Despite having an international airport and renowned beaches, the Greek island of Skiathos is surprisingly diminutive in size. It’s a perfect stop if you want to island hop around the Sporades, or explore the Mamma Mia! filming locations in the area, or are looking for a beach-focused island destination.
There aren’t too many historic sites or cultural attractions in the Sporades islands. The main appeal here is the beautiful landscape, cool summer winds and pretty towns.
So it doesn’t take too long to see the best of Skiathos. Any trip here is bound to be focused around 4 things: exploring Skiathos Town, walking in the pine-clad north of the island, beaches and boat trips.
For a short stay I recommend staying in Skiathos Town unless you’re determined to be on the beach (see Where to Stay on Skiathos for more)To give you an idea of what to do in Skiathos here’s how I would arrange a perfect 3-day itinerary:
DAY 1 – Skiathos Town
Skiathos Town is the main place for people to stay on the island. The old part of town around the harbour and several streets back is charming and a bit of a maze (I got lost for a while trying to find my hotel).
First up, grab a coffee and some breakfast if you haven’t already – I like the fruit and yoghurt at Foodies. Or the decadent sweet treats at Ariston (new harbour). Or you could walk to the Bourzti for coffee something fancy, and it’s a good place to orientate yourself.
Spend the morning exploring the alleyways of Skiathos Town (check out my visual guide to Skiathos Town).
Wandering around town won’t take you the whole day, so the afternoon you have a few options:
- take the red bus line up to Evanglistria monastery
- hop on a boat to the tiny islet Tsougria if you can find a half-day trip running (more likely in high season)
- walk to the beach at Megali Ammos
- plane-spotters head to Amaretto Cafe to watch the planes come in
- take the bus to one of the further beaches; I recommend Kanapitsa if doing this
Back in Skiathos for the eevning, head back to the Bourtzi for a sunset cocktail. In the summer there’s an open-air cinema that shows recent releases – we well as Mamma Mia at least once a week.
Bourtzi also does food so you can grab dinner there, though carnivores might want to head to Kozianis Grillhouse instead. Budget travellers can grab a cheap wrap at No Name Gyros.
DAY 2 – Pine Forests and Beaches
Take the bus to the end of the line – Koukounaries. This is the heartland of the best beaches on the island. It can get a bit noisy and busy during the summer so if you prefer quieter beaches there are some great ones in the area that require a walk (or an off-road vehicle, if you’re prepared to rent).
There are plenty of great walks in the area to entertain non-beach-bums. Watersports are also available on Koukounaries beach, including SUP and kayaks.
For more info see:
The best beach for sunsets is Big Banana so check out Nest Beach Bar for a swanky cocktail. Note that there’s no longer vehicle access to Banana Beach and it’s a steep-ish 10-minute walk. Alternatively, Agia Eleni also has a great sunset beach bar – and cheaper beers.
Grab dinner at Under the Pine Tree grillhouse (which also does big salads, perfect for vegetarians) before catching the bus or water taxi back to Skiathos Town.
DAY 3 – Boat Trip
Skiathos has some great boat trips, and in fact some of its best attractions can only be seen by boat – the famous beach of Lalaria with its bright waters, and nearby Kastro – the original capital of the island. Most day-long island boat tours take in boat plus one more beach stop (sometimes at Tsougria or on the mainland).
Trips to Lalaria don’t run if the winds are too strong though. And try to take an early one as from 4pm onwards (in summer anyway) the cliffs shade the beach.
If you’re a hardcore Mamma Mia! fan then the best boat trip for you is probably the Skopelos tour on Poseidon.
It’s worth noting that there are several boats offering a Mamma Mia! tour (Poseidon, Kalypso, Agios Nikolaos) if you actually want to walk up to the chapel where the wedding took place (surely the highlight!) then take the Poseidon. The others just sail past. Other stops may vary according to the weather.
See Mamma Mia! Boat Trip with Poseidon for a review of this boat trip.
After getting off the boat hit up Rockn’Roll, Ginfish or Jasmine Bar for happy hour cocktails.
If you’re after a celebratory last dinner, make a reservation for The Windmill and enjoy its panoramic views.
Read more about Skiathos:
Lalaria: © Cara-Foto / Adobe Stock
All other photos © The Mediterranean Traveller