Essential beach holiday: a guide to Skiathos, Greece

Skiathos: A Greek island of verdant pine forests and azure, crystal-clear waters…

Greece is where the heart is for me, and the island of Skiathos is a firm favourite. If, like me, all you want to do is to flop out on the sand and marvel at the beauty of the natural world (whilst getting a tan and as many iced coffees as you can handle), then Skiathos is the island to head to.

The island has over 60 beaches of soft golden sand that are backed by lush green hills, protected wildlife reserves, lagoons and densely wooded thickets.

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As well as its plethora of amazing beaches, Skiathos boasts a vibrant nightlife and excellent array of places to eat and drink.

As a holiday destination Skiathos is not hugely well known, and as such has kept hold of its natural charms whilst also keeping development to a minimum. Beaches are relatively low key, waters are unbelievably clear and the people are deliciously friendly.

How to get there:

Flights are available in the summer months from Gatwick to Skiathos Airport, which is located on the South-East side of the island, a few minutes’ drive from Skiathos Town Centre.

Flight times from the UK are around 3 and a half hours.

How to get around:

The south side of the island is well serviced by regular buses that run from Skiathos Town on the south-east side of the island and stop off at all of the south side beaches, from one end right to the other.

The wild-wooded terrain and hilly nature of Skiathos means that it might be easier for some people to rent bikes or cars to get around. Some of the best beaches take a 15-20 minute hike to get to, up and down steep, sandy inclines, so do carry water in the hot summer months.

Where to Stay:

The south coast of the island is the most accessible and is where people generally stay, with access to some of the best beaches as well as Skiathos Town Centre and Skiathos Port for inter-island adventures.

Skiathos Town:

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Skiathos Town is built around the harbour and is fairly buzzing and vibrant, with clubbing quarters that fill up in the busy summer months as well as cobbled streets full of charming restaurants that overlook the harbour.

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The towns natural port is full of boats and yachts that offer trips daily to surrounding islands and around Skiathos itself, and is the only way to visit some of the more remote beaches on the north face of the island. If the weather is good enough then do take a boat to Lalária beach on the northeastern part of the island, with its white pebbles, crystal-clear waters and the famous hollow rock formation.

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Another trip that you must do is to join a small boat tour of neighbouring Skopelos Island, made famous for being the setting of Mamma Mia. Make sure your trip itinerary also includes a stop off at Kastani Beach on Skopelos Island – truly one of the most beautiful you will find.

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Papadiamantis is the town’s main street and is flanked by restaurants, bars and taverns that also permeate the side and back streets. It’s worth ambling through the cobbled avenues and darting around the rough hewn white houses with their open gardens and red roofs, as the best restaurants are located off the main road.

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Koukounaries Village:

If you are looking for the best access to beaches, we would recommend staying on the west side of the island at the village of Koukounaries which is just on the edge of Koukounaries beach, regularly voted one of the best in Greece.

Try the Mandraki Boutique Hotel in Koukounaries village, made up of a beautiful array of residences separated by sprawling gardens, hammocks and palm trees.

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The location of the hotel makes it fairly easy to get to the best beaches (and bag those all important first row deck chairs).

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For great music and a vibrant and young crowd, you can’t beat Banana Beach (and the nudist Little Banana Beach). For families with young children head to Koukounaries beach with its 1km stretch of fine sand and shallow inclines into the sea. The kiddies are also sure to love the mini shoals of silver fish that dart around your toes. Heaven.

Activities:

The number one activity on an island like Skiathos is going to be beach oriented: lay on the deckchairs and listen to the soothing chirping of crickets that inhabit the lush pine forests that cover the island, and marvel at the rise and swell of the Aegean.

For a laid back beach try Agia Eleni with its pumping beats and marvellous beach vistas.

For fun beach activities look no further than Banana Beach with its paddle boarding, speedboating and all important Banana Boats.

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The islands lush pine forest also deserve a stroll through, and there are a number of trails that will take you through the wilderness allowing you to explore more of the untamed spirit of the island.

In Skiathos Town there are a number of historically significant avenues to explore, including the peninsula of Boúrtzi where the ruins of a Venetian fortress still stand, and museum dedicated to the famous author Alexandros Papadiamantis.

Whether you want to claim a beach as your own and grow roots into the golden sand or dance the night away, Skiathos is the perfect place for both, whilst retaining its own special character. Full of charm and personality, Skiathos makes for a truly heartwarming island location.

Stay tuned for a list of the best beaches in Skiathos!

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8 Comments

  • “As a holiday destination Skiathos is not hugely well known, and as such has kept hold of its natural charms whilst also keeping development to a minimum”

    If only this were true. Sadly its not and has changed a considerable amount, as a result of mass tourism …

    • Oh sorry to hear that! As a tourist for me it still compares favourably with other islands like the north coast of Crete and Fira in Santorini, which seem much more developed that Skiathos. I really liked that Koukonaries, Agia Eleni and Banana beach take a little while to get to – the hotels aren’t just plonked on the coast. We missed out on seeing Lalaria unfortunately as the day we wanted to go the weather wasn’t that great, but I’ve heard its really beautiful too.

  • Beautiful pictures! I want to go to Skaithos so very bad!! ;-)
    What’s the name of that beautiful bar on the pictures with the champagne galsses on it?
    Best regards Esther from Holland

    • Hi Esther – thanks, much appreciated! The picture with the champagne was taken at the hotel bar of the Mandraki Boutique hotel in Koukounaries – the bar staff there are amazing and the view is lush :)

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