Skiathos’ capital is a thriving Greek town full of fascinating historic pockets, narrow alleyways, and pine-shaded rocks. If you want to orientate yourself before you go, here’s a walkaround of Skiathos Town.
One of the most dramatic things about Skiathos is the plane approach – its short runway is very close to the sea and to the road that leads into town. It’s known as the European St Maarten – watch this landing video on Youtube if you dare!
The airport is right next to Skiathos Town. In fact, it’s walkable, taking just a 30-minute walk to the heart of town. There are no high rises or sprawling industrial areas in Skiathos. It’s compact.
Expect to pay EUR10-15 for a taxi to town. In high season there is an extra bus service which runs north to Xanemos beach, and I have read that this stops at the airport. However, this line wasn’t running when I was in Skiathos so I can’t confirm – I saw no buses to town when I was there.
If you walk for 5 minutes out of the airport you’ll come to a cafe and car park at the end of the runway, where a small crowd who congregate in the sun to watch the planes and catch some of that jet blast.
Ammoudi, the road between the airport and the main part of town, is where the late night action occurs in Skiathos in the summer months. It’s lined with cafe-bar-restaurants which morph gradually into late night bars and clubs with decks for dancing.
The stretch of harbour leading to the Bourtzi is the New Harbour and is home to the town’s marina and docks for ferries and commercial fishing boats. It’s lined with cafes and restaurants which continue around the corner to the Old Port, and the far end near Bourtzi is pedestrianised. In the early evening, it comes alive with locals taking a walk and tourists enjoying happy hour.
The planes also fly in low over the new harbour area.
There’s also a taxi rank and a small shed where you can find information on rooms to rent (for those of you doing it the old fashioned way and finding accommodation at the docks).
The bus stop is at the opposite end of the harbour to the Bourtzi – see Catching the Bus on Skiathos for more info.
Behind the New Harbour is the hilly bit of the town. If you take the steps uphill from the New Harbour you will eventually (hopefully!) reach Agios Nikolaos church. It’s a residential area (and a bit of a maze).
Up here you can find a film location for the scene from Mamma Mia! where Sophie sends the letters to her potential fathers. But it’s also worth the walk up for its a panoramic view over the town.
A little further along is fancy restaurant Windmill – a good choice for a special meal whilst the sun goes down.
You’ll see this word here, there and everywhere in Skiathos Town. The Bourtzi is a small Venetian sea fortress built on an island right opposite the town and used to protect the harbour from Ottoman and pirate attacks.
It was built by the Ghizzis, Venetian lords who ruled over Skiathos in the 1200s.
Of course, it’s no longer either a fortress or an island (it’s joined by a small walkway). In recent centuries it has also been used as a leper colony and primary school.
These days it’s used for cultural events, the open air cinema, and a small Maritime and Cultural Museum. There’s a cafe-restaurant with twinkly lights on the far side, where you can find the toilet with the best view on the island.
As you exit the Bourtzi and turn left you’ll find the Old Port, nowadays used for the Mamma Mia! tourist boats, water taxis and other marine tours. Ferries, fishing boats and yachts to your right (new harbour).
Keep walking around the coast and you’ll eventually reach Plakes, or you can cut in to the streets of the old town.
A wide pedestrianised street cutting through the heart of the Old Town, is Papadiamantis is the main commercial street in Skiathos Town. Here you’ll find creperies, gyros, ice-cream, souvenir shops, hats, bars, banks and mini-markets.
This street (and the airport too) are named after the island’s most famous son – author Alexandros Papadiamantis who is widely regarded as the father of modern Greek literature.
You’ll find his old house just off Papadiamantis Street, it’s now a small museum. Most exhibits are in Greek but if you want to know what a traditional Skiathos house looked like then do look in.
These steps are a well-known landmark in town. They lead down from the main square to the Old Harbour. The comfortable seating that you see belongs to Rock’n’Roll Bar, which is a popular spot for a happy hour cocktail (as is Jasmine next door).
Between the harbours and the Papadiamantis Street are the most manicured streets of the Old Town – with brightly painted wooden balconies, red-tiled roofs and whitewashed walls. Red doors, blue doors, green doors.
But the Old Town is quite a maze and the residential area extends much further than that. Google Maps is no use to you here. Put your phone away and get lost.
Behind the Old Harbour is Plakes, one of the most historic parts of town where balconied old houses seem to drip off the rocks into the sea. Wrought ironwork and draped bougainvillaea hints at former glories.
This is the Skiathos Town of postcards, although it’s a little scruffy in places -especially around the tiny beach (keep going to Megali Ammos if you’re looking for a beach to sunbathe on).
The backstreets of Plakes are the most interesting to wander around. Although there are a few guesthouses it’s not touristy in the sense that the harbour is. There are some dilapidated abandoned buildings and stray cats that will stalk you, then you can turn a corner and come across blue woodwork and beautifully tended plants. It’s a fascinating labyrinth and definitely not as manicured as places like Mykonos.
Keep walking around the coast from Plakes and you’ll eventually come to Megali Ammos, the town-beach-suburb bit of Skiathos Town.
The beach itself is average (the sand is a bit gritty and a dark gold-grey with some pebbles) and narrow, but it’s a good option for a quick dip and there’s an array of beachside cafes and tavernas, plus some good value accommodation. Megali Ammos is only one or two blocks deep.
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