The chief settlements are Skopelos Town, with a population of around three thousand, declared as a Traditional Settlement of Outstanding Beauty (Presidential Decree 5913-11/78) and Glossa, with a population of just over one thousand. Between them are dozens of tiny inland villages and hamlets, and the smaller ports of Agnondas, Elios and Loutraki.
Skopelos is perhaps the greenest of Greek islands with a mantle of pines, oaks, olive and fruit trees. The seas around are among the cleanest and clearest, in Greece. Island geology has produced an estimated sixty-seven miles of beaches, both sandy such as the long strand at Kastani (the Mama-Mia beach) and pebble such as Panormos. All of the popular beaches are shallow, safe and free of currents, ideal for families. Dense forests rising above low white limestone cliffs, have earned Skopelos the nickname of the “green on blue” island. Its renovated network of stone-laid footpaths (kalderimi), opens up its forests, mountains and hidden valleys in remote areas. A short hike can take you into breathtaking wilderness in just minutes.
The island shares the region’s history of centuries of settlement by Macedonians, Romans, the Byzantine Empire, Venice, the Ottoman Empire and the declaration of the First Hellenic Republic in 1832. Skopelos boasts over 360 churches and a wealth of splendid monastic buildings, including the Evangelismos (Annunciation), one of three Byzantine monasteries overlooking the town. Bronze Age and Roman sites can be seen at Stafilos, Loutraki and Sendoukia, their histories recorded in the small folk museums in Skopelos and Glossa.
Skopelos island is part of the Northern Sporades chain of islands. It sits in the North Western Aegean sea just off the East coast of mainland Greece.
As officially the greenest of the Greek islands. Part of the appeal of the island is that it doesn’t have an airport. This means that ultimately getting to Skopelos requires taking a ferry or water taxi at some point.
There are two main ports on Skopelos. The main port is Skopelos Town and the second port is called Loutraki, but the ferry companies call it Glossa. Please make sure you ask for a ticket to Glossa if that is the port you wish to travel to, otherwise you will be given a ticket to Skopelos town.
There is a ferry service to the island all year. This makes getting to Skopelos quite easy. Most ferries depart from the city of Volos daily. They call at Skiathos, Glossa (Loutraki port), Skopelos town and Alonissos.
During the summer months ( May – October) there is an increased service. Extra ferries sail from Aigos Constantinos, Kimi and Mantoudi. Kimi and Mantoudi are ports on Evia. All the ports can be reached by bus or car.
Don’t let this put you off though. The ferry journey makes for a tranquil and relaxing way to begin your escape in the Aegean.
For those traveling from further afield. There are several airports in Greece with excellent connections to the main ports that service Skopelos. Skiathos island airport is the closest airport to Skopelos. From here the ferry journey is only about 15 minutes. There are also airports at Volos, Athens and Thessaloniki.
What Skopelos lacks in ruins, museums and art galleries, it more than makes up for with monasteries. There are dozens scattered around the island, including perhaps 10 on Mount Palouki alone. Each monastery comprises suntrap courtyards, a dusky chapel filled with glittering icons and intricate altar linen, and chirping birds in cages. Some – such as Evangelismos, built in 1712 and the only one visible from town; 16th-century Sotiris, manned by a single, rather grumpy monk; and Prodromos, where a female custodian, in gratitude for our donation, doused us liberally with pungent cologne – can be reached by car, but the dirt road soon becomes a donkey track, so it is better to walk.
Don’t leave without visiting Agios Yiannis at Kastri, a picture-perfect chapel built on the top of a steep rock. If it’s not too hot, climb up the steps carved into the rock and enjoy a stunning view of the archipelago. The chapel became famous by the movie and ever since is the choice of preference for young couples planning their wedding.
If you have time, spend a day visiting the nearby island of Skiathos, a popular destination for young people, or Alanissos, a beautiful island where the seal Monachus-Monachus is common. They are frequently connected by ferries or speed boats.
A Greek island is nothing without its beaches, and, while those on Skopelos are largely shingle or pebble, they are picturesque, backed by rocky green hills, and quiet. The closest to the capital is Glysteri, on the road north out of town and reached via a scented valley dotted with olive trees, but the best are found on the west coast. Limnonari, on the coastal road north from Agnontas, hemmed in by rocky headland, is as close to a truly sandy beach as you’ll find. Kastani, a key Mamma Mia! location, is equally pretty – but is the only place on the entire island that gets overcrowded.
Staphylos and Velanio are the two beautiful beaches closest to the capital of Hora (only 4km away). You will also find beach bars, or taverns, that offer you an easy way to park. The route to Stafylos through dense pine forests is pure magic. Whichever beach you may opt for, the crystal clear waters and the green surroundings will take your breath away.
