Three small islands with individual character, the Sporades provide a getaway that dreams are made of – so much so that it’s impossible to visit just one. Located between the Greek mainland and the Greek islands of north-eastern Aegean, the islands are almost in the centre of the Aegean Sea meaning each one is surrounded by incredible vistas of cerulean blue waters. From the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Skiathos to the breath of relaxation in Skopelos to the charming nature of Alonissos, it’s simply a must to visit all three in one trip. Olympic Holidays has just the ticket. Our bespoke 10-night island-hopping adventure across the Emerald Gems begins with three nights in Skiathos before journeying by ferry to Skopelos and Alonissos for a further three nights each and back to Skiathos for a final night before heading home. But this glorious experience is completely flexible and customisable, meaning you can choose your hotels, duration and departure dates to suit you perfectly. All you have to do is watch your perfect Sporades getaway fall into place – we’ll do the rest.
Skiathos is the first stop on your Sporades expedition thanks to its handy airport and exceptional port that will transport you to the rest of the gorgeous islands when the time comes. Skiathos has gained a stellar reputation in recent years for being the go-to Greek island for escaping the stresses of daily life. Known locally as the Aegean Paradise and for good reason, the elegant island is characterised by cobblestone streets, picturesque Blue Flag beaches and a striking town that’s the perfect blend between Greek traditionalism and exciting cosmopolitism. A must-visit on a holiday to Skiathos is Koukanaries, a small village close to the beach of the same name which is the most popular stretch of sand on the island. Koukanaries in Greek is a colloquial, alternative name for pine trees and the fragrant plant can be seen scattered along the perimeter of the fine white sands of the beach which also offers loungers, waterside tavernas and plenty of watersports.
Additionally, Skiathos Town boasts a vibrant atmosphere that carries throughout the day well into the night with plenty of tavernas lining the waterfront and the narrow streets crammed with locally run boutiques and lively bars where locals and tourists alike will welcome you with open arms. But, if you’re not keen to paint the town red, Skiathos has a laidback element that’s so calming you’ll feel as if you’re floating on air. Stroll through forests and discover hidden bays with crystal-clear waters, explore majestic Venetian castles or simply watch the world go by as you dine al fresco in a charming family-run restaurant. It’ll be difficult to pull yourself away from the Aegean Paradise but Skopelos is calling…
A ferry brings you from Skiathos to Skopelos, the larger island of the two but with a serene atmosphere that can’t be compared. Sailing into the harbour is truly a sight to behold with dolphins shimmying through the waters and endless views of verdant green hillsides covered in white houses with terracotta roofs. Known as the Green and Blue Island, more than 50% of Skopelos is blanketed by a forest of pine trees making it a haven for walkers and hikers. Trails of varying terrains are at your fingertips so whether you’re on the hunt for a leisurely stroll or a challenging trek surrounded by breathtaking scenery, your island hop stop in Skopelos will be nothing less than a wonderful adventure.
Skopelos’ town, Chora, is one of Greece’s most treasured areas, scaling the steep low hill around the harbour and maintaining its authentic character thanks to its whitewashed houses, pleasant chapels and amphitheatre-like formation. Oh, and a Greek island is nothing without its beaches so don’t miss out on a visit to Panormos, located on the north of the island. This sandy beach is made up of two islets and surrounded by lush vegetation and is perfect for watching the sunset over the aquamarine waters. The skies awash with warm ambers and soft lilacs will be an amazing lasting memory as you journey on to Alonissos.
Feel a sense of calm wash over you as you sail into the main port of Patitiri, the starting point of your elegant getaway in Alonissos. Like many other Sporades islands, Alonissos is scattered with forests, countryside and orchards along the coastline which open out to delightful coves with soft sands and gentle blue waters. The beaches are utterly exquisite on the island, inviting every visitor to relax underneath the sunshine in utter bliss while foodies won’t be able to get enough of the fine seafood restaurants that can be found around every corner.
Alonissos also boasts its very own Marine Park which has been awarded an ECO island status, established to protect endangered marine wildlife and is a must-visit for anyone interested in the preservation of nature and its animals. The island’s unspoiled natural landscape is the perfect backdrop for any activity on two feet or two wheels and you won’t regret taking a hike along one of the many scenic trails or donning a helmet and riding a bike to explore. You’ll probably need a long rest after all that activity so why not set up camp at Marpunta Village Club? The legendary beauty of the Aegean Sea can be admired wherever you look and falling asleep on a bed made of clouds is the perfect end to a perfect Alonissos day.
But wait – your holiday isn’t complete without a little movie magic…
We confess – there’s no such thing as a trip to the Sporades without a little hum of an ABBA song as you walk through the familiar scenes of the movie adaption of the hit West End musical stage show, Mamma Mia. Skiathos and Skopelos are locations that boast undeniable cinematographic excellence which is highlighted in its glorious scenery and despite Meryl Streep, they’re the real stars of the show. Take a guided tour of the filming locations for a real piece of the action, starting at the St Nikolaos Bell Tower in Skiathos Town where Sophie posts her wedding invitations. Although a little Hollywood airbrushing was used to edit this scene and you won’t find exactly the same view, the Bell Tower provides a spinetingling lookout over the entire island.
Another must-visit is Skopelos’ famous clifftop chapel, Agios Ionnis Chapel (Church of St. John), which is also known as the Mamma Mia church and, thanks to the film, is now a popular spot for weddings. One of approximately 360 places of worship on the island, the chapel is located at the top of a 100-metre rock and can only be reached by climbing a total of 202 steps. Oh, and don’t forget to spend some time on Kastani Beach where Lay All Your Love on Me and Does Your Mother Know were filmed.
A few snaps of your holiday on the Sporades islands will have all your friends and family green with envy – they’re called the Emerald Gems for a reason! Book your multi-centre adventure here and discover exactly why Olympic Holidays are the Island Specialists.