Things to do · Mediterranean
July 30, 2020 Words: Frances Thomas

The Best of Skiathos

What to Prioritize On the Eclectic Island of Skiathos

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Though it is one of the smallest islands in the Sporades Archipelago, Skiathos offers no shortage of natural and urban adventures. Famous for lush pine forests and fruit trees (it is one of the greenest regions in the Mediterranean), over 60 sandy beaches, historical relics dating back centuries, and a bustling town center rife with shopping and entertainment, the island is a playground for nature enthusiasts and culture connoisseurs alike.

As the only Sporades Island with a commercial airport, Skiathos is more developed than its Aegean neighbors — some even call it “The Mykonos of the Sporades.” Though the interior region has a distinctly cosmopolitan vibe, the coastlines are remarkably serene, marked by placid swimming coves and curtains of verdant flora. Due to the island’s compact size, it’s easy to navigate between the shopping and nightlife hubs and the sun-soaked beaches — and the best way to do so is on foot. Keep reading to discover the very best of Skiathos, from little-known gems to destination spots that are worth the hype.

Beaches:
The most famous beach is easily Koukounariés, a protected nature reserve on the southerwestern corner of the island. Regularly voted one of the world’s best beaches, it is renowned for snow-white sand, crystal-clear water, and a dramatic backdrop of fragrant pine trees that provide much-appreciated shade.
Further south from Koukounariés is Troulos, a more developed waterfront next to a resort with bathrooms, a bar, and a swimming pool that are open to beach visitors. Flanked by gorgeous rocky cliffs and stocked with plenty of sunbeds and umbrellas, it is perfect for a lazy day of sunbathing.
On the northern end of the island lies the bay of Aselinos, a lengthy, little-known beach with a charming waterfront bar. Tucked into the craggy tree-lined cliffs of Kounistra Mountain, this under-the-radar paradise feels like a private beach.

Sightseeing:
The lion’s share of shopping, dining, and nightlife opportunities are in Skiathos Town, the picturesque capital overlooking a secluded bay on the east coast. The waterfront tavernas provide the best views of Bourtzi Fortress, an islet castle built by Ottomans in the 15th century to ward off pirates (for those who wish to see the fortress up-close, small boats make quick trips from the mainland throughout the day). Meander up the labyrinthine walking paths into the old town to discover a plethora of artisan boutiques, galleries, cafés, and restaurants. The most popular street is Papadiamantis Street, home to the Attikon outdoor cinema and Papadiamantis House, a museum dedicated to Alexander Papadiamantis, the famous Greek novelist who lived in Skiathos in the 19th century.
Travel to the northernmost tip of Skiathos to explore the ruins of Kástro, the first fortified settlement built in the Middle Ages to shield inhabitants from pirates. Abandoned in the 1830s, all that remains today is the gatehouse of the original castle and four churches.
Just a few miles north of the main town is Evangelistrías Monastery, a monumental site in Greek history — legend has it, the first Greek flag was hoisted on its grounds during the War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire. The museum next to the monastery is worth a visit, too, with an extensive collection of documents, art, and photographs from the battles for independence and Balkan wars.

Dining and Nightlife:
Head to the waterfront of Skiathos Town for fresh-off-the-dock fish (not to mention stunning sunset views). You really can’t go wrong at any of the restaurants lining the quay, but Kabourelias is a particularly beloved taverna with an open kitchen, charming blue cloth tables, and mouthwatering grilled mezedhes (appetizers).
For live music with a mellow atmosphere, head to Kentavros Bar, centrally located near Papadiamantis House. A favorite of residents and visitors alike, this local institution has been putting on nightly sets of rock, jazz, and blues since 1978.
For a romantic meal set among leafy olive trees and beach umbrellas, travel
northwest of the main town to Taverna Kehria. Built into the rocks overlooking the secluded Kehria Beach, this delightful taverna serves up regional classics with an emphasis on fresh seafood.

Best Time to Visit:
The most popular time to visit is during the peak of summer — late July through August. For less crowds and milder heat, May, June, September, and October are excellent months to travel to Skiathos.

Global health note: Due to the shifting nature of COVID-19, Seabourn highly recommends checking in with all of the above venues before visiting to confirm hours of operation and pertinent regulations.

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