 metre motor yachts. In Skiathos Town you can find everything. It is a thriving, cosmopolitan centre that hums with energy during the summer months contrasting nicely with the lazy beach days. You can have a slow ouzo on the waterfront, dance all night long, shop in the many retail outlets or experience world-class Greek cuisine at one of the island’s many restaurants. Whatever you’d like to do, there will be someone catering for it.
There are many dirt roads cutting through the island, and some kind of road-worthy transport is almost essential if you want to get the best from Skiathos. Cars and motorbikes are available for rent all over the island (please see our rental services pages). Places of interest inside the island are the Monastery of Evangalistra, which is very old but well kept, and lays claim to being the first place to raise the present Greek flag during the struggle for freedom from the Turks at the beginning of the previous century. Following on from the monastery is the church of Prophet Illias, with spectacular views out over town & towards the neighbouring island of Skopelos. Here is also a taverna by the shade of huge plane tree where one can sit and enjoy the view with coffee, ouzo or snack. Following the same road will bring you to the road for Kastro where you will have to leave your transport and walk for 30-40 minutes down to the old town. This is a unique place where the villagers used to huddle on a large naturally fortified rock peninsula leaning out into the sea. This was their retreat whenever pirates, Turks, Venetians and other invaders came by. One gets a real sense of how physically hard life must have been then, when times were tough and old bread and olive pips were all there was to eat. As soon as they became free from Turkish domination and foresaw the possibility of a reasonably peaceful future, they moved to the site of modern-day Skiathos Town.
Getting Around Skiathos
Skiathos offers tourists a variety of transport options – from motorbike and car rentals to buses and taxis. Many tourists opt to use the local bus service, which is both economical and efficient. It travels the full length of the southern coastal road from Koukounaries, terminating in Skiathos Town. Buses run at 15 to 20 minute intervals in the summer, and can often be crowded (particularly between 4:00pm – 7:00pm) coming back in to town. Here’s a run down of all the available bus stops from the tow to Koukounaries.
0. Terminus (Junior school & New Port)
1. Delta (crossroads airport road and ring road)
2. Sineterismos (road to Profitis Elias)
3. Ring road (supermarket and shops)
4. Akropolis (Health Centre)
5. Megali Ammos
6. Poseidon/Megali Ammos (Taverna and apartments)
7. Annis (beginning of Vasilias Beach)
8. Vasilias (main stop)
9. Between Vasilias and Achladies
10. Achladies (beach and Hotel Esperides)
11. Villa Liva (Sklithri Beach)
12. Tzanaria Beach (Nostos & Kanapitsa)
13. Vromolimnos & Nostos
16. Aghia Paraskevi (Platanias Beach & Princess Hotel)
18. Troulos crossroad (road to Kounistra Monastery, Zorbathes & Asellinos Beach)
19. Victoria (petrol station).
20. Troulos Beach
21. OTE building (dirt road to Mandraki area)
22. Maratha Beach (Palace Hotel)
23. Mandraki (Caravos Hotel & path to Mandraki Beach, Elias Beach & Agistri Beach
24. Yiouvanakis (supermarket and road to Mandraki (Xerxes) Beach
25. Aghia Eleni (Beach)
26. Koukounaries (terminus)
Seasons in Skiathos
If you’re trip schedule is dependent on school holidays, you’ll probably be visiting Skiathos in July or August when the island is at peak capacity. Many people visit during this time to experience the best weather, and still find secluded coves and beaches to get away from hustle and bustle. May and June are tranquil, as are September & October. September is often recommended by locals as a good time to visit due to it’s typical weather conditions – warm water for swimming, and a more subdued version of the summer sun. The weather in May and October cannot be guaranteed, and some rain will definitely fall. It usually doesn’t last for long, though, and when the sun comes back everything is wonderfully refreshed. If you can make it for Easter it is well worth doing so. Easter is the most celebrated Greek holiday, and and it’s a good time to enjoy the island’s natural beauty and a great time for walking. Winter in Skiathos can also offer a refreshing contrast to the summer months, with some years experiencing snow.
At the “Bourtzi”, throughout the summer, the local council organises a series of cultural events. The Boutzi is the small, wooded peninsular situated between the old harbour and the new ferry harbour. On it is a magnificent old stone building (which used to be the school), an open-air theatre and a traditional Greek kafenion (coffee shop). In the Bourtzi building, exhibitions are held of the work of Greek artists and photographers. Other facets of Greek culture, such as ancient mosaics, are also shown. The open-air theatre, which is a marvelous place to sit on a warm summers night, hosts performances ranging from ballet and concerts through theatre and films to traditional Greek “shadow-theatre”. It is well worth a visit here – it is not necessary to understand the Greek language to enjoy most of these events, and the atmosphere is quite special. Live music is performed at the traditional cafe on many evenings throughout the summer, and the sea and lights of Skiathos harbour make a wonderful backdrop to these performances. Tickets for many of these events can be obtained from the tourist information booth situated close to the Bourtzi, behind the harbour authorities office.