Things to do in Skopelos
Walking, mountain biking and kayaking
Feeling active? This is the perfect island, with many walking trails and small country roads to explore, uphill and down – with hiking into the mountainous interior for those who seek a challenge. Old donkey paths, which are cobbled (“kalderimi”) are plentiful and form a network of linked paths. And the sea, with the clearest of water gurgling over pebble close to shore, and see-through right to the bottom in the little fjord-like inlets, is just made for sea kayaking.
Organised sea kayaking excursions operate from Elios in the north of the island, small groups escorted on the water for a day or a half day. It’s a great way to explore the island and to enjoy some simple exercise at the same time, and there’s plenty of time allowed for swimming and snorkeling too.
Why not visit nearby Alonissos for a change of scene once you’ve explored Skopelos itself? Just 20 minutes away by ferry, it’s an easy day trip – and you also have the option of boarding a boat for a tour of the National Marine Park, in which Alonissos is located (Note: Excursions to Alonissos operate throughout the entire season). Sightings may include the rare monk seal, a protected species, dolphins and more. The Sporades are renowned for their birdlife, including falcons and eagles amongst others. Binoculars will come in useful, we’re sure, as will a camera with a good zoom feature.
If you hire a car, you’ll have the freedom to explore the roads of Alonissos (more dirt tracks than tarmac, it must be said, so you’ll have to limit your speed – but the bonus is that you’ll enjoy the stunning scenery and vistas of blue seas far more if you are savouring the views, rather than rushing around). Beware of rounding a corner and finding a herd of goats sprawled over the road – they seem to like the warmth of sun-toasted tarmac on which to relax their bellies and chew the cud!
This is the island on which much of Mamma Mia was filmed – remember that little church atop a hill and all those steps, where the wedding was scheduled to be held? Yes, it’s here. You’ll recognise some of the beaches, too (although the church clock featured is actually on Skiathos, and some of the scenes were filmed on the nearby Pelion peninsula).
Locals know all the locations and all the stories – many of them were extras in the film, and they enjoy a certain sense of celebrity as a result. Certainly, the film has brought more tourism to the island, not to mention a Russian oligarch determined to impress his bride by acting out some of the scenes of the film, complete with costumes! He wanted perfection, which is difficult to replicate when the film featured three separate locations in total. By the time he’d raced up the steps to the church, allegedly he needed a shower and a change of clothes before he could enjoy his wedding breakfast at a nearby taverna!
Holiday Tip: Don’t forget how hot it can become in the summer months. Always take a light top with long sleeves so that you can cover up if necessary, make sure you are well protected with sun tan cream, a hat and sunglasses, and take plenty of water with you.