Skiathos is a picture perfect island that boasts of pine forests, golden sand beaches and a night life to rival anywhere else in the Mediterranean without reaching the craziness of Mykonos, Agia Napa or Ibiza. Where to go: The town of Skiathos is the island’s soul, with the white two-storey houses with the tiled roofs and the small blooming gardens that give a majestic feel to the island. The promenade and the port are filled with taverns, cafés and bars; on Papadiamantis street, the high street, you’ll find shops and traditional coffee shops ideal to sit and watch people go by. Wander around the narrow alleys, look for Alexandros Papadiamantis’ house, and learn everything about his life through his manuscripts; admire the stone-built mansions, and head towards the old medieval town to enjoy the more scenic atmosphere on this side of the island. A stroll at Bourtzi, the lush mini peninsula, for a coffee and a view of the horizon is perfect for a lazy afternoon. And if all this isn’t enough, then you can choose one of the 25 marked trails on the island and enjoy a hike among the island’s lush vegetation, passing by small ravines and running waters or get a boost of adrenaline by going kitesurfing or water skiing on one of the beaches. Afterall, Skiathos is known for its water sports. How to get there: by boat from Volos, Mantoudi (Evia), Agios Konstantinos (Fthiotida) and by plane from Athens. Where to stay: Elivi Hotels: a new hotel complex on the beautiful Koukounaries beach, with simple rooms, suites and houses. All spaces are described by discreet luxury, simple lines and soft colours that rest the eyes. The rooms are spacious and bright, and some have a private pool. There are many activities for children like dancing or yoga, and there is a restaurant and a spa on the grounds, while the hotel is within reach of the beach (Koukounaries, 2427440900, www.elivihotels.com). Skiathos Palace: amphitheatrically built on the beach Koukounaries, it has an amazing view and is the most historic hotel on the island. There are regular rooms and suites, all of them spacious, decorated in modern elegance, overlooking the sea. The pool area is nice, and the beach is only five minutes away. There is a restaurant and a tavern on the hotel grounds, as well as a diving and water sport centre. (Koukounaries, 2427049700, www.skiathos-palace.gr). Skiathos Holidays: within a verdant estate, this hotel combines traditional and contemporary architecture. It offers villas, studios, and apartments decorated simply and beautifully, and all come with a fully equipped kitchenette. It’s ideal for families. The beach is right in front of the complex. (Vromolimnos, 2427021596, www.skiathos-holidays.gr). Kassandra Bay: a typical vacation hotel on the Vasilias bay. There are various types of rooms like standard and superior double rooms, suites, maisonettes and family rooms. All the rooms are bright and spacious and are well-kept. There are three seawater pools (two for adults and one for children), a gym and a spa. The beach is right in front of the hotel and there are umbrellas and sunbeds (Vasilias Beach, 2427024201, www.kassandrabay.com). La Luna: hotel complex on Troulos beach with studios and apartments with fully equipped kitchenettes. There is a main pool with a great view of the sea, even though it’s on the small side. (Troulos, 2427049262, www.skiathoslaluna.gr). La Piscine: a hotel in the town of Skiathos that is ideal for those seeking to relax without being isolated. The rooms are bright, painted in beautiful colours, with wooden details and modern décor. There is a wine bar with over 200 labels. The pool area is nice and the sunbeds extra comfortable. (Skiathos, 2310592100, www.lapiscine.gr). Where to eat: Borzoi: famous club in Skiathos that used to be an oil refinery. In the ‘70s it was turned into a tavern-bar and in the ‘80s and ‘90s it became very famous both within and outside of Greece. Now it’s one of the best bar-restaurants on the island. Mediterranean cuisine dishes, lovely cocktails and music complement each other (Skiathos – 27 Politechniou str, 6944247349). Exantas Bar Restaurant: This is possibly the island’s finest restaurant. It serves Greek and international cuisine food from a location offering a magical view of the Aegean Sea. The afternoon hours here are ideal for a relaxed sunset cocktail. The restaurant uses the products of local producers. (Megali Ammos, +30 2427 024035). Kivo Creative Greek Restaurant: creative Greek