As you’ll know if you follow me on Instagram, we got back recently from a week-long family holiday on the Greek Island of Skiathos. Skiathos is the largest in the Sporades group of islands, and is next door to the smaller islands of Skopelos (where they filmed Mamma Mia) and Alonnisos. It’s a small island, 9 miles by 5 miles, and very easy to explore. We had a fabulous week, so I thought I would do a little write up about what we did, where we went – so other families looking to go can benefit from our experience.
Where we stayed:
We visited Skiathos with TUI. Now, we don’t normally do package holidays, but as this was somewhat of a ‘family babymoon’ we thought we take an easy option and be looked after. TUI were great, no complaints, great flight, lovely staff at every touchpoint. We stayed at the Kassandra Bay Resort. It’s a 5 star hotel that is only available half-board, i.e. breakfast and dinner included, but not lunch or snacks, drinks etc. I wanted to dip my toe into the water of what it might be like to travel all-inclusive, and we definitely did that. I enjoyed it – however personally we probably would either choose B&B next time or rent a villa. That isn’t to say we didn’t enjoy the food – it was really a very high standard; we just felt we would like to eat out more on our own terms. We did that, twice – see details below.
Kassandra Bay is a really family friendly resort with clean, spacious, well designed rooms (we chose a duplex family room with sea view balcony). The view from the room was amazing (check out the videos below where you’ll see the food, rooms etc). There are three saltwater pools (healthier but takes some getting used to for kids who keep swallowing it when they first get in), however one is out of bounds unless you are staying in a suite. There is a breakfast restaurant, a buffet restaurant, a snack bar, an A la Carte restaurant. Plus they have their own private area on Vasilias Beach where you can buzz for food and drinks at your whim! You can also do this around the pool.
To get a better idea of what this hotel is like, check out my videos below…
On Vasilias Beach there is a posh stylish taverna next door to the hotel called Taverna Rada. And also a secret little cocktail bar (not sure what that one is called, but it felt very ‘Instagrammable’) that is very cool next door to that. Going in the other direction on the beach there is a super little beach shack serving drinks and basic simple food, where you can eat about a metre away from the sea. This was our favourite place for lunch. I think it was called Small Taverna on Vasilias Beach, which was apt if nothing else.
Vasilias, where the hotel is based, has nothing there, though it’s only a short drive or walk either way on the main road to get to a shop, bar or restaurant. There is a bus stop directly outside the resort where if you didn’t want to hire a car, you could easily hop on and visit Skiathos Town in one direction – or take a trip to Koukounaries Beach the other way. This bus only travels on the south side of the island, on the one main road. So if you want to see anything else, you need to hire a car. If you want to get across the island, you’ll have to drive on bumpy roads and it needs to be a 4X4 jeep. This is what we did and I highly recommend it. We booked a little Suzuki Jimny Jeep for 2 days through the TUI rep for £50 a day.
You can book a taxi to Skiathos from Kassandra for about 8-10 Euros each way. Coming back go to the taxi rank on the new port and wait; they come quite regularly.
A much more romantic way to visit Skiathos Town is via taxi boat, which leaves, conveniently if you are staying at Kassandra Bay, on the boat jetty from Vasilias Beach (pictured above). The boat leaves and comes back very regularly and is cheap too, about 2 Euros each way, kids under 6 free. It takes about 15 mins to get there.
Places to eat and drink, shop in Skiathos Town:
– Jasmine coffee and cocktail bar, old port (below)
This is a pretty little place overlooking the harbour, with pastel flowery cushions, and a very cool playlist.
– Mouria Taverna (also a hotel), backstreets of Skiathos Town (food pictured below)
I was bowled over by this friendly, authentic little gem of a taverna. Classic Greek food, friendly staff, beyond cute courtyard (and gorgeous interiors) covered in bougainvillea. A must visit if eating out in Skiathos Town!
