Skyros Travel Guide
Only three and a half hours away from Athens lies the southernmost and largest island of the Sporades group - which consist of 24 islands, four of which are permanently inhabited: Alonissos, Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros. Skyros seems like two separate islands: the north has small bays, rolling farmland and pine forests, while the south features arid hills and a rocky shoreline.
In Greek mythology, Skyros was the hiding place of the young Achilles, who is thought to have ridden a Skyrian horse into Troy: the endangered small-bodied horses can still be seen in the wild on the island. A plethora of conquerors left behind their traces over the centuries, which is perfectly illustrated on the island’s traditions, customs and architecture.
Although it is the least famous island of the Sporades, Skyros becomes a huge love for those who have visited it. It is not by accident that a huge majority – over 80 per cent – report that the Skyros holiday experience had a lasting positive effect on their lives. Additionally, nearly a third come back again and again – even after they have said that Skyros was the 'holiday of a lifetime', as The Telegraph explained in one of its articles. Moreover, The Sunday Times have noted Skyros as a holiday destination "one of the world's best holidays". The Telegraph also notes that Skyros is the best island for alternatives, since it attracts many solo travellers from all over the world, apart from the families, which are also a basic part of mix. Whether you are an action lover or desperate for carefree moments under the sun, Skyros has a unique experience to offer to each one of you.
HOW TO GET TO SKYROS
- By Boat
Skyros and the Sporades in general are connected to the ports of Piraeus, Rafina, Agios Konstantinos and Volos. From Skyros you can also visit the nearby North and East Aegean Islands, the Cycladic islands Tinos, Andros, Syros, Santorini etc. In addition, there are ferry connections from Skyros ferry to the island of Crete via a third island. Your trip to Skyros can be with a conventional ferry boat, by Highspeed or Flying dolphin depending on the day, the time and the ferry company you wish to travel with. Ferries from Kymi, Piraeus, Rafina, Agios Konstandinos, Volos to Skyros run all year round on a daily basis. In summer, of course, there are more departures to choose from.
If you wish to be on the boat as short as possible, the best way to travel to Skyros is from Kymi. The trip lasts 1 hour and 40 min. You will reach Kymi either by bus (Ktel) from Athens (the trip lasts 3 hr. and 15’) or by car. The route you have to follow from Athens is: Athens-Chalkida-Aliveri-Kymi or Athens-Oropos-Eretria-Aliveri-Kymi (Tel ΚΤΕL Skyros: 22220-91123 / Tel KTEL Athens: 210-8317153). Some useful telephone numbers for the ferry boat to Skyros can be found below:
Ferry Boat Agency - Kymi Evia: ( + 30 ) 22220 22020 / 22522
Ferry Boat Agency - Skyros: ( + 30 ) 22220 91790
Ferry Boat Agency - Linaria Port: ( + 30 ) 22220 93465
Attention: The above mentioned information is subject to alteration. To be sure about correct schedules, departure and arrival times of conventional and highspeed ferries you have to check the online booking systems or call to make reservations - especially in high season periods.
- By airplane
From Athens or Thessaloniki. Flights of AEGEAN and SKY EXPRESS from Athens (in 30 minutes) or Thessaloniki to Skyros (in 40 minutes). For more info on the scheduled flights by phone dialing 22220 - 91600 (agency of Skyros) or 22220 - 91625 (Airport of Skyros). Skyros's airport is on the north part of the island on the military base in Trachi, which is 17 km from Chora. Transportation from and to Skyros's airport can be made by taxi, bus or car rental (although having a car in Skyros is generally advised so that you can visit the beaches and sites of the island).
GEOGRAPHY - CLIMATE
Skyros is the largest island of the Northern Sporades (223.10 square kilometres) and is located in the central part of the Aegean Sea. It is the southernmost point of this island complex and is relatively isolated from the rest. The fact that the nearest landmark (22 nautical miles) and at the same time a communication channel with the rest of the country is the port of Kimi in Evia, west of Skyros, is indicative of that. Its population is 3,450 permanent residents working mainly on agriculture, livestock, fishing, crafts and tourism. The Skyrian marbles, the exquisitely carved Skyrian furniture and the traditional embroideries have a special reputation, while many animal and agricultural products are exported over time. The country of Skyros, the area of Kalogria bay, Atsitsa with the neighboring pine forest and the Sarakinos islands have been characterized as Landscapes of Special Natural Beauty due to their high aesthetic value.