cuisine with a menu created by Giannis Vaxevanis and Jérôme Serres. The vegetables are organically grown on the hotel’s vegetable garden, and both the honey and olive oil are produced by them. The space is beautiful and atmospheric. (Vasilias Beach – “Kivo Art Hotel & Suites”, 2427022407). Elia’s Restaurant: their menu is based on Greek products and the flavours include both modern Greek and international cuisine. The environment is elegant and the atmosphere pleasant (Koukounaries – “Mandraki Village” Hotel, 2427049301). Marmita: a tavern with a beautiful lush garden, offering a modern version of Greek cuisine. Lobster tartare, sea bass carpaccio, lamb with greens, and vegan moussaka are a few of the dishes on the menu (Skiathos – 30 Evangelistria str, 2427021701). Ergon: both a grocery store and a tavern that belongs to the well-known chain Ergon. Greek products and carefully prepared dishes. Open from early in the morning for breakfast with sandwiches, pancakes, Greek coffee etc (Skiathos – 24 Papadiamantis str, 2427021441). Agnantio: family tavern with seating on a beautiful veranda with a view. Traditional Greek dishes and also a few with a twist (On the road that goes to the monastery of Evangelistria, 2427022016). Kalo Pigadi: A favourite gastronomic hangout among Skiathos’ locals, this taverna has enjoyed domestic respect for decades. The produce and ingredients used for dishes is supplied by local fishermen and farmers. (9 Karaiskaki, tel + 30 2427023112). (Behind the Skiathos high school, at the end of Papadiamanti St, a main street). Traditional dishes: angler stew, lobster with courgettes, crayfish with greens, marinated anchovies, kalapodia (traditional cheese and greens pies), grouper cooked with tomato, goat in tomato sauce. Local ingredients: lobster, crayfish, sardines Attractions You’ll come to Skiathos for the amazing beaches, the stunning waters, and the night life, however, while you’re on the island it’s worth visiting some of its unique sights, learning its history, and getting to love Skiathos a little bit more. Alexandros Papadiamantis’ house: the house where the famous Greek author lived, is a typical example of the island’s architecture, and has been turned into a museum about his life and work. His personal effects and manuscripts tell his story (Papadiamantis square, 2427022240). Kastro (castle): it was probably built in the 14th century, after the people of Skiathos decided to leave the town of Skiathos that was plagued by piracy and go to a more protected location. So, they selected this spot which couldn’t be reached from the sea, while the entrance to the castle was through a drawbridge. Today churches, monasteries, part of the walls, battlements, ruins of a mosque, and other buildings remain standing. This location has an amazing view of the Aegean. Bourtzi: a small verdant peninsula where the Venetian fortress built by the Gizi family in the 13th century stood, today only the fortress’ walls remain. After the Ottoman rule, it was the only quarantine station on the island, while in 1906, Andreas Syngros donated money for the construction of a primary school there. Today it is an area of leisure and culture with a beautiful view (town of Skiathos). Trion Ierarchon Church: it has been the island’s cathedral for over 1.5 centuries, and is located in the centre of the town, built in 1846. Holy heirlooms are housed in its interior, like the icon of Panagia Kounistra that was discovered in 1650. Father Adamantios, Papadiamantis’ father, was a priest here. Monastery of the Annunciation of Virgin Mary (commonly known as Evangelistria): stone-built monastery surrounded by green on the north part of Skiathos, right next to the Lehouni ravine. Construction first started in 1794 and was completed in 1806 by a group of monks who left Mount Athos. This was where the first Greek flag was designed and created in 1807, and the Greek freedom fighters Kolokotronis, Miaoulis, Vlachavas etc swore the Oath of Freedom on the flag here. The floor is made of Malta slabs while the wood-carved altar, bearing icons of the 17th and 18th centuries, is particularly impressive. Holy heirlooms like silver grails, silver and wooden crosses, rare manuscripts, a 1539 Bible decorated with gold, silver and precious stones , incense, myrrh containers dating back to 1755 etc are on display here, while in the library you can see lead stamps, sigillions, letters, books from the 17th century up until the 19th century etc. (Agalianos, 