Skopelos Greece: The Mamma Mia Island – Your Insider’s Travel Guide

Skopelos island is a little Mediterranean paradise in the heart of the Sporades. It sits in the Northern Aegean, less than 15 miles away from the popular Greek island of Skiathos, and the lesser-known Alonissos. 

Skopelos Greece has started to pique people’s interest in recent years on account of it being the filming location for Mamma Mia and the destination tormented by Pierce Brosnan´s terrible singing! The little island featured as the fictional island of Kalokairi in the movie. 

However, that said, it still only sees a fraction of the tourists that popular Greek islands like Crete, Corfu, and Zakynthos see. This, in part, is due to the fact that the island is relatively remote and tricky to get to.

For your efforts though, you are rewarded with a sleepy island that feels seemingly frozen in time, undisturbed by tourists and crowds. Less than 5,000 permanent residents call Skopelos island their home. Skopelos may well be one of the last, relatively undisturbed Greek island idylls.

Skopelos, Greece:
The “Mamma Mia” Island 

Skopelos holidays: Cape Amarandos
Skopelos holidays: Cape Amarandos

Mamma Mia Movie Directors travelled to more than 20 Greek islands in search of the perfect sleepy Greek island setting. Eventually, they settled on lovely little Skopelos. 

Skopelos is the real-life setting for Kalokairi. Two of the main filming locations were here on this island. Namely, they were Kastani beach on the west coast of the island, and the clifftop church of Agios Ioannis Kastri in the northeast.

The Best Things to do in Skopelos, Greece

Stafylos, Skopelos
Stafylos, Skopelos

Most people that visit Skopelos, Greece only dedicate a day or two to the island on part of a wider Sporades adventure. However, there is much more to do here than initially meets the eye. 

You could easily dedicate the entirety of your two week vacation to Skopelos and still feel as though there is plenty left to explore.

Historical and archaeological sites in Skopelos are few. However, history buffs will surely enjoy the ancient castles (“Kastros”) that watch protectively over the island’s main towns. Not to mention, the hiking routes that lead to neolithic tombs and centuries-old monasteries. 

Sample Local Skopeliti Cuisines and Delicacies

Breathtaking Scenery in Amarandos Cape
Breathtaking Scenery in Amarandos Cape

Different parts of Greece have different regional delicacies. Skopelos is no different in that regard.

There are many excellent Skopelos restaurants scattered around the island. These eateries serve everything from traditional Greek dishes, to Mediterranean food with a contemporary twist.

Skopelos plums, spoon sweets, pine honey, and dried plums are local specialties. They can be purchased in many of the charming delicatessens around the port area.

They are also often prepared in island specialty dishes. For instance, Restaurant Rodi (ρόδι)) are known for their Skopeliti lamb served with plums, and their mouthwatering zucchini flowers.

Meanwhile, Molos Taverna serves dishes that you will not find anywhere else. For instance, pork with Skopelos plums and apricots, roast rabbit in plums and liquer, and entrecôte with Roquefort cheese and walnuts.

Swim in the Cerulean Waters of Panormos Beach

Skopelos Greece

Gorgeous beaches and coastlines run around the circumference of Skopelos. There is something for everyone here – whether you are looking for places that boast all the amenities, or areas of seclusion and rugged scenery. 

If it is the former that you are looking for, head to Panormos. This is one of the island’s most popular beach towns. It sits within a secluded, crescent-shaped bay surrounded by dense pine trees.  

The calm seas and clear waters here makes Panormos perfect for families travelling with children. The beach is also bordered by a bustling promenade filled with several excellent local tavernas. At the end of a day´s swimming and relaxing, you will have plenty of dinner options here. 

Seek Out Solitude at Cape Amarandos 

Amarandos Cape
Amarandos Cape

If you prefer peace and quiet, and the concept of having an isolated beach entirely to yourselves, head to Cape Amarandos. Cape Amarandos is not a beach, per se, but a coastal area that consists of several secluded coves and rock pools. 

Locals call this area ¨piscina¨ on account of how excellent the swimming is here. You will see a questionable looking dirt trail that veers off to the left as you approach Agnontas hamlet. If you follow it, it takes you to Amarandos.

Few tourists know about Amarandos so this is a good place to venture if you want to have a slice of paradise all to yourself. There is a small stretch of land here that stretches out into the sea and has two lone pine trees on it. This was another Mamma Mia filming location and features in many postcards and travel literature photographs of Skopelos island. 

Hike to the Monasteries Above Skopelos Town 

T1 Trail Hike - Skopelos Island
T1 Trail Hike – Skopelos Island

There are many pleasant hikes and walking trails that weave through the scenery of Skopelos island. Such routes are enjoyable all year round. 

