Home Destination Guides Accommodation 17th June 2019





General
Greece 

SKYROS
 (also known as Skiros)
 
 
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GENERAL
 
Lying south east of Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonnissos, Skyros is closer to the large island of Evia than it is to its other Sporades counterparts.  Whilst it has a small military airport in the north, used by the Greek carrier Olympic Airways, there are no charter flights to Skyros. This has resulted in the island being a secret shared only by the Greeks themselves, plus a few independent travellers.
 
Skyros is a delightful island that has a rich and colourful history, reflected in the local traditions, pottery, carving and embroidery. According to Homeric legend, Skyros is the island where Achilles was hidden by his mother in an attempt to evade his fate in the Trojan War.  It is also alleged that Theseus, the hero responsible for killing the Minotaur on Crete, met his demise on Skyros, when the then King Lycomides threw Theseus over a cliff.  Later on, the Byzantines exiled their criminal contingent to Skyros, and these were quick to form an alliance with roaming pirates.  In the 16th and 17th centuries the southern end of the island became infamous as a pirate hideaway and a cove called Pirates Bay was named after them.  Opposite Pirates Bay, the small southern offshore islet of Despoti (Despots Island), became one of the largest pirate bases in the Aegean.  Looted china and carvings of elaborate design were copied by Skyrian craftsmen and this decorative workmanship can be seen today in the intricate woodwork, pottery and architecture on the island.
 
Unique to Skyros is the annual Goat Festival, dating from pagan times, which is held 3 weeks before Lent.  During these carnival-like celebrations the men of the village dance through the streets emulating Pan, the half man, half goat.  Yet another sight unique to Skyros is the rare, wild Skyros ponies, the only native ponies in Greece, which can be found in the south of the island.  These shy, rare creatures are barely 1 metre high and a breeding centre has been set up in an attempt to save them from extinction.
 
The main attractions of the island itself are the natural unspoilt scenery, the peaceful ambience and the authentic Greek character.  The northern half of the island is green and fertile with low-lying hills, whereas the southern half is wild and mountainous with a summit rising to 772 metres.  There are some good sandy beaches and crystal clear seas surround the coastline.  Pinewoods cover large areas of the island and the resin produced from the trees has created a thriving local retsina (wine) industry, as the resin is used in the manufacturing process.
  
 
SKYROS TOWN (Horio)
  
The main settlement on the island is Skyros Town, also known by the locals as ‘Horio’, which lies on a hillside in the east of the island.  This is a charming town full of white cubed houses clambering up a hillside that is topped by an impressive Venetian castle.  The narrow, pedestrian cobblestone streets leading to the castle wind past the town square which is shaded by eucalyptus trees.  This castle site was originally an ancient acropolis that was fortified firstly by the Byzantines and later by the Venetians and has magnificent views across Skyros Bay.  The castle houses a small, but interesting Archaeological Museum and beneath the castle walls is the monastery of Saint George, (Agios Georgios), which was founded in 962 AD.  The town also has an historical and folklore museum, the Faltaits Museum, which is set up in a traditional town house and is well worth visiting.
  
Unusually for a main town, Skyros Town does not have a harbour but it has all the usual amenities of a capital.  There are banks, post office, medical centre and chemists, as well as wonderful local craft and ceramic shops selling the renowned Skyrian blue and white ‘Delftware’ style pottery.  Skyros is also a favourite holiday destination amongst Athenians and this summer influx has produced a smart café culture in the town, with stylized bars and a variety of good Greek tavernas and restaurants.  However, the town has kept its charm mainly because nearly all of the island’s accommodation is located in the neighbouring resort villages of Magazia and Molos, which are on the coast and have a good sandy beach.  You can follow the coastline north from Molos and walk to the next small hamlet of Gyrismata which also has a lovely sandy beach and tavernas by the sea.  There is a local bus service between Skyros Town, Magazia and Molos, but for exploring further afield organized bus tours, boat tours, car hire, and taxis are available.  This is an excellent island for ramblers and those who enjoy walking.  You can enjoy the unspoilt scenery and scent of pine and wild herbs on a walk to the ruins of Palmeri village in the north.
  
 
LINARIA HARBOUR
    
The island’s harbour is located at the hamlet of Linaria, on the west of the island, a 20-minute bus journey from Skyros Town.  This is where the inter island ferries berth and local caiques can be hired.  There are many tiny islets dotted round Skyros, some of which have interesting caves, and one of the best ways of exploring these islands and the fascinating Skyros coastline is by caique.   On the waterfront at Linaria there is a bus stop, taxi rank, supermarket and several tavernas.
  
 
PEFKOS
    
North of Linaria is the coastal hamlet aptly named Pefkos, meaning ‘Pine’, after the pinewoods surrounding the bay.  Visit Pefkos and enjoy a lazy lunch in one of the small fish tavernas there.
  
    
FOOD FOR YOUR INNER-BEING
  
Skyros has another unique side to it……at the remote village of Atsista in the north west corner of the island, there are holistic communities offering a variety of courses for those seeking to connect with their inner being - mind, body and spirit.  Holistic living comprises of accommodation in bamboo huts with communal loos and showers, and everyone helps out with the chores.  Whilst not suitable for everyone, this can be an ideal holiday for those wishing to immerse themselves in a chosen hobby, such as creative writing or painting.  Atsitsa is set on a beautiful bay with clear blue seas, surrounded by pine forests.  Watch the sunset across the bay while having a meal in one of the tavernas.
  
 
TRIS BOUKIES BAY and poet RUPERT BROOKE
  
To the south of Linaria is Tris Boukies Bay where, high on a promontory, the grave of the English poet Rupert Brooke lies among the olive trees.  During World War I, Brooke was on his way to the battlefields of Gallipoli when he was bitten by a mosquito and died whilst docked in Skyros on a hospital ship.  His poignant words - ‘If I should die, think only this of me: That there is some corner of a foreign field that is forever England’ - live on, and his grave has become the top destination for caique passengers and coach tours alike.  It lies in such a lovely, peaceful setting with great views, that it’s worth visiting on your own, to sit for a while, contemplating life, the universe and everything.  A bronze statue of Brooke stands in Skyros Town Square, in his memory
  
 
ISLAND CONNECTIONS
 
There are no direct flights to Skyros from the UK, but Skyros has a small military airport in the north of the island, which is used by Olympic Airways domestic flights from Athens.  Package holidays are available but only from selected Greek specialist tour companies.   Flights from the UK to Athens are available on a daily basis from numerous airlines, (flight time approximately 3 and a half hours).  On arrival in Athens there is the choice of flying to Skyros with Olympic Airways (approximately half an hour, but flights do not necessarily run on a daily basis) or travelling overland.  The drive takes 2 and a half hours from Athens to the island of Evia, then a 2 hour ferry crossing from the port of Kymi to Linaria.
 
In High Season only, there is a flying dolphin service from Skyros to Skopelos and Skiathos.  It should be remembered that commercial decisions and adverse weather conditions can affect all ferries and schedules should always therefore be checked locally. 
   
   
   
    
  
The foregoing information was last reviewed in November 2006. Things change, and whilst we are often travelling in Greece we do rely to some extent upon others to provide updates in order to keep the site as current and accurate as possible!  If you have any updates or information that you think should be included here, please do mail the webmaster@aguide2greece.com       -      thank you.
 
 

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