Those looking to go island-hopping in Greece, but wanting to avoid of large-scale tourism, should consider visiting these hidden treasures of the Sporades islands’ complex.
SKIATHOS AND SKOPELOS
Skiathos and Skopelos are two of four permanently inhabited islands of the Sporades, an archipelago located along the east coast of Greece. Beautiful pine forests, mountainous landscapes, rich architecture, golden beaches, and the bright blue waters of the Aegean Sea are all key features of the islands.
One may reach these islands by catching a ferry from the port of Volos or closer to Athens, from Aghios Konstantinos The closer and first of the two islands is Skiathos, which can be seen from the coast of Pelion, about 50 miles away.
A little over 6,000 people call this island home, making Skiathos the most populated of the Sporades. Dubbed the “Emerald Island” by its inhabitants, Skiathos’ 20 square miles are blanketed by forests, providing privacy to its islanders. Several ports and coves are accessible only by boat, offering further peace and quiet for those wanting to get away.
Skiathos is not without its city life, though. The biggest city, named for the island, is home to a multitude of restaurants, bars, and shops, providing more cosmopolitan entertainment to its guests.
Skiathos is an excellent place for those looking to make a spiritual journey. The island is home to several monasteries dating as far back as the 15th century. The best known monastery on the island is Panagia Evangelistria, about 3 miles north of Skiathos city. This orthodox monastery is home to monks that make and distribute their own wine.
For a day on the beach, travelers can take their pick from many shorelines, including modest and nudist beaches. Sea exploration can be had from many of these beaches in the form of snorkeling, scuba diving, and boat tours.
For food lovers, Skiathos boasts a variety of delicious local dishes. Anyone visiting the island should try the hortopita, a local variation on the traditional Greek herb pie. If one has a sweet tooth, they can try the amygdalota, a macaroon made from almonds or try loukoumades as well.
After visiting Skiathos, the next destination for the aspiring island-hopper should be Skopelos, the second largest island by square miles in the Sporades. This island’s history reigns back from neolithic and ancient times, King Staphylos (son of the wine god Dionysus !), founded the city-state during the time of Ancient Greece.
The island gained modern attention when Hollywood used the island as a filming location for “Mamma Mia!” in 2007. The chapel on the island, Agios Ioannis, has since become a popular wedding destination.
Archaeological ruins abound on this island, much to the history lover’s pleasure. The city and port of Hora, the island’s capital, is centered on a medieval castle that can still be seen and visited to this day.
The tomb of Staphylos can be visited as well, though many of its artifacts are now located in the museum of Volos. Skopelos is also known for a famous pirate gravesite, Sedoukia Pirate Graves, home to the pirates who inhabited the island during the time of the Ottoman Empire.
Skiathos and Skopelos host a number of sites to see and activities for the whole family to enjoy. Check Skiathos travel guide and Skopelos travel guide, to get more information about the islands.
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