Head straight from London to the beaches of the Aegean with our new route. We're launching direct flights from London City Airport to Skiathos this summer, so you can now reach three top Greek destinations from the only airport in London starting 26 June 2017. We're particularly excited about this one – if you haven't got your summer holiday booked, here are nine reasons why you should be looking at Skiathos.
For a small island, Skiathos' haul of six Blue Flag beaches is impressive. But you can't really go wrong with any of the beaches here; whether you want to party in the west coast's beach bars, take the kids to Vromolimnos or explore the hidden coves around the island, Skiathos has the best beaches in the Sporades, with variety and plenty of quieter stretches away from the crowds.
As the most developed of the Sporades, Skiathos has by far the best dining scene in the island group and eating out on Skiathos is a joy. There are more traditional tavernas than you can shake a souvlaki stick at, as well as smarter restaurants serving updated traditional Greek cuisine. The Windmill is a standout, serving modern dishes from a restored 19th-century windmill above Skiathos Town with the best views in the Sporades across the bay.
Possibly the world's most beautiful pebble beach – Chesil, eat your heart out. Lalaria Beach is truly the stuff of brochures; it's a striking white pebble beach framed by an ancient rock arch with sea caves nearby. The bright white pebbles are marble, which reflects from under the sea to make the waters look impossibly clear. You can only reach it by water, making a boat trip essential when you visit Skiathos – Lalaria is a 100% must. Bring a mask and snorkel.
With early morning flights from London City Airport Monday to Wednesday you can land in Skiathos at 1230. The island's airport is less than 10 minutes' drive from Skiathos Town, and the speedy journey to get airside at London City Airport means you don't need a stupidly early start if you're London-based, so you can still make the most of your first afternoon on the island without feeling too bleary.
While your first image of Skiathos might be the beaches, the Sporades are also known for their lush, green scenery. There are trails all over the island that take you through pine forests, to hilltops with spectacular panoramas and remote, ancient-looking monasteries, and down to secluded, hidden beaches. Head to the Mandraki area in western Skiathos for some lovely rambles through thick woodland along clear trails. Finish at Xerxes Beach to cool off in the sea and reward yourself with one of Skiathos' quietest and prettiest beaches.
Unlike some of the more party-dominated islands in Greece there are historical sites all over Skiathos, and its size means you can easily explore them. Evangelistria Monastery has a fascinating history – founded by monks in the 18th century, it was later a rallying point for Greek freedom fighters resisting the Ottoman Empire. Today the monastery is a remarkably well-preserved and pretty building with some interesting exhibits and it's a pleasant walk from Skiathos Town. Old Kastro is Skiathos' best-known attraction and well worth the trip to the north of the island. A collection of crumbling ruins, Kastro was once the island's capital, with a dramatic clifftop location. It's also a beautiful walk through wooded hills from the island's capital.
Because you can now fly direct from London City Airport to Skiathos, it's London's gateway to the rest of the Sporades. There are easy ferry links from Skiathos to its neighbouring islands in the Sporades, so it's easy to mix things up between beachy Skiathos, wooded Skopelos and tranquil little Alonissos. There's no direct ferry to the lone southerly island of Skyros, but you could bag a lift to the Sporades' hippy destination if you make friends with a local fisherman.
Alonissos is the least-visited of the northern Sporades, but those in the know go there for its tranquillity and fantastic opportunities for diving, snorkelling and kayaking. The whole island of Alonissos and the sea surrounding it make up the Alonissos Marine Park – one of Europe's biggest protected marine environments and one of Greece's best national parks. Take to the water to explore the park or just enjoy the deserted beaches, and peace and quiet. It's a short hop on the ferry from Skiathos so you can visit for a day or book accommodation on both islands for a twin-centre island-hopping trip. Browse our Skiathos packages for deals on flight-hotel combos.
Whatever your feelings on Pierce Brosnan butchering ABBA hits, there's no denying the film's setting is extraordinarily beautiful. The film was shot on Skiathos' rugged neighbour Skopelos – a fact that's now the island's biggest claim to fame – so it's literally a Hollywood wedding location. Skopelos is known for its natural beauty and it's also a great place to spot wildlife if you get bored with lounging on the beach or want to venture further afield
If you're keen on Greece but not sure of where to go, check out our guide to the best Greek islands and how to get around them. You can also fly to romantic Santorini and party-central Mykonos from London City Airport, so it's easy to reach most of the islands in the Aegean straight from the city. Browse our Greece deals for more summer holiday inspiration