I bet there are so many Greek island complexes you haven’t even heard of before that you are feeling a bit overwhelmed when presented with the choice of which one to choose for your next Greek holidays.
In an effort to clear the air and help you make the best decision possible, today we talk about the Sporades islands, the less-known island group that consists of beautiful and versatile places, perfect for any type of vacation you want to treat yourself to!
The Sporades islands consist of Skopelos, Skiathos, Alonissos, and Skyros, a group of 4 Greek islands that are permanently inhabited and known for their dense vegetation and their incredible beauty. There are also 2o more Greek isles that technically belong to the Sporades archipelago, however, they are uninhabited islets that cannot be accessed by traditional ferries.
The Sporades islands attract a large number of tourists from all over the world every year. The crystal clear, turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea, the fantastic sea caves, and the cultural heritage that prevails are good enough reasons to make the Sporades islands a truly unforgettable destination.
Velanio Beach, Skopelos - credits: Jiri_Vavricka-shutterstock.com
Alonissos offers unique moments of calm and serenity and is the refuge of the rare Mediterranean species of the ‘Monachus - Monachus’ seal, also known as the Mediterranean monk seal. Skopelos is a traditional island with gorgeous beaches and crystal clear seas, drowned in the green, which provides a quiet and relaxing holiday and fun.
Skiathos is a cosmopolitan island with bustling nightlife and endless sandy beaches. Skyros is the ideal Greek island destination for nature lovers who can enjoy -apart from the island’s stunning beaches- long walks among the green landscape of the island.
In the Sporades, you will find a very broad selection of things to do and ways to spend your time depending on the type of holidays you want to experience.
All the Sporades islands present a unique appeal and offer many choices of accommodation and entertainment, all while maintaining their traditional nature and keeping their customs and traditions alive.
Alonissos; the underdog of the Greek islands
Alonissos - credits: Tom Gowanlock/Shutterstock.com
The charming island of Alonissos, which is on the east coast of the Sporades, is a part of Greece that wows its visitor due to its unmatched natural beauty, making it the optimum Greek island for those who love relaxation and adventure, but first and foremost, luscious greenery.
The rich vegetation that dominates the scene on the island and its picturesque, fantastic beaches turn Alonissos into a small paradise on earth.
However, its landscapes are not all there is to Alonissos. In fact, the island played an important role in Greek history, especially in the fields of shipping, shipbuilding, winemaking, and ceramic art.
The fertile soil of the island helped significantly in the cultivation of plants and herbs that were used for therapeutic purposes, thus contributing to the development of medicine and the establishment of the ‘National Academy of Classical Homeopathy’.
Agios Dimitrios Beach, Alonissos - credits: Constantinos Iliopoulos/Shutterstock.com
In Alonissos, in 1986, the first National Marine Park was developed, while the clear blue waters of the island host the famous species of the ‘Monachus - Monachus’ seal, also known as the Mediterranean monk seal.
There is also a large variety of plants, rare seabirds, and animals on the island, such as hawks, gulls, and a wild species of goat called "Giura" which is considered to be related to the well-known "Kri-Kri" ibex of Crete.
Alonissos’ capital, also known as Chora is one of the island’s biggest attractions. We highly recommend you visit Chora just to admire the impressive castle that dominates the top of the hill and which, during the Middle Ages, protected the country from enemy invasions.
It should be noted that the top of the hill is the ultimate spot to catch a sunset on the island, so all you lovebirds time your day accordingly!
Skiathos; a Hollywood hit with a view of the Aegean Sea
Skiathos island - credits: Cara-Foto/Shuttestock.com
The beautiful Skiathos, the easternmost island of the Sporades, belongs to the Municipality of Magnesia and borders the Pelion Peninsula and the eastern coast of the prefecture.
It is an ideal destination for those who crave relaxation but at the same time unforgettable vacations on a unique Greek island. It is connected to the port of Agios Konstantinos in the region of Fthiotida in Central Greek mainland, from where ferries depart daily for the island.
Additionally, Skiathos has an airport that accepts domestic and international flights, providing guests with the opportunity to arrive directly from their country on the island; talk about making visiting the island as easy as ABC!
