The famous Greek whiter Yiorgos Theotokas wrote when he arrived in Skyros that “each new island frees me from the things I left and yet it helps me to understand them and make them mine forever”. Skyros is a wonderful island and a place that immediately makes you feel at home. It’s one of those places where you have to discover for yourself and find the reasons why you love it. It is located in the heart of the Aegean. It is the southernmost island of the Northern Sporades and is located east of Evia. The island is characterized by strong contrasts. Green on the north and dry on the south (like Cyclades) is an island with many faces. It has pine hills, rocky mountain landscapes, idyllic secluded beaches, beautiful coves, extensive beaches, sea caves composing a natural and full of variations relief. With a long history, Skyros has always been a place that has preserved its tradition and authenticity. Visitors to the island will admire the local architecture, the intricate wood carvings (the wooden furniture of Skyros is famous all over Greece), the embroidery and the ceramics of Byzantine theme.
The first place to visit should be Chora. The main settlement of the island is built on a steep hill. The white houses descend the slopes around the castle at the top and a labyrinth of alleys connects the various neighbourhoods. The main cobbled street which the locals call “the market” starts from the main square and is full of amazing shops with local products and small picturesque taverns and traditional cafes.
Walking the streets of Chora, do not forget to go up to the Castle, to admire the amazing view. It is a Byzantine castle built on the site of the ancient citadel. Once you arrive, you will be attracted to the built-in marble lion, which is a work of Classical times. In the Castle you could see the ruins of a Byzantine church built by Leontas Sofos in the 9th century.
The main street of Chora will lead you to Brooke Square (aka Immortal Poetry Square). The English poet Rupert Brooke died at sea while serving in the Royal Navy during WWI and was buried in the nearest port which was Skyros. The statue in the center symbolizes Immortal Poetry and was inaugurated in 1931 in the presence of Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos. The view from here to Magazia and Molos beaches is just breathtaking.
Magazia and Molos are the most popular beaches on the island, just below Chora. The sandy beaches, the clear blue waters and the rocks that have been put as breakwater create a perfect and calming sight. But Molos is also famous for one more thing. Yiorgos Seferis, the Nobel Prize-winning Greek poet who was a frequent visitor to the island, is said to have been inspired to write his most famous poem “Denial” here on the “secret shore”, as mentioned in the poem. And as the poem’s verse says “on the golden sand we wrote her name; but the sea-breeze blew and the writing vanished”.
Another magical place to visit on the island is Pouria. Pouria is a small settlement near Molos and on its beach, in addition to a wonderful restored mill (which is open as a cafe restaurant), you could also visit the remains of an ancient quarry of Skyrian marble, which was very popular especially in Roman years. The small church of Agios Nikolaos is carved into a rock, offering a unique spectacle. The best to visit this place is during the sunset, when the colours of the rocks will leave you breathless.
Just 19 km north of Chora you will find Atsitsa, a beautiful seaside settlement, one of the most picturesque of Skyros with nature raging and creating wonderful images. The bay of the village used to serve as a port of the island, serving in particular the iron mines. On the beach there are still the stone columns that were used to transport the mining wagons. The traditionally built houses of the village, harmonize with the natural landscape and create a beautiful image that calms.
But Skyros is not just the places we have already mentioned. Skyros is full of small surprises and hidden treasures, which is best to discover yourself. The ancient settlement of Palamari and the Folkore Museum in Chora (one of the first in Greece) should also be on your bucket list. While beautiful beaches such as Agios Petros, Agios Fokas and Pefko are waiting for you to discover them.
Skyros is also a place where you could taste excellent Greek cuisine. No wonder it is considered by many to be the “birthplace” of astakomakaronada (spaghetti with lobster). In Chora you could eat well-cooked local dishes in an authentic atmosphere at Barba Yiannis kai Maritsa (Μπάρμπα Γιάννης και Μαρίτσα). You should try here ladopita with xinotiri and the famous keftedes (meatballs). Another excellent place in Chora is O Papous ki Ego (Ο Παππούς και Εγώ) with nice decoration, nice wine and delicious dishes. At the fish tavern Stefanos (Στέφανος) in Magazia you could find the famous astakomakaronada and always fresh local fish. Finally for fresh fish and the wonderful view we could also recommend Asimenos (Ασημενός) in Aspous.
Skyros is a unique place with many contradictions and different faces. It has inspired many poets and writers, and is waiting for you to discover it.