Beyond the beaches of Skiathos
Skiathos is well-known for its golden coastline offering a plethora of fine, pale-sand beaches but there's so much more to see and do on this popular Greek island than simply reclining in the sunshine such as hiking and taking the plunge scuba diving.
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The natural harbour in Skiathos attracts many a yacht and sailing boat and the tiny peninsula neighbourhood of Bourtzi divides it in two. Originally built in 1207, Bourtzi was once a walled fort, ruined in 1660 but revived in 1906 with the construction of a school.
These days, the area is teeming with pine forests and the school serves as a cultural centre and summer theatre. With sweeping views over the Aegean, can you think of a better place to indulge in a show on a warm summer's night?
The island's capital is built amphitheatrically around a windless bay. Although completely destroyed in WWII, Skiathos Town was later rebuilt and is now the focal point of the island. While away your time by relaxing in one of the many cafés or browsing the shops.
Admittedly, it caters mostly to the tourist crowd but it's possible to escape by meandering through the small cobbled streets, admiring the simple white houses and tiled roofs that are quintessentially Greek. Round off your day at one of the many nightlife options available, ranging from quiet bars to livelier night clubs.
Hit the hiking trails
Whilst Skiathos doesn't offer many official walking paths, you can discover tracks into the hills and mountains that take you to various monasteries, churches and the more secluded beaches on the north coast.
Most walks range from 12 km to 20 km and can be circular, making it easy to drive your hire car out to your start/finish point.
One such example is the 13 km walk to/from the Evangelistria Monastery, the only working monastery left on the island. It offers a library, ecclesiastical museum and numerous cells.
Expect to pass through forests, the occasional farm, past shrines and smaller country churches, many of which are now abandoned and home to the odd cat or two.
Unless you're a hardcore hiker, serious walking is only advisable in spring or autumn as temperatures in summer can reach up to 40°C.
The old castle - or, Kastro - of Skiathos sits perched atop a high cliff in the northern part of the island. It's a natural fortress, protruding out into the sea.
It has a chequered past offering multiple layers of history: built in the Byzantine period, occupied by the Venetians, Turks and Venetians again until the Greek state was formed and took control.
The many ruins scattered around the hillside show that at one time, the Kastro district was densely populated. Nowadays, you can expect to find several churches in the vicinity, all in various states of (dis)repair.
Reaching Kastro is an adventure in itself. You can either take a small boat from Skiathos Town, which will drop you onto small, pebbly Lalaria Beach. The rest of the way is a steep climb up a twisty path. In the height of summer, this route is really only suitable for experienced walkers.
Otherwise, it's possible to drive or take the bus (alighting at 'Bus Stop 9') from Skiathos Town but note that the road is mostly a track path from the village of Agios Konstantinos. Kastro always seems to retain plenty of heat, so be sure to take plenty of water with you.
The Monastery of Evangelistria may be the only one still in action but there are others dotted around Skiathos that have been refurbished and give you an idea of their old, long gone, monastic way of life. Panaghia Kechrea Monastery, which was abandoned in the 15th century, is a good example of this.
Then there's the serene setting of the 17th-century Kounistra Monastery, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and integral to the religious life of the locals. Whichever you choose, a visit to the monasteries of Skiathos makes for an alternative day away from the beach.
Sea caves & shipwrecks
Skiathos offers magnificent marine-based wonders such as the two sea caves off the popular north coast beach of Lalaria. The 20-metre deep Skotini Spilia (dark cave) is characterised by a low and narrow entrance, accessible only by boat.
The larger Galazia Spilia (blue cave) is named due to its rare reflections of blue on the rock from the water. Book your boat trip from Skiathos Town, which will likely include a stop for a cooling swim as well.
With warm water temperatures and visibility down to 30 metres deep, the water surrounding Skiathos is a draw for scuba enthusiasts, especially with various shipwrecks found around the island dating back as far as Roman and Byzantine times.
Weather in Skiathos
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More about Skiathos
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