96 sq. km of land mass and 67 km of coastline. It is 41 nautical miles from
Evia and has a population of about 6,000. This is a wonderfully beautiful
island and very green. It is far less commercial than Skiathos and has many
beaches, some sandy, some pebbled.
Skopelos has avoided the cash-in-quick pitfalls of some of its close neighbors and is favored by discerning travellers because of its fragrant pine forests, lovely beaches, and two charming towns.
You can take a night fishing excursion, a round-the-island sail in an old wooden schooner, a diving trip, watch a herd of wild goats, or walk amid the olive groves on Skopelos.
There is an abundance of local produce
as the island is mainly comprised of fertile plains.
There is a nightclub
scene if you want it but it's easy to avoid if you don't. Skopelos Town skirts a semicircular bay with an old and a new quay. Most ferries and hydrofoils land at the new quay. Near the new quay, you'll find shops, cafes, and the bus stop.
Beaches are pebbled, and mostly along the southwest and west coasts, where it's more sheltered. There are no campsites on the island.
The island's interior is dotted with traditional stone farmhouses, many of which are still occupied. Others are used only during harvest time or on celebratory days. The distinctive outdoor prune ovens usually can be seen at these farmhouses. These houses offer a glimpse into the rural lifestyle that has all but disappeared in modern Greece islands.
Postcard views of old blue slate, red tile roofs, and lovely views contribute to the charm of Skopelos Town and its harbor. Some of the older buildings show a trace of Venice, Thessalian or Macedonian style. The town is lush with flowers and plants. Skopelos has many shops selling good local merchandise and traditional crafts.
Skopelos Town has 123 churches. The most notable are Zoodochos Pigi, which boasts an icon attributed to St. Luke, and Christo, which has a gilded interior and an Armenian-style apse. Kasto, at the top of town, once housed a Temple to Athena. Beyond Platonos Square is the church of Panagia Eleftherotria, where many ceramic plates decorate the 18th Century stone building.
The Museum of Folk Art has many embroideries and other fine collections, all housed in an 18th Century mansion. This museum has a Skopelean wedding room with a bridal bed and the traditional wedding costumes. Other noteworthy sights around Skopelos Town include the fortified Monastery of Episkopi and the stone sarcophagus of Ag. Reginos. Just outside of town, look for the huge ovens where plums are dried to become Skopelos' famous prunes at the Fournou Damaskinon.
A walking path connects several monasteries. It begins near the beach and leads to wonderful views and various interesting monasteries.
Glossa, the island's other chief settlement, is an hour's bus ride away along the scenic southern coast. Along the way, you'll pass two Minoan tombs that were filled with rich burial goods now on display at the National Museum in Athens. Glossa was constructed mainly during the Turkish occupation. There are ruins of three 4th Century BC towers still visible above the town.
Glossa's port is Loutraki, a steep 3 km below Glossa. Most ships stop at both Loutraki and Skopelos Town.
From Glossa take the hour-long walk to the Monastery of Ag. Ioannis, perched like an eagle's nest over the sea and approached by 100 steps carved in the native rock. Watch for almond trees, which thrive around Glossa.
Drinking and Dining
Along the waterfront in Skopelos Town, you'll find many eateries. Skopelos is known for plum and prune based recipes and many tavernas have at least one plum or prune based offering on the menu.
Several bars with a variety of music to offer can be found in Skopelos Town. Glossa has a less varied night life scene, but is home to a good taverna.
Prince Staphylos of Crete colonized Skopelos. The Cretans founded the islands three settlements. Staphylos' name means grape, and the local wine was described as an aphrodisiac by Aristophanes. Wine and olive oil have been important exports for Skopelos. The wine industry has suffered recently from diseased vines. Many vines died and have not been replanted.
Filippo Gizzi, a Ventian renegade, used Skopelos as his headquarters. In 1538, the island was attacked by Barbarossa. The island has been used as a refuge from the Turks, and in 1805, the Skopelitians joined in the revolt. In the 1820's the population boomed, with almost 70,000 people scrabbling for food on the small island.