The climate of Skyros is Mediterranean and is characterized by cool summers, due to the northern winds on the island, and mild winters with an average annual temperature of 17 °C and an annual rainfall of 795mm. The morphology of Skyros differs greatly. Most of it is mountainous with two distinct mountainous volumes in the north and south, linked to a semi-pedestrian area. The landscape encountered by the visitor differs considerably along the island, which is probably due to the different geological period in which the parts were formed. The northern part is covered by a dense pine forest, rich in water resources, followed by a fertile semi-pasture meadow, while the southern part is characterized by the mountainous mass of Kochila (792 m), which is made up of rocky lakes and is mainly used as a pasture. However, most of the "Mountain" (4088.91 ha), as the locals call it, the wetlands in the southern part of Skyros and the adjacent islets are part of the NATURA 2000 network and are a Special Protection Area for birds as they are important a station for many migratory birds such as Circus aeruginosus, Falco vespertinus and several herons such as Egretta garzetta, Ardea purpurea, Ardeola ralloides and the nightgown Nycticorax nycticorax). The eastern side of Kochila is included in the European map of the Corine program under code A00040063.
Mount Kochyla is the home of the world's largest Falco eleonorae colony, more than 1,000 breeding pairs, whereas the rocky slopes have protected, rare and endemic plants such as Aethionema retsina, Aubrieta scyria, Campanula merxmuelleri, Centaurea rechingeri, Fritillaria ehrhartii, Galanthus icariae snogerupii, Galium reiseri, Malcolmia macrocalux scyria, Scorzonera scyria, and the unique maple forests (Acer sempervirens) of the Aegean Sea. Additionally, it is the natural habitat of the Skyrian horse (Equus cabalus skyriano).
The wetlands of Skyros offer a valuable habitat for species such as waterfowl, bats and a variety of straitormes. On the nearby, uninhabited islets and on the island of Skiroroula, the endemic Lizard of Skyros (Podarcis gaigeae) lives and reproduces, as well as some protected seabirds such as Calonectrisdiomedea, Puffinusyelkouan, Larus audouinii, and Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii. Moreover, it is an important station for many species of birds during the migratory period, while frequent appearances of the Monachus monachus is recorded on the shores. The marine environment of the islands is dominated by the Posidonia oceanica Mediterranean endemic plant, which is an important habitat for breeding and the early life stages of a multitude of fish and crustaceans.
Therefore, it is no surprise that Skyros is one of the two Greek destinations on the list of the top 100 green destinations in the world of "Green Destinations" that was presented in autumn 2018.
Skyros was previously called Pelasgia or Dolopia or Isle of Magnets and was originally inhabited by Carians and Pelasgians Dolopes. The current name is attributed to either the Phoenicians or the word skirron (= plaster). Being at the southern part of the Sporades island cluster, Skyros lives its own life somewhere between the past and the future. Its geographical position was simultaneously a disadvantage and advantage during its history. In the heart of the Aegean sea it maintained its natural beauty and its rich traditions in popular arts. Skyros appears on every page of the Greek History. It was an important center in the copper age (2500-1800 B.C.) verified by the archaeological excavations at Palamari. It is the island that bride Thetis chose to dissuade her son Achilles from going to the battle of Troia to fight for the honour of beautiful Helen. According to the myth, Achilles was dressed in woman clothes and lived in the palace with the daughters of king Likomidis. However, the diviner disclosed this information to Ulysses who shipped to Skyros in the hold of a ship owned by a weapons and gold dealer. So when the women where choosing gold jewellery, Achilles surrendered having chosen one of the swords provided by the arms dealer. Until today, the bay where Achilles sailed off to Troia from is known as Achili. At 470 B.C. Skyros was conquered by the Athenian general named Kimon, who established an Athenian colony on the island bringing Athenian settlers with many ships. In doing so, he managed to eliminate any pirates looting the area. Since then and until almost the end of antiquity Skyros was a satellite of Athens. Historical archives reveal that the island was inhabited continuously from the Late Neolithic times and that the local colored marbles in the Roman Age where moved by ship to Rome to decorate many public and private buildings.
