Looking at Greek Islands for 2023? Here's why Skiathos should be on your list

skiathos travel guide
Skiathos travel guide: Where to stay and what to dCourtesy of Elivi

A Greek island is a safe bet if you’re looking for a glorious holiday. That’s what we were told repeatedly when debating destinations for our summer trip, but if you’re indecisive and allergic to planning (um, us? never) the many islands to choose from can be a bit of a dilemma.

Skiathos is where we landed, after lots of recommendations, and it was a literal dream. One of the Sporades group – oh yes, aka the Mamma Mia Islands - it has spectacular beaches, water sports, an atmospheric, bustling town and did we mention the beaches? To soak up its laidback vibe and lush green landscape, you can fly directly from the UK, or travel from mainland Greece by ferry or plane. Easy.

Where we stayed

skiathos travel guide
Courtesy of Elivi

Elivi Hotel is located on the southwestern tip of the Island looking out on the Aegean Sea, by Koukounaries beach. It’s the biggest resort in Skiathos; set across 213 acres, you have your very own utopia to roam and explore. It’s the sort of stately place you honestly wouldn’t need to leave during your entire stay if you didn't want to, without feeling confined or bored. Lazy travellers rejoice. We arrived verrry early in the morning before check-in so headed to the beach - one of many on site - with that giddy, start of holiday feeling. Watching the sunrise over the water, on an empty beach, it is actual paradise, IRL.

Elivi has four beaches – impressive, right? - none of which are totally private, but all have a large stretch of beach filled with comfortable sunbeds, reserved free of charge, for hotel guests. The sea begins shallow allowing you to walk out into the water – probably the clearest, most crystallised turquoise water you’ll find – which trumps the deep, rocky waters of Insta-famous southern island Santorini.

Each beach has its own little personality. Koukounaries beach is the liveliest, with water sports – jet skis and banana boats, all the beach big guns – and music playing from the beach bar. It still holds up to Elivi’s luxury standards, dw. Grace beach is calm, playing Jazz and is the best spot for a relaxing swim any time of day. Then there’s the two banana beaches; big banana and little banana, with the latter being a nudist beach. Oi oi. With it's sophisticated beach bar and it being adults-only makes this a popular spot. The sunsets here are pretty special.

skiathos travel guide elivi hotel
HEINZ TROLL, Courtesy of Elivi

The rooms at Elivi are understated elegance, with seafront views and all those impressive, handy mod cons. The rooms are grouped into four different estates divided by large pine and olive trees. The natural surroundings, including a large wetlands, creates a gorgeous green backdrop to both the beaches and apartments. Next year will be their sixth summer opening and each year they improve their botanical offering to emulate the natural scenery.

What we did

As Skiathos is such a lush green island, cycling and long walks are a great way to experience the landscape, with many trail routes to explore. You can even arrange horseback riding in the nearby forest. There's regular morning yoga classes scheduled on the beach, too, so if it’s wellness you’re in search for, you’re bound to get a good dose of it here. Talking of wellness, Elivi also has a spa offering seriously luxurious treatments. I had the body massage with candle wax treatment which left me feeling peak zen.

skiathos travel guide
Getty Images - Getty Images

If you’re not sick of stunning beaches and who are we kidding, when will we ever be? Taking a trip to Lalaria beach is a must. The most famous beach of Skiathos, the only way to reach it is by boat, which adds to its stranded desert island appeal. That along with the giant rock face behind and the fact it was empty it feels like private paradise. Trailing the coastline, we arrived at the small stretch of white pebble beach and the arched rock formation that protrudes out into the sea. The water is particularly mesmerising around Lalaria beach - an intense shade of turquoise blue - and taking a dive in is a must.

Where we ate & drank

Head to Skiathos Town for pretty, cobbled streets and a buzzy vibe, with lots of holiday goers shopping and heading out on boat tours and excursions, including the Mamma Mia boat trip, if that takes your fancy (and of course, we know it does). At night the long line of bars that stretch up the hilly walkways are heaving with tourists and locals sipping on cocktails. Ginfish, tucked away at the end of the bay, is one to try. Serving drinks with names like Lemon Pie and Zombiefish, it feels super chic and relaxed, livening up once the sun sets.

The views alone at Bourtzi in Skiathos Town makes it a spot well worth visiting. Located opposite Ginfish across the water, the all-day café and bar sits on a mini-island connected to the bay, offering panoramic views of the sea and boats gliding past. They have an extensive drinks list filled with boujie cocktails and wine, plus, sharing plates of fresh fish dishes and sides of truffle and parmesan french fries.

Beach taverna’s are popular across the island. An easy, regular bus service travels up and down the main road running along the coast meaning it’s easy to stop at the many beaches - and hidden little taverna bars - the island has to offer.

There are a few restaurants at Elivi with the standout being Leda & the Swan, which is where they also serve breakfast. Set out on a cobbled terrace that overlooks Grace and Koukounaries beach, I can not overstate how stunning the views are here. The dishes all have traditional Greek influences. We ate Greek lamb and manestra (a greek orzo pasta) and soutzoukakia with aubergine; a delicious take on veggie meatballs. Their wine list is extensive, so plenty to work through as you gaze at the stars, and you can follow all this by sinking a few of the hotels signature cocktails up at the bar which overlooks the restaurant. Proper paradise.

Rates at ELIVI Skiathos start from £212 per night based on two people sharing a standard room during middle season. During high season rates start from £298.

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