Many visitors think this is the prettiest island of the Sporades, or even Greece, since the buildings are old and white, with huge bougainvillea and flowerpots, it’s full of churches and it is completely covered with forest. The landscape is dramatic, with high mountains and deep valleys. The island is composed of two rock massifs of unequal size. A narrow plain that runs from the bay of Skopelos, the capital, south to Cape Stafilos, separates the two parts. The smaller, eastern part is very steep and inaccessible. The summit of the cliffs, is Palouki, the maximum height is 567 m. Skopelos located very near to Alonissos and Skiathos. Around Skopelos there are the small islands of Mikro and agios Geoorgios
The capital, Chora, is quite big but very quiet and clean. Most beaches on the island are pebble beaches, and it is a good idea to rent a vehicle to get around. The town of Skopelos is a traditional island town with characteristic architecture and beautiful streets. It has been declared as a heritage settlement. The countryside and the entire island is full of old traditional churches
Skopelos has been marketed by most major tour operators as a quiet island best suited for couples and families. This is not completely true, since there are many bars and quite a few clubs on the island. It is not a place for partying all day and all night, but there is quite a good nightlife in a jazzy, sophisticated way.
The locals work with agriculture and tourism, and there are also fishermen. Because there is a big photograph exhibition here every summer the island gets quite cosmopolitan, with photographers and visitors from all over Greece and the rest of the world.
Skopelos History Skopelos means “rocky” which is a good description for this mountainous island. The name has changed through history, for example it was called Peparithos in ancient times.
We do not know who where the first inhabitants of the island, but tradition has it that the island was first occupied by Cretans in Minoan times. According to mythology, prince Stafylos was the son of Ariadne and Theseus or the god Dionysus and supposedly came to Skopelos and settled with his people. His name means “grape”, and the island has been known since ancient times as a great wine producer. An ancient tomb in the Staphylos area is believed by many to have belonged to the king. Just like the neighbouring islands, Skopelos was to fall both under Athenian, Spartan and Macedonian rule, as well as Roman.
When the Romans were approaching in the 2nd century BC, the Macedonian king Philip III destroyed much of the island so the Romans wouldn’t get anything. Even so, the Romans invaded, but left Skopelos pretty much alone as long as it paid its taxes.|
In the 13th century the Sporadic islands were conquered by the Venetians and in the 16th century the Turks invaded and ruled it. There were also many pirate attacks and the people tried to seek refuge in the many churches they built.
What to See in Skopelos
In Chora you can visit the folklore museum or take a walk in the old town. Starting from the left end of the harbour facing the sea, there are some steps leading all the way up to the old fortress. The climb is beautiful, with many little churches and old houses. On the other side of the bay is a nunnery dedicated to the Virgin Mary you can visit, if dressed properly.
The island has 360 churches. The reason for this is debated. According to local legend, when the catastrophe of Asia Minor happened in 1921, the Greek population of Turkey threw their icons into the sea to save them from the oppressors. The icons floated across the Aegean sea to Skopelos, and for each icon found a church was built. Another theory has to do with the many pirate raids and Turkish attacks that the island suffered. The enemies were usually Moslem, but even though they were considered harsh barbarians, they respected the holy ground of the Christians. Therefore many churches were built so the people would have a hideout whenever the island was attacked. The poet Nirvanas came from this island, and his house is still to be seen.
You can also go to Glossa, a village that brings Santorini to mind, being built on a steep hill facing the sea. From here you can see Skiathos.
What to Do : There are watersports on some of the beaches and renting a car is a good idea. You can also go on guided walks where you will see old farmhouses and stop at little churches and wells. The nightlife is to be found in Skopelos town. Every summer there is also a huge photo exhibition not to be missed.
There are boattrips to the neighbouring islands Skiathos and Alonissos. You can go on a daycruise through the National Marine park and if you’re lucky you’ll see dolphins or seals..
Skopelos Beaches Just about all beaches on Skopelos are pebble beaches except Limnonari. You can take a small boat to Glisteri. Nudists go to Velanio..
Skopelos Nighttlife:The nightlife is to be found in Chora, Skopelos’ town. Most of the places are very small and can be found both in the harbour and in the little winding streets. In the evening Chora becomes lively with its many taverns and little bars everywhere. The shops stay open until late, and the atmosphere is wonderful. There is also a disco in Glossa.
Food ::There is a a special cheese pie on Skopelos that is definitely worth a try. It is quite big and rich and should be absolutely fresh. The local walnut pie is another specialty, and is usually taken with ice-cream
Shopping:Most shops of Skopelos are to be found in Chora and there are many small shops with clothes, jewellery and beautiful ceramics..
Getting AroundThere are quite good bus connections with the beaches and Glossa, but because Skopelos is such a steep island, you often have to walk the last bit. There are also taxis and places to rent cars and bikes.
Getting There::There is no airport on Skopelos. Most charterflights land on Skiathos, and from there you get the hydrofoil (c. 45 min to Chora) or ferryboat (c.1,5 h to Chora). You can also get to Scopelos by ferry from Volos and Ag Konstantinos on the mainland.