– The Meating Place, backstreets near Mikro Cosmo (below)
Despite this slightly odd name (don’t let it put you off!) this very stylish, more modern place serves Greek food plus meals to suit more modern tastes, with lots of meaty options, hence the name. It’s big portions, burgers, mixed grills, but also classics like moussaka. The feta in filo with honey was one of the nicest things I’ve ever eaten IN MY LIFE! Also a must visit.
– Mikro Cosmo boutique, backstreets near Jasmine bar
I literally could’ve bought everything in this amazing little shop. Jewellery, bags, clothes, interiors stuff, shoes. Just stunning. So cool, a bit boho, bang on trend – think raffia bags with pom poms, ethic earrings, bright colourful kaftans. Take plenty of Euros!
Must visits for families:
– Koukounaries Beach
This is the main ‘big’ beach on Skiathos. It’s South-West of the island, where everything is really, the last bus stop in that direction. It’s a big strip of beach with literally GOLDEN sand. I’ve never seen anything like it actually; it was sparkling, as though humans had added sparks of actual gold to the sand. Clearer than clear water, nice and shallow – it’s the perfect family beach. There is a fun little coffee and ice cream snack bar on here too so you could easily spend the day.
– Kechria Beach (plus Kechria Taverna, second picture below)
One of my holiday highlights (see the Road Trip video below) was finding Kechria Beach. A small, rocky double cove (a rocky inlay divides the two bays) that is perfect for snorkling – if a little tricky to get in and out of the water (slippy rocks, a bit ouchy too!). It was heavenly here – and only reachable by 4X4 which means it was very quiet. There are free sunbeds owned by the taverna, see image below with the taverna behind. It is pure class here. We ate a gorgeous meal of fresh fish, and Greek salad – a memory to treasure (if the kids hasn’t been so naughty at the table).
– Hayiati Village on Alonnisos, (pictured below)
This is only accessible by boat from Skiathos to Alonnisos, then car or coach trip up to the mountain village. I highly recommend seeing Alonnisos overall – the harbour has a small beach where the water is the most stunning turquoise blue. The village used to be the capital of Alonnisos, but since then artists have inhabited it and it’s full of gorgeous boutiques, restaurants, cafes – and some with incredible views. One of the prettiest places I have ever visited. Check out my road trip video below to see for yourself.
Top tips for Skiathos for families:
– Put time and put budget aside for shopping
Shopping in Skiathos Town is fantastic. There are some gorgeous boutiques, from traditional, classic style Greek clothing and leather, to more modern trendy shops selling a mixture of handmade jewellery, clothes, bags and stuff for your house… I wish I’d known how good the shopping was going to be as I would’ve put some money aside especially. As it was I bought some cheap leather sandals, some token beachy jewellery, a bag for Bea and a little one piece for her too. If you do take a boat trip then same goes for Skopelos – which has some amazing little boutiques – so take some Euros and get ready to splurge!
– Hire a car and explore the island
Before we went, we thought we’d mainly chill at the hotel, but after 3 days of doing that we got a bit bored. I would highly recommend hiring a car and exploring. We’d read previously that there wasn’t much to see on Skiathos. And whilst I see what their point is (not any inland villages, for example, so mainly just beaches and the odd little church) I would still say book a jeep for a couple of days and explore the bumpy mountain lanes which created a great sense of mini adventure – there’s nothing better than feeling you have discovered a secret beach off the beaten track!
– Take separate boat trips to Skopelos and Alonnisos (to fully appreciate them both)
As you’ll see in the vlog below, we got a bit seasick on our organised boat trip, which wasn’t fun. But we did see dolphins (see my Instagram Stories Highlights Skiathos for footage!). Sea sickness aside, I think seeing Skopelos and Alonnisos is a must when visiting Skiathos. However, as great as our organised excursion was, if we went again I would organise an independent trip, maybe two trips in fact so you could spend a day on each island. As it was, we only had 2 hours on each, which felt really rushed to fully appreciate all that’s on offer.
Have you been to Skiathos? Where did you go? Comment below to let me know!
Have a look at my two vlogs to get an even better idea of Skiathos and what it offers for families: