Skopelos is known as the green island, and as soon as you pull into the port, you can clearly see why. The island is made up of 45% trees and vegetation and provides a gorgeous background to all the spectacular beaches. Although most people may not have ever heard of Skopelos, it made its introduction to the world as the filming site of the infamous Mamma Mia musical starring Meryl Streep.
Where is Skopelos?
Skopelos is the largest of the Sporades archipelago group, located in the Northeast of Greece. Now you know. 🙂
How to get to Skopelos
Skopelos can be reached by ferry from the mainland ports of Volos and Aghios Konstantinos. Another option is to fly into Skiathos, anothernearby island in the Sporades, and take the one hour ferry ride over. I usually book Greek ferries online with Hellenic Seaways.
Spyrou hotel group-a luxury hotel group that has 4 lovely hotels on the island. I stayed in Skopelos Holiday Hotel & Spa and it had a panoramic view over the port of Skopeos and the surrounding mountains. The staff treats you like royalty and are very attentive to your needs. The hotel has a pool, jacuzzi, and spa as well as on-site restaurant and pool bar. The room I was staying in was overlooking the pool with a spectacular view of the town in the backdrop. It’s about a 25 minute walk to town and they can arrange a ferry pick up and drop of at your request.
I was impressed with the service and treatment at this hotel. I felt like a queen during my short stay! I was also there during shoulder season so I basically had the whole hotel to myself. I think I got extra attention for this fact…something I definitely wasn’t complaining about.
Blue Green Bay-I spent quite a lot of time here lounging and enjoying the most beautiful bay known as Panormos (aka Blue Green Bay). The hotel is on Panormos beach with private loungers and beds. It’s very relaxing and tranquil. It has a pool and beach bar both overlooking the beach.
This is the place to stay when you want somewhere a little more luxurious and private. The tiny little village of Panormos has a few restaurants, shops, and tour agencies close by. It’s secluded, yet close to some amenities if you desire. It’s also closer to some of the best beaches on the island, namely Kastrani and Milia.
What to Do in Skopelos
Skopelos Town-Skopelos town is located along the waterside and is a lot less commercialised than most Greek island towns. For that reason, you can really appreciate the traditional housing throughout the maze like town. Skopelos town has many many stairs, so if you don’t mind the walk, take a stroll to the top and admire the views.
There are 3 main churches in the town worth a visit, my favourite being the Church of Panagitsa tou Pyrgou, pictured below. The pure white structure with the turquoise sea in the background is as picturesque as they come.
I had a mini tour arranged by a lady named Daphne and she was wonderful! She has her very own blog about the island called Skopelos News and she also does private tours around the island, so check her out if you’re in town.
She revealed so much of the history of the island and gave me some interesting facts while navigating through the cute little streets. And who doesn’t like a private tour guide, right? :). The most interesting fact I learned about Skopelos? It has 365 churches, one for every day of the year!
Panormos Beach (aka Blue Green Bay)-as you drive to this beach and come around the corner, you get a sneak peak from above and it is absolutely breathtaking. You can really see the changing colours from deep blue, to turquoise, to emerald green closer to the shore. It’s SPECTACULAR. If you only go to one beach on the island, make it this one!
I went back twice because I loved it so much. It’s very peaceful and beautiful. There are a few little restaurants on the beach, as well as sun beds for use.
No edits on this pic, look at the water changing colors..
Kastrani-this is the main beach used in many scenes of the movie Mamma Mia. This might be the most turquoise waters I have ever seen. It looks as if a turquoise colored highlighter had been broken and leaked into the sea. The white stone and towering trees in the backdrop only add to the beauty of this beach. This is the most popular beach on the island, so in summer, expect a crowd. There is a cute restaurant bar on the beach as well.
Is this not paradise? ♥
Milia-this beach is just on the other side of Kastrani and a little more rugged with white sand. This beach may be a little more quiet than Kastrani if you’re looking for a little R&R. There is also a little restaurant near the beach if you get hungry/hangry.
Glossa– a cute little town perched on the top of a hill with amazing views over the sea. It’s a little more traditional than Skopelos town and is another great place to base yourself when visiting the island.
St. John Church (Agios Ioannis)-this church is where the marriage took place in Mamma Mia. It’s located about 100 meters above the sea on a high rock jutting out over the water. Even if you’re not a fan of themovie, you must go up to the top. The panoramic views over the Aegean Sea are freaking awesome! It takes less than 10 minutes to get to the top and is 100% worth it. Do it!
