Skiathos Island & Town Greece - Greek Holiday Destinations
Skiathos is one of the Greek Sporades Islands located in the Aegean Sea off the east coast of Thessaly's Pelion Peninsula. It's the party playground of the Sporades and has become one of the most popular holiday spots among the package holiday hordes who migrate to the Greek islands each summer. It boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the whole of Greece, a lively summer nightlife and a wealth of tourist facilities geared to the needs of huge numbers of visitors from northern Europe (mainly Britain and Scandinavia).
This used to be a jet set island favoured by the rich and famous who arrived here on luxury yachts, lured by some of the Mediterranean's best beaches. You'll still find a fair number of sleek yachts bobbing in the harbour and cruising the coastline but the advent of an international airport has transformed Skiathos into tour operator territory. Most hotels here are block booked by the package holiday industry more than a year in advance so you'd be unwise to pitch up without a reservation in high season.
You can take a direct charter flight to the island from several European destinations, fly in from Athens with Olympic Airways or hop on a boat or Flying Dolphin from the mainland ports of Volos or Agios Konstantinos. There are summer ferry services to the other islands in the archipelago and to several of the Cycladic Islands including Tinos, Mykonos, Paros and Santorini.
If you come by boat you'll arrive at Skiathos Town on the eastern side of the island where much of the holiday accommodation and nightlife are centred. The place is awash with bars, banks, internet cafes, shops, restaurants and various other tourist paraphernalia. Much of the old part of the town was destroyed by German bombs in WW2 but if you explore the narrow cobbled streets set back from the waterfront you'll find the place still has its charms. Whitewashed houses with red-tiled roofs are adorned with brightly painted shutters and colourful balconies bursting with vivid bougainvillea and sweet smelling jasmine. Stay in or near the town if shopping is one of your main missions because there's a huge variety of shops to choose from - chic boutiques, tacky souvenir shops, good quality arts and crafts centres and some classy jewellers.
The coastline leading south of the town as far as the south west corner of the island is lined with hotels, villas and tavernas all trying to sate the demands of the high season hordes that pack the wonderful but crowded south coast beaches.
Famous Koukounaries Beach, backed by a beautiful lagoon and flanked by a protected pine forest, deservedly has a reputation as one of the loveliest beaches in Greece. Much-photographed Lalaria Beach, on the island's north coast is only accessible by boat but that doesn't deter the many tourists who come here to marvel at the limestone archways, glistening white pebbles shimmering through aquamarine water and spectacular grottoes.
If you want to escape the madding crowds and explore the island's interior you'll find a hikers' paradise of hidden valleys, deserted monasteries and lonely trails where the wild birds are likely to be your only company. It's also possible to find quiet, secluded coves if you're prepared to stray some distance from the beaten track.