Greek Guide

 

Skopelos Island Greece Greek Holiday Destinations

Skopelos is one of the Greek Sporades Islands located in the Aegean Sea, 121 kilometres north east of the mainland port of Agios Konstantinos (which is 166 kilometres north of Athens). It's a beautiful pine forested island with an interior carpeted with groves of olive, almond and plum trees. It's neither as commercialised as neighbouring Skiathos nor as untouched as tranquil Alonissos. The package holiday industry has firmly established itself here but the islanders have shown dogged determination in refusing to allow Skopelos to be entirely swallowed up by mass tourism. The island boasts two of the most picturesque towns in the Sporades, many good pebble beaches and some wonderful walks for keen hikers.

There's no airport on the island but you can fly to Skiathos which is a one hour hydrofoil ride away. Frequent ferries and Flying Dolphins connect Skopelos with Agios Konstantinos and there are also services to and from both Thessaloniki and the Pelion Peninsula on the Greek mainland.

Boats stop at both the port of Loutraki in the north west corner of the island and at Skopelos Town on the east coast. Ferry schedules often refer to Loutraki as Glossa which is the name of the lovely hill top town above the not particularly inspiring port. Both Glossa and Skopelos Town are delightful in their own ways the former is unspoilt, totally Greek and steadfast in its resistance to all the more obvious trappings of tourism. Skopelos Town is awash with bars, cafes, gift shops and travel agencies but it's still one of the loveliest towns in the archipelago with narrow cobbled streets winding up from the waterfront to the hilltop Venetian castle. The town has no fewer than 123 churches and some lovely traditional houses with brown timber balconies adorned with vivid bougainvillea and brightly coloured pot plants.

The island's verdant countryside is littered with numerous impressive monasteries, many of which are in spectacular locations. Most are deserted but some are still inhabited by nuns who offer their loom woven textiles for sale to a steady stream of summer visitors.

If you explore the interior you'll also come across many old stone houses, called "kalyvia", nestling amid the pine and cypress woods. The houses have distinctive outdoor ovens in which the islanders used to bake plums to produce the prunes for which Skopelos was once famous. You'll still find prunes served up in various guises at tavernas all over the island.

Most of the island's beaches are pebbled and the best are scattered along the south and west coasts. At Agnondas on the south coast you can join the locals for a fresh fish lunch at one of the many tavernas lining the beach. Panormos on the west coast is a full blown holiday resort with plentiful hotels, tavernas, watersports and other tourist facilities. But if it's solitude you crave, don a pair of sturdy walking shoes or take a water taxi from Skopelos Town and you'll be able to find numerous secluded coves peppering the coastline, well off the tourist track.