The Sporades are a group of 24 stunning islands in Northeastern Aegean. These are among the greenest islands in the Mediterranean.
The Sporades are laden with dense pine forests, paradisiacal beaches reminiscent of desert islands, quaint villages, and unique culture. Skiathos and Skopelos have soared in popularity in recent years, especially following the success of ¨Mamma Mia¨.
However, even so, the Sporades are often overlooked in favour of more popular and well-known places in the Cyclades and the Ionian. One reason for this seems to be the fact that these little islands are not the easiest to get to.
However, if you do make the effort to come here, you will be greeted with some of the most naturally beautiful places in all of Greece. Better still, the Sporades lack the crowds seen by other popular Greek travel destinations.
The Sporades Greece
Of the 24 islands in the Sporades archipelago, only four are inhabited. Namely, those are Skyros, Skiathos, Skopelos, and Alonissos.
The remaining 20 islands are rugged, dramatic, uninhabited paradises. It is possible to visit some of them if you have access to a boat.
For instance, Tsougkrias is a popular day trip from Skiathos island during the summer months. Others are out of bounds and part of the protected Alonissos marine park.
The Sporades are perfect for an island-hopping adventure. It is a matter of personal preference.
However, you could opt to spend a few days on each island. Alternatively, you can base yourself on one of them for one or two weeks and then take excursions out from there.
Little Skiathos is the most popular of the Sporades islands. It has a reputation for being something of a party island, but that is unfair.
Despite Skiathos’ popularity, it is far from being an overly commercialised place.
Skiathos is not so busy that it has lost the charm that attracted tourists in the first place. In fact, it is even known as the ¨boomerang island¨.
Why? This is on account of all of the people that fall so in love with Skiathos that they come back, again and again, each year.
The island is just 7 miles long by 4 miles wide. Yet within that small area, you can find 60 gorgeous sandy beaches. ranging from
The beaches here range from family friendly coastlines with all the amenities, to secluded coves that ooze castaway vibes. Generally speaking, the southern part of the island is more developed with resorts and towns full of hangouts catered to international tourists.
Meanwhile, the northern part is more wild and rugged. Arguably the best Skiathos experience comes from experiencing a combination of the two.
- Tread one of the 26 hiking trails that weave through the dramatic scenery of the island
- Marvel at the ethereal landscapes of Lalaria beach
- Spend a day relaxing at the popular Troulos beach
- Laze on the shores of Koukounaries beach – one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece
- Enjoy home cooked Greek food in the quaint, cosy tavernas of Skiathos town
- Visit the Holy Monastery of Evangelistria where the first Greek flag was ever flown
- Visit the Panagia Eikonistria Monastery – the most important monastery on Skiathos
- Catch a live theatrical performance at the bourtzi open air theater
- Hike to Kastro, the crumbling ruins of the former Skiathos capital
Skiathos is the most popular of the Sporades islands and so, it is important to reserve your accommodation here in advance. This is particularly true if you are travelling here during July, August and September.
Skiathos is a popular destination for British package holidays. So, if you leave your accommodation booking until the last minute, you may be dissappointed to see that a lot of options have booked up.
There is something for everyone in Skiathos. Whether you are travelling to Greece on a budget or you want to indulge yourself in absolute luxury, you will find something that suits you.
Troulos is a popular beach town that offers everything you need for a summer getaway. A plethora of restaurants and bars here serve international fare and the beaches are serviced.
That being said, Troulos may seem a little too crowded and gentrified for some. Kanapitsa is a wooded area just 2km away from the number 12 Skiathos bus stop and a nice choice if you prefer a little more privacy and seclusion.
There are a number of beautiful villas and homes for rent here. You can also find some of the island’s best luxury hotels in the area.
In particular, look out for Skiathos Blu, or Cape Kanapitsa Hotel & Suites. Alternatively, Skiathos town is a great place to base yourself if you want to have a vast selection of nightlife and dining options on your doorstep.
In this case, consider reserving a room at Atlas Skiathos. The hotel offers luxury without the luxury price tag.
Skopelos island was relatively unknown until it featured as the fictional island of Kalokairi in the Hollywood movie ¨Mamma Mia¨. It has no airport and is a little trickier to reach than Skiathos, which is why it may have fallen under the radar historically.
Skopelos may well be one of the last sleepy Greek island idylls that remains somewhat unchanged by the influence of tourism. Skopelos town is recognised in Greece as being a ¨place of outstanding beauty¨.
Its whitewashed houses cascade down the hilltops surrounding the port. Being greeted with the sight of this as you arrive on the island for the first time will take your breath away, regardless of how many Greek islands you have previously explored.
While Skiathos’ beaches are sandy, most of the beaches on Skopelos are pebbled or rocky. This can be off-putting for some.
However, Skopelos has a higher concentration of secluded coves and rugged beaches that seldom see visitors, even in the height of summer. If you like to venture off the beaten path and escape the crowds, Skopelos might be just what you are looking for.
