For my first introduction to Greece, Skiathos could not have been more perfect. I took ages to decide where I wanted to visit for my first trip to Greece – Rhodes and Zante both looked beautiful – but Skiathos has an authentic charm that I couldn’t resist.
David and I visited Skiathos at the beginning of June and it was wonderful. Postcard perfect views, the sparkling Aegean sea and plenty of sunshine made it such a memorable first time to Greece. And the Tzatziki. Oh my goodness the Tzatziki!
While Mama Mia certainly put Skiathos on the map, it still retains its authenticity and simplicity. You won’t find many fancy high rise hotels or water parks here. That does mean it’s aimed at the slightly *older* market as there isn’t much for families or those who like to party. If you like a lively nightlife and big flashy resorts than Skiathos perhaps isn’t the island for you, but if you’re after a relaxing break with beautiful scenery and a good explore – keep reading!
I struggled to find many guides to Skiathos – so here is a quick guide to my experience on this bloody incredible island. In this guide I’ll share a bit of geography, practical information, what we did and where we ate (I’m a veggie so plenty of good options for fellow veggies!).
How To Get There + Where To Stay
Skiathos is located in the Aegean Sea, east of the Greek mainland and is part of a cluster of islands known as The Sporades. Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonissos are the three main islands – Skopelos is the biggest but Skiathos is the only one with an airport. You can reach the other two islands via the ferry and there is accommodation on both if you fancied a bit of island hopping.
We visited Skiathos as part of a package holiday with TUI but Thomas Cook also flies to Skiathos too. It is about 3 ½ hours away from England and most regional airports fly there. You could probably arrange your own flights and accommodation – but a package holiday is probably the easiest and sometimes the cheapest way to go as it includes your flights, accommodation and transfers too. Our TUI rep was also really helpful, suggesting good restaurants for us to try and where the best beaches were.
We stayed at Areti apartments near Troulos Bay which was a good base. The apartments were very *very* basic (most self-catering in Greece is!) but the views of the sea were phenomenal and the location was perfect as it was just opposite bus stop 17 (more on that later). If I were to go again, however, I would stay in Skiathos Town as there is far more going on and you have a good range of bars and restaurants. Beach isn’t really that important to us (staying outside of the town means you’re more likely to be near a beach) but if that is important to you – I’d recommend staying outside of the town and picking a hotel that is on the beach (not that many are – the beaches are often down a steep hill). However, there are over 40+ beaches to choose from and with the island only being 7 miles long – you’re never too far away from the beach!
Practical Tips and Information
Before visiting Skiathos, it is important to note that as an island, it is quite inaccessible. Skiathos is *very* hilly and a lot of the hotels and accommodation are located up stairs or slopes. If you have mobility issues, make sure your hotel is suitable for you. This also is the same for beaches, with a lot of beaches hidden and are only accessed by walking down slopes and stairs off of the main road.
As previously mentioned, Skiathos is a small island and the airport is located only a few minutes away from Skiathos Town in the south of the island. Transfers to and from the airport are not far at all and as we booked through a package, TUI was there waiting to pick us up. Taxis are available, but they are notoriously expensive.
There is one main road that runs along the south of the island, which is where the bus route starts and stops. The bus route is numbered from 0-26 and starts from Skiathos town, near the new port. It’s very cheap and they run every 20 or so minutes (there isn’t a timetable you just wait at a stop and one will turn up). You get on and then a conductor will come around to take your fare. To give you an idea, a single from bus stop 0 to 17 is 2euros per person.
TIP – Bus stop 0 is the start or end of the journey. If travelling OUT of Skiathos Town, start from bus stop 0 as you’re more likely to get a seat. If you are travelling into Skiathos Town get off at bus stop 4 as this is where Skiathos Town starts. From bus stop 4 you will be at the top of the main high street – Papadiamanti. It is quicker to walk to bus stop 4 than 0 if you’re in the old town (only by a few minutes!) but trust me when I say you want to have a seat on the bus – they really cram you in! Oh, and if you are travelling into Skiathos Town for the evening, be prepared for an uncomfortable and hot journey. It is quite an experience, let me tell you!