Once you arrive at Skiathos, the first thing that will impress you is the dense, colorful flora that stands out, as it is surrounded by pine forests. The perfect combination of the sea’s blue color with the green color of the pine forests creates a distinctive and enchanting setting.
Skiathos - credits: Cara Foto/Shutterstock.com
The gorgeous beaches of Skiathos are considered to be some of the most impressive in Greece. During the summer months, tourists can lie down on the golden, soft sand and enjoy the wonderful blue waters of the sea.
Some of the most popular beaches on the island are Megali Ammos, Kanapitsa, Lalaria, which is a pebbled beach covered with white, pearl pebbles, and Koukounaries Beach which is covered in pine trees.
In Skiathos, there are two beautiful lakes of great ecological importance for the fauna of the area. One is located in Agios Georgios, near Chora and the other one is located in Stofilia near the beautiful beach of Kanapitsa.
Additionally, on the island, you can find many remarkable monasteries and churches that are worth visiting to admire the priceless icons, hagiographies, and other religious works. An unmissable attraction of Skiathos is its castle, which dominates the old town of the island and stands as a testimony to the island's rich history.
The Byzantine castle is an impressive building that was built in 1538 to protect the city from the invasions of pirates and the Turks.
Skiathos is an ideal destination for every type of vacationer, whether they’re visiting with family, alone, or as a couple!
Skopelos and its gorgeous beaches and olive groves
Skopelos - credits: Tomasz Czajkowski/Shuttestock.com
In the old days, Skopelos was called ‘Peparithos’, being named after the brother of the first king of the Greek islands who was also the first settler of the area.
Skopelos is the largest of the three most important islands of the Sporades and is located between Skiathos and Alonissos. It is also one of the most popular Greek islands as its enchanting nature makes it stand out from the rest and serves as a haven for nature lovers worldwide.
The island has more than 15 beaches, most of which are organized and access to them is very easy. The most famous is Milia, an exotic beach with fine pebbles and clear waters, surrounded by pines and rocks.
Right next to it is Kastani beach, which became famous from the shooting of the big Hollywood movie production ‘Mamma mia!’ and is considered by many to be the most beautiful beach on the island.
Other organized beaches with beach bars and sunbeds are Panormos, Elios and Limnonari, while for a quick swim Glyfoneri is preferred due to its location right next to Skopelos Town. Close to Skopelos Town, you can also find Stafylos and next to it Velanio, the beach that is famous as a nudist beach.
Skopelos - credits: Georgios_Tsichlis/Shuttertock.com
It is worth discovering the beaches of Perivoli, Chondrogiorgi, Agios Ioannis, and Hovolo, small and secluded beaches that will reward you with their crystal clear waters and the tranquility they offer.
In Skopelos, there are many beautiful monasteries and churches that are worth visiting the various masterpieces of religious art. However, sightseeing is not all there is to do on the island. During your vacation in Skopelos, you have the opportunity to choose between various sports activities such as trekking, mountain biking, horse riding, and other nature excursions.
The friendly behavior and warm hospitality of the locals make everyone who visits Skopelos feel right at home. Ask for advice and explore the beauties of the island to create memories that will last a lifetime!
Skyros; the southernmost island of Sporades
Skyros - credits: yiannisscheidt/Shutterstock.com
Five hours away from the Greek capital, lies Skyros, the least known island of the Sporades, which is located in the northeastern part of Euboea. While the other three Aegean islands that make up the (northern) Sporades complex -Skopelos, Skiathos, and Alonissos- are located close to each other, Skyros is rather isolated to the south of the Aegean.
Skyros is a simple, traditional island that is visited by many travelers from Greece and abroad to enjoy a quiet vacation in a friendly and warm environment. Much like in all the Sporades, in Skyros too, rich vegetation and a beautiful natural landscape prevail everywhere.
Even today, the island of Skyros is considered a ‘virgin island’, meaning that it has maintained its pure character and natural allure without being spoiled by mass tourism, excessive crowds, and an urbane lifestyle.
Skyros - credits: pixabay.com
The city of Skyros is beautiful with its picturesque alleys and whitewashed houses scattered on the island, creating an inspirational setting for its visitors and resembling a typical card postal one can purchase from the island souvenir shops. It is really worth visiting the various parts of the island where you can walk the streets and admire the unique view of the beautiful blue of the Aegean Sea.