During the early Byzantine period the island did not flourish, but during the middle Byzantine period the island benefited from the economic prosperity of the southern provinces of Greece and organized the diocese, which was incorporated into the jurisdiction of the metropolitan of Athens under the “regular" (Notitial Episcopatuum) era of the Komnenos and Palaiologos. The Castle of Skyros, built on the highest point of Skyros town and overlooking the whole area, has a long history behind it. Although it is not as well preserved as other castles in Greece, this stone fortress was built in the Byzantine Times to protect the island from enemies and pirates that were frequently devastating the Aegean islands at that time. The ancient monastery of Saint George, a dependency of the Monastery of Megisti Lavra, Mount Athos, is situated on the top of the castle. It was established by Nikiforos Fokas and Ioannis Tsimiskis at 906 ac. It possesses many rare holy icons and the view is captivating and extraordinary.
After the conquest of Istanbul by the Crusaders (1204), Skyros was owned by the Venetians and was granted, along with other islands in the family Gizi. At the end of the 14th century it was occupied by the Turks and remained under their rule until 1402 when Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, in accordance with the treaty signed with the Byzantines in 1402, attributed it to Byzantium, along with Skiathos and Skopelos.
After the fall of Istanbul by Moameth II (1453) it joined the colonial state of Venice. But during the first Venetian-Turkish War (1463-1479), Skyros, which was still in the hands of the Venetians, was burned by the Turkish fleet, which failed to capture the castle. In 1538, when Barbarossa Hayreddin conducted raids in the Aegean, Skyros subjugated and was forced to pay an annual tax of 2,000 gold coins.
During the Venetian-Turkish War (1645-1669), the island returned to the Venetians for a few years (between 1652 & 1669) and then the Turkish domination continued on the island until the Greek Revolution. During the Orlov (1770-1774) that sea area around Skyros, which had been released by the Russians, was controlled by the Russian fleet. In the war of 1821 the presence of Skyrian maritime and land operations has been remarkable and the island became a haven for refugees. During the 18th century there was development of community institutions and economic life. A school was founded in 1825 under the care of the abbot of the monastery of St. George Neophytou.
CULTURE AND FOOD
Skyros is one of the islands that developed remarkable folk art. The products of local island crafts became so widely known, that many times every artistic creation resembling the style would be called Skyrian. The main crafts that flourished particularly on the island are the ones of carpentry, embroidery and pottery making.
The woodcuts include stools of various sizes and styles, made from local black mulberry foremost, but also white. The stools are quite small, because the houses were small, but very comfortable to use and very sturdy. It should be noted that these together with tripods, i.e. small tables, were the only furniture of houses of the ruling class. Moreover, many types of trunks, sofas, thrones etc had woodcuts. The woodcuts of Skyros date back to the Byzantine era and their main decoration consists of double-headed eagles, human figures, geometric designs, birds and mythological animals, dragons etc.
As far as needlework is concerned, embroidery and household handicrafts were primarily intended for individual use in Skyros. There are two types of embroidery, embroidery to decorate the costume (male and female) and embroideries for home decoration (sheets, pillows, headboards etc.). The second ones are more complex in their composition and have richer ornaments.