For real solitude, rent a motorboat from Panormos, and head north – you’ll find beautiful spots all the way up the coast (such as Hovolo, Ftelia and Neraki) that are inaccessible to cars and subsequently occupied only by other couples who have rented motorboats.
Restaurants and Bars
Molos Restaurant:A long term favourite, Molos has been around for many years with an excellent standard of cooking. They create lots of oven baked dishes and their dolmadakia (stuffed vine leaves) are great in the spring and early summer when the leaves are young and tender, and so are the stuffed cabbage leaves in egg and lemon sauce. Louloudakia, which is stuffed courgette flowers, is also a speciality of theirs but they also do non stuffed items, grills and fried food on request! Not a huge place so time your meal to get a table. Most tourists seem to want to eat at 8.00pm and Greeks at 9.00-10.30pm.
Klimataria Restaurant: Is the closest to the town centre and is quite similar to Molos creating the same mix of oven baked foods, vegetable dishes, meats, fish and grills. They make the best taramasalata on the island according to locals. Dimitri the owner is also open out of season so its local clientele can usually be seen mixing with the tourists in the summer.
Gorgonas Restaurant: Just up the alley from the sea-front (take the street next to Armoloi pottery and craft shop) is this small and traditional ouzeri. An ouzeri is where you can drink little bottles of ouzo (or tchipouro which is the local variant) and they give you little plates of food. Main meals are their main trade however and they specialise in small dishes for mezedes and grills. The food is homemade, good and very reasonable. There are tables outside on the steep alleyway and a garden inside which is covered in the winter. This style of establishment, the ouzeria(tchipouria) for which Volos is famous, has become rare in recent years in tourist areas, although most tavenas will do it, so it’s great to see one.
Rothi Restaurant: Rothi is the sign to look for which is Greek for pomegranate. Keep going straight up past Gorgonas for about 200 metres and you will find this gem tucked away, but worth the walk. Levtheris has brought his mother from Thessaloniki to cook and she is one of the best cooks on the island. Great quality cooking and a nice setting. The jugged red wine is excellent too. Courtyard garden nicely done in stone with, of course, pomegranate trees. No view but a nice change from the sea front.
Annas Restaurant: Also hidden away in the town is Anna’s which is a local institution. It has a nice terrace and a barn like interior for cooler weather. The food is more european in style but using greek standards and giving them a western edge. A good wine list which is replaced often so they can be short of stock on some things and the service is friendly. They have live Greek music in the high season.
A more sophisticated place, without views, but sometimes it’s nice to be away from the bustle of the paralia and have a bit of peace and quiet. Kolikithakia keftedes (courgette fritters with tzadziki) are great if available and salads have more of a western touch.
Perivoli Restaurant: In the town just up from Platanos Sq, this is renown for its lovely setting in a perivoli (orchard). It’s very popular with western tourists and serves classic dishes with a slightly western touch. Grilled lamb with oregano is usually good. Also difficult to get a table in the high season.
Apolafsis Restaurant: On the main road out of town this great little place suffers for its location in the midst of rent a car heaven, it doesn’t have the wow factor of facing the sea but it creates its own little haven which is only spoiled by the hormonally charged lads occasionally screaming by on their mopeds. The food is really good, straight forward Greek fare, perfectly cooked and makes up for the lack of gently bobbing fishing boats in front of your table. The usual dishes and mixtures of food, their grilled meats and fish are really good and probably the best prices to be had in town. Very nice family own and run the place and it is much used by the ex pat community. If they have fish soup on try it, it’s excellent.
Aiolli Restaurant: Along the seafront to the right or SW of the main paralia is this upmarket restaurant in Skopelos Village Hotel. It’s quite posh but not in a stiff way, they are relaxed and friendly and have a different take on traditional dishes with great flavours. Their fava for instance is pureed with sorrel to give a lovely lemony tang. A high standard of cooking, slightly more pricey but worth it. Try the horta keftedes – wild greens and herbs cooked as a patty or grandmothers meatballs!
Finikas Restaurant: On the hillside is no more !Lambros the chef/patron has moved into town taking over the old telephone company building he has opened a lovely meze place in a very traditional style.To find it just walk straight up the hill from Amaloi pottery on the seafrontand its right in front of you.
Agnanti Restaurant: Must be a contender for best on the island. Its position is amazing with spectacular views from its lofty perch in Glossa town and the food is great, another take on the Greek standards but lovely tastes and flavours. The place is also stylish in a modern rustic way and although prices are high for Skopelos, it’s well worth it. Try the pork with plums and the aubergine rolled around soft cheese.