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Sporades Islands Travel Guide
Often known as the Thessalian Sporades or the Northern Sporades, tourists and locals often refer to them by the simpler name of Sporades.
This small archipelago of islands scattered and far from each other has only a few important islands to visit. Many other small islands are uninhabited. Although there are 24 islands in the Sporades archipelago, only four of them are inhabited all year round. These are Alonnisos, Skyros, Skiathos or Skopelos.
It is not difficult to come up with a couple of island-hopping itineraries when visiting the Sporades Islands, you can easily combine Skiathos and Skopelos, and even Alonnisos to almost any route. Remember that the biggest island in the Sporades, Skyros, is quite a bit farther from the other three, and it is also quite big, so it’s often left out of these hopping itineraries. However, it is possible to include Skyros on a Sporades itinerary, being constantly aware that it is undoubtedly better explored on its own.
Let’s take a quick look at each of these islands before combining them into island-hopping routes.
Alonnisos is a heavenly green island in the Sporades group, home to many beautiful beaches. It has a laid-back vibe, and it’s one of the first Sporades that comes to your mind when looking for a relaxing holiday to spend peaceful days, even in the middle of summer.
Alonnisos has a family atmosphere more than being a place for young travelers. On the island, it is possible to visit several villages, both in the hinterland and on the coast, where you can find good restaurants and tavernas, as well as su¡souvenir shops and plenty of opportunities to have fun. Still, do not expect crazy clubbing like you would in more popular party islands.
The most remarkable thing you can do in Alonissos is to jump on a boat at the island’s port, Patitiri, and head to the Marine Park of Northern Aegean.
Several small islets surrounded by incredibly green waters offer shelter for rare species, including the monachus-monachus seal.
Island hopping details: The island is quite close to other islands in the group, making it the ideal base for island hopping to the nearby Skopelos, Skiathos, and even Skyros.
Best Beaches in Alonnisos
Alonissos is a perfect island for a different landscape from the rest of the Greek Islands. Green, lush, and home to incredibly tall pine trees, the beaches in Alonissos offer a quiet and picturesque atmosphere.
Agios Dimitrios Beach: This partly organized pebbled beach, ideal for families, is located only 14 km from Patitiri. Agios Dimitrios has gorgeous crystal water, while dozens of tall trees provide refreshing shade during the hottest hours of the day.
Agios Petros Beach: A pebbled shore, Agios Petros is a not-organized and relatively isolated cove less than 10 km from Patitiri. The bay is calm and shallow, making it a good place for swimming and diving.
Lefto Gialos Beach: If looking for a family-friendly shore with white sand and pristine seas, then look further than Lefto Gialos, often considered one of the top beaches in Alonnisos. The beach is pebbled and surrounded by incredible vegetation of a deep green that perfectly contrasts with the beach’s turquoise shallow coast.
Chrissi Milia Beach: One more family-friendly beach with excellent facilities and organization, this beach has incredibly soft golden sand, making it perfect for families. This shore is quite popular on the island since it is very well organized and it can also enjoy water sports.
Rousoum Gialos Beach: Also loved by families, this beach can be easily reached from Patitiri as it is only two km away. The popular resort is also a good place for accommodation, while its beach is pebbled, calm, and well organized.
Votsi Beach: Popular among those who spend their holidays in Alonnisos year after year, this small beach offers plenty of facilities and organization to spend a perfect day without needing to carry lots of stuff. It’s close to Patitiri, and families love the shallow coast, which is undoubtedly kid-friendly.
The westernmost island in the group, Skiathos, is a perfect place for a family holiday that can be easily combined with a visit to Alonissos, Skopelos, or both of them!
Home to a rugged, indented coastline, the best area to stay and explore is certainly the southern portion of Skiathos. Off the coast, it is possible to take day trips to small nearby islets, including Aspronisi, Arkos, and Troulonisi.
The main place to discover is Skiathos Town, where it is possible to find accommodation, check the endless tavernas and restaurants, and embark on adventures to explore the rest of the island. Even if it is not among the biggest Greek Islands, Skiathos has impressive beaches and woods, offering opportunities to swim, sunbathe, and even hike and trek in total peace.
On Skiathos, most beaches are sandy and family-friendly, while the woods and pine forests are perfect landscapes to take a break from the beach. Besides turning into a famous Greek destination for being the set of the film Mamma Mia!, the island is also quite popular among young tourists. Not yet reaching the status of a party island, it remains private and secluded for an intimate and peaceful holiday in Greece.
Best Beaches in Skiathos
Hosting some of the most amazing beaches in Greece, Skiathos stands out for its unique verdant landscape of pine trees and soft sand beaches, most of them on the island’s southern side. It’s much better to reach the North for secluded beaches instead, where there is almost no organization; these beaches are often naturist friendly and reached only by boat. The island has some well-organized shores offering water sports and umbrellas for the whole family.
