Located between the islands of Skiathos and Alonissos, Skopelos is the second largest of the Sporades island chain after Skyros.
Skopelos is virtually covered in forest, with 80% of this hilly island cloaked in pine trees while several sleepy resorts lie scattered around the deeply indented shoreline.
Sandy beaches are relatively scarce on Skopelos; the rugged north and east coasts have few resorts whereas the hillsides in the south and west slope more gently to the sea and to reach several pleasant bays.
Olive and plum groves also help make up much of the lush, green interior of Skopelos and there are many pleasant walks along forest trails.
Skopelos is popular with day-trippers escaping the crowds on nearby Skiathos and with those who prefer a quieter Greek island holiday retreat. Skopelos has for years attracted up-market travellers.
There are regular daily ferries from nearby Skiathos where the airport takes regular charter flights. It is a short ferry trip to Skopelos Town or Loutraki, the island's other port.
The island has cashed in on the popularity of the hit musical movie 'Mamma Mia', starring Meryl Streep, which features many location shots on Skopelos including the beach scenes at Kastani.
Less well endowed with sandy beaches than its noisier neighbour Skiathos, the Skopelos strands of stone and shingle are mainly confined to the south coast between Stafylos and Loutraki. Most are served by an island bus, although some require a longish walk as well. Good sand can be found and fewer visitors promise greater tranquillity. The further beaches are from the capital the more peaceful they become while a boat is needed for excursions to the north.
It's picture postcard stuff at Skopelos Town with roofs of blue slate and red tile stepped down the steep harbour amphitheatre. The focus of activity is the long, waterfront promenade of restaurants, bars and shops pitched beneath trees of plane and mulberry.
A cliff wall brings the northern end to an abrupt halt with a row of chapels pitched precariously beneath a warren of cobblestone streets that lead up to a 13th century Venetian Kastro.
Now a designated preservation area, the streets claim more than 130 churches hidden away. A few shoddy blocks are evident, but most are embellished with balconies, wrought iron trellises, brightly painted shutters and flowering plants.
Many offer the usual tourist tat, but a higher than average shelf space is also given to locally produced crafts such as beautiful ceramics and intricate wood carvings. A small Museum of Folk Art has recently enjoyed a facelift.
To the south, the sand and shingle beach looks inviting from a distance but it is little more than a litter-strewn dump with flotsam floating in from the busy harbour.
Fresh water trickles to the sea from a culvert and spring wading birds will peck their way through the debris. Nevertheless, in high season, the beach can heave with holidaymakers – mainly Greeks.
Another beach sits in the bay to the west at Glyfoneri, a narrow string of shingle although it does have an excellent fish taverna.
Daily boat trips to Glysteri beach are widely advertised in Skopelos Town. The beach lies about two kilometres north of the port and can also be reached by road.
The small, stone and shingle beach is set in a deep and secluded bay with a large taverna placed back in the trees and a waterside cantina that sometimes opens in the summer months.
There is also a campsite among the olive groves for those who prefer roughing it. The only drawback for those trying to escape the crowds is the regular visits from caiques which drop off day trippers en route to the sea caves at nearby Tripiti.
The more adventurous can head a little further north to the small bay at Vathias, wild and unkempt with a steep winding road down to a scrap of rock and shingle.
The narrow beach of stone and shingle at Sares has the distinction of being the first and the last beach that holiday visitors see as they arrive at or leave Skopelos on the ferry.
The beach is on the east side of the island around the headland from Skopelos Town. Sares means 'steep' and the high grey cliffs that loom over it live up to the name.
A recent rockfall has made Sares beach virtually inaccessible without a boat and there is not much to enjoy other than a remote strip of stone and shingle with no facilities.
Velanio beach is a long-time favourite of naturists who now mostly frequent the far eastern end beyond a rocky outcrop.
More public than pubic these days, Velanio is about five kilometres south of Skopelos Town and to the east of the resort at Stafylos.
Indeed, most visitors walk across Stafylos beach and climb over the small headland to reach Velanio which is longer, steeper and deeper than more frequented than its neighbour.
The mix becomes more stone than shingle as visitors head south but the water is clean and bright everywhere and ideal for swimming.
Velanio often takes the overspill from the family beach at Stafylos and a small cantina opens at the western end in the summer with sunbeds laid out on the best bits of what little sand there is.
Naturists and other visitors make do with laying their straw mats on the smooth white stones and finding shade beneath the large boulders that litter the far end of the beach.
