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.
You're most likely to use the red bus route, which takes you the full length of the coastal road from Skiathos Town to the top beach destination of Koukounaries in the island's far southwest. The red line is served by large coaches, while the island's two other lines are served by minibuses.
The green bus route goes to another key Skiathos destination, Evangelistria Monastery.
The blue line will take you to Xanemos Beach, not far from the airport.
If you're catching the bus in Skiathos Town you’ll need to start from the terminal at the park near the elementary school.
Signage is often in Greek with no English translation, but the drivers are very accommodating to tourists. A bus driver will stop if they have room and see prospective passengers waiting. Bus fares vary but it’s pretty cheap – rarely more than a euro.
A 24-hour taxi service operates throughout the island. If you're heading from Skiathos Town to elsewhere, pick up a cab at the taxi rank near the New Port in Skiathos Town.
Drivers charge a euro per kilometre as per government regulations. The exception is airport taxis, which are fixed at a slightly higher price.
Car hire is a good option if you plan to travel around the island more than once or twice. You can pre-book a car for your arrival at the airport.
Apart from the asphalted main coastal road, the island is accessible via unsealed roads and dirt tracks, so make sure you get something you’re comfortable with on rocky terrain.
For some of the best scenery you need to see Skiathos by boat. Hop on the water bus between the Old Port, Tzaneria and Vromolimnos beaches.
Skiathos Town: for party time in an idyllic setting
Skiathos Town is the heart of the island. An undulating network of ancient pedestrianised cobbled streets filled with restaurants, bars, clubs and souvenir shops – it’s easy to get lost. But the town is so tiny you can always look for the sea to find your way again. Wander further from the main hub up into the hillier areas around the churches of Tris Ierarhes and Agia Triada and you’ll find a quieter, more authentic residential area. The town is well known for its nightlife, attracting party-hungry tourists from all over Europe throughout the summer.
Koukounaries: for calm under the pine trees
The second-most populated area after Skiathos Town is the popular resort region of Koukounaries. Accessible by bus along an up-and-down (but, mercifully, asphalted) road, the town is a collection of sprawling hotels, tavernas and shops selling both essentials and tourist tat. The main attraction is the beach; a huge curving smile of perfect white sand with an array of sun loungers and umbrellas for hire (generally quite pricey). If you need shade but don't want to fork out for a brolly, you can still relax under the pine trees that line the fringes of this beautiful beach. There’s also a lovely freshwater lagoon just behind the forested peninsula — perfect for nature-lovers.
Bourtzi Islet: for history
Technically a part of Skiathos Town, Bourtzi is a tiny islet covered in archaeological ruins, pine trees and a school, connected to the mainland by a narrow strip. It divides the Old Port from the New Port and gives a delightful dose of history. Bourtzi Islet used to be a fort and dates back to 1207 when the island was ruled by Venetian merchants. The fort is believed to have had high impregnable walls and watchtowers on either side – neither remain, but you still get a sense of the islet's embattled past with a walk around.
Time zone: Central European Standard Time (GMT+1) and Central European Summer Time (GMT + 2)
Language: Greek. However, the staff in restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions usually speak excellent English.