General Information on Skopelos
Skopelos is part of the Sporades group of islands and it is located between Skiathos and Alonissos. With a surface area of about 90km², it is inhabited by approximately 5,000 people. Skopelos is the greenest island in Greece, with more than 50% of its area covered by a virgin forest of pine-trees.
The island has fewer tourists than its neighbouring Skiathos. However, its many beauties attract many visitors and the island is getting busier and touristier every year. The combination of great vegetation, excellent sandy and pebble beaches, and the impressive landscape makes the island ideal for visitors who seek calm and peace, but not isolation, in a place of great beauty.
History of Skopelos
The island was inhabited probably in the Neolithic period. Its ancient name was Peparethos and it is mentioned by the pre-Hellenic people of Asia Minor who settled in the Aegean region in the period 2800-2000 B.C. The island took its ancient name after one of the two sons of Ariadne and god Dionysus.
Around 1600 B.C., Cretans settled on the island and later Skopelos was taken by the Dolopians who used it as a military base for many centuries. In the 5th century B.C. during the Persian Wars, the island remained neutral and when the wars ended, Skopelos became a member of the Athenian League and installed a democratic political system.
Later, the island was successively conquered by the tyrant Alexander of Pherres, the Macedonians and the Romans. In the 2nd century A.D., Ptolemy the Geographer was the first who referred to the island by the name “Skopelos”. The island has kept this name since then. The 4th century A.D. was the beginning of 800 years of Byzantine rule, from which very little historical evidence remains. In 1204, the Venetians conquered the island which became part of the Duchy of Naxos. In 1538, the Ottomans under the command of pirate Barbarossa attacked the island and killed most of its inhabitants. In 1830, Skopelos, which participated in the Revolution of 1821, became part of the new Greek State.
Towns & Villages in Skopelos
Skopelos Town: It is the capital and the main port of the island. This wonderful town is built amphitheatrically in the heart of a bay. The whitewashed houses with red tiled roofs, flower gardens and balconies are the first thing you notice the moment you arrive. As you start wandering in its narrow streets and alleys, the island reveals its many hidden “treasures”. Many fountains and small churches (according to locals, 150 small churches are stuffed in the streets of the capital) appear in every corner. The steps, in the heart of the capital, lead to the most beautiful part of the capital, a site called Kastro. It is located on the top of the hill and owes its name to the fortress built there in 340 B.C. by Philip the 2nd of Macedonia. The view from the top of Kastro is amazing.
Glossa village: The second main settlement of Skopelos is a picturesque village with a stunning position high over the sea (250m), 25km north of Skopelos Town. The architecture of the village is inspired by Macedonia and features two-storey houses with wooden balconies and tiled roofs. The village is surrounded by pine-forests. The port of Glossa is called Loutraki and it is the second largest port on the island.
Elios: It is a quite new settlement, located 19km west of Skopelos Town. It was built in 1981, after the destruction of the village of Klima by the strong earthquakes of 1965. The village is not particularly beautiful, but the long beach of Elios is very good.
Beaches in Skopelos
Milia: it is located 13km from Skopelos Town and it is considered, by many, the most beautiful beach on the island. It is a long and wide sandy beach extending nearly a kilometer alongside pine-trees. The beach is organized and during high season it gets very crowded.
Veliano: it is located 1.5km north of Skopelos Town and it used to be a favorite with nudists. The bay is wide and the beach is organized, long and sandy with very clear waters.
Stafylos: it is located 5km south of Skopelos Town. From the road, stone steps lead you down to the lovely pebbled bay with fine grey sand and crystal clear waters. The beach is organized, and because of the proximity to the town, Stafylos has become one of the most popular beaches on the island.
Agnondas: it is located 8km south of Skopelos Town. The paved road from Stafylos beach leads to a lovely bay, where the beautiful pebbled beach of Agnondas is found. The bay is the third port on the island and ships and ferries arrive here, when winds do not let them anchor in the other two ports. The small village above the beach is lovely and quiet and has few rooms for rent and taverns.
Limnonari: it is located 9km south of Skopelos Town and it is considered one of the best beaches on the island. The beach is organized and has white, soft sand. The waters appear to be green, because of the forest of pine-trees which is right next to the beach.
Perivolou: it is located 27km northwest of Skopelos Town. This secluded sandy beach is surrounded by pine-trees, which reach the level of the sea, and impressive rock formations. The beach is not organized and it is reachable on foot or by boat.
Hovolos: it is located 19km west of Skopelos Town. There are many beaches in this area. Three of them, under the name Hovolos, are very nice with sand and clear waters. None of them is organized or has easy access. The path that leads to these beaches is difficult, but they are worth the trouble.
Top Things to Do in Skopelos
1. The monastery of St. Barbara: The monastery has the appearance of a fortress and it is nowadays deserted. The church and the very high walls of the enclosure maintain their original form, though the cells are of later construction. The date of its founding is not known, though a marble slab that was found mentions the year 1697, but it is more likely that it is older.
2. The Venetian castle of Skopelos: it is situated on the site of the island’s oldest settlement Peparethos. It forms one unit with the rest of the town. The castle is visible from every part of the town and you can go there by climbing the steps from the church Panagista tou Purgou at the edge of the port. Today, the castle is of both archaeological and tourist interest.
3. Bishop seat of Skopelos: The bishop seat Episcope with its Basilica church inside is a Venetian building and was predestined as seat of Skopelos’ bishop but remained unfinished because of the invasion of pirate Barbarossa in 1538. It was rebuilt between the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century.
4. St. John of the small castle (kastri): The small church of St. John is located on an amazing rock which looks like it came from Meteora. The rock is connected with the mainland by a narrow piece of land with steps.
How to Reach Skopelos
Sea: in summer, there are ferry sevices to Volos (4 ½ hours), Agios Konstantinos (4 ½ hours) and Skiathos (1 ½ hours). Other services (mainly hydrofoil) during summer include Alonissos, Skiathos, Volos, Agios Konstantinos and Thessaloniki.
Getting Around in Skopelos
There are buses from Skopelos Town all the way to Glossa/Loutraki. Also, there are less frequent buses to Milia and Agnontas.
You can also Rent a Car in Skopelos using Greece.com's Skopelos Car Rental Engine.
Weather in Skopelos
Skopelos has the same climate as the other Sporades islands. It is characterized by mild, rainy winters and warm, sunny summers during which the summer north winds “meltemia” blow, reducing the temperature.
Top 10 Destinations in Skopelos
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Map of Skopelos