One of the most beautiful Greek islands one can come across is the amazing Skopelos, which is an attraction for many tourists every year. Skopelos is a magical destination, beloved both by the inhabitants of the country and those abroad who decide to visit Greece for their vacations. In recent years, and especially after the production of the film 'Mamma mia', visits to Skopelos - but also to all the Sporades - have increased rapidly.
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Skopelos belongs to the archipelago of the Sporades, and more specifically of the Northern Sporades, being the second island of the Sporades after the equally popular Skiathos.
In ancient times, Skopelos was known as ‘Peparithos and’ was famous for its wine. It is said that it was originally inhabited by Cretans, whose leader was Stafylos, who was the son of Ariadne. The current name was given during the Hellenistic period. It is most likely that it was named ‘Skopelos’ in the 4th century AD.
Reasons to visit Skopelos
Skopelos - credits: ellinikifoni.gr
1. For its delectable local cuisine. Skopelos’ plum, known around the world for its antioxidant property, is included in most of the traditional dishes that you should try to taste. The ‘rofos’ fish stew, beef or pork with plums, and plum spoon sweet are some of the traditional dishes that will ignite your senses. Of course, you should not forget the Skopelos’ cheese pie, ‘hamalia’ and macaroons.
2. With dense forests that cover almost 80% of its land, Skopelos is considered the greenest island in the Aegean, with good tourist infrastructure, but also with an unspoiled traditional character.
3. Skopelos is an island with wonderful contrasts, a continuous journey through time. It has a very rich and varied natural environment and despite its small size, it presents rare geomorphology with strong contrasts and many areas of high ecological value.
5. The more adventurous visitors can climb a hundred steps carved into the rock and enjoy the stunning view of the north, steep side of the island. Next to Ai-Giannis is the Cave, an enclosed space reminiscent of a swimming pool. In the direction of Perivoliou, it is worth visiting the homonymous beach with the rich seabed and the Gourouni Lighthouse which is an architectural masterpiece.
How to get there
Skopelos port - credits: fineartamerica.com
There are four options to reach Skopelos: through the cities of Volos, Agios Konstantinos, Thessaloniki, and the island of Kymi.
If you decide to reach Skopelos from Northern Greece, the only way to do so is by embarking on the ship from Volos. If you are coming from the South of Greece, then you can choose between Agios Konstantinos and Kymi. Last but not least, you can also access Skopelos from the city of Thessaloniki by boat.
The journey from Volos to Skopelos takes about 3:30 hours by regular boat, about 2:30 hours by catamaran, and 2:20 hours by flying dolphins. On the other hand, the journey from Agios Konstantinos to Skopelos takes about 4 hours by regular boat, about 2:40 hours by catamaran, and 2:40 hours by flying dolphins.
You can reach Agios Konstantinos by KTEL Buses. There is a daily response from the Intercity Bus Station in Athens to Agios Konstantinos. The route is 165 km long and it takes about 1 hour and 55 minutes.
You can also reach Skopelos by taking the airplane to Skiathos. From there, you can arrive at Skopelos by ferry. There are daily 3-4 ferries that make the route from Skiathos to Skopelos. Skiathos Airport is a small regional airport that serves the needs of the Sporades. Airline tickets are available on the internet and there are daily flights to and from the island.
The best towns and villages to explore
Skopelos' Chora - credits: greeka.com
First and foremost, the doll-like capital of Skopelos, Chora, looks as if it belongs to the Cyclades. As you look at it from afar, the first thing you notice is a sea of tiled roofs on white houses that seem to lean against each other. Its alleys zigzag up amid whitewashed terraces, stained glass windows, and domed churches that sprout here and there.
The largest and oldest settlement in Skopelos, Chora, is attached to rigid hills in a protected natural harbor. The city center is car-free and has labyrinth-like alleys and stairwells surrounded by impressive bougainvillea plants. Like most regions of Skopelos, there is no part of its Chora that stands far from a cute little church. There are only 120 churches alone in this city, with the oldest standing tall since the 11th century.
