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Skiathos

Beaches, Bars and Bouzouki

Skiathos is a relatively small island in the group of five known as the Sporades. Skiathos is the closest to the mainland and the most visited out of the group, thanks to its international airport. One can also fly to Athens, drive to Agios Kostantinos and then take a hydrofoil or ferry to Skiathos.

Green, gently undulating, forested with sweet smelling pines and ringed with soft, wide sandy beaches with shallow, warm blue water, Skiathos is the beach capital of Greece. Life happens on the south side of the island – the north is exposed to the wind and is only visited for the sake of its lovely views. Some guests never venture beyond Skiathos Town in the south east which, as the only town, has a full-on cosmopolitan scene with bars, clubs and tavernas, but does get terribly busy and noisy in summer. Many also only travel along the one road towards the west, ending at the beach Koukounaries, which often makes it into lists of Top 10 Beaches in the Mediterranean. Along this southern road lie Skiathos’ famed bays and dozen or so beaches. However if you do decide to go off the beaten track a bit (which is advisable) there are many other beaches, which are extremely beautiful, and if you have a boat, you can also visit some of the wilder beaches to the north.


Best for

Beaches. This is the Maldives, Caribbean and Koh Samui all rolled into one - golden sand, white pebbles, warm water, shallow, blue, pine-fringed or cliff-girt, rock arches, bars, music, waiters, parties, palm-thatched umbrellas, sofas, banana boating, water skiing, scuba diving, nudity, semi-nudity. Whatever you want, the beaches in Skiathos have a lot to offer, plus beautiful and clean waters, tavernas and bars and water sports on nearly every beach.

Here are our awards:

Best Water: Lalaria in the north, also winner of the beauty competition. Go early to beat the daily boats bringing guests.

Best Sand: Banana

Best Watersports: Koukounaries, also winner of the most famous beach award (and the most crowded).

Most Relaxing: Kechria - down a rocky road, still a little hippy and ramshackle with a simple shack serving good food.

Most isolated: Mandraki in the north - a good walk through the pine forest to get there. Rough on windy days.

Best Beach Restaurant: Ambelakia's up-market new Mystique Beach bar and restaurant

Best Party on the Beach: Banana - high-octane party music, bars and snacks, and shallow water that stretches out 50 metres from the shore.

Most Elite Beach: Ambelakia. Swanky restaurant and waiters on hand with towels when you come out of the water. No water sports, so relatively peaceful.

Least Elite Beach: Banana.

Worst for

Crowds in town and on beaches, getting stuck behind tourist coaches on the one road, very little Greek culture or atmosphere left, and flights need booking well in advance.

Would Suit

Groups with youngsters, teenagers discovering clubbing, small children wanting to build sand castles and young adults wanting a lively night life. Refugees from the windy Cyclades, those wanting calm waters for boat trips and swimming. Sun lovers, bathers and beach party-goers, water sport activists and water babies.

Would Not Suit

Those in search of Greece's wild and austere soul, those wanting to be on their own, explorers and people wanting to escape from it all. Purists looking for a lot of cubic whitewash and blue domes.

Don't Miss

A walk up the mountains to the triple domed monastery of the Evangelistria,

The two-hour walk to Kastro, the old medieval town where eight Byzantine churches still can be seen, one or two with frescoes. Make a detour from here to the church of the Panagia Kechria, and from here down to Kechria beach.

Dinner at Scuna - the most up-market restaurant - book a table ahead though. Alexandros, hidden within the small alleys high up in town, offers traditional Greek food and a live band playing all the Greek classics. Plakes, which is quite close to Alexandros, is a very new restaurant with a lovely view of the Bourtzi, the small peninsula jutting out from the main port, separating the port into two distinct parts. A good fish restaurant in the old port, Ta Psarathika, is always busy and serves fish probably caught that day.

Skiathos nightlife. Youngsters will love to hang out in the bars on the Steps - wide shallow steps that are furnished with cushions and water pipes. One should go to the bars at about midnight until 1.30-2am when it's time to hit the plethora of clubs, which are all situated in the same place. The best is BBC, which is one of the last in the row. It is always packed and has VIP tables for those who want an extra special night.

Activities

Water sports on practically every beach, PADI diving centre (www.skiathosdivingcentre.gr) boat hire or day trips to neighbouring Skopelos where Mamma Mia was filmed, walking some of the lovely paths on the wilder side in the north. A wonderful open-air cinema in town, with two showings an evening. The novelist Papadiamantis' house can also be visited.