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Travel review on The Aegean Gem of Skiathos

PUBLISHED: 17:09 21 January 2014 | UPDATED: 12:19 25 March 2015

Archant

Elizabeth Barnett has a Mamma Mia moment on the beautiful Greek island of Skiathos

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When you think of a traditional Greek island, pictures of white washed buildings adorned in bright, fuchsia pink flowers may spring to mind. Listen carefully and you can hear the iconic tones of ABBA wafting along the breeze; and wait, wasn’t that Pierce Brosnan gallivanting along the jetty, with the azure Aegean sea stretching out for as far as the eye can sea. On Skiathos, this island dream can become a reality; even the bit about Pierce Brosnan, as scenes from the film Mamma Mia can be spotted all over.

With its own airport, this slice of Greek heaven is easily accessible and despite it being small in size – it can definitely be described as being ‘perfectly formed’.

There is a fantastic bus route that lines the southern side of the island where beaches and inlets await. We must have gone round 10 of them and on most, we were two of about six others making the most of their own little bit of sandy shore.

There are several hotels to choose from on the island. We stayed at the gorgeous Skiathos Princess Hotel – the only one situated right on the beach, with its own private area and free to use sun beds as well as full waiter services – a luxurious touch. If you’re travelling with children then this would be an excellent base. It is very child friendly, with kids club and play area, but has all the indulgencies that you would expect from a five star hotel, including a spa area with treatment rooms offering relaxing massages and body scrubs using island grown ingredients and, of course, the infamous olive oil.

Despite all inclusive being available, we stayed at the hotel on a bed and breakfast basis and would recommend this option. The food was good, but we like a bit of variety when we’re on holiday and it was really lovely to get the bus in to Skiathos town (about 15 minutes away) and sample some of the local delights along the waterfront. Wherever you go on the island bus route you can expect to pay around €1.35 and they run about every 20 minutes. The last bus is generally around 12pm but be sure to get there a little early as they do vary; as we found out after enjoying a little too much sangria (a taxi back is around €8-10).

The breakfasts at the hotel are absolutely fantastic, with a broad selection of cooked items as well as homemade pancakes, omelettes and pastries. If you do head in to Skiathos for your evening meal then I would recommend taking a wander around the back streets of Papadiamanti Street. You do run the risk of getting a little lost, but you will come across the best tavernas and the prices are distinctively cheaper than those on the seafront. One to recommend is Taverna Dionyssos, which offers traditional Greek food and has a wonderful atmosphere within an open-air courtyard setting.

If it’s a sea view you’re looking for, then we had a fantastic meal at En plo, which overhangs the water on a jetty. Sprinkle a bit of bread on the surface and watch the swarms of fish come in as the sun sets over the Aegean, which is absolutely crystal clear. Fresh fish is a must here and the hosts are absolutely brilliant, even giving you a fleece or cardigan once the temperature drops – it can get chilly after 9ish so bear that in mind when packing.

Before heading back to your hotel take a stroll along the waterfront marina and head to the Rock‘n’Roll Bar for a nightcap. There are several bars lining the water’s edge all with big cushions, bean bags and swing chairs outside the front. It had a really trendy vibe and the cocktails were some of the best we have ever tasted.

After an awful lot of food, drink and relaxation we were beginning to crave a bit of exercise, so we hired an open top jeep from the hotel and headed out towards the northern side of the island; a far more mountainous region. Not only was this excellent fun - our off-roading skills left a little to be desired, but it is a great way to see the entire island, including neighbouring Skopelos and Euboea, from various viewing spots along the way.

For a bite to eat on your travels, a must is Platanos, a pizzeria with panoramic views over the southern side of the island. You can watch the planes coming in to land (it’s a very short runway so this is quite impressive) and the sun disappearing over the coves; lovely for a romantic meal.

For a bit of island history, we visited Kastro on the northern tip of the island where the town’s folk moved to when they were captured by the Gyzi brothers. It is mostly ruinous nowadays but provides excellent views over the clear waters and gives a sense of the role Skiathos has played over time; it is however a very steep climb so may not be accessible to all.

All in all, this island haven is the perfect place to escape to for some rest and relaxation; and with highs of 13 degrees in January, it would be an ideal holiday for the New Year. You can also take many sailing excursions in the warmer months and tour hidden bays surrounding the island and its neighbours, which sadly we ran out of time for – hopefully we will make it back there soon.

Accommodation

Thomas Cook Style offers 7 nights on a bed and breakfast basis at the 5 star Skiathos Princess Hotel in Aghia Paraskevi, from £655 per adult, travelling from London Gatwick in May 2014. Departures available from eight regional airports across the UK, half board and family rooms are available. Visit www.thomascook.com, call 0844 412 5970 or visit your nearest Thomas Cook or Co-operative Travel to book. Price based on 2 adults sharing, including transfers, is correct at time of issue and subject to change, optional extras may be applicable at the time of booking.

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