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An introduction to the Sporadian island of Skopelos

THE ISLAND OF SKOPELOS

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Sitting between Skiathos to the west and Alonissos to the east, Skopelos is a green and pleasant island, where cool, shady pine woods run into golden beaches and blue-hued waters.

Like most other Greek island, Skopelos’ origins are shrouded in mythological narrative. Aficionados of Greek storytelling will remember that the god of wine, Dionysus, fathered several sons, one of whom, Staphylus, founded Skopelos. With such lineage at play it should come as little surprise to learn that the island soon achieved fame for the quality of its wine.

While little wine is produced today, Skopelos’ unspoilt and fertile land continues to give up its natural bounty. Olives, plums and almonds, amongst others, are cultivated throughout the island, and bee-keeping traditions ensure that honey is in plentiful supply. Sheep and goats graze on the plentiful grass and a local version of feta cheese is produced from their milk.

Skopelos is the perfect size to explore in a week or two and offers a wide range of activities. For those with a penchant for the sea, there are numerous gorgeous beaches dotted round the island’s 70km of coastline. Some, such as those at Kastani, Panormos and Limnonari are easily accessible by car and/or on foot, while others can only be reached by sea.

Boat hire, sailing, scuba-diving, snorkelling and other watersports are easily arranged and for real sea lovers a day or two exploring the nearby Marine Park of Alonissos is a must.

For those who like getting out and exploring on foot, there are several excellent walking trails across Skopelos’ hilly interior, whose two main peaks, Mount Palouki and Mount Delphi rise to 546m and 681m respectively. On your way, you will come across numerous monasteries, a few sleepy villages where time seems to have stood still, and some breathtakingly positioned churches, such as the chapel of Agios Ioannis on the northeast coast, where the wedding scene in Mamma Mia! was filmed. Sublime views abound wherever you look, transforming a good walk into an unforgettable one.

Your port of arrival on Skopelos will either be the eponymous town on the north coast or Loutraki harbour on the northwest coast. The former wraps prettily around its harbour and clings to the curvaceous hills behind. Tavernas, shops and bars spill out onto the lower streets and the atmosphere is welcoming, easy-going and charming. Thanks to the unspoilt uniformity of style in its buildings the town is recognised by the Greek government as a Traditional Settlement of Outstanding Beauty.

Loutraki harbour is the more modern extension of Glossa, traditionally Skopelos’ second largest town, which sits about 200m above sea level. Its quiet whitewashed streets lead maze-like to a shady square offering glorious views towards Skiathos and the Greek mainland in the west.

Despite coming to the attention of the world after several scenes of Mamma Mia! were filmed there, Skopelos remains a humble, genuine and hospitable island where the simple pleasures of life reign supreme.

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