A multitude of customs reveal a centuries-old tradition that has been kept almost intact over the centuries. Colourful cultural events as well as local feasts taking place around the 365 churches of the island offer to the visitor an unforgettable experience with exquisite local flair all year long. The renowned Carnival of Skyros counts among the most famous cultural events. The celebrations of Carnival associated with the cycle of the seasons: people celebrate the spring for its sun and light that brings rebirth and for the end of winter, that was holding the light captured. The costumes and use of masks are integral elements of the carnival, as well as the procession of a dummy in the streets that is going to be "killed" by drowning, hanging or incineration. The puppet usually looks like a ridiculous "little man" and it is called Carnival King made of old clothes stuffed with straw and sometimes with firecrackers or other fireworks in it. In its traditional forms, during carnival celebration a customary symbolic funeral of the Carnival (impersonated by someone in disguise) takes place, meaning the end of the carefree period and the beginning of Lent. The Carnival of Skyros has its roots back in Greek mythology retaining many elements of the primordial carnival, such as the outdoor theatrical performances and recitations of satiric verses (events with special color that referred to Satire, the god Saturn and Pan), the traditional events of masqueraders and the interesting figures of the Old Man, the Korela and the Frank.
Many famous artists were visiting Skyros and had a huge love for the island. Oscar Wilde, George Drosinis, John Tsarouchis and George Seferis are some of them. And of course Rupert Brooke, whose grave is on the island. As George Theotokas writes, “Skyros saved me. It was the one that I needed more than anything else, the intense whipping of the soul …. I’ll never forget the feeling of absolute freedom that this island gave me, the parched and lit up, it gave me so much intense when I went and swam in a beautiful sandy beach, alone amid sun , sea and air. Moments of excitement amid nature and solitude, perhaps the greatest … “( G. Theotokas ” Calendar ” Argo ” and ” Demon” “). There are many books and poems inspired from or written about Skyros.
Last, but not least comes the food. Skyrian cuisine is really interesting being based on traditional Greek and Mediterranean cuisine, while using all kinds of products found on the island. Skyros has a great variety of seafood, with lobster and lobster spaghetti cooked in special recipes being the most famous dishes of all. Livestock and dairy products are also very well known, so fans of meat should eat lamb or goat on the hull ("arnaki/katsikaki sti gastra") and rooster cooked with wine ("kokkoras krasatos") and cheese fans should try spicy graviera, kefalograviera, mizithra and xinotiri (a white soft cheese made of sheep's milk with a slightly sour taste and yoghurt texture). Moreover, as in most Greek islands, Skyros has many pies, the most famous of which is Teroptaria (pie with frumenty, rice and mizithra), Trachanopita (which means Frumenty pies) and Ladopita (pie with olive oil and skyrian cheese), Rizopita (rice pie) and Galatopita (Milk pie). For those who love mushrooms, there are two famous dishes, Taftitsa (a kind of local mushrooms fried and served with garlic) and Manites (grilled mushrooms picked from the forest). Another interesting dish, only found in Skyros, is Agalipokeftedes, which is meatballs from a material only found in this island which is called "sea windmill", onions, flour and fennel. If you're lucky enough you will be able to try Marmarites, which are pies with red zucchini and mizithra or with raisins and red pumpkin (usually made on the Eve of 6/1). All these can be accompanied with one of the many Skyrian wines.
ACTIVITIES - LEISURE
If you reach the island by boat, you will encounter the scenic Port of Linaria. Only ten km far, on the eastern side of the island and in the eastern foothills of Mount Olympus, you will find the beautiful Chora, amphitheatrically built around a Byzantine castle that occupies the site of the ancient citadel (acropolis). Walking through the cobbled alleys and smelling the jasmine, one can admire the Skyrian houses with their unique architecture; their flat roofs is a typical example of traditional island architecture, yet featuring local elements, particularly as far as interior decoration is concerned. In Chora one should visit:
The Byzantine castle - Monastery of St George
Keep heading uphill in Skyros Town, and eventually all the winding alleys lead to the Byzantine castle, inside of which there is the Byzantine Monastery of St George, founded in 962. On the entrance of the castle one can see the walled-in marble lion (dragon) and remains of the Cyclopean and Byzantine walls. The view to the sea and to the rest of Northern Sporades islands is overwhelming. Inside the castle lie the ruins of a 9th century church as well as the castle-monastery of Agios Georgios. This working monastery (whose bells might wake you early if you're staying in the town) was out of bounds until recently due to earthquake damage. You can now visit its chapel, which features an ornate gilded screen and faded frescoes. Among the offerings, one can see the gold medal of the first Greek Olympic champion, Spyros Louis. Beyond are the ruins of the 13th-century Venetian fortress.
