Many of the Greek islands have undergone dramatic changes as they’ve developed to cope with the onset of mass tourism. Skopelos offers a refreshing contrast as it has been largely spared and retains its character as a traditional, working island where it is tourism that fits in around everyday life, rather than the other way around.
Holidaymakers can enjoy the island’s many walking trails, quiet lanes and donkey tracks which skirt its coast, while the hiking trails in the island’s small but hilly inland area provide a stiff physical workout, especially in the summer heat. Most of the beaches on Skopelos are made up of pebbles and shingle, and the best beaches are on the west of the island. What the coast lacks in golden sand it more than makes up for with crystal-clear water, and with fabulous visibility and warm sea temperatures it’s not surprising that Skopelos is a favourite spot for sea kayaking.
For those wanting to explore the island there’s no shortage of places to visit. A bus network connects the main towns and villages on the island and everywhere on the island is under an hour’s drive from Skopelos Town. Bike rental is a good option as the lanes tend to be quiet, although it’s hard work cycling in the summer heat. Rental cars are plentiful.
With a population of around 3,000 this is the largest town not only on Skopelos but across the Sporades islands. In many ways it conforms with the ideals of a perfect island town with its narrow streets rising steeply from the harbour and its sparkling white houses and chapels punctuated by red roofs and the ubiquitous splashes of blue paint. Local laws ensure that no house is higher than two stories and all conform to traditional building methods and aesthetics. The waterfront is lined by mulberry trees and there are plenty of cafes and restaurants, as well as locally run boutiques selling island handicrafts. The town is set against a backdrop of pine-covered hills, and a relatively gentle hike will reward with views of the waterfront and the island of Alonissos beyond.
Take a 20-minute drive (or a slightly longer bus ride) through pine forests from Skopelos Town and you’ll reach the seaside village of Panormos. The beach is one of the most popular on the island and gets very busy during the summer holidays. It’s very popular for swimming and snorkelling, with emerald, clear waters and a number of small coves and inlets. There is a decent selection of shops, cafes and tavernas.
One of the stand-out beaches on Skopelos, Glysteri sits in a deep and secluded bay with emerald, clear waters and with a large taverna set back from the beach. It’s an easy place to while away a whole day; for those wanting a bit of exercise to go with their sunbathing the surrounding hillsides have several countryside walking trails.
Set in a pine-covered hills in the north west coast of the island, the village of Glossa offers spectacular views across the coast and to the islands and mainland beyond. This is fabulous walking country, with many trails leading from the village to the nearby coast. Glossa has some Byzantine ruins and has remained largely untouched by tourism; it has 2 tavernas, a bakery and a mini-market. The port of Loutraki is a 25-minute walk from Glossa and offers departures to Skiathos.
Near Glossa you’ll also find the lovely small church at Spilia which was the wedding location in the musical film Mamma Mia. Talking of which, the locals know all the filming locations on the island and many of them were extras in the film. With a little encouragement most will be very happy to share their moment of fame with you.
See the GIC The Villa Collection site for details of our holiday villas in Skopelos.