If you are staying in self-catering accommodation they should be able to tell you where your nearest supermarket is, which shouldn’t be too far as they have mini-shops located near every corner. Some supermarkets have a good rule of delivering to your accommodation if you buy over 20euros worth of groceries so make sure you take advantage of that! Trust me when I say you don’t want to be walking up a steep hill, with a load of shopping, in the Skiathos sunshine.
You may have to pay for your air con if staying in an apartment. We did and it cost 45 euros for the week. Check before you book. Also, Greece has a tourist tax which varies based on the type of star rating your accommodation is. Ours was only 3.50 euros.
It is best to take cash when travelling around Skiathos as a lot of the smaller taverners and the bus will only accept cash. Paying by card shouldn’t be a problem in Skiathos Town which has a lot more bars and restaurants. There are also ATMS scattered everywhere in the town and also most supermarkets have an ATM.
It is better to flail a taxi down on the street then it is to pre-book. Taxis are a lot more expensive than the bus but when you see how busy the bus gets of an evening – you’re prepared to pay that little bit extra! If you are able to catch one on the street you can negotiate a price – they are open to haggling so don’t take the first price they give you!
What We Did
Sailing around the island
On our first full day in Skiathos, we went sailing around the island with Go Sailing. There are loads of sailing options available, but we decided on this one as Captain Theo had a good write up on TripAdvisor.
We met Theo on his boat in the new port and from the moment we got there he made us feel so welcome. The boat hosts about 10 people and as it’s quite a small boat we all made friends very quickly! Theo was a great guide, stopping at hidden spots around Skiathos and Skopelos, giving us plenty of time to have a swim and relax. He served food throughout the day and was very keen to make sure we spent enough time in each place. The tour was from 10-7 and was so relaxing. It was 80euros each which may seem quite pricey, but it really was a fantastic experience. Would 100% recommend!
Greek island hopping
Another excursion we took – which we organised with TUI – was the Greek island hopping. We were picked up from our hotel and taken down to the port where we hopped on the ferry to take us to Skopelos and Alonissos. It takes just over an hour to get from Skopelos from Skiathos and on the way we were lucky enough to see some dolphins! We were given 2 hours on Skopelos and we had the option to go on a walking tour (we didn’t opt for that option, instead we found somewhere to eat and drink!). We did have a little explore of the old town and harbour and it blew us away – it looked like a postcard!
After two hours we hopped back on the ferry and took the 40-minute journey to Alonissos. On the boat, they offered you a chance to buy bus tickets to go up to the main village which is located on top of a mountain. Our rep recommended we got tickets as soon as we could as the bus fills up fast! As soon as we got off the boat we hopped on the bus and took the 10-minute journey up to the old town – the former capital of Alonissos. The views were unreal and I’m so glad we managed to get bus tickets (they were 4euros for a return). We only had 50 minutes at the top so we wandered around, took a few pictures and had a drink in Barbaras which offered the most breathtaking views of the island.
After returning back to the port we had another hour to kill, and with it being so hot we sought refuge in a little side bar. There is a small beach too which you could go for a swim in.
It was a long journey back – 2 hours – and you can tell everyone on the boat was completely wiped out! Thank goodness we had a transfer back as it was a very long and tiring day. All in all, was 40euros per person which is quite expensive but we did book it through our TUI rep. It may be cheaper to book it directly with the ferry which is located in the old port.
Visited the dog shelter
Greece has a very big abandoned dog and cat problem and as soon as I discovered the Skiathos Dog Shelter welcomes tourists to come and walk the dogs, I had to do it!
