Skiathos

Skiathos may be amongst the smallest of the Greek Aegean Isles but there is nothing small about the welcome that you will receive there.

It may only be 16 square miles but manages to fit over 70 great beaches along its glorious coastline whilst the inland area is lush and green, with ever regenerating forest making the island much more of a paradise than some of its more arid neighbours.

Seen as a trendy destination amongst Europeans there is no doubting that this tiny island becomes incredibly busy during the main season and whilst it throbs with vibrant life it can become slightly overbearing, heading out into the beauty of the inland regions is the perfect way to see the very best that this idyllic island has to offer without the crowds that adore it.

The accommodation around the main resorts all tends to be of a similar style and standard, for something a little more exceptional it is best to head slightly inland to the hillsides where there is more than just tourist streets to catch your eye.

Mandraki Village Boutique Hotel is set in its own beautifully scented gardens, close to the local Strofilia lake it is also only a couple of hundred metres walk through the gardens and parkland to the glorious pine clad beach at Koukounaries (recognised as one of the best of all Greek beaches). The rooms are modern, airy and light offering a level of luxury rarely found in the surrounding resorts.

For sea views and breathtaking sunsets Villa Maestrali on the Kalamaki Peninsula cannot be beaten,  set in its own grounds the private villa has all the modern conveniences you could need and is only a ten minute stroll from the beach – perfect for larger groups that want to do things their own way.

Eating out in Skiathos is a long and lazy affair, excellent food washed down with the local drinks are the signature of the meals that last long into the night; specialities include excellent seafood and lamb dishes smothered in the tastes of Greece, lemons, aromatic herbs and local olive oils – the flavours are as much about the atmosphere as the taste and both are excellent.

Taverna Anemos is everything that is right about the island cuisine, serving the very freshest fish and seafood in the best of surroundings with its harbour side location in Skiathos Town – the chef not only prepares the food but with his other job as a fisherman there is a fairly good chance that he has caught it too; the lobster and mussel dishes are the the house speciality and are always cooked to perfection.

Visit Evangelistrias Monastery, home to freedom fighters during the war of independence it now houses a small museum featuring many interesting exhibits including photographs of the very earliest members of the Greek Air Force, although now home to only two Monks they do make a very tasty wine which can be sampled in the museum shop.

Scuba diving is a popular sport on the island and many places have been opened up for tourist use, the best of these is to be found at Tzaneria beach where tours around the many islets takes place; the added bonus is the many friendly dolphins who often arrive to investigate the proceedings.

The summer months are gloriously subtropical with temperatures that hover around 80F, the long hot days are perfect for lazing along one of the islands many beaches but as a popular tourist destination the prices do rise accordingly.

Visiting in Spring and Autumn will help to avoid the crowds that can build up during the heady summer months and the costs do fall, however the temperature is less predictable and by the end of October the increase in rainfall and falling sea temperatures sees the end of the tourist season until early May.

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