Koukounaries Beach: This is the most famous beach on the island; it’s located about 13 km from the main town of Skiathos and is surrounded by a lush pine tree forest. Koukounaries is a family-friendly sandy beach featuring good organization and water sports for all the family.
Vromolimnos Beach: Sandy and shallow, this is a super popular, family-friendly spot on Skiathos Sporades where to spend the day sunbathing or enjoying various water sports. Although the beach is popular and often overcrowded in summer, it has ample spaces, and it’s not difficult to find a private corner to relax.
Lalaria Beach: Although it lacks organization and is a pebbled beach, many think of Lalaria as the most stunning beach on the northern portion of Skiathos. You will find fantastic sea caves and rocks perfect for diving experiences in the area. This beach can be reached from the town of Skiathos by boat.
Achladies Beach: A perfect sandy beach for small kids who want to approach water sports, this popular spot is only 5 km from Skiathos Town, which makes it very easy to reach even with public transport
Banana Beach: One more unique beach in Skiathos goes by the name of Banana Beach. This is a fun party beach, popular for nudism, and reasonably well organized. The beach is not far from Koukounaries, so it is a good idea to visit both on the same day.
Kolios Beach: Well organized and highly family-friendly, Kolios Beach is located only 8 km from the center of Skiathos Town. Offering some organization and an ample sandy shore to relax, the beach also features several centers for sports and water activities, as well as beach bars and tavernas.
A perfect family-friendly destination also good for romantic couples, Skopelos is located between the islands of Skiathos and Alonissos. Skopelos features fantastic nature, unique beaches, unspoiled villages, and picturesque old chapels to visit. Also, a scene for Mamma Mia!
Skopelos can be easily reached from Volos, on mainland Greece, as well as from the rest of the Sporades. Skopelos can also be easily reached from the bigger island of Evia. When visiting Skopelos, please make a point to explore the two main villages on the island, Skopelos Town and Glossa. They are both located at a high altitude and boast spectacular views of the Sporades landscape.
Incredibly picturesque and dramatic, Skopelos Town is a little town with lovely whitewashed houses and churches, narrow alleys, and colorful flowers hanging from the balconies.
However, if we had to choose what the island is good for, there’s nothing better to do in Skopelos than visiting its beaches. They have some of Greece’s cleanest and most pristine waters, ideal for diving, going snorkeling, swimming, and enjoying your time on the island.
Best Beaches in Skopelos
Indeed, home to some of the best beaches in Greece, all the shores you will encounter in Skopelos have crystal waters and stand in green areas, with amazing trees and bushes offering shade and adding a touch of color to the scene. Tall pine trees and fragrant bushes crowing almost all the way to the coast’s edge make the place magical. The following shores are some of the beaches you cannot miss in Skopelos.
Stafilos Beach: The most popular and beautiful beach on the island is located about 5 km from the capital. Stafilos is both family-friendly and reasonably well organized. It features soft, small pebbles and a surrounding panorama of high cliffs that add a touch of drama to the already paradisiac feel of Stafilos.
Hovolo Beach: Calm and quiet, with partial organization, this is another pebbled beach that families prefer when visiting Skopelos. It’s less than 20 km from the island’s capital and is surrounded by lush plants and bushes.
Neo Klima Beach: Also known by Elios Beach, Neo Klima is a fantastic tourist resort on Skopelos with its own boat harbor and an impressive background made of a verdant pine tree forest.
Panormos Beach: Again, a beach that’s organized and family-friendly, this beach is adored both by locals and visitors alike. Panormos is about12 km from Skopelos Town and one of the most gorgeous beaches in the Sporades Islands. It has a long sandy shore where many love to gather in the afternoon to appreciate some of the most amazing sunsets you could think of.
Loutraki Beach: This is the main beach of the village of Glossa and a perfect destination for those staying in the area. The family-friendly beach is about 25 km from Skopelos Town and offers good facilities and efficient organization, especially for those traveling with kids.
Town Beach: Although this is certainly not the best beach on the island, it is worth including in this list for those who do not plan to spend a lot of time in Skopelos but still want to know of a place where to swim or sunbathe while waiting for their ferry to depart for another one of the Sporades Islands. This shore and harbor are a short walking distance from Skopelos Town and features rocky and sandy areas.
Skyros Island Travel
Skyros (or Skiros) is not as popular as the rest of the Sporades, mainly because it remains pretty distant from Skiathos, Alonnisos, and Skopelos. However, still virgin to international visitors and mass tourism, the island remains one of the most fantastic in Greece.
The island’s main town is known as Chora and is a great place to visit. The picturesque town is on the slopes of a moderate hill with top Aegean views from the outstanding medieval castle walls overlooking the rest of the island and the port below.
