General Information on Skyros
Skyros is the most isolated island of the Sporades chain. With a surface area of about 209km², it is inhabited by approximately 3,000 (2003) people. This remarkable island has two very distinct regions, north and south, separated by a narrow neck of land where most of the permanent population lives. While the northern half is green, fertile and smothered in pine forests, the south is bare and barren, scoured by harsh winds.
Due to its geographical isolation, Skyros preserves its distinctive character and customs. The island has a limited number of hotels and tourism is low. Skyros is a very quiet island and the few summer visitors don’t disturb the routine of the inhabitants.
History of Skyros
Skyros has been inhabited since the Stone Age, and finds have been excavated in the area of Castro. The first inhabitants of the island were Kares, Pelazyi and Dolopes. Dolopes were pirates and a threat to the commercial fleet in the northeastern Aegean.
In 476 B.C., the Athenians sent general Kimon to Skyros as executor of the Amphictionic League. He expelled the Dolopian pirates and brought Athenians to colonize the island. Later on, the island came under the rule of the Macedonians and then the Romans who donated Skyros to the Athenians.
During the middle Byzantine period, Skyros benefited from its economic prosperity and became a Bishopric. After Constantinople fell to the Crusaders, in 1204, Skyros was ruled by the Venetians. From the late 14th century A.D. and until 1718, the island passed many times between Ottomans and Venetians, until the final defeat of the Venetians (1718). Skyros was liberated from the Ottomans, along with the rest of the Sporades in 1829.
Towns & Villages in Skyros
Hora: The capital of the island is built on the summit of Mountain Olympus. The first impression of the village is not good, but as you walk to the inner part things change. White cubic houses stacked on top of each other face inland and create a unique layout. The reason for this odd architecture is the attempt of the inhabitants, in the past, to avoid attention of passing pirates. The subsequent fiendish maze of steep and narrow alleys of Hora is ideal for walking. However, it is easy to get lost, so pay attention to where you go or even better take a compass with you.
Linaria: it is the main port of the island and it is located around 10km from the capital Hora. In addition, Linaria is the only settlement on Skyros apart from Hora. It is a small picturesque village with excellent taverns and beaches within walking distance. Furthermore, this is the starting point for boat trips around the island.
Beaches in Skyros
Magazia: This is a long sandy beach only a ten-minute walk from Hora. The area is fast developing, but it is still beautiful despite the usual tourist traps. Because Magazia beach is the closest one to the main town of Skyros, it gets crowded during high summer season.
Papa ta Homata: The name of the beach translates roughly to “land of the priest” but it is irrelevant. This is the unofficial nudist beach of the island. It is a sandy beach with clear waters. However, access through the narrow cliff path is not easy.
Agios Petros: At the location of Kalogrias to the north side of the island, there are a few beaches. Among them, Agios Petros is the best. It is a sandy beach backed with magnificent dunes and no facilities.
Kalamitsa: it is one of the best beaches on the island of Skyros. It is long with sand and pebbles and has few facilities like taverns, a windsurfing club and cafes.
Aheronnas: It is a small but beautiful beach with few taverns around. Agios Pefkos, a long, sandy and full of pine trees beach, is found nearby.
Top Things to Do in Skyros
1. Palamari: A Bronze Age settlement, with remains of original streets and houses, is located in this area. It was built around 3,000 B.C. and flourished for a millennium.
2. Brooke’s Tomb: Brooke’s tomb is set in a small olive grove in an otherwise desolate location near Tris Boukes bay in the south west of the island. The tomb was restored by the Royal Navy in 1961 and it isn’t the site of the original grave. There are two ways to visit the tomb. The first is to take a boat to Tris Boukes bay and then follow the track up the valley. The other way is by car, but the road is not in a very good condition.
3. Skyros Pony: The south side of the island is home to the wild and tiny Skyrian ponies. They are rare these days, but in the past few years efforts have been made to increase their numbers.
How to Reach Skyros
Getting Around in Skyros
In high season there are five buses daily from Skyros capital to Linaria and Molos. Buses to both Skyros and Molos end at the point where boats dock at Linaria. Bus services to Kalamitsa, Pefkos and Atsitsa are organized on an ad hoc basis during summer.
Weather in Skyros
The weather in Skyros is similar to the other Sporades islands. The weather during winter season can be full of rains and storms, but generally it calms around April and by the end of May days are hot.
Top 10 Destinations in Skyros
All Destinations in Skyros
Map of Skyros