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Skiathos

Skiathos is only 46 sq km, but many people choose to return for their holidays year after year for the simple fact that it has amongst the best beaches of the Greek islands, a large variety of taverns, bars and places to stay and the fact that it is absolutely gorgeous.

It is a lush, green island with over 60 beaches and depending on where you stay, you can have a quiet, relaxing holiday or a more active one doing excursions, sports and enjoying the nightlife.

Skiathos ChoraThe locals mainly live off tourism and agriculture. They grow olives, fruit and walnuts and there is both local honey and wine. Many of the islanders leave the island in the winter and work on the mainland. The difference between the summer and winter season is very distinct: whereas the population amounts to about 4000 people, in summer it can reach 70000! The capital of the island, Skiathos Town, has managed to keep its traditional style even though every summer thousands of visitors flock to enjoy what it has to offer. As you come into the port the first thing you will notice, to the left, are the old shipyards whilst nearby is a large lake which also sees thousands of visitors every summer - this time as a presence of many varieties of birdlife which flock here during there summer migrations.The town of Skiathos has many interesting churches. among the most important is the Cathedral which has many holy relics and icons which come from other churches all over the island and are looked after at the Cathedral.  another interesting church to visit in Skiathos town is the Church of Mary of The Lake.  Here there is a shrine to Alexandros Papadiamardis the famous writer of Skiathos. Go as well to the beautiful churches of Agios Fanarios and Agios Nikolas.  From these two pretty churches you will be able to enjoy amazing views to the castle of Skiathos.  Throughout the history of the island, this castle, like many in the Greek islands, was used by the population of Skiathos as a shelter from raiding pirates or Turks.  The castle was also the place where the allies escaped from during the Second World War.  Try to also visit the monasteries of Skiathos which are located close to the capital.  among the most important of these is the Monastery of Evangelistria where, during the Greek War of Independence, many Greek fighters sought sanctuary.  In the museum and library of this monastery you can see important books and relics of historical and religious importance.

Skiathos is a popular summer resort for British and Scandinavian holidaymakers, but there are also many Italians, Germans, Dutch and Swiss. The Greeks also love Skiathos, and they like to see it as a bit of a cosmopolitan island.

History Skiathos is one of the few islands in Greece that has never changed name, at least as far as we know. It is not certain where the name comes from and one theory has it that it is a pre-Greek name given to the island's very first inhabitants. Another explanation is that it comes from the Greek word for shadow, Skia, and that it got it because of its many trees, or that the island lies in the shadow of the mountains of Pelion on the mainland.

Prehistoric findings on Skiathos tell us that the island has been inhabited since pre-historic times. We do not know exactly who lived here then, perhaps the Pelasgians.

Skiathos has a tradition of shipbuilding, and together with the fertile soil it became an important resting place for expeditions and travellers. It is believed that both the Greek fleet against Troy, as well as Jason and the Argonauts made a stop here before sailing on.

In the 7th century BC the Chalceids settled here and the island was to become a strategically important place in the Persian Wars in the 5th century BC.

Skiathos was to fall under Athenian, Spartan as well as Macedonian rule through the ancient years. The greatest catastrophy came when Philip III sacked the island in order to prevent the invading Romans from getting the island's riches in the 2nd century BC. Skiathos was to enjoy relative freedom both under Roman and Byzantine times until the Venetian Ghisi brothers took it over in the 13th century.

The curse of the island was the constant pirate raids during Medieval times. The people of the island moved to Kastro, and did their best to protects themselves from there. The final blow came in 1538 when the Turks invade. After defending themselves for a week, the Skiathos people could no longer resist, and the Turks stormed into Kastro, killing men, women and children.

The Turkish rule was strict, and many refugees also came from the mainland, impoverishing Skiathos almost totally. The island was finally freed in 1829. Since then it has been a peaceful place, with the exception of the Second World War when the Germans set the island on fire.

What to See Even though Skiathos is such a small island, there are quite a few things to see. In Skiathos torn, Chora, there is the old part with tiny winding streets and old, impressive houses.
There is also the Bourtzi, a tiny peninsula in the harbour which used to be a Venetians citadel, with remains of the 13 century wall and canons. Here, you can enjoy concerts, art exhibitions and puppet shows for children in the open air theatre.

Skiathos church of EvagelistriaThe monastery Evangelistra is situated a 30 minute drive outside Chora. It has some amazing surroundings and is open for the public. Characteristic for the monastery are the many friendly cats, birds and dog that live here. Evangelistra also has a small museum with various objects from its history. There is also an excellent shop here where you can buy icons, crucifixes, plates, T-shirts and even wine. There is a small, white bus that goes between the monastery and Chora several times a day.

Kounistra monastery is further away from Chora, and you can only get there if you rent a vehicle or go on an excursion. Here, a monk found an icon of the Virgin Mary hanging in a tree in the 17th century, and the monastery was built after the icon: Kounistra means "the swinging". This used to be a school during the Turkish rule, and you are free to walk around in it. The icon is the Tris Ierarches church in Chora today, so the Kounistra church only holds a copy.

When visiting the monasteries, don't forget to wear a long skirt and to cover your shoulders if you are a woman, and to wear long trousers if you are a man.

You can also visit the medieval capital Kastro, either by going on one of the boat trips around the island, or driving almost all the way and then walking. Don't miss the Church of Christ and the old houses.

What to Do On many of the beaches there are watersports, for example on Megali Ammos near Chora, Koukounaries and Ag Paraskevi. In Chora there is a tennisclub. You can also go horse riding near Koukounaries. There is also a diving centre. In the Bourtzi open air theatre there are usually concerts, traditional Greek dancing and plays in the evening.

There are daytrips to the neighbouring islands Skopelos and Alonissos, as well as to Athens and Meteora.

Beaches Even though Skiathos is a small island, it has over 60 beaches, and there is at least one for every taste: Koukounaries is one of Greece's most famous beaches - a long sandy beach with beautiful surroundings, taverns, snack bars and water sports, Banana beach, which is known as a nudist beach but the fact is that only part of it is, Agia Paraskevi - a perfect beach for the family, Lalaria - a white pebble beach you only can reach by boat (Jason and the Argonauts was partly filmed here). The north side can get quite rough, and the beaches there are not so suitable for children.

Nightlife The nightlife in Chora is quite busy, especially during high season, but fortunately, most discos are on the "Disco Strip", at the end of the new harbour towards the airport. There are little bars everywhere, but the busiest street is Polytechniou street, or "Bar Street". Koukounaries also has quite a few places.

Food and restaurants There is a wide range of restaurants on Skiathos and you can get anything from French cuisine to traditional Greek food. The island is not really known for any specialty, but you can often get Skopelos cheese pie.
There are some locally made sweets you can boy on they waterfront.

Shopping Most shops are on the main street of the town, Papadiamantis street. There, you will find clothes, souvenirs, jewellery, leather belts etc.
If you want to get something really genuine you should go to the monastery Evaggelistria and buy some of the wine the monks make.

Getting Around There is a quite good bus line going to many places on the island. The bus stops are numbered, so it is very easy to know where to get off. No 1 being in town and the last number down at Koukounaries beach. There is also a small, white bus that goes to and from the Evaggelistria monastery and Chora. You can also rent a car or a bike. There are taxis on the island, but no so many that you can trust you'll get one on your departure day without reserving one.

Getting There Skiathos has an airport, so you can either get there from your home country or via local flights from Athens. The flight from Athens takes about 35 minutes. The Flying Dolphins are hydrofoils that go to and from the mainland (Volos and Ag Konstantinos) every day. The larger ferrybots also arrive several times a day. A couple of times a week there is also a ferryboat from Thessaloniki.

Facts about Skiathos* Phone numbers*
Size: 46 sq km International code: 0030
Population: about 6000 Local code: 24270
Cash machine: Yes Health center: 22222
Internet cafe: Yes  Tourist Police: 23172
Highest Mountain: Police: 21111
Airport: Yes Taxi: 21460
Tour Operators:Argo,Libra, JMC Apollo, Coast guard: 22017
Ving Post office: 22011
Telephone company (OTE): 22399

*The info displayed may be inaccurate. If changes have been made, please let us know.

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