Manos and Anastasia Faltaïts Folk Art Museum
This not-to-be-missed gem details the mythology and folklore of Skyros. It stands in the biggest tower, known locally as "Paleopyrgos", on the very ancient Pelasgian walls of Skyros. The 19th-century mansion in the Skyriton Park is a multilevel labyrinth of Skyrian costumes, embroidery, antique furniture, ceramics, daggers, cooking pots and vintage photographs; among the wealth of items is a goat mask and heavy bells worn by revellers at carnival time. There's also an excellent gift shop selling bespoke ceramics, fabrics, books and prints. Students of Greek history can study the museum's wealth of documents, including the proclamation of the Greek Revolution against the Ottoman Empire, and the subsequent renouncement of the uprising by the church, who excommunicated the revolutionaries. There is also a collection of writings by journalist Konstantinos Faltaïts, the father of artist Manos who founded the museum, and whose colourful and sensual paintings are displayed throughout. Outside in the tiered and terraced gardens, a stone amphitheatre is the venue for plays and concerts, and hosts the Rembetika Music Festival (for one week in mid July).
Open Stone Theatre
Next to the Faltaits museum there is a theatre with incredible acoustics that hosts great performances in the summer, including the «Skyros Festival».
Rupert Brooke's Statue
British poet Rupert Brooke died near Skyros during the First World War. Apart from his tomb, he is commemorated with a statue in a square at the north-east end of town named Kyprou square (but also known as Brooke square), near the archaeological Museum and the small church Agia Triada (St Trinity). The view of the Mediterranean from this beautiful and prestigious square is breathtaking. Once upon a time, there would have been numerous lookouts at spots like this to keep a weather eye out for pirates. Nowadays, all you’ll see are yachts and fishing-boats sailing the peaceful Aegean Sea.
The main statue is a symbol of the eternal, undying poetry and there are the following inscriptions on the both sides - east and west - of it: "This monument was put up in 1930 due to international money collections - and now that I saw the Holy Land of Attica, I may die - Rupert Brooke". There is an embossed bust of the poet as well as the following dedication on the west side of the statue's base: "To Rupert Brooke, 1887-1915, and his eternal, undying poetry".
Rupert Brooke’s well-tended marble grave is in a quiet olive grove just inland from Tris Boukes Bay; it’s signed with a wooden sign in Greek. The gravestone is inscribed with Brooke’s most famous sonnet, ‘The Soldier'. When Brooke’s fellow naval officers buried him, they erected a simple wooden cross (now in England) with an inscription originally in Greek: 'Here lies the servant of God, sub-lieutenant in the English Navy, who died for the deliverance of Constantinople from the Turks.'
The Archaeological Museum
The two rooms of the Skyros Museum contain finds from archaeological sites on the island dating from the Early Helladic period (2.800-1.900 BC) to Roman times (1st c. AD). Characteristic vases in this case include a Cypriot-made flask, an Attic Geometric pyxis with ponies worked in the round on the lid and the zoomorphic rhyton (ritual vase) in the form of a horse.
The collections of the Museum include Pottery of the early Helladic period (2.800-1.900 BC) from the city of Skyros, Palamari and elsewhere, Pottery of Mycenaean period (1.600-1.100 BC) , Pottery of the Protogeometric period (11th-9th c. BC) from the cemetery on the coast at Magazia, finds from the Protogeometric and Geometric periods (900-800 BC) , finds of the Geometric and Archaic periods from recent excavations and vases and other objects from the Classical to the Roman period (5th - 1st c. BC).
Along with Mycenaean pottery found near Magazia and artefacts from the Bronze Age excavation at Palamari, this attractive courtyard building contains a traditional Skyrian house interior, transported in its entirety from the benefactor’s home.
Apart from the beautiful Chora though, there are plenty of other interesting things to do and visit on the island, some of which are stated below.
