Photo Tour – Skiathos
Where? When? How?
Skiathos is a small Greek island located off the coast of Pelion. Blessed with wonderful nature and lush landscapes, Skiathos is a paradise for photographers. The island can easily be reached by ferry boat from both Agios Konstantinos (near Athens) and Volos. In the summer months boats run several times a day from early in the morning until late at night. However, during the high season when locals go to the island for a quick weekend getaway it might be helpful to book your tickets in advance so you don’t find yourself stranded in port. Skiathos also has a small airport (and by small I do mean small) that connects the island to most European capitals during the summer months. The landing approach is rather spectacular and will give the adrenaline junkies among you that extra thrill as the runway is very narrow and very short. In fact, where the runway ends is where the sea begins, so pilots are basically forced to make an emergency break or else your beach holiday might start sooner than you'd expected...
Skiathos, although being a tourist resort, has to this this day remained unscathed by mass tourism for the most part. It effortlessly manages to preserve its traditional charm yet at the same time having a cosmopolitan flair. Unlike on so many other Greek islands you can still enjoy the traditional Greek life here. Skiathos is also not your typical party island and binge drinking youngsters are a rare sight. Of course, that’s not to say you can’t have a good time here as the island's main town does offer a bustling night life.
The peak season on the island is between late June and late August when the islands reaches its maximum capacity. Late spring and early autumn are much calmer and also less extreme as far as temperatures are concerned. However, weather is a bit more unstable then. You always run the risk of encountering some bad weather during your stay (which of course has its upsides, too, as the rainy weather often makes for very atmospheric landscape shots).
Good news first: At just 50 km2 Skiathos is a relatively small island, so it’s basically impossible to ever get lost. The roads, however, are not always in the best of conditions, so driving is a bit of a hassle and does require some practice (especially when you find yourself behind the steering wheel of a rental car that has seen better days with tires as slick as an eel). Most of the island’s south is well connected by an asphalt road along the coast. If you keep your eyes open you will find nice spots to take photos of the coastline everywhere. The northern parts of the islands are a bit off the beaten track and can only be reached on narrow dirt roads. So getting a four-wheel-drive is probably your best option if you want to explore the more remote beaches in the north.
Skiathos impresses with over 60 beaches, some of which were featured in the movie Mamma Mia!. Agia Eleni, Agia Paraskevi, Vromolimnos and Ahladies (only to name a few) are all well worth a visit. Most beaches on the southern part of the island are fully organized and can be reached from Skiathos Town by bus.
Beaches in the north are much more remote and quiet. But as always in life, the things worth having never come easy. Lalaria, often named as one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Greece, can only be accessed by boat. Other beaches you should try to visit are Megas Gialos, Stigero and Kastro.
Koukounaries is a long sandy beach on the south-western part of the island. The name Koukounaries translates to “Pine trees” which is quite fitting considering the big pine trees that are lining up along the beach. With its golden sands and natural beauty, it is perhaps the most acclaimed beach of Skiathos. Of course, this also means that the beach attracts many visitors, so it does get very crowded during the summer months. You are always at risk of getting a black eye from getting hit by an overzealous beach tennis player. Behind the beach there is a small lagoon that makes Koukounaries an interesting destination for nature and wildlife photographers (so don’t forget to bring your tele zoom lens).
The junction to the neighboring beaches Tsaneria and Kanapitsa is right behind a long bend (coming from Skiathos Town) and is easy to miss when you search for it the first time. From the road leading to Kanapitsa one has a lovely view over Tsaneria.
Skiathos Town is a very scenic, picturesque little town. Narrow streets, charming little white houses with blue doors and cats sleeping on the front step are every photographer’s dream come true. A photo walk through the town offers you with numerous photo opportunities, although you really have to work for it because streets are somewhat steep at times.
The old harbor is about as picturesque as a harbor can possibly be with little colorful fishing boats lined up along the quay. Luxurious yachts of wealthy visitors create an interesting contrast.
The climb up to the church of Saint Nicholas is well worth it as you will be rewarded with an amazing view over the town and the harbor.
After the work is done…
When you spend your day taking photos of some of Greece’s most beautiful beaches, it’s more than natural to want to go for a swim as well. My favorite beach for swimming and relaxing was Tsaneria. It is not as busy as some of the bigger beaches but still never makes you feel like you’re reenacting scenes from Cast Away.
By now it is probably not a secret anymore that I love food. So finding good restaurants wherever I go is one of my guilty pleasures. I’m a big fan of Greek cuisine and Mediterranean flavors in general. Lucky for me Skiathos Town has no shortage of restaurants. The old harbor of Skiathos Town offers plenty of dining opportunities for the starving photographer. While some will argue that the restaurants there are overpriced and a rip-off, I personally think that the atmosphere of the surrounding old port with the little fishing boats and lights reflecting in the water more than makes up for it. One of my favorite places that I went to several times during my stay is "Ta Psaradika", a fish tavern located right at the far end of the old harbor. They offer a wide selection of fresh fish dishes (and by fresh I really mean fresh, not freshly defrosted). Try the Taramosalata, fried anchovies, Fishermen's spaghetti or grilled swordfish. If you are looking for newly interpreted Mediterranean and Greek cuisine then "El Greco" is the place to go. They offer a wide selection of pasta and risotto dishes as well as grilled meats. If you’re looking for traditional Greek cuisine, this is probably not the place for you. But if you want to take a break from Moussakas and Souvlaki (even though these are on the menu too) and try something different, you might want to give this place a try.
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