Planning a trip to Skiathos? On this page you’ll find all the information you need for planning your holiday in Skiathos, from travel logistics to what you can see and do while you’re here.
Skiathos is a small island in the Aegean Sea, about 12 km (7 miles) long and 6 km (4 miles) wide, with a total area of about 49.898 km2 (19 square miles). It is the smallest of the inhabited Sporades islands. As of the 2011 census, the population for the island is about 5000. Most of the population lives along the southern coast, where the hills have more gentle slopes. The northern side of the island is more hilly and rugged. Pine forests cover much of the interior parts of the island, making it much greener than most other Greek Mediterranean islands.
The main towns on the island are Skiathos town and Koukounaries. The public bus runs from one to the other, stopping at many of the villages in-between.
Skiathos Island has been inhabited since ancient times. Skiathos town was founded in the 6th or 7th centuries BC by the Ionians. Over the centuries, the island has been conquered and held by a succession of colonizing civilizations, including the Athenians, Spartans, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, and Ottomans.
In the 14th century, the island inhabitants abandoned Skiathos town on the coast due to relentless pirate raids. They relocated their settlement atop a large rocky outcrop and built a fortress. It is now the site of Kastro today and well worth visiting. In the 19th century, many refugees from the Greek War of Independence sought shelter in Kastro. After the War of Independence was over, the islanders abandoned Kastro and returned to Skiathos town. During World War II, the Germans bombed Skiathos. The town was rebuilt and it has been relatively peaceful since. Today, Skiathos town is a small, charming but modern and cosmopolitan center of the islands social life.
Travel to Skiathos
The quickest way to reach Skiathos is via plane. During the summer season, there are direct flights on chartered airlines from various cities throughout England including London, Bristol, Birmingham, East Midlands, Manchester, Newcastle as well as numerous departure points within continental Europe. Olympic Air services Skiathos with daily flights from Athens in the summer, as well as twice weekly flights in the winter.
Skiathos Airport ‘Alexandros Papadiamantis’ (JSI) is a small one-terminal airport and is located approximately 2 km from Skiathos town centre. There is no public bus service to the airport. To get to the town centre, it is advisable to take a taxi or hire a car.
If you’re traveling around Greece, there are numerous ports where you can take a ferry or other boat to the island. Ferries can be open or enclosed and often transport cars. Hydrofoils, flying dolphins, and catamarans are usually enclosed boats and are faster than ferries but do not carry cars.
From the mainland
– ￼Agios Konstantinos
From other Sporades Islands
Transport on the Island
Car and motorbike hire
Hiring your own car or motorbike is a great way to see the island. You’ll have maximum flexibility and easy access to wherever you want to go. Skiathos is a small island with only one main paved road along the south coast. The road extends from Skiathos town to Koukounaries, 11km away. Most of the other roads on the island are dirt or gravel. Some of the roads can be steep and rough, with numerous narrow twists and bends, especially in the interior and the north. If you plan to take a trip to Kastro or any of the other more rural sites, it is advisable to rent a 4X4 vehicle.
Car hire can be arranged in advance for pick up/drop off at the airport or port, or in any of the car hire offices in Skiathos town centre.
The main public bus route on Skiathos runs from Skiathos town centre along the main southern coast road to Koukounaries. The route has 26 numbered stops, giving access to villages, beaches and tavernas along the way. In the peak summer season, buses run every 20 minutes. The late afternoon buses tend to become quite crowded as tourists make their way back to Skiathos town from Koukounaries.
There are also two minibus routes from Skiathos town active in the summer. One route takes you to Monastery of Evangelistria in the north. The other route will take you to Ksanemos (Xanemos) Beach on the northeastern side of the island, very near the airport runway. The minibuses leave from the same bus stop on the main bus line.
There are numerous taxis on the island and it is quite easy to pick up a taxi at the airport. There is also a taxi rank near the port. If you will be using a taxi often, be sure to ask for a business card or phone number. This will make it easy for you to arrange a taxi later in your trip. Taxi fares on the island are regulated, however, the fare may increase if you leave the main roads.
Water taxi is a fun way to travel around the island. Water taxis operate from Skiathos town to Koukounaries beach; to Kanapitsa and Tzaneria beach (Nostos); and to Achladias.
Check the port or ask your hotel for information on water taxi schedules and prices.
