Heading to the Greek island of Skiathos this year? Here’s a complete rundown on where to stay on Skiathos to help you choose which area of the island to choose, which town, resort or beach is for you, and the best beach hotels – whether you’re booking DIY accommodation or looking for a package vacation.
This resort guide will cover:
- BEST LUXURY HOTELS: Elivi Resort & Spa, Hotel Skiathos Princess Resort, Meltemi Port of Skiathos Hotel
- BEST HOTELS ON THE BEACH: Elivi Resort & Spa, Troulos Bay Hotel, Hotel Skiathos Princess Resort
- SWANKIEST VILLAS: Golden King, Aegean Suites
- BEST RESORT HOTELS FOR FAMILIES: Hotel Skiathos Princess Resort
- BEST HOTEL FOR COUPLES: Atrium Hotel, Cape Kanapitsa Hotel & Suites, Elivi Resort & Spa,
- BEST HOTEL FOR NATURE LOVERS: Skiathos Holidays
- BEST MID-RANGE BOUTIQUE HOTELS: Meltemi Port of Skiathos,
- BEST PLACE TO STAY FOR NIGHTLIFE: Atlas Hotel, Meltemi Port of Skiathos Hotel
- BEST PLACES TO STAY FOR QUIET: Cape Kanapitsa Hotel & Suites, Skiathos Holidays
- BEST FOR SOLO TRAVELLERS: Atlas Hotel, Angeliki Beach Hotel
WHICH PART OF SKIATHOS TO STAY IN?
- NORTH – wild and forested with dirt tracks and remote beaches, no beach resorts
- SOUTH – Skiathos Town and all of the beach resorts are located on the south coast and linked by bus
- WEST – the blockbuster beaches plus walks through Mandraki forest
- EAST – the airport landing strip separates Skiathos Town from the Punta peninsula, Xanemos beach and a cluster of 4 small islets
Skiathos island is green and lush with lots of off-road tracks, but hilly rather than mountainous. It’s about 7 miles long with over 60 beaches.
The capital – Skiathos Town, or Chora – is on the south coast, with most of the beach resorts to its’ west of it but along the south coast’s main road.
Skiathos is popular with package tour operators (particularly UK) thanks to its international airport and generous sandy beaches, but most of the rooms (and nightlife) are in and around the Skiathos Town area. The beach resorts themselves are small and quiet. You’ll definitely feel the presence of the English but it’s not overrun with ‘English Breakfast’ signs, and the scale of development is low key with few hotel monstrosities.
It’s affectionately referred to as the ‘boomerang island’ for the number of return visitors it gets.
Much of island’s accommodation is of the old-fashioned variety, which is good news for those who don’t like change in their destinations. Prices are low, on the whole. Gentrification is on the march though – most obviously at the Elivi end of Koukounaries which is obviously targeting the Mykonos crowd.
During July and August, the visitor numbers swell with Greek mainlanders on their summer holidays, particularly the younger crowd who come for the beach bars and Skiathos Town’s late night vibes.
HOW TO GET THERE: Skiathos is a 25-minute flight from Athens. Alternatively, there are 3 different ways to catch a ferry: from Volos, from Agios Konstantinos and from Mantoudi on Evia. Check Ferries in Greece for schedules and times.
Skiathos has an international airport. It’s is a 25-minute flight from Athens. Return flights to/from London are usually with charter airlines and cost £150+ but keep an eye on Skyscanner to find the cheapest fares.
HOW TO GET AROUND:
Skiathos also has an excellent bus service, one of the best on the islands. Plus water taxis run between Skiathos Town and the main beaches in the summer.
You’ll only need to hire wheels if you want to get to the off-road tracks and secluded beaches on the north coast. Unless you’re familiar with riding a quad or a scooter then I wouldn’t recommend it – every year sees many injuries, plus many insurance policies don’t cover it – instead, rent a Jimny 4×4.
BOAT TAXIS AND TRIPS:
The following have water taxi service in high season:
Skiathos Town is the island’s lively capital and home to most of the island’s resident populations. The focal point of the old town is the Bourtzi island fortress and the Old Port.
The main street is Papadiamantis Street, which starts just opposite where the ferries dock. Here you’ll find cafes offering breakfast and fruit juices, cheap souvlaki joints, souvenir shops and floaty summer clothing. There are also some lively evening bars which can get quite noisy into the early hours during the summer.
Between Papadiamanti Street and the Old Port are the prettiest old town streets, with blue woodwork accents, red tiled roofs, tumbling bougainvillaea and a selection of tavernas and jewellery shops. Head right up to the Plakes area to find the quieter sections of the old town.
The ‘club strip’ is on the airport road – Ammoudia – with large open-air clubs and outdoor cafes where people congregate to watch the planes come in.
To get a feel of Skiathos Town see Skiathos Town – A Visual Walkaround.
Megali Ammos is the first proper beach around the headland due west from Skiathos Town. It’s walkable into town (10-15 minutes, uphill required). and a popular choice with visitors who want the best of both worlds. There are enough tavernas and beach bars to keep you occupied for a few
The beach is narrow does get busy during summer days as it’s so close to town but it quietens down at night.
There are some pleasant walks in the hills. The main road runs a block or two behind the beach (slight uphill) and is on the bus route.
Keep walking down the main road and the beach morphs into Vassilias. It’s not so much a resort as a few hotels placed near a bear.