View from the top…
SUP (stand up paddle board)-I decided I wanted my first SUP experience to be in Greece and I am so glad it was! I had an awesome Irish instructor named Shane and he gave me a one hour one-on-one lesson before we embarked on a sunset tour. We started in Elios beach and paddled north along the coast for a good 3 hours, stopping at a private little beach for some fresh melons and a snack.
The best part about my tour was the puppy that followed us along the shoreline the entire time, jumping over rocks and climbing on narrow ledges to keep up with us. On the way back, the little puppy got stuck on a rock and Shane took him onto his paddle board for the last hour to bring him safely back to where we started. My first SUP experience was extremely memorable to say the least and I highly recommend it!
Shane’s company is called Sporades SUP if you’re interested!
Kayaking-I absolutely love kayaking, especially when I’m in a gorgeous place. It’s such a good workout and allows you to see the coast from a different perspective. On our tour, we even saw a rare monk seal taking a nap on the shore. The tour company Kayaking Greece is run by an English husband-wife team and they were awesome and energetic!
The tour started at Elios beach and went south along the coast, all the way down to Kastrani beach. The scenery along the way was gorgeous and I didn’t want it to end. If you go to Skopelos, you MUST try the kayaking!
Skopelos in a nutshell
Skopelos is for nature lovers, it’s more laid back and quiet than most Greek islands, and there are plenty of water activities to choose from. It’s gorgeous, pristine, and shouldn’t be overlooked as it has so much to offer! It’s a wonderful place to get away from it all!
Note: I was a guest of Spyrou Hotels on this press trip. However, my opinions remain my own and I am in no way obligated to write a positive review. I only recommend places I truly enjoy! ♥
Have You Been to Skopelos? What Was Your Favorite Part about the Island? Do Tell!
I recently journeyed over to Skiathos Island in Greece and absolutely loved it! Skiathos is one of the islands that makes up the archipelago of the Sporades, located in the Northeast of Greece. You know, the one’s you rarely hear about. Skiathos is less touristed than other popular Greek islands, probably due to its location far away from the rest. Ding ding ding, that’s what got me over there!
I didn’t do much planning beforehand (shame on me), but it turned out to be fine since I basically had my whole 3 days planned out for me courtesy of my incredible host Ioanna over at at Villa Anna Skiathos. This whole entire itinerary is courtesy of her so I can’t even take credit for it! (a lot more on that later). ♥
What to Do in Skiathos
Koukounaries beach-this is the most popular beach on the island, and for good reason. The vibrant blues are certain to draw your attention. A sandy beach in Greece is also a plus (not something very common, if you know what I mean).There are also a lot of water activities offered at this beach, another plus!
Elia beach-from Koukounaries you can take a nice 40 minute walk to Elia beach. You have to walk through a forest basically to get to it, but its secluded position makes it more alluring. There wasn’t a single soul when I went, which was a treat! Definitely walk to the top of the sandy cliff for a better view over the whole beach. Once up there, you can even walk about 5 minutes to other side of the cliffs for some more great views.
Skiathos Town-this is one of the prettiest Greek island towns you will see. The “chora”is just the perfect size and is lined with pretty little shops and restaurants. Be on the lookout for Rock and Roll Cafe which had the cutest colorful bean bags on the steps. So adorable!
Boat tour–I found a company called Kalypso Matahari, which offers s boat tours from 10-5pm for only €15 (low season) and €20 in the high season. I was really surprised at the low prices for an all day tour. Completely worth it!
Lalaria beach-one of the most beautiful beaches and the postcard picture of Skiathos. This beach can only be reached by boat and is framed by the beautiful limestone cliffs behind and the bleach stones lining the turquoise waters. The pure white create a more bold aqua color to the sea. It’s absolutely breathtaking! (Note: do NOT take any of the pebbles or you will be charged for them at the airport. No joke!)
Kastro-the former capital of Skiathos. You can hike up to the fortress in about 15 minutes to see the remains. Make sure to wear appropriate shoes as there isn’t a smooth path. Ifyou decide not to hike up, there is a relaxing beach bar down by the water. The views from the top are awesome,so try to make it up there! Quit being lazy! 🙂
Katiyorgi-the last stop is a very small fishing village where you eat lunch. The town has 2-3 restaurants and that’s about it. There’s not much to do there but it’s a cute little spot to wind down and have a nice meal after the long day.
Also on offer are many day trips to Mama Mia beach on nearby Skopelos island. I went to Skopelos on my own afterwards and I highly recommend a trip there if time permits! Check out my post on Skopelos if interested!
Where to Eat in Skiathos
Marmita -Not only is this the BEST restaurant in Skiathos, it has a cute and cozy outside courtyard that’s so warm and inviting, you won’t want to leave.
