Skiathos is blessed with some of the Aegean’s most beautiful beaches, so it’s little wonder that in July and August the island can fill up with sun-starved northern Europeans, as prices soar and rooms dwindle. Skiathos Town, the island’s major settlement and port, lies on the southeast coast.
Evia (eh-vih-ah), Greece’s second-largest island after Crete, offers glorious mountain roads, challenging treks, major archaeological finds and many uncrowded beaches. A north–south mountainous spine divides the island’s eastern cliffs from the gentler and resort-friendly west coast. Ferries link the island to the mainland, along with two bridges at Halkida.
Alonnisos rises from the sea in a mountain of greenery, with thick stands of aleppo pine and kermes oak, mastic and arbutus bushes, vineyards, olive and fruit trees, all threaded with perfumy patches of wild oregano, sage and thyme. The west and north coasts are steep and rocky, but the east coast is speckled with small bays and pebble-and-sand beaches.
Skopelos is a handsome island of pine forests, vineyards, olive groves, and orchards of plums and almonds, which find their way into many local dishes. Like neighbouring island Skiathos, the high cliffs of the northwest coast are exposed, while the sheltered southeast coast harbours several sand-and-pebble beaches.
Skyros’ capital is draped over a high rocky bluff. It’s topped by a 13th-century Venetian fortress, and is laced with labyrinthine, smooth cobblestone streets that invite wandering, but were designed to keep out the elements, and also pirates. Agoras, the main thoroughfare, is lively jumble of tavernas, bars and shops flanked by winding alleyways.
Set on wide Karystos Bay below Mt Ohi (1398m), and flanked by two sandy beaches, this low-key coastal resort is the starting point for treks to Mt Ohi and Dimosari Gorge. Karystos' lively Plateia Amalias faces the harbour, which glitters come evening with lights and bobbing boats.
Mentioned in The Iliad, powerful Halkida (aka Halkis or Chalkis) spawned several colonies around the Mediterranean. The name derives from the bronze that was manufactured here in antiquity (‘halkos’ means bronze in Greek). Today, it’s a lively commercial centre, and gateway to Evia. As evening approaches, the waterfront promenade by the Old Bridge comes to life.
The sedate spa resort of Loutra Edipsou is the most visited spot in northern Evia. Its therapeutic sulphur waters have been celebrated since antiquity, and continue to draw a stream of medical tourists. Famous skinny-dippers have included Aristotle, Strabo, Plutarch, Plinius and Sylla.
Magazia & Molos
The resort of Magazia is a compact and colourful maze of winding alleys that skirts the southern end of a long, sandy beach beneath Skyros Town. The name 'Magazia' comes from the Greek word for shop; the original buildings were storehouses for olive oil, produce and dry goods.
From Patitiri, Alonnisos’ main road reaches 19km to the northern tip of the island at Gerakas, home to an EU-funded marine research station. North of Patitiri, several roads descend to small fishing bays and secluded beaches. Along the east coast, the first bay from Patitiri is tiny Rousoum Gialos.