Greek Guide

 

Skyros Holiday Island Greece Greek Holiday Destinations

Skyros is one of the Greek Sporades Islands located in the Aegean Sea 70 kilometres north east of Athens. It's the largest, most southerly and least visited island in the archipelago. Many British and Dutch ex patriates have made the place their home but Skyros has made no effort to cultivate mass tourism so don't come here expecting a huge choice of hotels, glitzy discos and busy beach resorts. Poor transport links have kept package holidaymakers at bay but independent travellers who make their own way here will find one of the most interesting and relaxing holiday destinations in the Aegean.

There are infrequent flights from Athens to the island's military airport but most visitors arrive by ferry from Kimi on the island of Evia. The bus from Athens to Evia (connected to the mainland via a road bridge) takes about three and a half hours then it's a two hour boat ride to Skyros. There are no ferry connections with the other Sporades islands and the former Flying Dolphin service has now been abandoned which rules out Skyros as a popular stop on any island hopping holiday. All this means that by the time you get here you'll be able to enjoy a relatively unspoilt island where age old traditions are preserved without any imminent threat of a tourist takeover.

All boats arrive at the west coast port of Linaria which is 10 kilometres from the capital, Skyros Town, on the other side of the island. These are the only two settlements of any note on the island which is split in two distinct halves the fertile north with its green, rolling hillsides and the barren, inhospitable mountainous region in the south.

The capital is a delightful concoction of whitewashed houses, labyrinthine alleyways and Byzantine churches clinging to a hillside crowned by a 13th century fortress. There aren't many hotels to choose from but anyway most visitors prefer to stay in one of the traditional Skyrian houses which have been converted into unusual holiday accommodation. They offer tourists a taste of island life in rooms adorned with local ceramics, copperware and handmade wooden furniture.

Beyond the capital there's a wonderful long sandy beach at Magazia, just north of the town, and several good beaches along the west coast. But don't expect the wealth of watersports that you find on the more popular islands.

One of the few options for organised watersports is the " New World " Skyros Centre, which has bases in the capital and on the west coast at Atsitsa. The centre offers windsurfing lessons along with a wide range of other courses designed to promote holistic healing. The idea is to get your mind and body in harmony by enrolling in anything from tai chi and reflexology to yoga and creative writing classes.

You can hire a water taxi to visit the pirate grottoes on the south east coast of the island or pay your respects at the grave of famous English poet Rupert Brooke who lies buried at the southern tip of Skyros. The poet visited the island on his way to fight at Gallipoli in 1915 but died of blood poisoning on a French hospital ship anchored offshore.

If you're lucky you may get to see one of the small Syrian ponies which are unique to the island and have been bred here since ancient times. Most of the 100 or so that are left are domestic pets but can occasionally be seen roaming in the vicinity of Brooke's grave.