Skiathos is one of the Sporades group of islands found on the east coast of the Greek mainland that also includes Skopelos and Alonissos.
Travelling to Skiathos presents few problems for air travellers as, despite it's small size, the island has an airport that takes charter flights from across Europe as well as daily domestic flights from the Greek mainland.
All types of ferries leave from mainland ports of Volos and Agios Konstantinos, the latter port only a short journey from Athens airport and the home of some fast ferry and hydrofoil services.
Skiathos is the first destination for those travelling on to the other Sporades' islands of Skopelos and Alonissos, with all three part of a favourite island group for yacht flotillas.
There are many woodland walks through the forested hills of Skiathos, several leading to remote monasteries. Skiathos is hilly, but not a mountainous, island so walks are not strenuous.
Accommodation on such an accessible holiday island is in short supply, especially during the high summer season when most hotels get fully booked.
Skiathos Airport (JSI), officially called Alexandros Papadiamantis International Airport), is the primary flight destination for all holidaymakers visiting the Sporades islands.
The airport is about three kilometres north of Skiathos Town and takes charter flights from all over Europe during the summer including many direct flights from UK airports at London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, East Midlands and Newcastle.
Daily domestic flights arrive from Athens, a 20-minute journey time, as well as from the mainland airports at Volos and Thessaloniki.
The notoriously short runway at Skiathos has been extended to allow fully fueled planes to take off. Aircraft once carried just enough fuel for take-off and had to land at nearby Thessaloniki to refuel, prolonging the homeward journey time for holidaymakers.
There are few facilities at Skiathos airport, no restaurants, banks, cash machines or left luggage for example, and the parking outside is very limited. A small taverna is next door.
There is no dedicated bus service to the airport and taxis can be in very short supply after flights arrive, so it is advisable to book ahead. The wise will arrange for a taxi to take them to the airport as few can be found in Skiathos Town at flight times – they are all at the airport.
Ferry services to Skiathos are relatively limited. There are no direct ferry services from Piraeus (Athens).
There are daily conventional and high-speed ferry services from the mainland ports of Agios Konstantinos and Volos run by Hellenic Seaways.
Agios Konstantinos is quite easy to reach from Athens, and many independent travellers will book a cheap flight to Athens then make their way to Agios Konstantinos by bus or taxi. But it's a four-hour road journey from Athens to Volos so, without a flight to Volos, this is not a particularly good option.
Fast passenger-only sailings from both Agios Konstantinos and Volos are operated by Aegean Flying Dolphins via Skiathos and Skopelos with a journey time to Skiathos of around 90 minutes.
Anes Ferries also operates the Proteus car ferry on the same Volos to Alonissos route daily, calling in at Skiathos. The company has also recently launched a daily route from Mantoudi on the island of Evia to Skiathos and Skopelos.
Several companies offer day trip excursions to beaches around the island of Skiathos and the offshore islet of Tsougira. Round island trips usually incorporate visits to the Kastro and beaches at Lalaria and Aselinos.
Water taxis are a popular option for visiting island beaches. Most depart from the old harbour in Skiathos Town and service the sands at Achladies, Kanapitsa, Troulos and Koukounaries.
Skiathos is also the main embarkation port for those taking holidays in neighbouring Skopelos and Alonissos.
There is only a single road on Skiathos, and it edges the south coast snaking through or near the beach resorts. Off the main road, the conditions deteriorate sharply and those heading into the hills will need a four-wheel-drive.
Skiathos has an excellent bus service from Skiathos Town to Koukounaries. Buses roll out every 15-20 minutes in the summer and they are clean and well kept but are crammed with tourists at busy times. Perspiring passengers concertina up the aisle and getting off requires the tactical skills of Rommel. Homeward bound passengers will stand stoically at stops watching the packed busloads roll by until they eventually hail a taxi or start walking. The information kiosk in front of Skiathos harbour has free photocopies of bus timetables.
Numbered Skiathos bus stops are well marked: 0 Harbour | 1 Delta | 2 Platania | 3 Sfagia | 4 Acropolis | 5 Megali Ammos | 6 Mytikes | 7 VassiliasA | 8 VassiliasB | 9 Aghia Taxiarhis | 10 Achliades | 11 Sklithri | 12 Tzanaria | 13 Vromolimnos | 14 Kolios | 15 Makri Katalima | 16 Aghia Paraskevi | 17 Poros | 18 Ikonistria | 19 Troulos A | 20 Troulos B | 21 Amoni | 22 Maratha | 23 Mandraki | 24 Stofilia | 25 Aghia Eleni | 26 Koukounaries
Skiathos taxis abound at the airport to pick up new arrivals and there is a taxi rank on the harbour front. Fares are regulated but drivers charge extra for going off the main road and it costs more if you phone the taxi station.
Skiathos is popular with package tour operators – sandy beaches, short transfers etc. – so most island accommodation is block-booked throughout the summer season.
Nevertheless, owners of rooms and apartments still line the quayside with offers when ferries arrive and, although you are ill-advised to visit without a summer reservation, you can always strike lucky. If not, there's a Room Owners Association kiosk at the harbour where they post the latest list of available rooms.
Skiathos Town is where to stay if you want nightlife and shopping. There are no beaches in town but Megali Ammos beach is walkable or, if you prefer something quieter, Xanemos beach is near the airport. There is a good supply of decent hotels and rooms to let with the most prominent being the 90-room Alkyon Hotel.
All the main Skiathos beach resorts along the 12km south coast have hotels, rooms and self-catering apartments. The most luxurious is probably the Atrium Hotel in Platanias, with an Olympic-size swimming pool, and the Skiathos Palace on the headland above Koukounaries beach which has a rooftop garden restaurant.
Those on the tightest budgets can head for Koukounaries Camping. It is near the beach and has a cafe and mini-market.
Skiathos is one of the Sporades group of islands that lie off the east coast of mainland Greece. It's the most popular of the Sporades islands thanks to its many sandy beaches and a good airport.
The island is relatively small, at under 50 sq km, but it has up to 60 beaches liberally scattered along the 44 kilometres of coastline.
Most residents live in Skiathos Town and in the popular south coast beach resorts linked by a road that runs the length of the island.
Inland Skiathos is covered in pine forest. Olives, fruit and walnuts are grown but the principal occupations are tourist related.
Climate of Skiathos
Skiathos has a typical Mediterranean climate. April is warm and sunny although rain in the spring months can sometimes be prolonged. May brings many fine days and wildflowers are everywhere.
June through to August sees long, sunny days and high temperatures with very little rainfall. In July and August, the brisk northern Meltemi wind can blow strongly, freshening the air and lowering the humidity.
Winter temperatures average a mild 11°C but the wet winters can sometimes include heavy snow showers. November to January is the wettest season with monthly rainfall an average 150mm.
|Size||132 sq km|
|Season||Apr – Oct|
|Time (GMT)||+2 hrs|
|Coast Guard||Dial 191|
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