The sand is a bit grey and gritty and it’s also quite a few steps down to the beach from the main road, but on the plus side this beach doesn’t get too busy – particularly the stretch next to the road. As the road swerves inland, there are a few hotels nestled behind the beach.
The first proper resort that you come to along the coast is Achladies. It’s small but popular – accommodation is never too far from the beachfront here. There are a few friendly tavernas and cafes along the beach and in the backstreets.
Achladies is connected to Skiathos Town by water taxi as well as bus and it does get busy in the summer days, but makes a sensible base for the best of both worlds.
The beach itself is not the most exciting on the island – it’s narrow and a mix of sand and gritty pebbles which can feel quite sharp underfoot, but you there are softer patches at either end of the beach. Nevertheless, it’s clean and popular with families.
The nub of land between Sklithri and Kolios is known as the Kalamaki Peninsula. It’s a lovely quiet area, with some of the island’s prettiest scenery. Kalamaki is popular with Greeks tourists and Germans who appreciate the walking trails which criss-cross the peninsula and visit hidden beaches.
Kalamaki is the most romantic area for couples looking for somewhere tranquil and beautiful, though the distance from the bus stop means you have to be happy with walking or to hire some wheels.
The main area for accommodation is Kanapitsa Bay which incorporates 3 beaches – Sklithri, Tzaneria and Kanapitsa itself. From Kanapitsa Bay you can also walk across the Kalamaki peninsula to Vromolimnos.
Sklithri is the nearest beach to the main road and there’s parking for those who want to visit the waterfront taverna for a fresh fish supper.
Tzaneria is a 5-minute walk down a dirt track that has good parking. It has watersports, a jetty for the water taxi, and a beach bar/taverna which is aiming itself at a lively younger crowd in the summer months.
There are a few mini-markets around for those with self-catering. Accommodation is up in the surrounding hills rather than directly behind the beach so be prepared for steps.
Kanapitsa beach is the next bay around and also has a water taxi and beachfront taverna.
Technically Vromolimnos is also part of the Kalamaki Peninsula, but it feels quite separate.
The beach itself is a 10-15 minute walk off the main road and is one of the nicest beaches on the island, with lovely sand and an inviting eucalyptus fragrance. There’s a small dried-up lake behind the beach adding to the natural atmosphere, and watersports at one end.
The lack of development and access makes it a great place for nature lovers in the shoulder season, and in the summer months, the beach bars here are some of the liveliest (as there are no neighbours to disturb).
Kolios has a lovely sweep of beach with course golden sand, languid shallow waters and lovely sunsets. Despite its decent size, it’s not as busy as some of the other beaches on Skiathos. The vibe here is quiet and traditional.
There are small boats for hire so you can reach one of the tiny secluded beaches along the coast. Parking is available, and it’s walking distance to Agia Paraskevi for food and amenities.
Agia Paraskevi (also sometimes known as Platanias) is one of the best beaches on Skiathos – it’s wide, long (600m) and sandy and suitable for families, with gentle waves and watersports available.
It’s a beach of two halves really, with the luxury resort Hotel Skiathos Princess encroaching on the western end and offering day beds and fancy loungers for guests.
There’s little development directly on the beach itself. Towards the eastern end, you’ll find a few beach bars and tavernas. The beach is backed by pines and a patch of scrub with eucalyptus trees and grasses, parking spaces, and the remains of an ambitious development. Behind this, you’ll find the main road and bus stops.
Agia Paraskevi is the most resort-y feeling of all the settlements along the south coast. It has a few sports bars and mini markets selling inflatables and poolside reading. It’s one of the best places on Skiathos for families with young children.
Troulos is a favourite with return visitors to the island for its lovely beach and a good variety of restaurants. If you’re a looking for a base with plenty of eateries so you don’t have to trek into Skiathos Town for your evening meal then Troulos is probably your best bet.
It’s quite spread out – with hotels and apartments lining the secondary roads out of town as well as the main road. There are two bus stops in Troulos, one in the main village and one nearer the beach.
The sand is soft and nearly as nice as at nearby Koukounaries, with a lovely view over the domed islet opposite which gives Troulos its name (the word means domed). There are a few basic tavernas by the sea – no loud music here, so popular with young families and mature couples who appreciate its simplicity.
The most famous beach in Skiathos is Koukounaries. It’s one of the best sandy beaches in all of Greece – and you’ll understand once you see it. This beautiful crescent of fine golden sand is ringed by picturesque pine forest, lending the water a dazzling emerald colour. The waters are crystal clear and shallow, perfect for kids (and big kids).
The area behind the beach is a protected natural area comprising pines and Lake Strofilia, a unique wetlands habitat. This means no permanent development on the beach – just a few wooden beach cafes/bars linked by a boardwalk. The dive centre is at one end, watersports at the other. There’s also a small pier where you can catch water taxis to other destinations on the island and mainland as well as boat trips.
Koukounaries village is not a large resort. There’s one road with low-slung development, and accommodation options are more limited than you might expect.
It’s the last stop for the Skiathos coastal bus end (and the bus heading back into town gets very busy in the late afternoon/evening). If Koukounaries gets too busy for your liking there are a number of other beaches to explore in the area, some of them requiring a walk through the beautiful Mandraki Forest.
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Image credits: all images © The Mediterranean Traveller