Skopelos is the second largest of the Sporades islands. Skopelos means, “sharp rock” or “reef” and it gets its name from the rocky terrain on the island’s northern shore. On the south coast, villages overlook the shores. Skopelos is covered with pine forests, olive groves, and orchards and ecologists say it is the greenest island in the region. There is no airport on Skopelos; so all visitors must come by boat or ferry. It took some time, but Skopelos has officially been “discovered” by tourists. Yet, its charm remains.
Skopelos is comprised of two primary settlements, its capital and main port of Skopelos Town on the east coast and the villages of Glossa and Loutraki on the west coast. Skopelos Town officials work hard to maintain its culture. Building permits are difficult to obtain, signs must be in native style, and pebbles are embedded into the walkways. Skopelos Town has more than 300 churches. Many of them are locked but the beautiful exteriors can still be enjoyed. Some incorporate ancient artifacts, Byzantine plates, early Christian elements, and slate-capped domes. Glossa is considered to be one of the most Greek towns in the Sporades. Loutraki is the nearby ferry port. It means “small bath” and you can find the remains of ancient Roman baths here.
Panormos is considered to be the island’s best resort. It’s on a horseshoe-shaped cove along the west coast of Skopelos, about halfway between Skopelos Town and Glossa and has many tavernas, hotels, and watersports facilities. Just outside Panormos is Adrina Beach Hotel and Resort & Spa, one of the best hotels on the island. In addition to its many large hotel rooms, there are 22 villas down the steep slope to the hotel’s private beach. The hotel offers a big salt-water pool, bar and restaurant, playground, minimarket, and conference facilities. A monorail transports guests up and down the slope from the villas and to the restaurant and beach.
Skopelos has a handful of beaches, most notably Stafilos and Milia. Stafilos offers calm, crystal waters among the pine trees. Farms, tavernas, small houses for rent, and hotels line the seaside road. Milia is Skopelos’s longest beach and considered by many to be its best. It’s secluded and the views of its white sands, clear waters, and green trees are magnificent.
Film buffs might enjoy visiting Skopelos because it was used for most of the Greek scenes in the 2008 movie “Mamma Mia!” starring Meryl Streep. Filming locations on Skopelos for the movie included Kastani Bay, Milia beach, and the hilltop Ayios Ioannis monastery overlooking Glossa.
Skopelos has a more relaxed nightlife than nearby Skiathos but nightlife fun can be found as there are plenty of bars, cafes, and discos that come to life after midnight. Skopelos is known for keeping rembetika music (a Greek version of American blues) alive. Rembetika can be heard at local tavernas until late in the evening.