2427022012). Where to swim: Aselinos: lovely turquoise waters and thick sand. Ideal for a relaxing time by the sea. It’s accessible by car or by boat. Kanapitsa: a long, narrow sandy beach with azure waters. It’s a fully serviced beach and you can do various water sports there. It’s accessible after a ten-minute walk. Koukounaries: the most famous beach on the island that boasts a pine forest at the back and stunning waters. It’s a serviced beach with umbrellas and sunbeds and you can do various water sports there. Right next to the beach is the Strofilia lagoon, while the whole area is part of the Natura 2000 network. Megali Ammos: an ideal beach for families as it is very close to the town of Skiathos. A sandy beach with clear waters, offering umbrellas and sunbeds, while in the area there are also taverns and restaurants. Here too you can do water sports. Mandraki: one of the most beautiful beaches on the island with golden sand and clear waters. There are umbrellas and sunbeds but there’s also space for you to set up your own umbrella or lay your towel. It’s easily accessible on a verdant path. Banana: a cosmopolitan beach frequented by younger people. It is divided in two, the Big Banana, where there are beach bars and loud music, and the Little Banana a quieter, nudist beach. Lalaria: probably the most impressive beach on Skiathos with crystalline waters and wild beauty. The large imposing rocks at the back are very impressive, as is the rock in the sea that forms a large arch. It’s on the north of the island and accessible by water. Agia Eleni: a beautiful sandy beach with pine trees at the back. It’s a serviced beach mostly frequented by families. Vromolimnos: a lovely beach with an impressive pine forest that reaches the sand. Stunning waters, perfect sand, a beach that attracts younger crowds, and offers a variety of water sports. Ahladies: a narrow beach with beautiful clear waters. It’s right in front of the village of the same name and there are umbrellas and sunbeds. There are taverns and cafeterias nearby, and it’s ideal for families. Xanemos: sand and pebbles and great waters. Very close to the town of Skiathos, right at the beginning of the airport runway, you’ll have airplanes flying right above your head. There is a beach bar on the beach. The north winds affect this beach. Kastro: a very beautiful beach underneath the old medieval town of the island. Lovely crystal-clear waters with rocks both in the sea and on the beach. You can get there on foot or by boat. Tsougkria: this is a small island covered in green that is very close to the port. There are four lovely beaches with stunning waters on the islet. It’s accessible by boat. Activities: This verdant island is perhaps the best island for summer hikes. There are 25 hiking trails, 197 km long in total, amidst stunningly beautiful vegetation, while soon a trail accessible to people with mobility difficulties will be completed. The trails vary in difficulty and they are clearly marked and discernible, while they are surrounded by unspoilt nature, ravines, running water, fragrant plants and herbs, spots with incredible views, churches and monasteries, as well as stunning beaches. On the most well-known trails is the 6-km-long path that starts at Evangelistria monastery and leads to Kastro. Kastro is an ideal spot for birdwatching, while the view from there is stunning. If you are mountain bike fans the terrain here is perfect for you. If you like water sports, Skiathos is the island for you! Many beaches, such as Koukounaries, Banana, Kanapitsa, Megali Ammos etc offer facilities for surfing, kitesurfing, jet ski etc, while the sea bottom is great for diving. You can catch a boat that makes daily routes around the island and enjoy great swims in various caves including the famous Cave of Fonissa, the protagonist of Papadiamantis’ homonymous novel. The Strofilia Lagoon, next to Koukounaries beach, is also worth a visit, as it is a rare wetland for migratory birds. The best spots to enjoy a romantic sunset is the beach of Agia Eleni, and the church of Agios Nikolaos near the town of Skiathos. Must: a swim at Lalaria beach as well as in the Fonissa Cave, and the view from the Castle. Useful numbers: Skiathos Medical Centre: 2427022222 Port Authority of Skiathos: 2427022017 Skiathos Police Station: 2427021111 Tourist Police Station of Skiathos: 2427023172 Municipality of Skiathos: 2427022240 READ MORE: Skiathos Named Third Most Beautiful Movie Location in the World.