A choice of five excursions by boat, providing a variety of interesting options during your holiday, are organised by Sunvil’s local agent. Our representative will be glad to provide more information on each of them and to book tickets for you. These excursions include:
- Island hopping to Alonissos and Skopelos
- Snorkelling trip (with short theory lesson and equipment included)
- Visit by boat to Kastani Beach on Skopelos, where part of Mamma Mia was filmed
- Evening cruise to an uninhabited island (Arkos) where dinner is served at a beach taverna and local musicians play traditional Greek music (bouzouki and mandolin)
- boat trip around Skiathos island itself, stopping at the ruined old coastal town of Kastro, a fishing village and a beach on the north of the island for lunch
While no promises are made, dolphins may well be spotted on boat trips.
Skiathos and its beaches
Skiathos boasts more than 60 beaches in total, and sandy beaches abound, from the occasional serried ranks of beach umbrellas and loungers indicative of four and five star hotels to relaxed narrow strips of sand adjacent to friendly and attractive tavernas. Sitting under the shade of a straw-thatchedverandah within a few feet of the water’s edge, listening to the lapping waves, is the perfect way to relax over a late lunch, with plenty of people-watching to savour alongside the tastiest tomato and feta salads and best of the local fisherman’s catch of the day on the table.
Beaches range from those accessible by bus, usually with tavernas and other facilities such as beach umbrella hire and watersports to hand, to those really off the beaten track, which are glorious but which require either a hike, a boat trip (water taxis from the harbour are perfect for these), or a car trip.
An excursion on land – a visit to Evangelistria Monastery
But a short drive from Skiathos Town, this monastery isnewly restored (courtesy of EU funds) and is well worth seeing. It will take you only an hour or so to explore – more if you like cats and arrive in July or August, when kittens galore will be stretched out in the sun, feeding from their mothers and already tame and well-used to enjoying a bit of a fuss from visitors!
Dating back to the 1700s, and with its own sea view down a steep gorge, the monastery is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The old buildings are arranged around a courtyard, with the church in the centre of four stone walkways which lead visitors around what was formerly the monks’ accommodation – a handful of the monastic cells are still occupied. The entrance door is a massive wooden affair, with brass studs, and just inside are hooks with black, light-weight cloaks designed to preserve one’s modesty while within the monastery buildings.
Tip: ideally, take a shawl to drape around your shoulders, and wear trousers or a below-the-knee skirt
The monastery shop has a surprising amount of useful and desirable items to buy. Choose from Greek-made carpets (recycled cotton that’s washable), patterned one side and plain the other, and very covetable and useful as both wall hangings and floor coverings; liqueurs made of local fruits and locally-produced olive oil that would make excellent gifts for family and friends; jewellery, CDs of monastic chanting – surprisingly soothing! – and local guide books in English amongst other languages. The shop features the original olive press workings, with massive beams and the old harness used by the donkey that walked around in circles to operate the machinery.
The old town of Kastro – the castle
If you prefer to drive rather than to visit Kastro by boat, it’s signposted from the ring road that circles around Skiathos Town – up a simple dirt road, occasionally cemented, to the northernmost point of the island. While it’s not possible to drive all the way to the old town, it’s only a short walk from where you park the car. Beware – the steps up to the citadel are steep.
This is where the inhabitants of Skiathos lived from circa 1300 to 1829, at the end of the War of Independence, when the Greek State was established. The only access to the town was via a drawbridge, with sheer rock faces on the other three sides of this seemingly impregnable and strategically-located town, designed to resist pirate attacks. The views are stunning, and there are churches and the ruins of former homes to explore; originally the castle town was built with 300 houses and 30 churches – that’s a church per every 10 inhabitants. Kastro was abandoned and the people returned to Skiathos (the old town district, also on a hill above the sea), which again became the capital of the island after independence from the Turks was achieved.
If you are not hiring a car and would prefer a coach transfer to/from each of the excursions, this can be arranged from a pick-up point near your accommodation at a cost of 3€ per person. Prices for excursions range from 24€ pp to €55 pp, some of which include a snack lunch or a meal.