SKIATHOSSkiathos, the most cosmopolitan island in the Northern Sporades, is truly a paradise on earth, with lush pine forests and crystal-clear azure waters. The island is picturesque, unspoilt and blessed with more than 60 beautifully crystal clear waters and beaches. The most famous is Koukounaries, which is considered as the third most beautiful beach in the Mediterranean. When you add in its bustling nightlife, it is only natural that the island attracts thousands of young visitors every year! Colourful cultural events, concerts and art exhibitions held throughout the summer months will add a special touch to your stay on the island!
AROUND SKIATHOS TOWNThe capital town of Skiathos is relatively new. It is generally assumed to have been built around 1829-30 on the same site as an older town. The town’s most important landmark is its natural harbour, which has determined the destiny of the town for centuries. Today it is a popular yacht and sailing boat haven that adds a cosmopolitan flair to the island. A stroll around the town’s paved streets reveals cute white houses with red tiled roofs and colourful gardens. The picturesque harbour surrounded by four small islets is a sight not to be forgotten. Don’t pass up the chance to visit Bourtzi, a small peninsula with lush vegetation where the ruins of a Venetian fortress still stand. The fortress was established in 1207 by the Gizi brothers but it was destroyed in 1660 when Admiral Morozini conquered the island. Today it is one of the most romantic spots on Skiathos thanks to its densely planted pine trees and stunning views of the archipelago.
Apart from Bourtzi don’t miss the opportunity to visit the former house and now museum of the famous author Alexandros Papadiamantis (who is commemorated every year with special celebrations on 3-4 January and on the 4th of March) who was born and raised on the island. There is also the Church of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary with its four museums and Kastro (meaning castle), a natural fortress that was used by the inhabitants in the 14th century as a refugee against pirate raids. Today Kástro attracts many visitors thanks to its breathtaking natural beauty.
GASTRONOMYThe gastronomic delights of the island always were and continue to be special.
In the past fishermen exchanged the treasures of the sea for the farmers’ vegetables and oil. This bartering created a fragnant cuisine based on seafood and “horta” (wild greens); fish stew (dentex, white grouper, dusky grouper ank monkfish), fava (puree of yellow split peas) with sardines, “tsoflia” (as the locals call crayfish and lobster) with courgettes and "horta" from the mountains. Chard, sow thistle, chervil, innumerable wild greens are married magically with seafood, highlighting the aromas of the place.
You will find many varieties of fish and seafood in the rocky bays and small islets. The area around Lalaria, and around the islets, at Tsougrias or Kastro are spots that are considered ideal for fishing. Laid out in crates against the boats, pelagic fish for soups and grilling, bottom feeders for frying, squid, crayfish, prawns, lobster, cockles and mussels shimmer in the early light.
They are cooked in a variety of ways: we can enjoy squid with “horta” and onions, crayfish with courgettes and tomato, lobster with “horta”. Seafood is accompanied with vegetables and “horta”, with legumes and different sauces, each one special thanks to the herbs added, most frequently fennel which grows abundantly on the island. Green olives can also be marinated with fennel. Wild “horta” is also very tasty and goes well with seafood.
And since there is “horta” in abundance, there is also “hortopita” made with traditional filo pastry, the so-called “kalapodia”. You can also taste the spiral shaped “tiropita” (cheese pie) over whose origin the two great authors Papadiamantis and Moraitidis argued. One said “Skiathos” and the other said “Skopelos”.
Papadiamantis with his special linguistic ability in his short story “Mavromantilou” (Black Scarf Rock) describes with great pride the garden vegetables: “(…) their atoms mingled ceaselessly in shapes that were varied, unchanging and fluid, in rearing and lifting swells; they seethed, struck, thundered, sounded, smacked, and crashed against their fellows’ [trans “Lia Dain Sherrard, the Boundless Garden, Vol I].
The “aspro” is a traditional dessert made with finely chopped almonds, sugar syrup and lemon. The secret is in the blending with the syrup. It needs to be well beaten until it turns white. Traditionally a homemade walnut or cherry liqueur is served at festivals on Skiathos.
The Women’s Association prepares these and other fruit and botanical liqueurs, such as the aromatic rose geranium, in the traditional manner by leaving them for 40 days in the sun. Sweets served at weddings include the famous “hamalia”, which is a mixture of walnuts and local pine honey, which is wrapped in filo pastry, fried and then dusted with icing sugar. Another classic choice is “kidonopasta” (quince paste). Your sweet tooth will be assuaged further by trying the local organic honey, which has achieved international recognition.
Wine tasting in the charming environs of the island, with high quality wine, in which the “roditis” and “malagouzia” grapes dominate, will complement your gastronomic experiences.