Velanio resort is said to take its name from old Roman baths 'valaneia' that was once reputedly sited here but locals insist 'venanio' means merely acorn and dismiss the Roman link.
The island's main beach at Stafylos, or Stafilos, is popular with families and the nearest to Skopelos Town at five kilometres directly south of the capital port.
Access to Stafylos is off the main road and 500 metres down a steep tarmac road to even more precipitous stone steps. Tavernas at the top and bottom of the hill are a welcome sight for those on foot.
The narrow strip of sand and shingle at Stafylos basks beneath high scrub-covered cliffs. The beach is deep enough for only one or two rows of sunbeds and the water is shallow, but beach shoes will help with the underwater stones.
The main road above, near the bus stop, has a couple of tavernas and car parking. Small hotels and apartments are dotted all over the Stafylos hillsides and this is a favourite spot for up-market holiday villas.
A rocky outcrop on the beach houses the tomb of a former Cretan general Stafylos, who gives his name to the beach. Among treasures unearthed at the tomb are a 15th-century gold-plated sword now on show in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.
About three kilometres west of Stafylos, and eight south of Skopelos Town is the pleasant fishing harbour at Agnondas, also spelt Agnontas, enclosed by hills of lush pine forest.
Tavernas hug the shore providing good food, especially fresh fish, and a romantic spot for a seashore meal at prices slightly lower prices than is charged in the capital.
A very narrow strip of sand and shingle sits in front of the tavernas before widening to stone and curving around the bay where trees tumble right down to the shore offering plenty of shade.
The gently shelving beach and protective wooded hills on both sides make this a good beach for families with children.
A mini market is nearby and a small tourist kiosk opens in the summer. Hotels and apartments have appeared in recent years and there is a regular bus service.
On the main road between Agnondas and Stafylos a new dirt track branches through the forest leading to secluded coves at Amarandos where pines sweep down to the water's edge offering privacy and shade.
This large crescent of white sand at Limnonari is considered one of the best beaches on Skopelos, about nine kilometres from the capital and a favourite for round-island boat trips.
The beach is down a steep tarmac road, well signposted off the main road with a small car park at the end of the beach. Walkers leave the bus at Alikias and follow the route down to the shore.
Waterside tavernas offer a good variety of meals and provide sunbeds on the beach alongside studios and apartments that line the shore.
The long, wide beach at Limnonari is of sharp white sand and it can shelve steeply into the water in places. Bathers must also negotiate a sloping slab of slippery rock that runs the length of the beach. It keeps the water crystal clear but forces bathers to adopt an inelegant slide in and out of the water.
The sand is dazzling white and almost blinding at midday while the underwater reflections from the white stone can turn the sea a luminous turquoise.
As the name suggests, Panormos is a beach with a view. The road threads through pine trees to a wide, sheltered bay riddled with small and secluded inlets reached by paths over the rocks or by wading through water along the shoreline.
The beach has no sand, just plenty of pebbles that shelve sharply into a sea that is notably colder than on other beaches on Skopelos.
Access is directly off the main road and there is plenty of parking space. Buses and taxis also call in from Skopelos Town which lies about 12 kilometres away.
Lively tavernas sprinkle the shoreline offering ranks of sunbeds and several shops join a couple of mini-markets to serve the growing numbers of hotels and apartments that have sprung up in the area.
Panormos was once the site of an ancient city and sections of old wall can still be seen while walks through the woods to the west lead to the area known as Adrina or Adrines and several coves of shingle, often deserted, and enclosed by pines.
A path that once led down to Adrina from the main road has been fenced off and the only access now is a footpath from the northern end of Panormos beach or sailing in by boat.
Milia is considered by many to be the most beautiful beach on Skopelos. The holiday visitor is greeted by three silver swathes of tree-lined pebble and sand with crystal clear waters and a large taverna behind the central beach.
To the south is a long, deep swathe of white stone and pebble, backed by groves of bamboo. A beach bar opens in the summer offering sunbeds and watersports. Large slabs of rock lie underwater along the shoreline. Mila beach is far too big to get crowded but those seeking more solitude can find small coves further south.
In the centre of Mila beach is an attractive rocky outcrop, great for snorkelling, with sunbeds dotted around the tiny inlets and a shady summer cantina on the headland rock above.
To the north is yet another swathe of stone. Out to sea is the small, pine-clad islet of Dasia that is easily be reached by boat.
Milia lies about kilometres south-west of Skopelos Town and a similar distance east from Glossa, the island's second largest village. Access is down a tarmac lane off the main road to a small car park with more parking in the roadside taverna.