- Climb the 200 steps to Agios Ioannis Kastri – the clifftop church made famous by Mamma Mia
- Revel in the dramatic scenery and hike from Glossa to Palio Klima
- Discover the rugged beaches of Hovolo and Armenopetra close to Neo Klima
- Spend a day in the peaceful natural bay of Stafylos beach
- Hike to the churches and monasteries in the hills of Palouki above Skopelos town
- Indulge in island delicacies like Skopeliti classic lamb with plums at acclaimed Skopelos restaurants
- Sip a strong Greek coffee at Swell coffee shop overlooking the waterfront.
Where to Stay in Skopelos
Skopelos boasts an array of accommodation options to suit travellers of all interests and budgets. Opting to rent a villa may sound like an extravagant luxury choice but you can actually find several gorgeous, beachfront properties with spacious gardens and pools that don’t break the bank.
This can be a nice idea if there are a few of you or you are visiting the Sporades for a special occasion. Some stunning properties can be found among the olive groves in the hills of Raches and Mili hamlets above Skopelos town.
Here, the views above the Chora and its harbour are second to none. However, it is important to note that there is no public transport to the area and a lot of taxis will not travel up here because the dirt roads are difficult to navigate and not marked. So, you really need to rent a car.
If you are unsure where to stay in Skopelos, rest assured, there is no such thing as a bad choice. The island is small and you can get everywhere within an hour or less.
That being said, staying in the town places you close to excellent transport links to other parts of the island, and right on the doorstep of the ferry port. Most of the island’s bars and restaurants are concentrated here.
Little Alonissos is one of the more remote of the Sporades islands. It is home to just 2700 people, the majority of whom live in the portside town of Patitiri.
Aside from Patitiri and the nearby village of Votsi, Alonissos is essentially one large national park. Here, weather-worn footpaths lead you to woodland churches, forgotten monasteries, and isolated beaches.
From October, Alonissos practically becomes a ghost town. Fortunately, it is easy to travel around little Alonissos during the summer months.
The island bus runs in a circuit around the island at regular intervals from June to late September. Alonissos, like much of Greece, has links with Greek mythology.
The legend states that it was here where the ship ¨Argo¨ sailed to Troy. This same boat was also used by Jason on his quest to find the golden fleece.
Alonissos is increasing in popularity as a destination for scuba diving. Seemingly every other building by the seafront in Patitiri is a diving centre.
Beneath the surfaces of the water here you will find shipwrecks, rare marine and plant life, and submerged archaeological ruins. Alonissos is also home to the endangered monk seal. Many of these friendly marine creatures are so tame that they can often be seen hanging out on the shore among humans!
- Have a coffee and brunch among locals at the Black Cat in Patitiri
- Follow the old donkey trail from Patitiri to the ¨Chora¨ – the island’s old capital
- Sample the local delicacies – Alonissos tuna fish, stuffed squid, lobster spaghetti, etc
- Rent a boat and sail to the nearby islands of Peristera, Piperi and Papous
- Relax at Spartines, Chrisi Milia, Tzortzi Gialos, Leftos Gialos and other Alonissos beaches
Where to Stay in Alonissos
Among all of the hotels and vacation rentals on Alonissos island, there is one place that stands out above the crowd: Angelos Design Suites. This is a gorgeous, recently renovated property with Bohemian suites and some of the best views in Patitiri.
The Infinity 180 Luxury Suites Boutique Hotel in Pagiri is an 11 minute (6km) drive north of Patitiri. This exceptional luxury hotel is the epitome of Greek hospitality.
The property is close to some of the best beaches on the island. You can enjoy unparalleled panoramic views of the Alonissos marine park from its spectacular infinity pool.
Skyros is the largest and least touristically developed of the Sporades archipelago. Its location makes it a little trickier to get to if you are trying to island-hop to all of the islands of this region.
Skiathos, Skopelos, and Alonissos await just off the coast of Volos. However, Skyros is the southernmost of the four. It awaits in closer proximity to Evia than to its Sporades counterparts.
Skyros does not see a lot of tourism, besides the occasional Greek domestic travellers that stop by in the summer. The main town on Skyros, like on most Greek islands, is known as the ¨Chora¨.
The town cascades down a hilltop, in a way that makes it appear as the Greek version of the Amalfi Coast. At the top of the hill, you can find a medieval castle, and the Monastery of Saint George, Protector of the island.
- Swim in the translucent waters of the peaceful Atsitsa bay
- Browse interesting artefacts recovered from the island at the Skyros Folklore Museum
- Visit a pony farm and learn about the famous Skyrian ponies (short horses) that have lived on the island since ancient times
- Stop for coffee at one of the charming medieval coffee shops in the Chora
- Check out the interesting independent stores and shop for traditional Greek products and souvenirs
- Hike to the Church of Agios Nikolaos at Molos beach – a peculiar church carved into a rock
Where to Stay in Skyros
- Skyros Ammos Hotel offers affordable luxury with sea views, an outdoor pool, and yoga
- Perigiali Hotel is a three-star property decorated in quintessentially Greek shades of blue and white
Do you have any additional questions or queries about planning a trip to the Sporades? I have been living in Greece since 2017. I spent eight months in the Sporades in 2020/21.
Drop me a comment below if you need anything and I will get back to you ASAP. Safe travels!
Geia sou! Melissa xo