If you’ve always dreamed of going to an unspoiled Greek island with a traditional way of life and without mass tourism, Skyros is it!
There’s a magic aura to Skyros and it radiates with authenticity, from the old sandal-maker in the main town to the unique stone houses on the way to Chora’s mountaintop.
Geographically, this is a very interesting island as it was once two separate islands with two very different landscapes. Today, while it may be one island joined by a windy, sandy strip that’s 4km long, a look at the map will reveal the two different sides: the mountainous, arid, and rocky south that reminds one of the Cycladic islands, and the greener, more fertile wooded north that is closer to the Sporadic group of islands.
Beyond the magical, visitors will find the people of Skyros very friendly, helpful, and hospitable. And then there’s the magical main town of Skyros, also known as Chora. Its cobblestone streets are filled with traditional shops, restaurants, and modest nightspots that entertain the mostly Greeks from other parts of the country who flock there in summer. Among the white houses, you will find some more traditional yet majestic stone-built homes, reflecting the true architecture and style that is unique to the Sporades.
On the island of Skyros ride a cute pony in the heart of a dense pine-tree forest, or participate in the famous carnival celebrations. The island is also home to the “Skyros Institute of Holistic Studies”, which offers alternative therapy programs.
In sum, with lovely beaches, sumptuous food, rich celebrations, and an authentic non-tourist feel, Skyros has a lot of secrets and hidden treasures for such a small island. It should not be missed!
What to see
Skyros capital is dominated by its Kastro, which is open to visitors. There was probably an acropolis here already in the Bronze age, but the current fortification dates back to Venetian rule.
There is an archaeological museum here, as well as a folklore museum which both hold interesting finds and objects from the island.
You can also visit the monastery Agios Georgios Skyrianos (St. George of Skyros) which is situated below the Kastro. It was built in the 10th century.
In a pretty olive grove in the south part of Skyros, you can see the grave of the British poet Rupert Brooke who died here during World War I.
The archaeological site of Palamari is a fascinating remain from the Bronze Age worth a visit.
There is also a very unusual kind of small horse (Pony) on the island.
The best beaches in Skyros are spread around the island and include organized beaches, naturalist beaches and many fantastic coasts accessible only by boat. The most renowned among them are Molos, Gyrismata, Atsitsa, Kura Panagia, Palamari and Magazia, which by some are also considered among the top swimming places in Sporades and also Greece.
This island is by no means a party island, but there are several restaurants, taverns and bars open till late at night.
The gastronomy of Skyros has as its basis the local products and local meats, fish and seafood, ingredients that impart high quality. Since fishing is one of the traditional sources of income here, you’ll find many nice specialties from the sea here. Most taverns are in Skyros town, and if you do not want Greek food you can find Italian places.
What to do
The combination of mountain and sea gives the possibility to practice many sports like hiking on beautiful nature trails, mountaineering, climbing, biking, windsurfing, and water skiing, while it is ideal for off-road routes with a machine or with 4 x 4 vehicles. Depending on the season you visit Skiros you can experience by yourself the island’s traditional folk aspects, such as the numerous festivals, traditional Skyrian marriage etc. At Magazia beach there are usually water sports, but the island also has some great spots for snorkeling. You can take day trips around the island, and if you are lucky, you might see dolphins or even seals.
The locals make wooden furniture in a very special style that dates back to the Byzantine style. You can also get textiles, art, jewelry and ceramics.