Glossa - credits: agnitravel.com
The second-largest settlement of the island, after Chora, is located 25 km north. Stretched across the slope of a hill, the picturesque Glossa appears amphitheatrically built after a winding turn of the road. Narrow alleys, manicured houses of traditional architecture, and colorful corners compose its appearance.
If you find yourself in this village, do not forget to try local delicacies in some of the taverns and homemade plum spoon sweet from the women's agricultural cooperative "Glossotissa". The view of the sea from Glossa is spectacular, and different at almost every step, while catching a sunset there will be one of the highlights of your trip to the island.
Neo Klima - credits: hovoloapartments.gr
At a distance of 18 Km from Skopelos and next to the sea is the village of Elios or Neo Klima. This new settlement was created in 1981, after the destruction of Klima by the earthquakes of 1965. This area of Skopelos, where Elios was built, is pine-covered, enchanting, with the beautiful sandy beach of Holovos. There is a beach along the entire length of the village, many rooms to let and hotels, cafes, and restaurants
Paleo Klima - credits: skopelos.gr
Paleo Klima is a village near the sea, with rich vegetation. There you can find olive trees, pines, plum trees, and vineyards. It is 26 km northwest of Chora. There used to be two settlements, Pano and Kato Klima. The latter was destroyed by landslides and transported to the location of Elios or Neo Klima.
Loutraki Glossas - credits: skopelosports.gr
The winding road that descends the slope from Glossa, brings you to Loutraki, the secondary port of the island -the main one is in Chora. Loutraki is located around 35 km northwest of Skopelos’ Chora. It belongs to the community of Glossa, from which it is 2 km away.
The best beaches in Skopelos
Kastani beach - credits: autotriti.gr
Kastani beach became famous from the movie 'Mama Mia' and not unjustly. Kastani is located right next to Milia beach and at a distance of 21 km from Skopelos’ Chora. The two beaches -Milia and Kastani- are connected only by a path that passes over the rocks that seemingly separate them.
In Kastani, there is a large beach bar that utilizes a part of the beach with sunbeds. Before the beach, there is free parking space available. If you do not want to experience the fully organized side of Kastani, make sure to bring your own beach umbrella with you because in Kastani there is no shade after the morning hours.
People love Kastani because its sandy beach with crystal clear waters is combined with the modern comforts that a well-organized beach can offer and create a destination of relaxation and beauty. It is about 24 minutes from the port by car.
Stafylos beach - credits: greeka.com
Stafylos is the beach that you have seen more times than any other beach of Skopelos on social media. A beautiful pine-covered cove with absolutely transparent, shockingly shallow waters, sand, and fine pebbles. Due to the fact that it is stunning and extremely family-friendly, it comes as no surprise that it gather quite a lot of people. Do not leave the island if you do not visit the coast of Stafylos, a breath away from Chora, as it is separated from it by only 4 km.
Milia beach - credits: hellas-beach.gr
Famous and cosmopolitan, with waters reminiscent of an exotic island, fine pebbles, and tufted pines that reach the sea, Milia beach is a sight to behold. A rock divides it in two, with the left part being busier -and organized- and the second somewhat quieter. The sunset looks magical from here; don’t miss it for the world!
Panormos beach - credits: travelstyle.gr
Pebbled and majestic, Panormos is one of the largest and most popular beaches on the island. It is also a spot from where one can admire a spectacular sunset. Late in the afternoon, just before sunset, its waters become golden, making your dives in its shimmering waters unforgettable. Panormos beach is fully organized. If you’re traveling with your kids, please keep in mind that the waters deepen abruptly. It is located 15 km west of Chora.
Limnonari beach - credits: tripadvisor.com
If you’re a fan of fluffy sand in the bottom of the sea, the Limnonari beach is for you. It has crystal clear waters and a wonderful frame of pine trees behind it. It is also organized and very popular. There may not be many beaches where you can sunbathe while you see wild kids jumping from rock to rock. However, is exactly what takes place on the beach of Limnani, just 10 km from the town of Skopelos.