Skyros has some fantastic beaches to discover: private, secluded, and relatively isolated. The island is quite big compared to the rest of the islands in the group. This makes it an excellent destination for those wanting to rent a car to explore hidden coves, forgotten villages, and other stunning Skyros gems.
One more reason to rent a car when spending your time on Skyros is to explore some completely unknown beaches, ideal for those who seek peaceful moments and some privacy. Molos, a long coast with crystal clear waters and tourist facilities, is the best beach in Skyros.
The best way to reach Skyros is to depart from Evia Island. Ferries from Skopelos and Alonnisos also reach the coast of Skyros, making it a good stop in your Sporades island-hopping itinerary. Let’s now take a look at the best beaches in Skyros.
Best Beaches in Skyros
Looking for the best beaches in the Sporades, then transform Skyros into one of the destinations to visit within the Sporades cluster. On Skyros, beaches stand surrounded by green areas and forests and have incredible clear blue waters.
The main beaches and most beautiful ones are located in the main town, making it easier for visitors to visit them when exploring the island. There are also a few beaches that can only be accessed by hiking or boat, making them very private and almost unknown to the general public. These are some of the best Skyros beaches you can enjoy during your Greek vacation.
Molos Beach: This organized, family-friendly beach is the most popular shore on the island. It’s a picturesque seaside area only 4 km from the center of Skyros Town, and it features a super long, sandy beach where kids can learn to swim thanks to its calm waters.
Magazia Beach: Second only to Molos, Magazia is a top beach in Skyros that fascinates adults and children alike. Located only 3 km north of Skyros Town, this is another long, sandy beach that can get quite crowded during the high season. In the area, visitors can find dozens of excellent accommodations, all of them with very reasonable fees too.
Agios Fokas Beach: Looking for a small, secluded pebbled shore with sandy areas not that far from the main town? Agios Fokas is just perfect. The beach is about 13 km from the capital; the shore features white sand and pebbles, while the imposing green scenery makes it a place to remember. The beach is not so easy to visit as it’s necessary to drive (or hike) along a dirt road to get there. Its relaxing vibe and magnificent landscape are well worth the effort.
Gyrismata Beach: Sandy shore featuring partial organization; this is a great family beach about 5 km from Skyros Town. The beautiful Gyrismata is quite popular on the island because it is just 5 km from the main town and very close to Molos Beach.
Acherounes Beach: Just 10 km from Skyros Town, this golden sand beach with a few pebbles is great for families and couples. Its clean, blue waters are remarkable while there is also some organization for you to spend the whole day. In the nearby area, you will be able to find tavernas, bars, and cafeterias, all catering both to a quick snack or a full Greek lunch by the sea.
Putting Everything Together: Island Hopping In The Sporades
As we have already mentioned, the Sporades offer a fantastic opportunity for Greek Island hopping since they are a short distance from each other. Standing in the country’s center, on the Pkgasetic Gulf, they are relatively easy to reach from different areas in Greece, including Athens and Thessaloniki and Larissa and Volos.
How To Get There And Move Between The Sporades
You can start your island hopping experience from any of the islands since there is a direct connection to all of them from the coastal towns of Thessaloniki and Volos.
Ferry From Thessaloniki
A popular way to get to these islands is to visit from Thessaloniki taking a boat. The trip from Thessaloniki to Skiathos takes from 3 to 4 hours.
Ferry From Volos
The closest island from Volos is Skiathos (from a 1.5 to 2 hours journey), so this should be where you can start exploring. And from there, quickly get to Skopelos, Alonissos, and Skyros. Several ferry lines connect all these islands. Since the islands are very close to each other, you can travel between them in less than one hour and see them in a relatively short period (from one week to 10 days are enough for a holiday in the Sporades).
Travel From Piraeus
If traveling from Athens, the trip will get a bit longer since no ferries are connecting the capital of Greece to the Sporades. However, you can travel from Athens to Agios Konstantinos (a port about 120 km from Athens) and board a boat to Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonissos, and Skyros. From Agios Konstantinos, you need less than 2 hours to get to Skiathos, the closest island.
Traveling By Plane
Only Skiathos and Skyros are the islands that have an airport. So if you’re traveling from Athens, this should be the way to go. The flight time is about 45 minutes, and they also receive direct charter flights from other European countries during the high season. A flight either to Skiathos or Skyros from Athens takes 45 minutes.
Getting To Other Greek Islands
As you might imagine already, these two airports also feature flights to important Greek Islands in other areas, such as the Ionian Corfu, Mykonos in the Cyclades, or Rhodes in the Dodecanese.
However, no matter how tempting this might sound, we highly recommend you to visit one island group at a time to avoid wasting many hours and even days in your vacations traveling from one point in Greece to the other. Island hopping in other Greek Islands can be something to look forward to for your next vacation in Greece.
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