Skiathos packs a whopping 50 beaches into just seven by four miles, alongside everything you want from a Greek island.
Surrounded by the sparkling Aegean Sea, it is the smallest of the inhabited Sporades, boasting an historic harbour town, fantastic seafood and natural beauty.
Arriving at Skiathos International Airport
From London City Airport you’ll touch down directly on Skiathos at the Alexandros Papadiamantis airport, named for a 19th-century Greek writer who was born here and set much of his work on the island.
The beachfront airport has a famously short and narrow runway, and coming in to land over the Aegean is a novel experience – bag a window seat if you can. The airport is a couple of miles north of the island’s capital, Skiathos Town, and there is no public transport that serves it.
Taxis are easily available and good value though, setting you back around €12 to Skiathos Town, a quaint and beautiful harbour town with a sweeping cobbled seafront, with traditional whitewashed, red-tiled buildings.
If you don’t mind braving uneven footpaths — and you don’t have much luggage — you could actually walk from the airport to Skiathos Town easily.
Alternatively, make your way from the airport to nearby Xanemos Beach, where you’ll find the nearest bus stop.
However long you stay in Skiathos, you should make time for some serious lounging on the beach. Earn yourself a lazy stretch by walking the length of the old and new ports of Skiathos Town. Explore Bourtzi Islet, a ruined fortress, and check if there’s any art or theatre going on at the school. Find the House of Alexandros Papadiamantis, a famous Greek writer who lived in Skiathos in the 19th century whose house has been turned into a museum today. After lunch at a waterfront seafood restaurant, you can take the bus or drive to Koukounaries, the most famous beach on Skiathos.
Hire a sun-lounger and umbrella, and lie back; or sign up for water sports, take a walk among the pine trees and check out the lagoon. Enjoy a beer and a spectacular early evening sunset on Banana Beach, at the furthest west tip of the island. Take the bus or drive back to Skiathos Town, where you can tuck into a traditional Greek dinner at one of the many tavernas in the streets surrounding the churches of Tris Ierarhes and Agia Triada.
The following day, take a water taxi or organised tour to Lalaria, a white pebbled beach in the east of the island, which is only accessible by boat. Get there early, before the crowds, and enjoy the incredible view and snorkelling in the crystal waters. A quick trip around the coast north will take you to Kastro, the old Byzantine capital on a rugged islet. Climb up from the beach to the ruins, explore the chapel and the frescos before rewarding yourself with a dive into the cool sea and a relax on the black sand. After lunch at Kastro Beach Taverna head inland by taxi to explore historic Evangelistria monastery. Taste wine made by the monks from the surrounding vineyards and wander the beautiful grounds. Return to Skiathos Town for an evening of jazz at Kentavros bar on Papadiamantis Square.
Spend the first couple of days soaking up history in Skiathos Town. Take in the top sights of Papadiamantis House, explore the neighbouring square, cafés and tavernas, and wend your way up the steps to Agios Nikolaos church and the clocktower, where you get amazing views over the town. Relax; nothing happens quickly here, so take it slow.
The best way to see the island is from the water. Take a water taxi to Lalaria, laze on the white pebbles and snorkel in the glorious blue waters. Then continue around the coast by sea to Kastro, the old capital, where you can explore Byzantine ruins and see original frescos.
Days three and four
Time to ditch culture for a couple of days and soak up the sun. Head west to Koukounaries on local buses or by car. Enjoy the pristine white sand and top up your tan. If you get bored with lying around, then go snorkelling or take a walk around the pine tree-fringed lagoon.
Take a trip off-island for the day and head to neighbouring Skopelos, the largest of the four main Sporades islands, famous for its natural springs, wine and for its starring role in Mamma Mia! The ferry takes less than an hour and a half from Skiathos Town, giving you around half a day to explore another traditional harbour town and check out some of the sights from the film.
Go sea-kayaking on Troulos beach in the morning before beach-hopping. Much of the main road hugs the coast, so if you’ve got wheels you can stop and check out any number of idyllic-looking sandy bays along the way.
Take a last chance to enjoy the superb food on the island and get seafood on the harbour front in Skiathos Town. After lunch head up into the mountains to explore the 16th-century Panagia Kechria monastery. It’s a steep uphill climb fringed by wild flowers and an enchanting pine forest.