With its lush pine forests and pristine turquoise waters, Skiathos, the most cosmopolitan island in the Northern Sporades in Greece, is certainly a paradise on earth. The island is gorgeous and blessed with more than sixty beaches with pristine crystal-clear waters. The largest settlement on the island is the town of Skiathos, where the port, the airport, and also the Old Town is located. It is the centre of the island’s commercial activity and nightlife. It is particularly extensive and easy to get lost among its dozens of small streets and alleys. In our article, we will focus on six unique places that the visitor must see during his visit to the beautiful and colourful town of Skiathos.
Skiathos’ Old Port (Παλιό Λιμάνι) stretches between Bourtzi (Μπούρτζι) and Plakes (Πλάκες) and serves as the starting point for all visits to the island. The activity is continuous on the waterfront, with many restaurants and cafes and numerous tourist and fishing boats. However, the cobblestone pedestrian street that crosses the old picturesque town and leads uphill to Plakes, as well as countless alleys, small squares, and churches such as the Three Hierarchs (Τρείς Ιεράρχες) and Panagia Limnia (Παναγία Λημνία), begin from there. Along the way, the various shops spread their merchandise on the street, and the cafes and bars put cushions on the steps to sit on. At the same time, you can take in the breathtaking view of the Old Port and Bourtzi as you approach Plakes, with its colourful old houses and balconies that appear to drip off their perch on the cliffs. All these together form an unforgettable and representative image of the island.
Bourtzi (Μπούρτζι) is a green little peninsula that separates the Old from the New Port in Skiathos. At this point, there was a Venetian castle, which has not been saved except for some traces of its walls. The castle was originally built by the Gizi family in 1207 to protect the city from pirate raids. Subsequently, it underwent many changes, and in 1906, a primary school was built in the centre. Today, Bourtzi functions as the Cultural Centre of Skiathos, hosting the Maritime and Cultural Museum, while in the back area there is an open theatre and a cafe. It is an ideal place for relaxation among the pines with a view of the sea. At the point where Bourzi starts from the Old Port, there is a monument dedicated to Alexandros Papadiamantis (Αλέξανδρος Παπαδιαμάντης) and the statue of the Unsung Sailor (Αφανής Ναυτικός), dedicated to the memory of the hundreds of sailors who never returned, or tragically lost their lives at sea.
ALEXANDROS PAPADIAMANTIS HOUSE
The humble house in which the “saint” of Greek letters died is located in an alley of the central and bustling Papadiamanti Street (Οδός Παπαδιαμάντη) and symbolises the other face of the island, the one we got to know through the work of the great writer. Papadiamantis’ father built this house in 1860. It is a representative sample of local folk architecture, one of the few that have survived to this day without subsequent alterations and changes. It is two-storey with stone walls and roofed with a wooden roof covered with “Byzantine” tiles. On the upper floor, there are three rooms (one of which was the author’s) with original furniture and objects of the time, and on the lower floor, there was a single space with a well, where today books and other memorabilia related to the author are displayed. His austere house represents in an ideal way the world view and the ascetic life of Papadiamantis, and in a unique way, it brings to life the world in which his heroes lived. The house functions as a museum under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Sports.
One of the most beautiful points in Skiathos from where you can enjoy the magnificent view of the whole town is the top of the hill where the church of Agios Nikolaos / St. Nicholas (Άγιος Νικόλαος) is located. The church was built in the first half of the 20th century, along with the characteristic Clock Tower, which has become a landmark of the island. The icon of Panagia Megalomata (Παναγία Μεγαλομάτα), which was transferred from Panagia Prekla of the Castle, is kept in the church. Interesting information is the fact that the opening scene of the very successful movie Mamma Mia! (2008) was shot in the courtyard of Agios Nikolaos (you can watch the scene here). To get to Agios Nikolaos, you have to climb the steps from the centre of the city, following the relevant signs.
The busiest and most important pedestrian street in the city is Papadiamanti Street (Οδός Παπαδιαμάντη). It is overrun with hundreds of tourists, especially in the evening when they come here for a promenade. It is a vibrant mosaic of stores selling a wide variety of goods, cafes, restaurants, bakeries, patisseries, and shops selling regional goods. It forms the centre of Skiathos, together with the several vertical roads that lead to it. It is ironic that it is named after the Greek author who led an austere life free of many pleasures, but it does not lessen its odd and vibrant charm. It is impossible to learn everything about Papadiamanti Street in a single visit.
TO ANTHOS TOU GIALOU
Like all the Greek islands, Skiathos also has its own culinary tradition, especially when it comes to traditional sweets. Using the products of the island, on Skiathos they make the chaimali (χαϊμαλί), which is mentioned in the stories of Papadiamantis. It is a fried dough filled with walnuts, honey, breadcrumbs, cinnamon, and nutmeg, which is dusted with powdered sugar. Another traditional sweet is amygdalota (αμυγδαλωτά), which are prepared with blanched almonds fermented with sugar and flower water. Their shape resembles a lily and they are lightly baked. As soon as they come out, they are sprinkled with flower water and dusted with powdered sugar. Finally, one more sweet is the so-called aspro (άσπρο) which means white. It is a dessert eaten with a spoon that is served even nowadays at engagements. It is prepared with chopped, blanched almond flakes, sugar syrup, and lemon. The secret is in the good bonding of the material, which also means good bonding for the couple. A unique place to try all these exceptional sweets is the store Tο Anthos tou Gialou (Το Άνθος του Γιαλού), which was opened in 2020 by two ladies, active members of the Skiathos Women’s Association, who with love and passion want to preserve the culinary tradition of the island and introduce it to the multi-ethnic visitors of the island. The store is located on Miaouli Street near its junction with Papadiamanti Street.
It is certain that this article simply serves as a brief introduction to the town of Skiathos. Before beginning his tour of the island’s vast and stunning beaches, the visitor will still find a lot of fascinating things and secret areas during his visit to the town.
During our stay in Skiathos, we stayed at Lagoterra Apartments (click here for rates and availability) near Skiathos Town, and we enjoyed every minute of our stay. Their location is perfect and they have a stunning view. Cleanness, professionalism, and comfort are three words that characterise this amazing accommodation. We have no second thoughts about recommending Lagoterra Apartments.
*[Photo at the top by dimitrisvetsikas1969 on Pixabay]