One such route is the rugged path that leads you from Skopelos town up into the woodland area of Palouki. In fact, there are several routes that you could follow here, depending on how long you wish to hike for. 

From Skopelos town, follow the coastal promenade all the way east before following the uphill path into the woodlands. The trail is very well-marked (T1)  and it is easy to find where you are going. 

You can walk to the Holy Monastery of the Annunciation, the Agia Varvara Monastery, the Monastery of Timiou Prodromou, and the Monastery of Iera Sotiros. As you begin to leave Skopelos town behind you, you are treated to magnificent panoramas of the port area down below. 

Most monasteries are open between 8.30 and 13.30, and then again from 17.30 until 20.30. However, this is subject to change. Try to check the times with a local before making the journey so as not to arrive and find them closed. 

Have a Seafood Lunch at Agnontas 

Sleepy Agnontas
Sleepy Agnontas

Agnontas is a charming little fishing village that sits on the eastern coast of Skopelos island. It is located just 9km away from Skopelos port. 

There are just a scattering of houses and tavernas here. However, the tavernas that line the seafront serve up local cuisine of the highest quality. During the winter months, only a few people reside at Agnontas, and the village is practically a ghost town. 

Seafood dishes prepared at Mouria Fish Tavern, Pavlos taverna, and Korali Agnondas Skopelos use the latest catches sourced by fishermen in the nearby waters.

Don´t miss the fresh squid, the lobster ravioli, and the Mouria specialty fish soup. These are all local Skopelos island favourites.

For those who prefer not to eat fish, a variety of other classic Greek dishes can be found on the menus here. This includes sumptuous marinated meats, and vegetarian and vegan dishes

The waterfront “M Coffeehouse” is a great place to stop for a Greek coffee, a freddo cappuccino, or a mountain of breakfast pancakes to start your day. You don’t need to dedicate much time to Agnontas. However, it is worth a brief pitstop en route to Amarandos, or the whitesand beaches of Limnonari. 

Search for Pirate Graves and Hidden Treasure at Sendoukia 

One of the lesser-known things to do in Skopelos Greece is the hike to the pirate graveyard and neolithic tombs at Sendoukia. Ideally, you need to have a car or a motorcycle in order to reach the area, which sits on the slopes of Mount Delfi. 

It is also possible to reach Sendoukia on foot. It takes approximately eighty minutes to reach the area from Skopelos port.

The official “trail” through the woodlands leads you past beautiful natural scenery, forests filled with pine trees, and rocky terrain. You do not need to be an experienced hiker to attempt this trail, just be sure to arm yourself with supportive footwear. 

Venture to the Mamma Mia Church of Agios Ioannis Kastri 

Skopelos Greece: The "Mamma Mia" church of Agios Ioannis Kastri
Skopelos Greece: The “Mamma Mia” church of Agios Ioannis Kastri

Agios Ioannis Kastri is the name of the infamous Skopelos church that featured in the movie Mamma Mia. The name translates to mean ¨St John on the Castle¨ and the structure can be found perched precariously on the edge of a rock at the northeastern part of the island. 

200 narrow stone stairs twist around the cliff face to take you to the tiny church at the top. This was the setting of the wedding in Mamma Mia. However, it should be noted that the interior is tiny and the indoor scenes of the movie were filmed in a Hollywood studio!

There is no public transport that runs to Agios Ioannis Kastri. As such, if you want to visit, you either need to hire a car, take a cab from Glossa (€25 each way), or book a daily excursion from Skopelos port. 

Spend a Day in Stafylos

Skopelos is a hiker’s paradise. There are more than 25 trails that weave through the natural scenery of the island, leading you through hidden valleys, fragrant olive groves and farmlands. 

The majority of the trails are very well maintained and marked. The island is hilly, so some can have challenging inclines. However, the majority of them are suitable for hikers of all ages and abilities. 

One simple trail that you can follow is along the old road from Skopelos to Stafylos. Stafylos is a little hamlet that is home to two of the island’s best beaches: Stafylos and Velanio.

The journey takes approximately 50 minutes and takes you along an old road through the countryside. Many old secluded woodland churches and shrines make pleasant stopping points along your journey. 

Meander through the Narrow Streets of Skopelos Town 

Meander through the narrow streets of Skopelos town
Meander through the narrow streets of Skopelos town

Skopelos town is the island’s capital. In 1978, it was recognised as a ¨place of outstanding beauty¨ by Greece´s then Prime Minister. When you see it, you realise it’s not difficult to understand why. 

Regardless of how many Greek islands you may have visited, sailing into Skopelos takes your breath away. The main town´s quaint whitewashed houses cascade down the hilltops – almost like a Sporades version of Italy’s Amalfi Coast! 