It’s quite difficult to reach the shelter, we hired a car (see below) but a taxi would be able to take you. We turned up a little after 11 and there were already plenty of tourists there walking dogs! There isn’t really a system, you just hope to get someone’s attention and they will ask you what your experience with dogs is like. Having never actually owned a dog before, we were given a very placid and gentle dog caller Rabina. We get told where to walk and you can have them as long as you like – the dog will tell you when it has had enough!
Rabana was good as gold and it was so joyful watching her get excited to go for walks! After she had enough we headed back to the shelter, handed her over and made a small donation. They have a list on a notice board of everything that needs and they have a Facebook page so you can message and find out what supplies they may need at that time. They do ask not to bring food or treats as they each have a specific diet plan and anything you bring may upset their stomach. You can, of course, adopt a dog too – we met a Swedish couple who were taking a dog back home with them!
Hired a 4×4 and explored the beaches
The best way to explore the hidden beaches of Skiathos is by car and due to the dirt tracks around the north of the island. A 4×4 is the best vehicle to hire.
We hired our 4×4 with Aegean Cars which was 50euros including insurance. There are tons of car rentals around the new port in Skiathos town so it may be worth shopping around. Our accommodation arranged the car hire for us and we got the car delivered straight to the property.
We first visited the dog shelter in the north of the island and as Mikros Aselinos beach is very close to the dog shelter, we opted to visit that beach first. On the way, we saw a couple walking down and so we stopped to see if they wanted a lift. They were very grateful – they took a wrong turn and had been walking for over 2 hours trying to find the beach! They were a lovely couple and they bought us a drink by the time we got there – a beautiful little beach hidden down a very steep cliff. Certainly not easy to access, but a little hidden treasure.
After drinks and a natter, we visited Koukounaries for a spot of lunch then headed to Mandraki beach which was a lot more accessible. Parking is very close to the beach and it is only a short, flat walk from where you park. Another beautiful beach, we decided to stop for a sunbathe and a paddle. Bliss!
The plan was to visit more beaches but it was *very* hot and we were already spoilt with the two we had visited. We may have also been going a little too fast along the dirt tracks and hit a bump that meant we couldn’t go into third gear … thank goodness for insurance!
Mama Mia Open Air Cinema
The TUI rep recommended this to us – citing it was a good laugh and well worth doing. Much to David’s horror. Turns out the rep was right and despite David’s pretending – he had a really good laugh.
Every Saturday an open-air cinema in Skiathos Town shows a screening of Mama Mia – the film that put Skiathos on the map. It starts at half 9 and is 12 euros a ticket. The ‘cinema’ is filled with cheap plastic seating but there is a bar where you can buy beer, wine and popcorn.
The tickets do sell fast but you can buy them before you go – just outside the cinema on the main high street – Papadiamanti. On the night, doors open at half 8 and ita best to arrive around that time to get a good seat.
The screening was full of lots of ABBA fans – we went and a whole hen party was dressed up in full ABBA get up. Everyone’s singing and dancing – it’s a fun night. Even David was on his feet at the end!
Skiathos Old Town
A simple thing, but something that has to be done is to get lost in the old town. A beautiful maze of winding streets, the old town was designed in a way to confuse the pirates who used to come onto Skiathos in search for loot.
Skiathos is full of gorgeous side alleys with classic white Greek buildings that have flowers tumbling down the walls. You’ll find so many hidden restaurants and boutique shops. There are also monasteries to visit too. My favourite thing to do though? Sit at the old port and people watch over an ice cold frappe. TAKE ME BACK!
Other things to do
Other things that you could do in Skiathos include hiring a quad bike or moped (instead of a 4×4) to take you around the island. I certainly wasn’t brave enough for that but a lot of people choose these options.
Watersports are plenty on Skiathos if that is your thing; kayaking, jet skiing, cliff jumping, diving, snorkelling etc. I cannot stand water AT ALL but David had a great time snorkelling.