The name of this beach means ‘small lake’, which refers to the calm of the sea in this bay, where private boats anchor a little further from the shore. The beach is pebbled, which means that it would be most comfortable for you to lie on a sunbed: half of them are run by the beach bar and the other half by a tavern. The tranquil waters of Limnonari are safe for children and also perfect for some snorkeling.
Elios beach - credits: booking.com
The beach of the settlement of Elios, also called Neo Klima, consists of both sand and rocks. This beach may not look like an exotic paradise like other beaches of Skopelos but it offers easy access and many options for dining and accommodation; no one can deny that comfort is a major factor in enjoying your summer day to the fullest.
Glygoneri beach - credits: tripadvisor.com
Glygoneri beach is also called Agios Konstantinos and is one of the closest beaches to Skopelos Town or Chora. The beach is fully organized, with sunbeds and umbrellas. It boasts incredibly clear waters, while its coast consists of a little sand and several pebbles.
Velanio beach - credits: yourgreekisland.com
The main feature of Velanio beach is the tranquility offered by the luscious natural landscape. To go to Velanio you have to cross the beach Stafylos on foot and go up the path on the rocks, as there is no direct access by car. Don’t worry, though! It is an easy route and the beach will reward you with its stunning beauty. Another thing you should know about Velanio is that it is the only official nudist beach in Skopelos.
Regardless, it is friendly to everyone, both nudists and non-nudists. The beach boasts both an organized part with a beach bar, and an unorganized one with plenty of free space to spread your towel. At the edge, it has an impressive cave, and along its length, you will come across fine pebbles and deep blue waters.
Sarres beach - credits: greeceindetails.com
Sarres beach is located just a stone's throw from Skopelos Town and is accessible only by boat. The cave that separates one side of the beach from the other creates a special setting you will never forget. Due to the fact that is more difficult to access than most of Skopelos’ beaches, it usually doesn’t get as crowded as the rest of the beaches on the island. For that reason, it is perfect if you’re looking for peace and quiet.
Agios Ioannis beach - credits: travelstyle.gr
Just below the church of Agios Ioannis in Kastri, which you’re probably already familiar with if you’ve watched ‘Mamma Mia’, lies the homonymous beach. It is a pebbled beach with incredible emerald waters that can only be reached by footpath, but it is well worth the effort. It is not organized, but you will find a canteen for the necessary supplies close to the free parking space.
Try to avoid visiting Agios Ioannis beach when the wind blows from the north. You can easily detect that if you see waves rising in the port of Skopelos. During those days, we highly suggest you choose one of the western and southern beaches instead, such as the beaches of Panormo, Stafylo, Hovolo, and Milia.
Agnontas beach - credits: kalispera.se
Half the beach of Agnontas is located in front of the homonymous settlement. You can swim on the right side of the beach with the green waters and the big plane tree. It took its name from Olympian Agnontas, who landed on the beach bringing his medal from the road races. Enjoy the allure of the beach and relax under the warm summer sun.
Armenopetra beach - credits: skopelos.gr
Armenopetra is another organized beach, which is located shortly after Neo Klima. The trademark of the beach is the upright rock located on the left side of it. Armenopetra beach is another spot on the island from where you can admire a striking sunset, so it is perfect if you’re a couple in love.
Glysteri beach - credits: skopelos-hotels.gr
Glysteri beach is waiting for you in the northern part of the island, on the ring road that leads to the famous Castle. Picturesque and beautiful, Glysteri stands out for its natural beauty. Near the beach is the house -Villa Donna- where the outdoor shooting of ‘Mamma Mia!’ took place.
Chondrogiorgi beach - credits: gr.worldorgs.com
Chondrogiorgi beach consists of small coves with rocks in the sea. It is good to have water with you and everything else that is necessary, as there is no canteen or beach bar nearby, and the beach is not organized. Regardless, Chondrohiorgi beach will steal your heart with its charming appearance and refreshing waters.
Hovolo beach - credits: hellas-beach.gr
Hovolo beach is quite unique. The organization here shines through its absence, as access to Hovolo has a level of difficulty: You will need to walk a little in the -shallow- waters behind the rocks to find yourself in this small pebbled paradise with its turquoise waters and dreamy silence. Of, course it is well worth it!
