Skiathos, a small island in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Greece, has recently found a resurgence in popularity and tourism. While local travelers have long enjoyed this Northern Sporades island, its filming location in the 2008 film “Mamma Mia!” has increased international popularity as a beachfront escape.
Most of the island of Skiathos is heavily wooded with unique species of pine trees. The island’s terrain is comprised of rugged hills that reach over 1,420 feet in elevation. The main town on Skiathos is also the town of Skiathos, situated on the center of the island, near the island’s airport. Another popular town for visitors is Koukounaries, offering several beachfront resort hotels. Both towns offer visitor resources such as bus routes and restaurants. Nightlife is popular on Skiathos, with many beaches lined with tavernas, bars, and nightclubs.
The fleet of Persian King Xeres was badly damaged on the rocks of Skiathos during the Persian War in 480. Venetians took power in the 13th century. The capital was moved to Kastro (the Greek word for castle), The island's Venetian monastery of Evangelistria served as refuge for Greek rebels during the War of Independence. It was here that the first flag of an independence was flown.
The capital was moved back to Skiathos city, and today the ruins of Kastro are a popular attraction. The Evagelistria Monastery as well as othe island churches are also popular. There is a museum in the capital called the Alexandros Papadiamantis House, where the famous Greek novelist lived until his death in 1911. It provides a fascinating look into how th people of the island lived in the 19th century. Those wishing to escape the party atmosphere on the beach can wander through historic sites such as the Byzantine Church of Christ and the Old Monastery of Panaghia Ekonistria. Sea caves also dot the parameter of the island, accessible only by boat, and offering stunning natural beauty.
Perhaps the largest appeal of Skiathos is the island’s beaches. Though the island only has 27 miles of coastline, it boasts over 60 sand beaches. The wind typically blows in from the north, making the waters of the island’s north beaches more tumultuous. However, the waters in the south are calm, usually drawing more sunseekers.
The natural beauty of Skiathos enhances its beaches. The finely-textured Koukounaries Beach offers a lagoon sheltered by a peninsula of Stone Pine trees. Isolated Lalaria Beach is named after the small, round pebbles of bright white that make up the beach. Accessible only by boat, this northern beach is surrounded by dramatic rocks and the crystal clear waters of the Aegean. Other smaller, yet popular, beaches include Asselinos and Kanapitsa, offering excellent resources for visitors and tourists.
The most popular of the beaches on Skiathos are the Banana beaches. Not far from the town of Koukounaries, Banana Beach is made up of three smaller beaches. The largest is simply called Big Banana, lined with taverns and cafes that offer refreshments and a party-like atmosphere. Big Banana also offers sun beds and water sport rentals. Little Banana beach is known primarily for being naturalist-friendly, though nudism is not required to visit the beach. The third Banana beach is actually nameless, but it also offers crystal clear waters, excellent swimming, and a nudism-friendly environment. All three Banana beaches face west, getting sunlight later in the day and offering excellent sunsets and nightlife.
Skiathos Hotels & Lodging
Skiathos Hotels & Lodging
The island boasts a typical mix of luxury and budget beach resorts, small apartments and aparthotels, as wee well as private villas scattered around the island. Perhaps the best five-star property is the Skiathos Princess (pictured), with beautiful rooms and suites (some with private pool) and a variety of dining spots, bars, and lounges.