Boasting some of the most impressive and captivating beaches in the world, Skiathos has long been a thriving and popular destination for those looking to relax and unwind. Like most Greek islands Skiathos possesses its own distinctive character, but still promises visitors an outstanding selection of beach-front hotels, a booming town-centre night life and not to forget the superb selection of Greek cuisine.
Skiáthos Town has a handful of hotels, but the majority of visitors base themselves at resort hotels behind the island’s garland of south-shore beaches. If town it must be, make it the quiet inland Bourtzi Boutique Hotel (Moraítou 8), with high service standards and a lap pool you may not use given the stunning beaches (over 60 of them) scattered around Skiáthos. Closest accommodation outside town, at Megáli Ámmos 1km southwest, are the luxurious, hillside Aegean Suites, averaging a hefty 55 sq m in area, with a live-cooking restaurant. Near the end of the bus line, behind poster-star Koukounariés Beach, more family-friendly Mandraki Village has lovingly landscaped grounds and an unusually competent hotel restaurant.
Skiáthos is one of those one-island towns, so aside from beachside kiosks with swim masks and flip flops, choice is limited to the harbour settlement. The Galerie Varsakis antique shop (Platía Trión Ierarhón, just up from the old port) is effectively a folklore museum, going since 1975, and given sky-high prices the owner Haris neither expects – nor probably wants – to sell most items, which include textiles, copperware, rural impedimenta and jewellery, as well as his own paintings. More accessible boutiques stocked with jeweller and ceramics line the small alleys between here and the main thoroughfare Papadiamándi.
There are plenty of mediocre, generic Mediterranean-grub eateries, both in town and behind the beaches. Outstanding exceptions include seafood-strong Amfiliki (opposite health clinic, Skiáthos Town), with tempting aromas luring you into such delights as bráska kípo (monkfish in sauce), and, among a line of trendier restaurants on the airport road (opposite yacht anchorage), locally attended Bakaliko, tricked out like a 1950s country grocery, with unusual takes on traditional platters. For starters, chops and casserole dishes, head for Alexandros (Kapdistríou, off Trion Ierarhón square), which has outdoor tables under the mulberry and frequent informal live acoustic music. Just below the road (approach to Tzaneriá Bay), Sklithri is an inconspicuous cult fish taverna – blink and you’ll miss it.
Skiathos Gay Seduction Festival
The island used to be known as ‘the straight Mýkonos’; not anymore strictly speaking, with this event bidding to become a regular fixture after its 2012 debut. Expect parties, model shows and the like.
Skiáthos honours its long-standing connection with the sea – wooden caique-building yards, facilities for modern yachties – with this modest shindig.
The tiny medieval island fortress with its open-air theatre, now joined to Skiáthos Town by a causeway, hosts a variety of musical and theatre events, plus exhibits, every summer.
Feasts of the Virgin (Panagía)
14 August, 21 November
On the evening of 14 August, there’s the funeral procession of the Virgin at Evangelístria Monastery – rarely observed elsewhere in Greece – while in November the Presentation of the Virgin is marked at Kounístra Monastery.
At Kástro, the now-ruined medieval capital on the north coast, the torpedoing of the Greek submarine Lambros Katsonis on patrol from British Egypt is commemorated with a memorial for the crew who mostly drowned.