A kilometre or so north of Milia is the splendid beach of Kastani. One of the island's sandiest beaches, Kastani was used for beach scenes in the hit musical movie of Mamma Mia.
The approach is down a steep, pine cloaked and heavily rutted dirt track and not much room to park at the bottom where a beach cantina sometimes springs up in the summer.
Kastani lies in a pretty bay of fine, sharp sand with rocks at both ends and pines that roll their way right down to the shoreline offering lots of leafy shade.
The wooden jetty that featured in the Mamma Mia movie was only a mock-up and has since vanished, just like the film crews and movie stars; the only trace of their activities a war of words with neighbouring Skiathos over the island that features most in the movie – it is Skopelos and this beach in particular.
North along the coast are several more coves, all difficult reach and usually visited by hired boats. All are stone and shingle and their main attraction lies in the peace and seclusion.
The best are at Neraki and Ftelia, each side of a small, attractive bay, and further north still is Ekatopenindari and eventually Hovolo on the outskirts of Elios village.
Elios means mercy, and Elios is where the island's patron saint Agios Reginus is believed to have delivered his flock from a fearsome dragon. He left behind a scruffy, unkempt straggle of stone and scrub and some deep, earthy rumblings.
The rather unsightly village was slapped up after a 1965 earthquake dislodged the hillside village of Klima just along the coast. The drab buildings are matched by the beach which has little to recommend it.
The flat swathe of dirty looking sand and scrub is backed by a bare tarmac road while the utilitarian village above has a few tavernas and some mini-markets.
There are many shingle coves along this part of the coast, notably to the south at Hovolo, although access is not easy. To the north dirt tracks run down off the main road for several kilometres to shingle coves at Karkadzouna, Kalyves, Amenopatra and Dafni, with Kalyves and Amenopetra considered the best. The approaches are down steep dirt tracks and are will attract only the adventurous.
Before climbing the hillside to the mountain village of Glossa, the main road passes through the Klima, actually the two villages of Palio Klima and Neo Klima although the whole area is also called Elios-Klima.
An earthquake in 1965 forced the villagers of old Klima out of their hillside homes and into hastily built shelters in nearby Elios. The derelict houses were snapped up by mainland Greeks and foreigners at knockdown prices and rebuilt as holiday homes.
Today, the renovated homes are untenanted for most of the year and Klima now has the air of a dormitory village of foreigners. Despite the empty air, it's a pretty enough place to visit and visitors get some spectacular views over the bay. There is a small shingle cove here at Kosta.
Loutraki is the small and dull port of the hill village of Glossa and the first port of call for ferries from Skiathos and the mainland.
There is a long, cement quay, a scruffy collection of houses and some imposing cliffs behind. Not many visitors stay here, preferring the more attractive hill village of Glossa above.
But this quiet fishing village has kept to its traditional ways and has Loutraki nothing of the commercialism found in the main port of Skopelos Town, although cafes and tavernas are plentiful and the village has hotel rooms to supplement the accommodation in Glossa.
There are beaches nearby; the largest is a somewhat unkempt pebble stretch right behind the pier, and there are some quieter coves within walking distance, the most notable being a shingle beach at Katalakou in the south and Glystra to the north.
Loutraki was known as Selinounda in ancient times and there are ruins aplenty such as a Roman bathhouse, the remains of a temple to Athena and the ruins of an agora market.
The main tourist draw apart from Skopelos Town is the picturesque hillside village of Glossa, home to 1,200 people and views to die for.
The traditional village way of life has so far managed to stand fast against the annual and ever-growing holiday visitor influx and the place oozes charm, in contrast to dull Loutraki below.
Many houses in Glossa have wooden balconies and the surrounding fields are full of plum and almond trees. Several dirt roads provide walks to nearby sights of interest.
These include the monastery of Agion Taxiarchon, built on the ruins of a 7th-century Byzantine church and the Gourouni Cape lighthouse.
Tracks lead down to often deserted beaches with coves at Myrtia and Koutria to the north-west and Perivoli, Pethameni, Hondrogiorgi, Keramoto, Mavraki and Spilia in the north-east.
Many however are difficult to find and only Spilia and Perivoli have roads leading to them.
Pethameni is at the bottom of a precipitous path but Hondrogiorgi has easier access and is popular with locals.
At Spilia there is a cave and a chapel to Agios Ioannis built on a spectacular headland above a double coved beach that was created when the cliffs collapsed into the sea. The picturesque chapel featured strongly in the hit movie musical Mamma Mia.