"Skiathos Island" Top 5 Page for this destination Skiathos Island by StefanosS
Skiathos Island Travel Guide: 127 reviews and 294 photos
Skiathos is a beautiful, wooded island, far greener than one would expect a Greek island to be, set in the deep blue Aegean Sea, having about 60 fine sandy beaches, fabulous wild forests covering 70% of it, wonderful harbourside taverns and a warm and friendly local population. Quite simply, Skiathos is unique: a piece of paradise you will want to return to again and again.
Skiathos is the most cosmopolitan of the group of islands known as the Northern Sporades. I guess the reason why the majority of people come to Skiathos from all over the world is because of the beauty of the town and harbour and the fantastic beaches which are unrivalled anywhere in the rest of insular Greece. It combines a cosmopolitan air with a scenic profile and a traditional calmness.
In the bays of the south you will find an explosion of natural Mediterranean colours all in perfect harmony. The mountains are of the deepest green, the shores golden, and the sea has the deep blue colour of the sky. In contrast, north Skiathos displays another face, that of wave tormented rocks that stand defiantly facing the north winds, reminiscing about the glorious struggles of the local people against barbaric invaders throughout its history. Innumerable beaches surround the island, some are peaceful, others wild and some are swarming with visitors but there are always beaches where you can be alone if that's what you want. The mood changes according to your desires. Each beach is unique and displays something different, something precious. The basic rule to remember is, if you want sand keep to the south, if you want rocks and pebbles go north.
The island is small, only about 12km from end to end. There are many dirt roads cutting through and across the island and only one main road that links the town with the resorts and the best beaches. The main road follows the east and south coast until it reaches the south-west end of the island terminating at Koukounaries beach and the north-east point at Xanema bay. A good bus line is active along it. Cars & motorbikes are available for rent everywhere but some dirt roads are dangerous for the bikes, unless the driver is very experienced.
Being the eastern island of the North Sporades group of islands, it's only 3 nautical miles away from the coast of the Pilion mountain peninsula and 38 from Volos port. It is not large and can be circumnavigated in a couple of hours with a speedboat, or more leisurely in 4 to 5 hours by a local caique or sail. There are several offshore islets, which are worth visiting and where you will find beaches with much less people on them than the main island ones.
Its highest peak is 438m above sea level and has plenty of running waters. Mostly mountainous, 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. Shining white houses with red tiles, amphitheatrically built, historical monuments, rocky cliffs, golden sandy beaches, plane, pine and chestnut trees, amazing sunsets, habitats of rare migrating birds, all contribute to an image that makes the island one of the most beautiful in the Aegean.
The popularity of the island is constantly increasing. Charters are going to and forth, and touristic traffic covers half the year. Modern accommodations make visitors? stay confy and unforgettable. Fishing, scuba diving, delicious food, vibrating nightlife, cultural and athletic events are some of the activities offered in the small island.
Skiathos town or Chora (as the island?s capital village is called in Greece) is the only settlement on the island; it is built according to traditional island architecture and hosts the most part of the local population amounting to approximately 4,000 people. However, many people prefer to live outside the town, enjoying the countryside all year round. The locals are mostly employed in the tourism business, which is today the main source of income for the island. Nevertheless, many still linger on their old occupations, those of their ancestors. Agriculture, farming and fishing were all flourishing until recently. Olives and grapes are still farmed throughout the island and are the basic local agricultural products.
An important historical fact in the island's life was the Venetian occupation since 1207 until 1538, initially under the Guisi family, when Bourtzi castle was built, with minor interuptions. Especially after the fall of Constantinople, the inhabitants asked the Venetians to keep their island instead of the Turks, laying down terms including the privileges given during the Guisi era and that the Orthodox bishopric would remain on the island. But this time the Venetians proved to be hostile tyrants. About the mid 14th century AD the population moved to the northern point of the island, in "The Castle", for protection purposes and lived there until 1830, when the island joined the liberated part of the Greek mainland.
The involvement of the people of Skiathos with navigation began far in the antiquity, developed undisturbed during the Byzantine era and the Turkish occupation and has been going on and on until today. In the beginning of the 18th century, the people of Skiathos were released from the Turkish restrictions and started building their own ships in the bay of Kechria, doing business and transporting goods to nearby places. After 1774 they started travelling to Egypt and to the Black Sea. In the 18th century very good shipyards existed with competent craftsmen, based in Ai-Ghiorgis near the lake. In 1804 Skiathos had 12 armed ships with 144 sailors and 48 cannons. Ever since captains Stathas and Nikotsaras were in action, the fleet of Skiathos was well equipped and these ships were used throughout the Greek Revolution and later. Ship building in Skiathos flourished from 1870 to 1895 and continued until 1930, when big ships started being constructed by metal.
The town of Skiathos is the only built-up area of the island. It is built on the south-eastern coast of the island in a windless bay, separated by the Bourtzi islet in two. It is a relatively new settlement, nesting among the hills and overlooking the harbour, built in 1829 - 1830 on the site of the ancient city, at the edge of the sea. Its sheltered harbour fills in the summer with every type of vessel from 3 metre fishing boats to 11 metre sailing yachts to 40 metre motor yachts.
The local traditional architecture of Skiathos does not have a strict insular character. On the contrary, it is a combination of a village in Pilio and an island village with neoclassical elements, mixed with some impersonal cement houses and some modern buildings and adorned with churches, church towers and paved alleys. Certainly, the mentality, the preferences and the needs of the local people influence all these elements. The houses are small in their majority, built close to each other and with two floors, red tiled roofs and gardens in full bloom. There are mainly two types of old houses, rural and manor - houses and are built of stone while their external walls are whitewashed.
In the island of Skiathos nowadays, the narrow and winding streets are mostly traced by chance, they are picturesque and made of stone slabs. In the places where the streets are very narrow and crooked, the corners of the houses are cut in such a way so that turning the corner is facilitated. There are small squares in various spots inside the town, made either by chance or to emphasise something such as churches, fountains or other similar constructions. Don't miss a walk through the upper west part of Skiathos, from the Health Centre down to Plakes and up and back to the fish market and Old Port. This is the most original part of Skiathos and the narrow streets give it a lot of atmosphere. There are anywhere many tavernas and shops, some in the most unexpected places. Most stay open till late so take your time, there's no need to hurry.
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 siestas. Then there is the harbour front, stunning, as it is beautiful. You can have a slow ouzo on the waterfront, boogie all night, shop 'til you drop or fill yourself at one of the many of tavernas and restaurants. During the day Chora is busy with the hustle and bustle of commerce, fishing boats and ferries. At night the seaside area is transformed into a continuous array of street restaurants and cafe's. The local people tend to stroll back and forth along the harbourside every night just enjoying the spectacle and talking to everyone they meet. Tourists gather there to meet friends, have a drink, perhaps a meal and discuss the day and plan what to do next. Recently, Papadiamandis street (the main market street in the town) has been paved and pedestrianised and you can now enjoy a stroll without having to dodge the motor vehicles.
- In a nutshell:A piece of paradise you will want to return to again and again
Behind the hills, to the left of the photo is the west coast of the island and the beaches of Aghia Eleni and Krassas. more travel advice
The famous "Christos sto Kastro" church (=Christ at the Castle), devoted to the Nativity of Christ, was the cathedral of... more travel advice
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