Things to see and do on Skiathos
Skiathos is known for its beaches. The tiny island has over 60 beautiful beaches along the 45km (27 miles) of coastline. The beaches along the south tend to be sandier, whereas the beaches along the north are more likely to be pebble beaches. Any kind of beach a holidaymaker could want can be found on Skiathos. Lively, organized beaches outside resorts and hotels complete with sunbeds and umbrellas dot the southern coast. You can easily travel to these beaches along the main southern road by hired car or public bus. In between these popular beaches and along the northern coast are quieter secluded beaches. Many of the more remote, hidden beaches are accessible only by boat. Others can be accessed after a hike across Skiathos’ rough terrain.
Some of the more famous or popular beaches are
- Tzaneria (Nostros)
- Agia Paraskeui
- Megali Ammos
- Ksanemos (Xanemos)
Diving and Snorkeling
The water of the Aegean is crystal clear. You’ll be touring the island on your holiday, why not go under water as well? There are several dive companies on the island that can take you into the depths of the Aegean Sea. If you’re not sure about diving, you can go on an introductory dive. If you know you already love diving and want to get certified to dive anywhere in the world, you can take certification courses or, if you are already certified, you can log more dive hours.
￼You can bring your own snorkeling equipment and snorkel from any beach although the rockier beaches of the northern side of the island have more to see. If you don’t have any equipment to bring, you can rent snorkel equipment from the dive shops and go on your own or take a snorkeling trip with them.
Sailing and Yachting
Skiathos has about 45km (27 miles) of coastline. Many of the more remote and beautiful beaches scattered along this coastline can only be reached by boat. Hire a sailboat or yacht to take you around the island. You can spend time out on the open water, relaxing, eating and drinking and can access any of those remote beaches. If fishing is your main hobby, cast a line off the side and reel in what the Aegean has to offer.
It’s easy to hire a boat. Walk along the port and speak with each captain about boat amenities and where they can take you. You can hire a boat for yourself or, for a cheaper price, share the excursion with others.
Day trips to Other Sporades Islands
Taking daytrips to the other Sporades islands is a popular activity. Visit the towns and villages of neighbouring Skopelos or take an excursion to The National Marine Park on the island of Alonissos, home to the largest colony of the critically endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal. If you hire a private boat, you can even sail around many of the uninhabited islands of the Northern Sporades.
In the summer there are daily ferries to the other islands. Check at the port for sailing times and prices to each island.
Hiking and Biking
There are numerous hiking and mountain biking trails crisscrossing the island. You will truly see all the beauty of the island while you venture where no cars can go. You can go on your own or arrange a hiking or biking excursion with an experienced guide. If you want to go on your own, pick up a terrain map and set out for your own grand adventure.
Be wary if you choose to go hiking or biking in the height of summer. Temperatures can soar and the sun can be fierce. Be sure to take extra water with you to keep hydrated and wear plenty of sunscreen.
Churches and Monasteries
Skiathos has numerous small churches and monasteries scattered around the island. Most of the churches or monasteries located outside of towns or villages require a hired car to access, preferably a 4X4, but are well worth the visit.
Monastery of Panagia Evangelistria
The Monastery of Panagia Evangelistria is the only inhabited monastery on the island. It was founded in 1794 with construction completed in 1806. This monastery is important to modern Greek history as it sheltered many Greek fighters during the Greek War of Independence in the 19th century. A popular story is that the blue and white flag of an independent Greece was first flown here. A visit will also give you the chance to support the monastery by purchasing locally made wine.
￼The Monastery of Panagia Evangelistria is located about 5km north of Skiathos town and can be reached by hired car, taxi, minibus (summer only) or by foot.
Monastery of Panagia Kounistra
The Monastery of Panagia Kounistra is important to the island as it was founded in the 17th century on the spot where a monk found a sacred icon of the Virgin Mary. The icon is now kept in the Cathedral of Skiathos town, but every 21 November, a town procession carries it back to the monastery.
The Monastery of Panagia Kounistra is located in the forested hills outside Troulos and can be reached by hired car or taxi.
Museums and Historical Sites
In the 14th century, the inhabitants of Skiathos town had to abandon it due to pirate raids. They built their new fortress town atop a rocky outcrop on the northern side of the island. After several centuries, it was eventually abandoned. The ruins that remain make for a fascinating site to explore.