Ride a Skyrian Horse (or Skyrian pony)
The Skyrian horse (Equus Cabalus Skyriano) is a special Greek horse breed. Its roots reach in antiquity, where it was the dominant race all over the Greek area. It is likely to have common roots with the Horse of Pindos. It is considered a descendant of the horses of Achilles, who he took along and used in the Trojan war. This durable breed is pictured on the Parthenon frieze. Another important moment throughout the centuries is their use in the campaigns of Alexander the Great.
Their characteristic feature is their small height of just 110 cm. Their powerful, strong and sturdy body is ideal for threshing and plowing the farmland. In the past during the time of harvesting horse racing took place. A popular celebration with a special ritual. The riders were running races without saddle and bridle! After completion of the feast horses were left freely at Kochlaka until May. In the 60’s these customs were abandoned. The use of agricultural machinery led to the horses’ population decline and were classified as an endangered species. Until this day Skyrians are struggling to eliminate the risk of the Skyrian horse extinction. The Skyros horse is a blessed existence covering the ages with power and beauty and it belongs to most rare horse breeds in the world and lives only in Skyros island.
If you wish to ride this "tiny but mighty ancient Greek horse that still exists today", as National Geographic has stated, you could visit the Apaloosa Riding Centre in Trachi, to ride in the forest or have an excursion on horse on the beach. Alternatively, you could visit Mouries Farm in Kalamitsa to have your meal under the trees, watch the horses and let your children have a small ride on the world's famous horses.
Molos and Magazia villages
Just 10 or 15 minutes walk from the main town is the charming villages of Magazia and Molos - the one being the "extension" of the other basically. These villages are gifted with the most famous sandy beaches with crystal blue waters in Skyros - and, that's why the busiest on high seasons. The coastal resort of Magazia and Molos is being developed very fast with many restaurants, cafe-bars and beach bars. Magazia has fine dark sand and its name came from the gun powder magazines used to store there in the Venetian times. At the northern end of the village are numerous churches and caves that look like houses carved into the rock. The waves are very strong here and they eat away the shoreline every year. The ruins of a concrete seawall can be seen semi-submerged in the water. One can visit many churches here, the most important of which is Agios Georgios at Perasmata. Stamatis Ftoulis gallery with intimate ceramics workshop can also be found on the marrow boardwalk at Magazia (there is also a showroom in Chora). Magazia and Molos are great to have as a base, visiting the rest of the island starting from there. One should also check out the daily cruises starting from Molos.
St Nickolas chapel (Agios Nikolaos)
The island is characterized by its many churches. St. Nickolas chapel, carved out of the rock in Pouria, is well worth a visit. The stunning rock on which the chapel is dug is located in the place where the ancient limestone quarry was. In the main thoroughfare you will find Melikarou Church, named after “melikaria”, white hyacinths that bloom on the holy day of the Assumption of Virgin Mary. Other churches near Agios Nikolaos are Agia Paraskevi and Agios Ermolaos.
Acherounes is a very nice tourist resort situated on the west coast of central Skyros, 10 km from Chora. The village is easily accessible. Because of the presence of natural sceneries and nice facilities, lots of visitors flock here during the hot summer. In this tourist resort, you will find a number of cafes and bars. One can see here coloured boats floating on the bay. You can avail routine trips on them conducted to roam around the island. Acherounes has a very attractive beach with clean blue waters and soft golden sand which attracts many water sports enthusiasts and where children can swim safely. The stunning landscape along with the superb sea views towards the nearby islets of Skyropoula, Valax and Renae impart the look of a splendid canvass painting. Morerover, if you are a Scuba diving fan or you would like to try it, you could always visit Gorgonia Diving. There, bringing only your swimsuit and your smile, since they provide you equipment, a diving instructor and a diving mood, you could enjoy scuba diving in the crystal clear water of Skyros, in the centre of the Aegean.
Atsitsa village is situated 18 km north west of Skyros town. There is a good road and transportation provision available to this beautiful place. In the region one can enjoy fresh fish, lobster, local wine and special delicacies in the taverns existing there. Atsitsa has a picturesque bay with deep blue waters that gives a nice contrast with the greenness of the pine trees all-around. The magnificent pine forest and other fruit trees grant a wonderful charm to this village where ancient civilizations thrived once upon a time. Atsitsa, being a popular destination for alternative tourism enthusiasts, has alternative cultural centers providing courses on music, yoga, dancing, painting and other cultural activities. One can also enjoy wind surfing, sailing, sunbathing, swimming and walk in the charming pine forests. Atsitsa is gifted with many small coves where swimming is really enjoyable. Within the proximity of 5 or 6 km from Atsitsa there are some stunning beaches like the crowded Agios Petros, the calm and quiet Theotokos and the splendid Agios Fokas.