The southern part of the island is sparsely populated so it does not have many accommodations and domestic services. Most of the tourists prefer to stay in the north of the island from where they can explore the rest of Skyros.
The island is mainly mountainous with a labyrinthine outline that forms the beautiful beaches of Skyros. The beaches in Skyros are distinguished for their natural beauty and picturesqueness, as the combination of the rocky landscape with the sea always with the presence of the green of nature to a greater or lesser degree can’t help but take the visitors’ breath away.
Some of the best beaches in Skyros include Molos, Kalamitsa, Pefkos, Kyra-Panagia, Sarakinos, Gyrismata, Aspous, Agios Fokas, and Kareflou. Molos beach is the largest beach and the easiest to reach since it is located next to Chora. It is a large sandy beach, fully-organized with umbrellas and sunbeds but also enough free space for people who want to lie down on their beach towels without a worry on their minds.
Skyros - credits: Orestis_Markopoulos-shutterstock.com
Kalamitsa beach is a beautiful coast with off-white pebbles and crystal clear cool waters. It is also organized and an ideal choice for when the north wind blows as it is fully protected. Agios Petros beach on the northwest side of Skyros is located in front of a pine forest and has both pebbles and sand. It is not organized.
Pefkos beach is a cove in a verdant setting dominated by pines. The beach is covered with coarse sand and is a party organized. Kyra-Panagia beach is a beautiful non-organized beach with pebbles and sand in a pine-covered area with clear crystal clear waters.
Sarakinos is a small uninhabited island, in the southwest, at a very short distance from Skyros. You can visit it by boat from the picturesque port of Linaria to enjoy a swim in an exotic landscape, with warm and calm waters.
Gyrismata beach is a large shore paved with golden sand. It is partly organized and on its edge, you can find a typical Greek-island windmill. Aspous beach is a small shore with fine sand and sand dunes behind it. It is not organized but it is ideal for families with small children due to the sandy beach and shallow water.
Agios Fokas beach is a small clean beach with shallow waters. It has rocks but also an area with easy access to the sandy sea. Kareflou beach, on the east side of Skyros, is a place of wild beauty. It is a small shore with rocks at its edges and fine sand with pebbles in the center. It is not organized and you have to bring whatever you might need with you. Access requires driving on a dirt road.
Those who love the sun and the sea, in Skyros, have the opportunity to choose between many pristine beaches that are spread all over the island and a variety of things to do, see, and experience. If that doesn’t equal a great Greek holiday, then I don’t know what does!
Skiathos - credits: pixabay.com
Which islands make up the Sporades island group?
As mentioned above, four Greek islands belong to the (northern) Sporades islands and these are Skiathos, Skopelos, and the small islands of Alonissos, and Skyros.
How do you get to Sporades islands?
The cheapest and most popular way to access the Sporades islands is through ferry services. The main ports on the Sporades islands include the port of Volos and Agios Constantinos in mainland Greece.
These two ports offer ferry services to Skopelos, Skiathos, and Alonissos. Ferries to Skyros start at Kymi, a small village on Euboea, a region of Greece that while people think belongs to the Greek mainland destinations, is, in fact, an island.
Of course, Skiathos island also boasts an airport, so you can access the island by airplane and from there get to the other islands of the Sporades.
Which Greek island is Mamma Mia set on?
The greek island that hosted the Hollywood blockbuster 'Mamma Mia' is Skopelos. Since the filming of the movie, the island has become even more popular among travelers of the world due to its staggering natural beauty and the advertisement from both the international media and the Greek National Tourism Organisation.
Alonissos, Skiathos, Skopelos, Skyros; only 4 islands but an innumerable amount of beauty and Greek spirit! If you’ve never had the chance to explore the gorgeous islands that make up the Sporades on your next vacation, then it is high time to do so as you’ve been missing out!
For all lovers of wild and raw beauty, the Sporades are for you! With their trademarks being the wonderful pine-covered beaches, the lively districts that combine the local traditions with modern everyday life, the scrumptious local flavors, and the pure, unadulterated summer atmosphere, you could try really hard to prevent yourself from falling in love with the Sporades, but you’d be setting yourself up for failure!