Getting around Skopelos
Skopelos' streets - credits: iefimerida.gr
Transport within the island of Skopelos can take place via taxis, buses, car rentals, bicycles, and boats. Depending on your budget, level of fitness, and where you want to go.
The distances to the island are short and most transport routes are covered most times in less than 1 hour. The island has 4 buses that run all seasons on the main body of the island. Namely, across Skopelos Town, Glossa, and Loutraki Glossas. They last from about 2 to 55 minutes depending on where you choose to stop. In specific, you will need 55 minutes to Loutraki from Chora, and only 5 minutes to reach Stafylos from the same point of departure.
There are also private minibusses that make excursions to beaches, monasteries, Agios Ioannis in Kastri, Perivoliou, and other places. In addition, there are many taxis on the island, as well as car, ATV, bicycle, and boat rental companies, and boat trips that will allow you to explore the whole of Skopelos island in any way you see fit.
The truth is that due to the morphology of the island's soil, in order to discover all the beauties of the place, you will definitely need -if not for all your vacation days for several of them- your own means of transport. In fact, due to the intermediate trip to the ports of departure from Volos, Agios Konstantinos, Kymi, and Thessaloniki, most visitors arrive with their own vehicle, which gives them complete independence. This way, you’ll have to be wherever you want, whenever you want, no questions asked. Additionally, from July 20 to August 17 there is a possibility that the buses will be crowded. Therefore, during that time it would be wisest to choose to drive your own vehicle or rely on taxis for your transportation.
On several beaches, the bus stops are higher than sea level and you have to walk a few meters, while there is no bus line to the wonderful monasteries of the island and to Agios Ioannis in Kastri but also to many northern beaches.
From the island, in addition to the regular ferry and catamaran routes, there are also boats mainly to Alonissos, the marine park that performs one-day excursions. There is also a boat for Glysteri beach as well as some boats for rent or charter for one-day or short-day holidays.
Things to do in Skopelos
Skopelos - credits: jenny.gr
1. Stroll Skopelos Chora. Your acquaintance with the amphitheatrically built town over the port, the picturesque town of Skopelos, is one of the most basic must-dos on the island. White houses, traditional corners, colorful flowers, uphill cobbled alleys, and small churches that are scattered around the region are the images that will be captured forever in the memory of your mind.
2. Explore Skopelos’ Castle. The pale white steps, starting from the edge of the port, will lead you to the Castle of the Island. From there, you will enjoy unlimited views of the settlement, the port, and the church of Panagia tou Pyrgos, which stands on top of a cliff, ready to dive into the deep blue of the sea.
3. Visit Skopelos Folklore Museum. Take a look back at the past and learn about the history of the island's tradition, making a stop at the Skopelos Folklore Museum, housed in Chora, in a restored mansion of the last century. Here, folk art and handicraft collections, household items, and a variety of local traditional costumes are on display for you to see.
4. Discover ‘drakontosxisma’, which translates to ‘the cutting of the dragon’ in English. Legend has it that 800 years ago there was a dragon on the island that killed the locals and destroyed their homes. To protect them, Agios Riginos, patron saint of Skopelos, chased the dragon, causing the beast to fall off the cliff and be killed. The area, which opened from the fall, was named Drakontoschisma. You will discover it on the road from Stafylo to Amaranto, turning left on the dirt road and again left on the fork that forms a little further down.
5. Admire the Monastery Of Evangelistria. Its creation is related to the Daponte family, one of the oldest families on the island. The old monastery was renovated in 1712, to take the form it has today. This is one of the countless Byzantine monuments that are preserved on the island, which you will find east of Chora, "perched" on a mountain. There, you will admire the fortress precinct of the monastery but also the panoramic view of the Port and Skopelos, which stretch at your feet.
6. Climb to the Lighthouse of Gourouni. At the northern end of Skopelos, you will get to the Lighthouse of Gourouni by taking the passable dirt road that starts from the village of Glossa. Since 1884 the imposing and silent rotating lighthouse has been dominating the area, with a radiance of 20 nautical miles and a height of 17.80 m. It first operated during the Turkish Occupation, it remained off until 1944, it was electrified in 1984, and it was finally automated in 1989.