What to try:
Rabbit in red wine and honey sauce. Tender, juicy, and massively flavorful. Oh my gawd.
Beetroot apple salad with goat cheese. Delicious and creamy!
They also made some special dessert with hot coffee poured on top. Yes, hot coffee! I don’t know the name, but ask them for it and I’m sure they will whip it up for you. Holy crap it was good! Coffee lovers prepare for amazingness.
I was in complete heaven. This was one of the top 3 food experiences I’ve ever had. It was that good. A bonus was that they were able to adapt to my dietary (gluten) restrictions easily and with no problems. If you go to one restaurant in Skiathos, make this one it! Marmita is the BOMB! (do people still say this? )
Amfiliki-frequented mostly by the locals, this place is a secret find! With a marvelous view over the water, this is the perfect spot to try authentic Greek dishes. I ended the night here with a complementary dessert and shot of ouza. Opa!
Restaurant 1901-situated in a beautiful and colourful street of Skiathos, slightly tucked away from the noise of the city. I loved the ambiance and was surprised to find out that the food was excellent as well! Beef in tomatoes sauce over potatoes was tender and good. They also give you free dessert of Greek yogurt and berry compote.
Bourtzi cafe-located on the beautiful, yet tiny Bourtzi peninsula near the old port. It has a great view and it is the perfect spot to grab a drink and watch the sunset. They also have sandwiches and light foods but it’s a little pricy. You pay for the view, fair trade.
Where to Stay in Skiathos
♥Villa Anna Skiathos♥
When looking for a place to stay in Skiathos, I was hoping to stay close enough to town, but not smack in the middle of the crazy parties (and let me tell you, Greeks sure can party hard!♥) I came across Villa Anna Skiathos, a small family owned B&B with a spectacular view. #imasuckerforviews
The view captured me, I was sold and I knew I found my spot. I contacted the owner (named Ioanna) and she responded right away with all the info I would need for my journey to the island. She was super sweet and I felt like I was talking to a friend right from the start.
Ioanna lives in Athens, but has been coming to Skiathos for the summers since she was a little girl. She decided to put all her efforts into building her family business and welcome guests from all over the world. I could tell she genuinely enjoys meeting new people and takes pleasure in seeing others have a good time. And that made such a difference during my stay!
What can Villa Anna Skiathos offer you?
→Your Very own Built-in Concierge
Although she doesn’t advertise this, Ioanna was there to help me with ALL my plans around the island, from where to eat, what tours to take, to giving me rates for rental cars if I desired to explore by car. Anything I needed, she was at my disposal with a joyful heart.
When I arrived, she picked me up from the port and gave me a mini tour (the “long way home”) so that I could situate myself on the island and get a feel for my surroundings.
When we arrived, she sat dow with me, pulled out a map, and asked me what kind kind of stuff I would like to do in my 3 days there. She gave me an explanation of all the places and things I could do, and wrote everything me my very own itinerary! This was SO helpful and saved me so much time…time I could be utilizing to explore the beautiful island!
→A Quiet Oasis Away from the Crowds
Villa Anna Skiathos is in an awesome location and the view was spectacular. My room had a spacious balcony to overlook the beautiful Megali Ammos beach. The (gorgeous) walk to town was only 10 minutes. Of course I stopped several times to take photos, so it often took me longer.
The room I stayed in had a mini fridge, private bathroom, flat screen TV, free wifi, AC, stove top, and daily cleaning. The room also had an upstairs for a third person if needed. The kitchen cabinetry was outdated with old wood, but it felt like a summer camp house and I actually didn’t mind it. The amazing view made up for it.
There was a nice patio in the back with a big table for guests to gather around and mingle if they chose to.
The property is surrounded by lush greenery, fruit trees, and vibrant flowers, which is something you usually don’t see if staying right in the center of the city.
The one thing that wasn’t offered was breakfast, although Ioanna assured me that they would be adding breakfast in the near future. It didn’t bother me as I bought some yummy Greek yogurt, honey, and berries and had that for breakfast every morning. That fridge came in handy!
→Mingling of Guests
One thing I really liked is that Ioanna tries to put together a weekly outing with all the guests (totally optional of course, I didn’t feel obligated at all). One night she invited us all out to Marmita, which became one of my favorite restaurants ever, as mentioned above.
It was really nice to meet people from all parts of the world and different walks of life. We had such a great time sipping on wine, trying new foods together, and sharing crazy travel stories. That’s what traveling is all about right? The people.
→Home Away from Home
This is a concept Villa Anna Skiathos truly promotes, and I felt it every second I was there. It wasn’t just a place to sleep, but it was like having a little family there. Although I only stayed 3 days, it was enough to make an impression.
