“Just one look and I can hear a bell ring, one more look and I forget everything…”
As the song – brought to life by ABBA – describes so well the way Skopelos made me feel I decided to dedicate a blog post to this magical Greek island.
Rarely I hear people talk about Skopelos so I consider myself lucky to have picked up upon ‘the Mamma Mia island’ whilst travelling Greece. Of course I went because it was supposed to be ‘the Mamma Mia island’ however what I found was better than I ever imagined, a petite island adorned with plenty of green and an even bigger variety of wonderful beaches. Between the resorts and beach hotels I booked myself an apartment in Skopelos Chora – the main town on the island – maybe because it was the cheapest option, maybe because I simply like breathing in the heart and soul of a place however this turned out to be the best option for my ever-wandering legs and my never ending thirst for exploration.
Following the lone main road connecting Skopelos Chora with Glossa – after Skopelos Chora the most important town – busses – split up in three lines (Skopelos – Agnontas, Skopelos – Kastani and Skopelos – Glossa) – drive daily on an appointed schedule making it easy for anyone to move around the island even in low season – mind that the time schedule does change. At first it seemed kind of silly to me that for one road there should be three buslines however in retrospect I think – especially in high season – it is very clever, this way one can hop off and on anywhere between Skopelos Chora and Glossa but if one doesn’t need to go that far there are more options making the wait shorter and getting everyone to their destination in good time.
Although it would have been easier to take the bus everywhere, the adventurer and hiker in me didn’t allow it given the compact size of the island. Usually I would take the bus somewhere and then walk back home after visiting some of the surrounding beaches which works well unless you want to visit the North-West part of the island. Past Glossa the road becomes worse and there are no busses anymore, for example, to get to the ‘mamma Mia church’ it is easier to either rent a car or go with a mamma Mia tour unless you really enjoy hiking as I do then it will take you approximately two hours from Glossa as the path swings up and down through the hills. Apart from the church there are some really cute beaches in the utmost west corner of the island of which Perivoliou beach is certainly worth the trouble. A sand beach completely cut of from resorts and towns yet known enough to have toilet facilities and a cosy open air food and beverage stand.
The Skopelos – Agnontas line dropped me of in Agnontas which is a docking place used for local boats and – as I learned on my last day – a replacement port for when the ships can’t dock at the port in Skopelos Chora due to bad weather conditions. One of the things I absolutely love on this island is that there is so much green, naturally I found myself strolling through the forest adjacent to Agnontas on my hike back and ended up facing a gorgeous cliff view – Cape Aramandos. As the evening was falling I made my way onwards and down to Stafylos beach where – impressed by the view – I couldn’t move myself to leave so I claimed a chair – which are often free after 6pm – and swam in the perfectly tempered water whilst the sun set.
Even though I found a perfect beach on my first day I decided to check out as many beaches as I could and so my thirst for exploring and discovering left me with a favourite beach on each bus line – Stafylos on the Agnontas line, Milia on the Kastani line and Hovolo on the line to Glossa. Although the view on all these beaches is pretty similar – an unending water horizon interrupted only by flourishing islands – the beaches are slightly different. Stafylos is a sand beach full of chairs and can be very crowded due to the limited space and its proximity to Skopelos Chora whereas Milia has a pebble stone beach also set with lots of chairs but that – given its size – doesn’t feel so crowded, even adding some privacy as big rocks seclude a little portion of the beach now and then. Hovolo beach is a completely different story and rather tiring to reach as the uneven cliff line seperates the beach in a few small sand bays making you climb over stones, rocks and through the water depending on the tide.
Not only did I lose my heart to the many beautiful beaches but also to Skopelos Chora’s city centre and port where a labyrinth of picturesque cobbled walkways lure you into a different state of mind – one where worries evaporate leaving behind nothing less than blissful happiness. Wandering around the port in Skopelos Chora there are many private companies that offer nice day trips and since I had been around the island already – and am obviously overactive – I booked one to an island nearby. Reaching the island Alonnisos a bus took us to the old town on top of the hill where we could walk around and drink or eat something with a majestical view for a couple of hours – a real treat for the photographer and adventurer inside me. Next the boat took us to a gorgeous beach – Leftos Gialos – but do not believe it when they tell you that you won’t have to pay for the chairs if you get a drink, this was not the case! Luckily those worries ebbed away once I put my feet in the refreshing and amazingly clear water, drawing me in for a swim on a deeply relaxing afternoon. After visiting a somewhat isolated yet cute port the day came to an end and we went back to Skopelos.
Having seen both major towns on Skopelos – Skopelos Chora and Glossa – I am glad I made the decision to stay in Skopelos Chora although Glossa is definitely worth a visit there is just no escaping the warm, Greek blanket that wraps itself around you whilst roaming the ‘Skopolonian’ streets. Some places – despite their different culture or language – just make you feel serene, at home therefore it isn’t a surprise to me that the movie producers used Skopelos and Skiathos to create the perfect, magical island for their story to project the happiness and love of a warm and welcome home.