You should dedicate at least a day to meandering through the back streets of the town. The seafront promenade is lined with tavernas and coffee places that are popular among islanders and tourists alike. 

Platanos square is essentially the main village square. Several tavernas encompass this area, including the namesake Platanos taverna – a spot renowned for its excellent homemade bread, and its hearty portions of classic dishes such as giouvetsi, stifado, and moussaka. 

There are more than 100 churches contained within the town limits alone. Each of them boast vibrant frescoes and interiors just as stunning and unique as their exteriors. 

Venture into the town with no set agenda and just enjoy experiencing the sights and sounds of island life. When you want a break, stop by the Little Coffee Shop for a strong Greek coffee and a slice of cake. 

Experience Skopelos Nightlife

When the sun goes down, head to Mercurius or Screwdriver cocktail bar for some of the best mixology in the Sporades. Platanos Jazz Bar sits in the shadow of the Church of the Virgin Mary (Panagitsa Tower).

This is a wonderful place for enjoying an Aperol spritz or a mastiha-infused cocktail as you watch the sunset over the harbour. 

Spend a Day in Glossa Town 

Glossa, Skopelos
Glossa, Skopelos

The sleepy town of Glossa is the second-largest settlement on the island of Skopelos. If you thought that Skopelos town was quiet, Glossa is even more so – particularly if you find yourself here during afternoon siesta hours. 

The beautiful houses here have been built in a traditional Aegean style. Namely, they are pastel-coloured two-story homes complete with wooden balconies and ceramic roofs. Almost every turn in Glossa greets you with breathtaking panoramas over the Aegean, and out to the island of Skiathos. 

An afternoon in Glossa is sufficient. There is a scattering of tavernas and coffee shops around the main square where you can enjoy a warm slice of Skopelos pie or other local delicacies.

Reenact the Scenes from Mamma Mia at Kastani Beach

Kastani Beach, Skopelos
Kastani Beach, Skopelos

Skopelos’ gorgeous Kastani beach was one of the main filming locations for Mamma Mia. It was here where the scenes for “Lay all your love on me”, “Does your mother know?”, and the cliff jumping scenes were filmed. The beach looks slightly different to how it appears in the movie. The wooden pier in the film was assembled specifically for Mamma Mia. 

There is a beach bar on the eastern edge of the beach where you can enjoy cocktails and light snacks beneath your own private cabana. The western side of Kastani beach is not serviced. 

Kastani is one of the best Skopelos beaches, and arguably one of the most impeccably stunning spots in the entirety of the Sporades. It is surrounded by luscious green pine trees and craggy rock formations. During the summer months, beach parties and live DJs are hosted here on certain nights. 

Admire the Panoramas from the Panagitsa of Pyrgos 

The 17th century Panagitsa of Pyrgos church is the first thing you see when your ship pulls into Skopelos island. This gorgeous white-painted structure sits adjacent to the Venetian castle ¨Kastro¨. From here, you can enjoy some of the best views across the town and out to Alonissos in the distance. 

Although there are hundreds of churches in Skopelos, there are those that stand out. The Panagitsa of Pyrgos is a popular venue for weddings for both Greeks and foreign tourists. 

Its interiors are just as stunning as the outside. Follow the stone steps up to the church, admire the views from the top, and then head inside to check out the colourful frescoes and paintings from both the new and old testaments.

Sink Your Toes into the Sand at Milia Beach

Milia beach is regarded by many as being the best of Skopelos’ beaches. The proximity of Milia beach to Kastani means that you can easily cover both spots in one day. 

From here, you have incredible views of the leafy uninhabited island of Dassia – a paradisiacal spot that is only accessible by renting a boat.

Milia can get very busy during the summer months. However, there is always plenty of room to sit without being disturbed – Milia is the longest beach on the island. 

This is also Skopelos’ only sandy beach. The majority of coastlines here are rocky.

Head to a Beach Party at Glysteri Beach

Glysteri beach, Skopelos island

Glysteri Beach is a serviced beach close to Skopelos town that has only opened in recent years. It is situated just 2km north of Skopelos town, making it the closest beach to the port area. 

There is no public transport that runs to Glysteri. However, you can drive, take a cab, or even walk the 2km route. During the summer months, beach parties and events are hosted here. 

Getting Around Skopelos 

Skopelos Greece: Northeastern Skopelos
Skopelos Greece: Northeastern Skopelos

It may come as a surprise to learn that Skopelos boasts excellent transport links – especially during the summer months. There is a public bus service that runs in a circle around the island at frequent intervals throughout the day. 

Skopelos Buses

The bus starts at Skopelos town and runs onwards to Stafilos, Agnondas, Panormos, Milia beach, Kastani beach, and Glossa. Tickets cost just a couple of euros each way. 