I still keep in touch with Ioanna on Facebook and it’s so great to see her enjoying life over in Greece. If and when I go back to Skiathos, I will 100% stay there again. No question about that.
Iv’e said this before, and it still holds true: the Greek hospitality is the best I’ve ever experienced in all the countries I’ve ever visited! My love for Greece remains deep. ♥♥♥
So How Much does it Cost to stay at Villa Anna Skiathos?
Rates start at €55 in shoulder season for a standard room! Peak season rates start at €80. Not bad at all for Greece!
When to Go to Skiathos
Shoulder season all the way! That is, May, June, and September. I went in May and it was perfect. It was not too crowded that you couldn’t walk, but had just the right amount of people and energy. The tour companies were all starting to run, and the weather was perfect. Prices are also heavily slashed compared to July and August.
How to Get to Skiathos
By ferry from Volos or Agios Konstantinos. I used Hellenic Seaways from Volos and it took about 1.5 hours (by high speed catamaran). A ferry takes about 2.5-3 hours.
By flying into Skiathos National Airport. The flights were pricy when I checked so I opted for the ferry instead.
♥A special thanks to Villa Anna Skiathos (and especially the sweet Ioanna) for hosting me during my stay. All opinions, however, are my own. I don’t bullsh*t and would never recommend somewhere I didn’t truly enjoy!♥
Have You Been to Skiathos? What Were the Highlights? Did I Miss Anything? Do Tell!
I am thoroughly convinced that Metoera is from an entirely different planet. How can it not be? If you have never heard of Meteora, don’t feel bad. You’re probably not the only one. There are so many amazing islands in Greece that a city far from the coast could easily be overlooked.
Metoera is located in the northwest of Greece. It’s not the typical Greek destination that one would think of visiting, but I’m telling you now that you should add Meteora to the top of your travel wish list! 100%.
So why visit Meteora? I’m glad you asked…♥
Meteroa means “suspended in the sky“, and as soon as you arrive by train, your jaw will drop as you quickly understand why.
Is this place even real? Have I landed on Mars? Have I gone back in time? All questions I asked myself. And I’m sure you will too.
Meteora is unreal. How on earth is it possible that so many people have never heard of it? Who knows, but I was one of them until last year. One single picture inspired my urge to visit. That’s all it took. BAM.
Oh, and did I mention that Meteora was featured in Game of Thrones season 2? Meteora served as the backdrop to the sky cell that Tyrion was thrown into when he was held as a prisoner in the Eyrie. Since the area is protected, the cast didn’t actually film there, but a team was sent over to get footage, which they digitally integrated into the episodes. TV magic.
Why Visit Meteora?
The Story of Meteora
Meteora is composed of several monasteries perched upon narrow rock pillars, some hovering 1,800 feet (550 metres) above the ground.
Dating back to the 11th century, the monks built these monasteries on the pillars to ensure total seclusion to the outside world. They required a place where they could concentrate on God and not be tempted my life’s evils. Well, I think they #nailedit.
Astonishingly, there were no staircases until the 1920s so monks could control who goes in and out. The staircases were finally built to ensure the safety of the monks, as many had died climbing back up to the monasteries.
Today, there are only 6 active monasteries, 4 with monks and 2 nunneries, most of which are open to the public.
What to do in Meteora?
Besides pinching yourself several times throughout the day to make sure this place is real life, here’s what I suggest you do in Meteora:
1. Learn the History
You don’t have to be a history buff. Heck, you don’t even need to like history. But I guarantee, the history of Metoera will surely grab your attention and impress you!
Please don’t go to Meteora just to take pictures. While I agree that it is a photographer’s absolute dream, it’s so much more!
Study up on the fascinating history beforehand, or book a tour and let the locals’ passion and pride about their city shine through.
Some interesting tidbits about Meteora history:
Meteora became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 (for art & nature).
Why do the pillars have the shape they do today? Well, since I find it difficult to explain in my own words, here is a great explanation taken from Greeka.com:
“Scientists believe that these pillars were formated about 60 millions years ago, during the Tertiary Period. That time, the area was covered by sea but a series of earth movements caused the seabed to withdraw. The mountains left were continuously hit by strong winds and waves, which, in combination with extreme weather conditions, affected their shape. This is why the pillars are composed of sandstone and conglomerate”. Source: www.greeka.com
Hermit Caves were caves built into the rock where monks were sent for punishment (called “prison of the monks”).
Monks used wooden ladders and pulleys to reach the monasteries.
Monks were pioneers of rock climbing in the 14th century.
For the Varlam Monastery: it took 22 years to bring up all the supplies, and only 20 days to construct it. WOW!