Aspous village awaits the visitor on the road that leads from the port towards Chora, only 5km away from Chora. Legend has it that Achilles started his journey to Troy from the adjacent bay Achilli, so one should pay a visit and swim in Achilli Bay. It is also worth seeing the Skyrian pottery workshop. The small coastal hamlet of Aspous consists of a lovely countryside, low bare hills and endless sea. The curvy bay has a small stretch of a sandy beach in the middle. It is lined with hospitable taverns, like "Lambros" Tavern. There are no water sports, but one can rent floats from the taverns. The best activity here is to stroll around the countryside and enjoy the beautiful scenery, so walk along the pavement to the fishing jetty where the church of Agios Nikolaos lies by the sea. After a 45-minute walk, there is the chapel of Prophet Elias (1.5 km S), with its panoramic, stunning view.
In the charming pine tree filled area, just 11 km south west of Skyros Town (Chora) one meets the beautiful village of Pefkos. The area is noted for its pleasant natural scenes and the lush greenery surroundings. In the impressive port of Pefkos, one can see the fishermen engaged in working with their nets and many boats floating on the waters. Pefkos is a traditional hamlet unspoilt and authentic. The cafe bars here offer nice drinks and snacks while the customary taverns have fresh fish meals and other delicacies - such as "Stamatia” restaurant that cooks lobster to perfection. A noteworthy place to visit in Pefkos is the chapel of Agios Panteleimonas overlooking the village from the nearby mountains. From the church one can enjoy the wonderful sight of the whole village, the harbour and the landscapes spreading towards the south. Moreover, there is an amazing sandy beach located there that attracts lot of tourists. The surrounding mountains protect the beach from the strong sea winds and thus make it an ideal place for swimming. There are also other gorgeous beaches in close proximity like that of Agios Fokas or Diapori with deep blue and cool waters and golden sand.
Cruise to Sarakiniko
Every day boats from Pefko start a cruise to Glyfada, the clear waters of Sarakiniko, a small uninhabited island south of Skyros. On the way to Glyfada the boats stop in two caves of the island for dives.
Explore all the natural beauties of the island, such as the islets (or "stoneships"), the springs, the caves and, of course, the beaches.
Islets (or "stoneships")
Skyros is surrounded by 11 islets or “stone ships”. The Skyropoula is the largest islet, mountainous and rocky. There stands the church of the Assumption of Mary (17th Century). The Balaxa is the next in size and “gives birth” from ancient times until today the famous marble of Skyros. Opposite are the Diavates (“the passers)”, an area where gulls lay their eggs and anglers make good fish!
The existence of springs in Skyros is absolutely intertwined with the traditions. The spring “Nyfi” with its thermal water that refreshes and “Anavalsa” the vivifying source of Chora, with its pond, “give life” to Skyros.
Discover the island’s best kept “secret”: In the vicinity of the harbour there is a galore of sea caves with stalactites (Xyloparati, Mantroucha, Pentekali, Diatrypti, Gerania). Small boats run Daily Cruises to these caves, passing through the arched openings in the rocks outside the port of Linaria. The cave of Pentekali or Diatrypti is a cave of a unique beauty. Its name comes from the fact that a small boat can pass through it. The stalactites of the cave sparkle due to the light in the sea. Swimming in the water is a unique experience!
BEST BEACHES OF SKYROS
Molos beach is found only 4 km north of Skyros Town. It is the most organized beach of the island with many taverns available in close distance, like "Istories tou Barba" (which means "Uncle's stories"), where you can try all kinds of seafood and "the fisherman's spaghetti". Molos is a natural continuation with the beach of Magazia. Molos has fine sand and clean water. The atmosphere is very relaxing there, especially during sunset. Magazia beach is the extension of Molos beach, organised and with watersports available.