Kastro can be reached by 4X4 jeep or a boat trip to the beach below, followed by a steep hike up the hill.
The Bourtzi is a small peninsula hutting out into the harbor in Skiathos town. Covered in pine trees, there was once a Venetian fort located on it. All that remains of the fort are some ruined walls and old canons. The Bourtzi is now a cultural centre that features art exhibitions, children’s puppet shows and an open-air theatre. It’s a refreshing venue for a summer play or concert.
The Bourtzi is located between the new and old ports.
Museum Of Alexandros Papadiamantis
Alexandros Papadiamantis was a famous Greek author who wrote The Gypsy Girl, Tales from a Greek Island, and The Murderess. The home he grew up in was turned into a museum recording his life and writing.
The Museum of Alexandros Papadiamantis is located in Skiathos town along an alley a short walk from the port.
Skiathos is well known for its beaches, however there are also varied shopping options in Skiathos town. Along Papadiamantis street, you’ll find boutiques and shops that sell clothing, jewelry and souvenirs. There are many other touristy souvenir shops located around Skiathos town.
You can also buy handmade gifts at the Monastery of Panagia Evangelistria.
￼Most of the nightlife on Skiathos is fairly laid back and calm. There are numerous tavernas on the island, especially along the main road in the south from Skiathos town to Koukounaries. If you’re looking for a lively night out, head to Skiathos town for energetic and bustling bars and dance clubs. Most of the late night bars and clubs are clustered together near the new port.
Food and Drink
On Skiathos you can find a wide variety of local and international foods. In Skiathos town and in some of the villages are formal restaurants. If your style is more casual and relaxed, you can find tavernas in town, along the main coast road, and near most of the beaches. As Skiathos is an island, the seafood is fresh and a staple of island cuisine. In many places you will also find cheese pie brought over from neighboring Skopleos.
You can find both locally made and imported wine on the island. Beer is widely available, as is Ouzo, the national Greek drink.
Skiathos boasts a variety of types and styles of accommodation to suit any taste or budget. There are two-to-five star hotels in Skiathos town, relaxing resorts and villas along the scenic coast and apartment rentals throughout. If you’re on a tighter budget, you can also rent rooms independently.
For more information on just what kind of accommodation you may prefer, click here. You can also click here for information on available rooms.
Tips when Renting Holiday Accommodation Directly from Property Owners
Ensure that you speak, not just by email, with the person letting the accommodation. Any legitimate individual letting a property will provide their direct phone number on the site – if the do not, exercise caution.
Never pay directly into a bank account until you verify that the owner is legitimate. Paying by direct bank transfer is like paying by cash – the money can’t be traced and is not refundable.
Where possible, pay by credit card or a debit card that offers insurance – they are traceable and refundable, according to the provider’s terms and conditions.
Check reviews on properties you are interested in to see what previous guests had to say about their experience.
Ask for a rental agreement – a signed rental agreement between the owner and guest helps protect both parties. Typically, each owner or manager has their own payment and cancellation policies and house rules.
Need to Know
Language: Greek, though English is widely spoken
Time Zone: Eastern European Time Zone (GMT+02:00) Country Code: +30
Click here for information on how to save money calling back home to the UK.
Exchange: It is better to exchange money in the UK before traveling to Greece. If you need to exchange money on the island, you can do it in currency exchange offices or the banks located in Skiathos town. Some hotels will also exchange money for you.
Click here for more information on exchanging money before you leave the UK.
Cash Machine / ATMs: There are numerous ATMs in Skiathos town, one in Troulos and one in Koukounaries.
Credit Cards: You can use credit cards in many places around the island, but it’s always advisable to have cash on you just in case. Most places prefer cash.
Internet: There are internet cafes in Skiathos town, but wifi is widely available in cafes, tavernas and hotels.
Climate: Skiathos has hot summers and cool winters. The sun can be particularly hot at the height of the summer, particularly in July and August.
Safety: Skiathos is a safe island with very little crime. Some hotels provide safety deposit boxes. There are also deposit boxes available to rent at some exchange offices.
Health: One public medical centre is located in Skiathos town, as is one private medical centre. For medical emergencies, you would be transported to a hospital in Volos on the mainland. For that reason, it is important to maintain good trip insurance.