Working in the travel industry and being a Travel Blogger, it’s expected that my holidays are to most far flung corners of the globe. The majority of the time, that’s the church I subscribe to however, sometimes it’s just nice to book a ‘bucket and spade’ holiday through the likes of Thomson, and spend the day indulging in the art of relaxation.
I’m talking about a total disconnect from the working world where the toughest decision of the day is which beach to go to and which evening restaurant to eat at. No culture, no tourist activities and certainly nothing that doesn’t involve swimming and reading a book in the horizontal position, in the sunshine. I try to indulge myself in one beach holiday a year to wind down, recharge the batteries and do as the Blur song lyrics suggest and “Follow the herds out to Greece”.
Skiathos, Greek Island Paradise
This year we chose the Greek Island of Skiathos which we’ve visited before. It’s easy, beautiful, and the 18-30’s club days are well and truly behind them so when we headed out in the evening, we weren’t constantly dodging holiday reps promising a good time. The film Mamma Mia really put this place back on the map with its lush forests and beautiful hills hiding wild emerald beaches.
One thing any visitor to Skiathos doesn’t need advice on is how to relax, but you will need help deciphering the good beaches from the busy, and fine dining from the greasy stodge. After all you’re on a limited time holiday, so why waste time sitting on top of each other on the sand, or picking at poorly cooked food when you can avoid it?
The good news is you don’t have to as I’ve created a top 5 restaurants and beaches to make your life just that bit easier.
How to get to Skiathos
Thomson, or TUI as they are called now, can fly you to Skiathos anytime you choose (except winter of course). Do your homework on price comparison websites but book early as Skiathos can fill up, and if you’re selective about where you stay, then you won’t want to miss out.
Where to stay
It really depends on the holiday you’re after. If partying features highly then book yourself any number of places in Skiathos Town. The way I see it, if I want to party I can head into town but typically I don’t want to be anywhere near it. That’s why we stayed (for the 3rd time) at La Luna Studios and Apartments in Trulos Bay. It sits up on the hill, is quiet, has a decent pool (which we never used because why would you when the beach is 1 minute walk away), private studios, bar and views from the balcony are awesome.
Renting a car
There are buses into the city center but to make your life easier, just build car hire into your budget and be done with it. The best beaches are well off the main tourist drag so you’ll need four wheels if you hope to reach them. Top tip is to book online before you travel, not only is it cheaper but you can pick it up at the airport and save a taxi fare. We rented through AutoEurope.
Top 5 Beaches of Skiathos
Mikros Aselinos Beach
Mikros Aselinos is by far my favourite beach in Skiathos and one which makes you work to get there. You’ll need a car for the dirt road and be sure-footed for the path to reach the water. At the top of the track you are greeted with a view which will solidify the reason why you came…paradise on earth. After reaching the sand there is a small selection of beach umbrellas in one line around the bay, fewer people in general, a taverna and chairs for hire (EUR8 per pair with umbrella). Surrounded by pine forest and mountains, there is a secluded bay you can swim around to and rocks to fish off. Mikros Aselinos gets my number 1 rating but get there early to claim your prize.
If you have a car, then this un-spoilt beach is absolutely worthy of the drive. As with all good Greek beaches, the dirt road to get there curves continuously around the contours of the land. Agistros Beach is sandy and smaller than most of the larger (more visited) beaches and can be affected by winds and waves, but for me that’s half the appeal. As with all the beaches on this part of the coast there is a small taverna plus sunshade and sun-beds available to hire (EUR8 for two and umbrella). If like me, you can’t sit still on a beach there’s a dirt track into the forest to explore and you’ll need wet-suit shoes to walk around the rocks. I really enjoyed this beach.
Little Banana Beach
Little Banana is the only official naturist beach in Skiathos and can be found on the northwest of the island. The scenery here is beautiful but they do tend to pack them in closely so if leaving without a tan line is an absolute must for you, Little Banana should tick all the boxes as it’s almost exclusively for skins. There is a taverna to eat, drink and be merry at and if you need a break from all the people, you can swim around the rocks where it’s quieter.
Lalaria is located on the north-eastern peak of the island and accessible only by boat, Lalaria is a slice of incredible beauty with huge white cliffs and rock formations rising out of the sea. If you’ve rented a boat then getting here is easier but if you’re on the public boat, it can be a chore. No matter how you arrive, it won’t be a wasted trip and I defy anyone to spend a day here and not enjoy themselves. Keep in mind there are no facilities so be sure to bring all your food and drink in and get here early to enjoy a full day.
Troulos sits on the southern coast of Skiathos, with pine trees and olive groves sweeping around it. Trulos Beach has shallow water and is great for families, plus there is a taverna if you fancy a cool drinks. I would typically choose this as my last resort (of my top 5 that is) because I prefer peace and quiet and space however, I don’t have children so my priorities are probably different. I have swum here morning and evening because my apartments were across the road and its peaceful.
Top 5 Skiathos Restaurants
Skiathos Olive Thea Restaurant
This is my number 1 suggestion and it’s the farthest away from city life, tucked away up in the mountains with sweeping views of the Aegean Sea and the nearby islands. The service is popping, food is mouth-watering, views will make you want to move to Greece and open a restaurant, and the setting is quiet and romantic. Built into the cliff with panoramic views, it can be tough to get here (even with a car) so call ahead and they’ll pick you up. Be sure to arrive before sunset and leave after the moon is up! Make sure you visit the bathroom – that’s all I’m saying!
I visited this restaurant years ago but it’s changed hands now, and improved substantially. You’ll find this restaurant by heading off the main drag and into the back streets of Skiathos Town. Not only does Cookoonari offer sensational views, but it also has hands down the best food I ate in Skiathos and lovely hosts to boot. The steak was cooked to perfection (something I found the Greeks struggled with) and their food maintained strong Greek influence without the need to change for the tourists. Do not pass up the chance to eat here as this is likely to be your cuisine underdog!
Salt and Pepper
No it’s not just an awesome early 1990’s hip-hop band, Salt and Pepper in Trulos has a waiting list so you’ll need to book ahead of time. The service is wonderful and food is cooked very well indeed. It tends to attract an older audience but they are quiet and it’s easy to enjoy a meal in peace. I highly eating here one night at least staying for drinks afterwards as its well away from Skiathos Town, and has a separate bar area for chilling.
The Windmill Restaurant
One of the best views around Skiathos town and sitting high in the old part of town, The Windmill Restaurant should be an essential visit on every traveller’s to-do list. They have a limited menu with fewer Greek flavours, but the food is decent and to eat and drink beside the old windmill is a wonderful experience. I found the steak wasn’t up to their usual standard but every other meal I’ve eaten there was divine.
Traditional Greek food in a traditional Greek setting, if you’re after a local taste infusion then Marmita should be high on your list. Tucked away in the backstreets of Skiathos Town, they specialise typically in contemporary Greek cuisine relying heavily on the use of olive oil, vegetables, herbs, grains, bread, wine, fish, and various meats, including lamb, poultry, rabbit and pork. We unfortunately found this place on our last night otherwise we would have eaten here more frequently.
So there you go, happy relaxing and eating!