We have all heard of the islands of Mykonos and Santorini in Greece as the party islands, but with hundreds of islands making up the Greek Islands there are no shortage of destinations to choose from. From the windy and rocky islands of the Cyclades, to the lush and forest covered islands of the Sporades, travelers are spoiled for choice.
With so many people flocking to the well known islands each summer, they can tend to become overrun with tourists and it can be hard to find the real Greece. So with so many islands to choose from why not decide on a lesser known island for your next trip to Greece?
Enter the island of Skopelos one of the Northern Sporades islands half way up the coast of Greece. If the name of this island is not familiar to you images of it might be, it was the filming location for much of the musical movie Mamma Mia. Picture rolling green forested hills, turquoise blue water and countless hidden coves and beaches where you can swim uninterrupted all day long.
I traveled to Skopelos hoping to escape the crowds and experience the real Greece during last summer and I was not disappointed.
So if you are planning a trip to the Greek islands here are the reasons you need to consider adding Skopelos to your itinerary:
There is a reason that the island was chosen for many of the landscape shots of the movie Mamma Mia. The coast line of Skopelos is stunning with green pine forested hills meeting rocky coves. There are so many options from your traditional music blasting, deckchair cluttered Greek island beaches to secluded and secret coves waiting for you to find them. Buses run around the island but for the best way to explore and find your own private beach hiring a car or being prepared to hike is essential. As you dive into the crystal clear turquoise water I guarantee you will feel like a mermaid.
Greek cuisine is some of the best in the world and here the food is authentic Greek. Sit back in one of the many sea front tavernas, traditional Greek restaurants, and order all of the seafood, tzatziki, lamb and ouzo that desire. Here you can relax and also listen to the chatter of the local men as they meet for their morning coffee. Skopelos is also known for its olive groves and for its great natural honey, so make sure you head to the farmers markets that appear each evening in the main town of Skopelos (the same name as the island).
Mamma Mia It Up
One of the charms of the island is that they have refused to become a shrine to the legacy of the movie Mamma Mia. Although it has helped boost tourism to the island. This means that there are no tours or big signs or directories of places to go that were used in the film. Yet have no fear because by simply hiring a car for the day you can drive around the island discovering for yourself the different locations used in the film. The best location to visit by far is the church of Agios Ioannis high up on the rocky cliff that is in the wedding scene. Here you can climb all of the hundreds of steps to get a great view of the coast.
Get lost in the old town
The main town on the island, Skopelos named after the island, is the perfect place to spend a day getting lost in its small alleyways. Packed full of small traditional Greek houses whitewashed with blue trim this is just what the travel brochures advertise. Here you will find villas, crumbling old houses left abandoned as well as friendly locals spilling out in the streets to say hello. Its also a great workout as the town is located on a steep hillside, but the higher up you go the better the views of the port become. Stop in at one of the many small cafes for a refreshing juice before continuing.
Skopelos may be an island that flows to its own slower pace, but you will leave having had a proper Greek experience.
Where else can you get good food, beautiful architecture and a hidden cove to swim in all to yourself?