There are not many active monks today, due to mass tourism.
2. Book a Tour
While I would almost always explore a new destination on my own, there is a time and a place for tours. And this is one of those times, trust me.
A tour will put everything into context and learning about it as you’re seeing it with your own 2 eyes is the best way to learn history (at least for me it is!).
Would you rather read about it in a book…or step on the soil where life changing events actually happened? I choose the latter, and I hope you would too!
3. Go Crazy with Pictures/Selfies/Videos.
You won’t see anything else in the world quite like Meteora, trust me. And you Don’t have to feel awkward taking a million selfie…everyone will be doing it too! Make the memories last!
Meteora from the ground up..
I always seem to find the kitties everywhere I go ♥
How incredible is this view? I mean, seriously.
Recommended Tours in Meteora
Meteora Sunset Tour
This was my favorite tour I took in Meteora. I’m a sucker for sunsets, what can I say.
The sunset tour lasted a good 4 hours. They pick you up at your hotel a few hours before sunset and take you to a few great panoramic spots. Also included on this tour is a visit to the beautiful Agios Stefanos Monastery and Byzantine church of Virgin Mary.
For the sunset, your guide will take you to a few nice spots to snap some pics. The final sunset spot is on a humongous bolder with a panoramic view overlooking the area. This is the best view of Metoera and you get to see it as the sun gently kisses the landscape. It’s simply breathtaking. It’s one of those moments you will never forget. Truly incredible!
Meteora Hiking Tour
I would only recommend this tour of you’re in good shape. It’s not extremely difficult, but it’s also not easy. I’m a gym rat and like to stay in shape, even when I’m on the road. But even I was struggling with fatigue by the end.
Seeing Meteora from the bottom up was better than I ever imagined. By bottom up I mean you start from the bottom overwhelmed by the towering pillars above you, and you slowly make your way to the top.
Your guide will take you on secret paths and several different lookout spots, so make sure you pack your camera. You will see so many things on this tour that you couldn’t see anyway else beside by foot, so make sure not to miss it!
Note: there is a lot of descending the mountains, so I don’t recommend this if you have any knee problems of shin splints. Also, if you have hiking shoes, I would definitely bring those over tennis shoes. My tennis shoes didn’t have the best ankle support and I was definitely feeling a little strain towards the end.
Meteora Half Day Tour
This tour is a great introduction to Meteora and it covers so much ground. Besides learning ample history and visiting 3 main monasteries, one of the highlights of this tour is a visit to Theopetra’s Prehistoric Caves. Theopatra’s Cave was excavated only in 1987! The deepest level of the cave shows evidence that humans were present 130,000 years ago. It was fascinating to see the digging sites and learn about the history here. Entrance was an additional 4€ (not included in tour price).
The tours offered by Visit Meteora are run by locals to the area, and 2 of the guides were brothers. They were both awesome and so knowledgeable and passionate about their city! All the guides were super professional, courteous, interactive, and had great energy. You guys rocked! Pun…..intended?
Overall, the tours were awesome and I would recommend each one that I did.
How Long Should I Spend in Meteora?
I originally had plans to take a day trip from Athens and come back the same day and I’m so glad I didn’t.
An entire weekend is the perfect amount of time to experience what Metoera really has to offer and I would discourage a quick trip there. You would miss out on so much and there really isn’t enough time to see everything in just one day.
How to Get to Meteora
There is no transport to Meteora actually. But there is transport to the town below called Kalambaka, which is where most tourists stay.
Take a train or bus from either Athens or Thessaloniki. I took the 3-hour train journey from Thessaloniki and it went super smooth.
The train from Athens takes 5 hours. Visit Meteora has a nice timetable organized to help you with your trip. To look up transport and timetables to Meteora, check here.
However, on the way back there was a strike (common in Greece), so I had to catch a bus instead. Annoying, but it all worked out in the end.
Things to Note:
The entrance fee for the monasteries is a few euros so make sure to bring coins with you. They don’t accept credit cards.
Some monasteries are closed on certain days, so be sure to check beforehand.
Meteora is out of this world and it is such a special and different place to visit. It’s one of the most unique destinations you will ever see and I was constantly in disbelief that a place like this could exist. It’s beautiful, it’s touching, it has a fascinating history, and you will come home having some of your best travel photographs ever. I promise you.
Disclaimer: I was invited to Meteora, Greece by Visit Meteora tourism board. My thoughts and opinions, however, remain my own. I don’t bullsh*t and would never recommend a destination or tour I didn’t love!♥
Have I convinced you to visit Metoera yet? Have you already been? What did you think? Do tell!
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