General Information on Skiathos
Skiathos, even though it is the smallest island of the Sporades chain, is the most cosmopolitan. With a surface area of about 50km², the island is inhabited by approximately 6,200 people. Due to its position, only two hours away from Volos by ferry, it is the most crowded and tourist island of the cluster. Package tourists from Europe and wealthy visitors from all over the world come to Skiathos in summer.
Holidays in Skiathos are ideal for those who love nightlife, shopping, crowded beaches and entertainment. However, the island has managed to keep its authenticity and it can still offer an alternative way of spending your holidays. Picturesque walks, few quiet beaches, an interesting landscape and the lovely town of the island are the way.
History of Skiathos
The name “Skiathos” was given to the island in the pre-Hellenic period. There are two alternatives about the origin of the name. According to the first, the name was given by the Pelasgians, who were the first inhabitants, because they were impressed by the great shadow (skia in Greek) of the many trees they found there. According to the other version, the island took its name after Dionysus, the main god on the island, as his cult name was “Skianthos”.
After its first settlers, Skiathos was inhabited by Cretans and then by Mycenaeans. During the Persian Wars, Skiathos was a great help to the Athenians and its harbor was used as a fleet base. In 478 B.C., the island became a member of the Athenian League. After the Peloponnesian War (404 B.C.), Skiathos gained its autonomy. Despite the efforts of the Spartians to conquer the island, Skiathos managed to stay free.
Under the Macedonian rule and the enforcement of a tyranny, the inhabitants of Skiathos suffered very much. In 146 B.C., the Romans took the island and gave many liberties to the Skiathians who lived peacefully until 88 B.C. when the King of Pontus Mithridates the 6th destroyed the island in the war against the Romans. During the Byzantine period, Skiathos was part of the province of Thessaly and its bishop belonged to the Metropolis of Larissa.
In 1204 A.D. Crusaders conquered Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire fell. All its territories went to the Crusaders except for the Aegean islands which were given to the Venetians. During this period, Skiathos, similarly to Skopelos, was ruled by the Ghisi family, with the help of Marco Sanudo (Duke of Naxos). The Venetians, with the acquiescence of the Skiathians, stayed on the island until 1538 when the Ottomans managed to conquer it. In 1830, Skiathos became free along with the rest of Greece. In World War II, the island suffered from the Nazis. On 14 September 1943, the Nazis sank a submarine with Skiathian heroes and on 23 August 1944 they burned the island and executed seven young Skiathians. Those two dates are commemorated today and are among the most important dates in the history of the island.
Towns & Villages in Skiathos
Skiathos Town: Skiathos has only one settlement, Skiathos Town, which is the port and capital of the island. The settlement is built amphitheatrically on the southeastern tip of the island and it is composed by whitewashed houses with tiled roofs and narrow alleys. The town is cosmopolitan with many restaurants, tourist offices, shops, cafes, bars and clubs that stay open all night long.
Beaches in Skiathos
Koukounaries: This is the most famous beach of Skiathos. It has soft white sand and it is very long and clean. Next to the beach, there is a pine-tree forest. Due to its natural and untouched beauty, the environment is protected. The beach is well organized and gets very crowded. The region around the beach is full of taverns and hotel units.
Achladies: The beach is located 2km from the capital and it is reachable on foot, or by car, local bus and boat. It is a sandy and fully organized beach with crystal clear waters.
Kanapitsa: It is located 5km from the capital. It is an organized beach with sand, few trees on the edges and easy access.
Kolios: It is situated 10km from the capital. It is a round-shaped organized beach with sand and turquoise waters, ideal for sea sports. The beach is accessible by car as it is connected with the main road of the island.
Banana: It is located 10km from the capital and it is reachable by a dirt road from Koukounaries. The beach took its name because of its shape. It is a sandy and organized beach. Right next to Banana, a nudist beach in a small bay called “Small Banana” is located, which is quieter and smaller than its neighbour.
Megali Ammos: It is located within walking distance of Skiathos Town. It is organized, sandy with taverns and hotels.
Megas Gialos: It is located approximately 2km from the capital and it has grayish sand, no people and no tourist facilities.
Troulos: It is situated 7km from the capital in a small cove. It is an organized, sandy beach with pine trees, reachable by the main road or by taxi-boat from the capital.
Vromolimnos: It is located 7km from the capital. It is a long, organized, sandy beach with emerald waters, a tavern and a variety of sea sport facilities.
Tzaneria: It is located 8km from Skiathos Town. It is well-organized, sandy with easy access.
Top Things to Do in Skiathos
1. Evangelistra Monatery: this monastery is situated 5km north of Skiathos Town. It has some amazing surroundings and it is open for the public. A small museum with various objects from its history, an excellent shop and the friendly animals that live here will impress you.
2. Kounistra monastery: This monastery is further away from the capital and there is no bus service in the area. The monastery was built in the 17th century, after a monk found an icon of Virgin Mary hanging from a tree in the same spot. The name of the monastery means “the swinging”. During the Ottoman rule the monastery was a school.
3. Kastro: it is the fortified former capital of the island built in the 14th century on a rock outcrop. It was built as a refuge from marauding pirates, notably the Ghisi brothers, and commands a dramatic position over the sea. It used to house more than 20 churches and 300 homes. Only two churches have survived time and several half-hearted attempts at restoration. Parts of the wall and gate of the old fort still stand. You can get there on foot (3hours) or by boat which leaves from the capital on daily basis.
4. House of Alexander Papadiamantis: This is the house of Skiathos’ most famous man, writer Alexander Papadiamantis. Considered today one of Greece’s best writers of modern prose, he wrote some 170 short stories and several novellas. The house was built by his grandfather in 1850-1860 and was bought by the Ministry of Culture in 1994. Nowadays, the house is the only museum of Skiathos and exhibits a small collection documenting the life of the writer.
How to Reach Skiathos
Air: There are several flights to Athens all year round, while during summer, numerous charter flights connect Skiathos to several European cities.
Sea: During summer, there are ferries from Skiathos to Volos (3 ½ hours), Agios Konstantinos (3 ½ hours), and Alonnisos (2 hours) via Glossa and Skopelos Town (1 ½ hours). There are also severak hydrofoil services connecting Skiathos to Volos (1 ¼ hours), Agios Konstantinos (1 ½ hours) and Thessaloniki (4 ½ hours).
Getting Around in Skiathos
Bus: Crowded buses leave Skiathos Town for Koukounaries Beach every half- hour. The buses stop at all access points to the beaches along the south coast.
Excursion Boat: Excursion boats travel to most of the south-coast beaches from the old port of the capital.
Weather in Skiathos
Skiathos has a very nice climate. It has mild winters with high precipitation, and summers, sunny and warm, are not as hot as in the Cyclades islands. Like almost all the islands, Skiathos also has the summer winds called “meltemia”.
Top 10 Destinations in Skiathos
All Destinations in Skiathos
Map of Skiathos