Holidays to Skiathos encompass spectacular beaches and a cosmopolitan capital that calls out to the in-crowd.
Sand and scenery
Skiathos may be small, but it serves up big doses of scenery. This Greek isle is edged by some of the best beaches in the Aegean, and they’re complemented by clear blue waves and an emerald countryside. For the biggest concentration of golden sands, head south, where you’ll find sleepy villages like Troulos. Here, there's little more than a sweeping bay and a cluster of Greek tavernas.
Whitewashed Skiathos Town is spread over 2 hills on the south-east coast of the island. It’s a see-and-be-seen kind of place. Everyone from Kate Moss to Goldie Hawn has visited in recent years, largely thanks to the town’s designer shopping and nightlife offering. Two huge yacht harbours front the place and, where yachts go, gourmet restaurants, members-only bars and boutiques follow.
If you’re scheduling in some day trips, Skiathos is a great base for exploring the rest of Greece. Neighbouring Skopelos is only an hour’s ferry ride away, and Athens can easily be reached by plane or boat.
Things to See and Do in Skiathos
Skiathos is one of the greenest islands in Greece, and many of its 60-plus beaches have pine forest backdrops. The beaches in the south of the island, where all the main holiday resorts are, have a lot more facilities than the ones in the north, but they’re also much busier.
The big beach
Troulos’ pale stretch of sand comes with an endless supply of tavernas and cafés, and there’s an equally long list of watersports on offer by the water’s edge. If you fancy a change from the beach, there are a few hotels behind the sands with sea-facing swimming pools, and some will let you drop by for a swim if you buy something from the pool bar.
The secret beach
Follow the dirt track from Agia Eleni Beach in Koukounaries for about 15 minutes, and you’ll come to a steep path that snakes down to the tucked-away bay of Kryfi Ammoudia. Few people know about this sandy expanse, so it’s perfect if you want to escape the crowds. There’s just one little taverna here, serving a few Greek dishes against a backdrop of surfing and fishing memorabilia.
The narrow side roads splintering off from Papadiamantis Street in Skiathos Town are great for bargain-hunting. Take a wander, and you’ll stumble upon dinky stores selling traditional souvenirs like pottery, embroidered linen and jars of honey. There are independent shops offering the same kind of buys in the more touristy towns, like Kolios and Troulos, too.
If you want to take home something a bit special, pay a visit to the Monastery of Evangelistrias. The convent is less than a 10-minute drive from Skiathos Town and, aside from being a beautiful place to look around, it stocks quality bottles of wine. The plonk is made by the monks who live here, and it’s great value for money.
For serious splurging, Skiathos Town’s main shopping drag, Papadiamantis Street, has a brilliant selection of retail outlets, ranging from designer boutiques to local fashion shops. It’s also good for electrical buys and bespoke crafts.
Achladies Bay moves to a sleepy rhythm after dark, with just a scattering of restaurants and bars for entertainment. The best ones line up along the beach, and the menus major in fresh seafood. Dine along here, and you can look out over the sea and the island of Skopelos in the distance. Alternatively, spend an evening in Skiathos Town, where there’s an open-air cinema showing old favourites and new releases in English.
Skiathos Town is the party animal in these parts. For the best choice of hangouts, head for what’s known as Bar Street, just off Papadiamanti Street, or make a beeline for the disco strip, which runs east along the coast. Both offer up a swarm of busy music bars and clubs that don’t shut until the sun wakes up. Elsewhere on the seafront, you’ll find trendy jazz spots and cocktail lounges with bean bags and cushioned wicker sofas that spill out onto the street.
Saganaki is deep-fried Greek cheese. In Skiathos, salty kefalotyri and creamy kasseri are the cheeses of choice, and they’re fried until they’re sizzling. Once cooked, they tend to be served on their own or in fresh salads. You can pick them up on street stalls, too, where they’re covered in a crispy pastry coating.
Skiathos inherited this recipe from its sister island, Skopelos. It’s not actually a pie – instead, it’s more like a deep-fried spiral of dough, which is stuffed with soft and crumbly goats’ cheese. Look out for other varieties of the product, including ones with spinach and wild vegetables added to the filling.
This is the Greek version of a Turkish doner kebab. Pieces of meat are cooked on a vertical spit, and then stuffed into a pitta with onions, tomatoes and creamy tzatziki sauce. Traditionally, pork or lamb is used, but in Skiathos, veal and chicken versions are ripe. Some types also come with potatoes.
These chewy almond cookies are really moreish. To make them, blanched nuts are ground into a flour-like consistency, and then combined with sugar and orange blossom water to make a biscuit that looks a lot like a macaroon. You can get ribbon-tied boxes of amygdalota from most Greek bakeries, and they make great souvenirs.
If you want to impress the locals, order this after-dinner tipple instead of a glass of ouzo. It’s thought tsipouro dates back to the 14th century and, while ouzo is given an aniseed flavour, this is a pure grape distillate, similar to Italian grappa. Take note, though – it’s stronger than its liquorice-like counterpart.
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Evangelistria is a bit of a recluse. It’s a quiet village perched in pine-forested hills on the northeastern edge of Skiathos. At the centre there’s a working monastery, which is ringed by whitewashed tavernas and a clutch of hotels and villas – and that’s pretty much it. The restful vibe is its appeal, though the lively capital, Skiathos Town, is only 10 minutes’ drive down the hill.
Kanapitsa is a peaceful village along the south coast of Skiathos, a pretty speck of an island just off southern Greece. It’s a laid-back spot with a bit a bit of class – witness the beautiful rustic tavernas and the pine-carpeted hills that back the village. Everything seems to happen along the waterside, with both shops and restaurants offering views across the azure waters and the village’s 2 beaches.
Skiathos Town is the smart capital of one of Greece’s Sporades Islands, Skiathos. It’s been attracting holidaymakers as well as the occasional celeb since the Sixties. In recent years this charming Aegean spot has found wider fame, alongside neighbouring Skopelos Island, in the ABBA-inspired movie Mamma Mia! With its smart harbour, cocktail bars and a bevvy of beaches, this place really is a little star.
This diddy hillside village on Skiathos’s east coast offers up knockout coastal views and an away-from-it-all feel. Here you’ll find narrow, cobbled streets lined with whitewashed, geranium-clad villas. There’s a large, golden-sand beach within easy strolling distance, and when you’re up for doing more, you’re just 6 kilometres from the island capital, Skiathos Town.
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