7. Go for a ride in a carriage. For those of you who are incurably romantic, a ride along the port of Skopelos is considered imperative. The sea breeze in combination with the summer mood, the idyllic atmosphere, and the illuminated setting create the perfect setting for an amazing time.
8. Get into Skouloukia Cave. The large bare rock near the top of Mount Kyra has signs of human intervention in the form of ancient tombs cut from stone. There are four in total, about 2.5 meters long and partially covered with large slate slabs that have been overturned as a sign that the tombs had been looted for a long time. The age of the tombs is not certain, but it is probably from Roman or Early Christian times. Kyra is also known for its mountains, while the Monastery of Efstathiou is a short walk on the slope from the tombs. The other big draw is the view over the strait of the island of Alonissos
9. If you are in Skopelos and you have several days at your disposal to definitely cross across by boat to Alonissos, as a one-day excursion. It is incredibly worth taking a taste of the amazing beaches of Alonissos.
10. As much as you love relaxation, maybe it would be worth spending a day touring places that are directly related to Greek culture. In Skopelos, you will find the Folklore Museum in Chora, while if you love Greek poetry you should not miss your visit to the house museum of the famous Greek poet of the so-called generation of the '20s, Pavlos Nirvana.
11. Skopelos has two mountains, the highest of which is Delphi. Also, Skopelos has many monasteries, which are "hidden" in the mountains. So one can combine a walk in nature, which is everything you need to relax and rejuvenate, by visiting small and picturesque monasteries and churches. Finally, it is worth noting that for those who are not ready for a lot of walking, there are easier routes, since there is a network of cobbled streets and paths. The same routes are suitable for cycling.
What to eat and drink
Skopelos' seaside tavern - credits: arttable.gr
The cuisine of the island consists of a wide variety of dishes, which highlight all the fresh Greek products that thrive there.
A famous specialty of Skopelos cuisine is the twisted cheese pie, made with local cheese and fried in olive oil. Also, the roast stew, the meat with the quinces, the famous local goats from the islets of Giura and Kyra Panagia that drink seawater, and the pork with plums, are some of the other specialties for which the island is famous.
At the same time, as we cannot forget that Skopelos is an island, there is plenty of fresh fish and seafood offered in all taverns. Spoon sweets are another strong point of the local cuisine, with the most popular being the ‘avgato’, which is made from a variety of plums that thrives in the area. ‘Haimalia’ is another local traditional dessert made from almonds and is offered at weddings.
In Skopelos, you will find taverns and restaurants for all tastes, both in Chora and in the surrounding villages. ‘The dolphin of Skopelos’ stands out for its affordable dishes and excellent quality. You will find it on the beach of Panormos. Additionally ‘Muses’ tavern, located in the port of Skopelos offers a premium location by the sea with very good quality food and fine dishes.
Our trips to Skopelos
Limnonari, Skopelos - credits: skopelos.com
Although not the largest of Greek islands, Skopelos has a wide variety of things to do, see, visit, and experience. In order to get to know the original side of Skopelos only the locals know about and combine it with a visit to Athens, Pelion and Skiathos, join our 12-Day Athens, Pelion, Skopelos & Skiathos Getaway and you’ll never look back!
Popular, but not massively touristy, the lusciously green Skopelos has the right infrastructure and natural beauty to win you over at first glance. From the deck of the ship, you will still be able to see the white picturesque houses of Chora that grow amphitheatrically on the hill above the port. Explore its narrow cobbled streets and admire its mansions. Visit its churches that grow scattered here and there and take a breather in its small squares.
The island offers live nightlife with a wide range of options. Taverns, tsipouro restaurants, and small bars spread their tables under mulberries. The main road runs through the island from south to northwest, on a green path that opens through dense pine forests. Don’t leave this Greek island treasure unexplored. Book your tickets to Skopelos and make your Greek summer vacations resemble a Holywood movie!