Another trip that looked very popular was a boat ride out to see the Mama Mia chapel – on the island hopping tour we sailed past it but I’m not *that* much of a fan that I needed to see it close up. Plus it’s on a bloody huge hill. Props to you if that’s your thing though.
Another boaty thing – a sunset cruise was also constantly advertised. Very romantic and I’m sure delightful but we couldn’t do “everything*, as much as I wanted to. Plenty of reason to go back and visit!
Where We Ate
As a vegetarian, I was fully prepared to struggle in Skiathos as I was told it is very meat and seafood heavy. Thank god that my TUI rep was a vegetarian, as he was able to recommend some great places to eat and some tips for when visiting local tavernas.
Kipos was a small little taverna, close to our apartment. The closest bus stop is 16, where you can find a supermarket and a few other tavernas and cocktail bars. Kipos, I believe, means garden in Greek, so the taverna is set up with lots of open seating and decorated with beautiful flowers and fairy lights. We actually ate here twice as we enjoyed it so much! A tip I received from my TUI rep with regards to eating out as a veggie was to order lots of smaller appetizers. Tzatziki, pitta, vine leaves, fried courgettes and salad are all veggie and make a great selection of things to try! I also had the Baklava for dessert and it was delicious.
Marmitai is located down a little side street in Skiathos town and I was recommended it as they do a vegan moussaka. The restaurant is beautifully decorated and the staff are very attentive, giving us a selection of complimentary starters and a complimentary yoghurt mousse at the end of the meal. The vegan moussaka was delicious and it was great to be able to try a veggie version of this classic Greek dish!
Next door to Marmitai is Artesanal, an Italian restaurant and sister to Marmitai. Again, the restaurant has a wonderful outside seating arrangment, with pretty flowers adorning the walls. We both ordered pizza, which was from a proper wood-fired oven and we shared a Tiramisu for dessert which was light as a feather and such a huge portion! Would really recommend visiting here if you fancy something other than traditional Greek food!
When we hired a 4×4 we had a drive around the popular resort area of Koukounaries (at the end of the bus route). We spotted this quaint little restaurant and after hopping out to quickly check out the menu, we decided to stop here as it had a fantastic range of veggie options. The waiter was delightful as we had a bit of a laugh and joke with him and he was kind enough to write down some Greek words for us on a post-it note so we could say hello, please and thank you in Greek.
We ordered a selection of food to share; pitta and tzatziki, beetroot salad, green beans and spinach filled parcels. All of it was so fresh and delicious and the service was really quick. If you’re staying around the Koukounaries area or visiting for the day, it’s certainly worth a visit to Alamar.
Our last nights meal was spent at Pinakothiki, a beautiful little restaurant that is tucked down a little side street in Skiathos town. The menu had a couple of veggie options and it was difficult for me to show restraint when ordering! For starter we had stuffed vine leaves and tzatziki and then for my main I had a stuffed aubergine. David had the fresh fish, which was de-scaled right in front of us. All of the food was beautifully presented and so fresh (David’s fish was caught the night before) and the waiter was a dream, making sure we were well looked after. It was the perfect end to a wonderful holiday!
So… would I go back?
Absolutely yes! A lot of people we met on the island had returned year after year .. citing that they come back for the sheer beauty of the island and friendly nature of the locals. I have to agree – everywhere we went everyone was so friendly and welcoming and the authenticity of the island was so charming. I loved how it was relatively child-free (sorry parents!), there were no chains or high risers and how bloody beautiful it was.
If we were to return I would certainly stay in a much nicer accommodation (self-catering in Greece is slightly too basic for me!), and I would stay in Skiathos Town so I am close to all the great restaurants and bars. I would also want to do a couple of nights on Skopelos as it truly was beautiful.
I hope you find this guide to Skiathos useful if you have a trip planned and if you don’t have a trip planned I hope this makes you want to visit!! Have you ever been to Skiathos before? Would you recommend anywhere else in Greece to visit?
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