The Unknown Island of Skyros – What’s There to Discover?
Journal Entry 8
We spent 3 weeks on the rather ‘unheard of’ island of Skyros. The experience was just fascinating, and after all this time we almost feel like locals, good enough to write this Skyros island guide for anyone looking for an off the beaten path summer paradise.
But wait … which Greek island would you opt to go to if you had the chance to visit? We’re almost certain that most of you (us included!) would choose islands like Santorini or Mykonos. Why not? They both are a dream to even step a foot on!
That was our initial plan, however, we couldn’t find any job or volunteering opportunities for the time we wanted to visit … and without that, it would have been TOO expensive for our budget. We had to improvise, and now that it’s all over, we’re so glad we did!
A Skyros Island Guide
Area: 209.5 km²
For those of you wondering, that’s just 13 people per kilometre squared! Houses are rather scarce around the island – at some points, one might feel as if walking through uninhabited land. The majority of people live in Skiros (or as it’s known: Chora), which is the sole main town. It’s built on a very steep hill, which upon first glance it looks as if it is keeping an eye on the whole island! The majority of the town’s roads are either stairs or else very narrow streets, thus cars can only drive until a certain point. The pebbled paths will just make anyone want to explore every corner of it, sometimes more than once!
Getting around the island can’t be easier to explain – by FOOT! The island has no mode of public transport, except a bus which goes from the main town to either the airport or else the ferry port. To be honest, it sucks – however, we understood that this way Skyros keeps its true island vibe, with very few things to connect it with any other ‘modern’ city.
We were shocked as we heard this, as it’s not that feasible to walk all around the island. Not only does it take a lot of time, but the constant high temperatures makes it impossible to do so.
HOWEVER, the kindness and hospitality of the locals make up for all the lack of public transport. The most popular way among travellers to get around the island of Skyros is Hitchhiking! It’s so great and convenient, almost as good as a taxi service if you ask us!
Unlike Athens, locals will stop within a blink of an eye. Sometimes, we wouldn’t have yet reached out our hands to ask for a ride. We met so many of them in the 3 weeks we’ve been there, some of which we saw over and over again around the island. Undoubtedly, the coolest rides we got were on the back of pick-up trucks, something we don’t even dream of doing back home. So fun!
There is also the option of renting a scooter from Chora – which can be a great way to spend a day just roaming and exploring the island without any plan.
Chora – Skyros’ Main Town
Whether it’s the morning, afternoon, evening or late night there’s always something worth enough to be there! The town has the vibe of a proper Greek lifestyle, with men playing Tavli on the porches, others hanging out and children just running around enjoying their simple yet happy childhood. It’s hilly, so the views from up there are unique and just about impressive. At some areas, it may look a bit touristic, but keep looking and wandering and soon you’ll stumble upon the local pubs and eateries which will immediately take you into the Greek culture on Skyros island.
What else to do on an island with boiling hot temperatures? There’s nothing better than immersing yourself in water and just spend an afternoon appreciating the Aegean sea! And in Skyros you’re in luck, as the island offers plenty of these natural beauties.
This is undoubtedly our favourite of all beaches around the island. We’ve been here too many times, and to be honest, it’s more thanks to the cool beach bar than the beach itself!
The beach bar makes it super easy for anyone to have an amazing day, could it be by using its free deckchairs overlooking the beach itself, the free use of canoes or else once again the free use of tennis equipment. The owner is just one of the kindest Skyrians around, and he wouldn’t mind taking anyone on a free tour on his private jetski!
The place always urged us to go there, take our laptops and just spend a whole afternoon either working or binge-watching Netflix while sipping on a Freddo cappuccino or a pint of beer. Life goals right there!
OH! And there’s a shower on the beach too just to get rid of that salty feeling!
This beach is the one we would always visit whenever we didn’t have much time to spare, as it’s the closest to the farm we were living on. The beach is long (so there are always good places to chill), there are plenty of bars and restaurants and the most appealing – the water is crystal clear and VERY cold – translated to ‘very refreshing’ on a hot summer day.
Agalipa may be a bit difficult to arrive to because you’ll have to hike quite a bit to get to the beach. Cars can go in as far as the nearby taverna, or else for anyone fancying some offroad driving, one can go in until the downwards rocky path appears.
It’s a small and cute beach, surrounded by pine trees and high cliffs under which you can find some shade … but what’s most interesting about it is the stranded ship (or rather a large fishing boat) that lies there.
The shipwreck has been there for around 10 to 15 years. According to locals, when it all happened, it was filled with hundreds of immigrants heading from Turkey to Kymi. Due to a storm they faced, the captain decided that the safest option would be to try and slowly drive the boat at the shore … BUT upon its arrival, the ship’s crew were nowhere to be found.
Nowadays the ship stands there alone, in a rocky beach, being eaten by the sea and rotting. The beach is only approachable by boat or on foot via a small path in the woods. We went there alone, sat on the beach and just tried to imagine what it was like to find yourself, as an immigrant awaiting for hours to disembark at Kymi port, eventually trapped on a Skyros’s beach, during nighttime, between a rough sea and a mountainside full of pine trees.
It was so magical we even slept there for the night, just staring at the stars. It turned out to be an absolute dream!
What’s A Skyros Island Guide Without Food?
Undoubtedly, we have to recommend this! We’ve been eating here constantly for breakfast, lunch & dinner – and we have just positive things to say about the place! Manolis (the owner of the restaurant) is very much well known with all locals. Thanks to him, all our food (and accommodation) costs were drastically reduced to nothing – but not only did we have food – it was ALWAYS filling, local and appetising! You definitely have to try it if you’re in Skyros.
If you’re looking to spend some time the Greek way, ask the owner or one of the lovely waiters for a Tavli board – the Greek version of backgammon. It’s so Greek to indulge in a game while sipping on a sweet Mastika, or if strong liqueurs are your thing – you won’t be disappointed by a few shots of Tsipouro!
Finally, Just Pay A Visit To One Of The Rarest Breeds of Horses On The Planet!
The Skyrian Horses! The small-bodied species are native to Greece and are found on Skyros island, either in the wild or else in a conservation farm – just like the one we’ve been volunteering on.
They are very friendly and intelligent animals, with a physical look similar to a regular horse but a stature of a pony. Ask for ‘baby Athena’ and let us know how big she got at the time you visit – she was just born two days before we arrived!