For shade without umbrellas one should go to Pefkos. This pebbly and green beach is 11 km from Chora, in the center of the island (one of the two green sections of Skyros, the other is located northeast) and is full of pine trees, as its name suggests (since Pefkos means "pine Tree" in Greek). The pine trees on the rocks that are created in this bay provide shade on a significant part of the beach from noon onwards. The beach is rather isolated and not organized. Very close to Pefkos, the sweet little sandy beach of Agios Fokas is located, with its homonymous chapel.
Agios Petros (St Peter) Beach
Agios Petros lies 16 km north west of Chora and is characterized by the white sand dune which stretch along the lush pine tree hills. Part of the beach is covered with pebbles and sharp shingles while tall rock formations line most of the bay. Cedar trees growing over the rocks add to the idyllic scenery that attracts many visitors for swimming, sunbathing and kayaking. There are no facilities on the beach. On top of the hill overlooking the bay is the tranquil chapel of Agios Petros. The beach lies close to Atsitsa. Its crystal, aquamarine waters that end up in a golden sandy beach that is framed by a tall pine forest is just magical.
As stated above, a cruise to Sarakiniko island and its beautiful sandy beach Glyfada worths a visit. The old pirate lair is located on the uninhabited island, south of Skyros, where one can go by boat from Linaria, Pefkos etc. The exotic, almost white sand and its turquoise waters make a scene ... of the Pirates of the Caribbean.
Atsitsa beach is quite popular on the island of Skyros. With a couple of taverns nearby, which offer scrumptious food, the beach does not provide many amenities, such as towels or umbrellas. The beach is dotted with rocks along the water, and provides a good place to sit, as the waves splash against you. There are a few trees nearby, but do not enough to provide substantial shade, so do carry your umbrella, or a good sunscreen. As it is not very crowded, Atsitsa beach is therefore an excellent choice for some moments of relaxation. The sea is quite shallow.
The beautiful beach of Kalamitsa is one of the largest of Skyros and it is the perfect beach for windsurf lovers.
Very close to Kalamitsa, one can find Kolimpada beach, which is a very nice pebbled beach with amazing water.
The wonderful Acherounes beach lies 10 km west of Chora. The panoramic view of the mountains and the open horizon offers an exciting scene. There are many trees along the coast. The soft golden sand and the clean, crystal blue waters attract lots of visitors. Because of the surrounding hilly terrain and the geographical position of the area, the sea is very calm here, ideal for families and a fun filled day at the beach. There are a number of spacious cafeterias and snack bars available here. The chapel of Virgin Mary is very near to this place and on every 15th of August a large festival is conducted there.
A beautiful sandy beach and a picteresque village (see above on Aspous village)
Gyrismata beach is an extremely popular beach among locals as well as tourists. This long and sandy beach lies 5 km north of Skyros Town (Chora) and stretches over quite a distance. Ideal for swimming and sunbathing, it is quite expected that the beach would a pole of attraction for the visitors. If you are visiting during the high season, be prepared for some crowd and noise. In the early morning hours the beach is quite peaceful and relaxing. After swimming and sunbathing, one could eat at “Stelios” Tavern for a lobster or other delicious seafood.
Kirapanagia and Kalogria Beach
Two long and sandy beaches, Kyra Panagia beach and Kalogria beach - one very close to another - are on the west coast of the island of Skyros, 12 km from Chora. These beaches are quite unspoilt with sparkling, cold water and nice sand. Truly beautiful beaches, Kyra Panagia and Kalogria are ideal for sunbathing though not many amenities are made available, so be sure to carry your own umbrellas and towels. Shade is provided by the green luscious trees which line the beach. Many colorful boats come up to the beach adding color to the scene.
Skyros with its contradictory charm, looking half like Sporades - with the pine trees reaching almost the waves on the beaches of the north - and half like Cyclades - with its white houses that climb up the slope of a completely Cycladic Chora to the Castle - is going to charm every visitor, either a sport enthusiast or a relaxation seeker...