The Skopelos bus schedule is subject to change depending on the season. However you will find the latest schedules posted on the notice board at Skopelos town port. 

Renting Cars and Bicycles 

Renting a car in Greece is not as intimidating as it may first sound. There are ample rental companies scattered around Skopelos town, and the northern village of Glossa. From here you can rent cars, motorcycles, ATVs, and bicycles as long as you provide a copy of your identification. 

There are several gravel roads that take you to some of the more secluded beaches on the island. However for the most part, Skopelos roads are very flat and well-paved. This also makes the island an excellent place for cyclists. 

Taxis in Skopelos 

There are a couple of taxi ranks in Skopelos from where you will always be able to find a car. Namely, these are:

  • Outside Skopelos port in Skopelos town

  • In Glossa main square

  • In Neo Klima village 

Getting to Skopelos 

Skopelos Holidays: Spend an afternoon in Glossa
Skopelos Holidays: Spend an afternoon in Glossa

There is no airport on Skopelos island. The easiest way to reach little Skopelos depends on where you are travelling from. 

By Air 

There is no airport on Skopelos island. The nearest international airport is on the adjacent island of Skiathos. 

Various European countries offer direct flights to Skiathos during the summer months, including the UK. If you are travelling out of season or from outside of Europe, you could fly into Athens or Thessaloniki and then take a domestic flight to Skiathos. 

You need to take a ferry from Skiathos to Skopelos town or Glossa. The journey takes just 20 minutes each way. 

By Ferry 

There are three ferry ports on mainland Greece that service Skopelos. Ships run between the Sporades and Volos, Agios Konstantinos, and Mantoudi ports. 

Ferry schedules vary depending on the season. It is advisable to book directly through the specific ferry company as opposed to via general ferry booking sites. The latter often charge an additional booking fee of 5-6 euros per ticket. 

Most ferries arrive at Skopelos town or Glossa port. Check the specific disembarkation point of your ship before you purchase a ticket.

Agnontas port is sometimes used when the weather is too windy or stormy to arrive at Skopelos port. Agnontas is just 20 minutes away from Skopelos town and a free bus is provided by the ferry company if you have to stop here for any reason. 

Where to Stay in Skopelos, Greece 

Glossa, Northern Skopelos
Glossa, Northern Skopelos

The island of Skopelos is the largest in the Sporades. However it is still very small. 

You can get from one end of the island to the other (Skopelos town to Glossa) in less than two hours. Even if you opt to stay in some of the more remote parts of the island, you will not be isolated. The transportation here is fairly good, and everywhere can be reached in a short period of time. 

All things considered, Skopelos town is arguably still the best place to base yourself during your Skopelos holidays. This places you right next to the port for boats to and from Volos, Skiathos, and Alonissos, and provides you with ample dining and nightlife opportunities. 

Skopelos Village Hotel 

Skopelos Village Hotel is a luxury Skopelos property without the luxury price tag. The hotel is situated on the peaceful eastern corner of Skopelos town, a short walk away from the monasteries of Palouki.

The scenic whitewashed building boasts breathtaking views of the open sea from its rooms and suites. The rooms have been decorated in an elegant, contemporary style, with furnishings of quintessentially Greek blue and white. 

Rooms start from around €80 per night. You can check the latest room rates and availability here

Parting Words 

Skopelos holidays: Kastani beach
Skopelos holidays: Kastani beach

Do you have any additional questions about Skopelos Greece or about planning a trip to Greece in general? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I have lived in Greece for over three years now and spent six months in 2020/21 living on the little island of Skopelos. 

I am happy to answer any questions and queries that you may have. Safe travels! Geia sou! Melissa xo 


Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer and Blogger based in Athens, Greece. She writes for numerous high profile travel publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, Matador Network, The Times of Israel and The Huffington Post.

6 thoughts on “Skopelos Greece: The Mamma Mia Island – Your Insider’s Travel Guide”

  1. Melissa, I cannot wait to get back to properly explore the island after reading your blog. I fell in love with it 4 years ago and I am determined to live there one day. Thanks so much for your blog, very informative and very true from the little I have seen.

    Reply
  2. Hello Melissa, a friend and I are currently on Skopelos and are trying to find a hiking map/book of the island. Where did you get yours? Do you still know the name of the store? Maybe you have a tip for us, that would be great!! Thank you and kind regards, Ida

    Reply
  3. Hi melissa,

    Thank you for your nice blog! I’m planning to travel to greece in august and might want to stay in Skopelos for a few days. I am traveling by myself. Do you think Skopolos is a good placce for solo traveling or do you have any other good advice?

    best
    iris

    Reply

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