Following an impulse, after Kate had a lot of stress in her workplace, we found ourselves in Skyros for a few days. She organized our trip On the spur, in a day (ferry tickets and accommodation). We were thinking about going, but it was the fact that it was so easy to find affordable accommodation so quickly -apparently due to COVID-19 restrictions- that made up our mind.
Skyros is part of the Sporades. That made us expect something along the lines of Skopelos but we were disappointed at first because neither the landscape nor the town or the villages were anything like Skopelos or at least Skiathos. Quickly though, we found that it is a beautiful place in its own unique way and we really enjoyed our short stay.
Skyros town, “Hora”,as is the local name of the main town of every island in Greece, is more like the Hora of an island in the Cyclades, but not quite. It has a nice vibe and is really interesting. It also has a great central plaza where our kids found the company of other kids and would enjoy themselves so much that they even forgot to grab some food to eat. This kind of plaza is uncommon in the Sporades or the Cyclades, and it was so nice to be able to enjoy a drink at the outdoor-seated bars of this fantastic place!
Another thing which is uncommon for any Greek island is the dam near Hora. There is an artificial lake at the dam which if I am not mistaken is used for irrigation purposes. Many birds find refuge there – mostly crows and sea-gulls. The walking distance around the lake is about 3.5 km. You can go by car (just don’t rely on the directions by Google Maps) but you can also reach the dam walking along a 15 minute trail which starts from near the center of the town and crosses a small stream. Either way you choose to get there it is worth the visit.
The beaches we went to were not something special (sorry Skyrians, but I’ve already been to the Ionian, Crete, and Skopelos and I’ve seen some great beaches ), although there are some that stood out, and the landscape in the northwest of the island is stunning (Atsitsa, Agios Petros, Markesi and other places). The water is as clear as can be, and even though there were strong winds on the first couple of days,we could always find calm sea in beaches facing south and we really loved swimming everywhere we went.
Skyrians do not rely heavily on tourism for their income. It seems that nearly everyone on the island is either breeding animals (chicken, goats, sheep, cows, horses – you name it) or knows someone who does. They also seem to take good care of them and love it!
Most taverns or restaurants serve some dishes based on their own products (local cheese or vegetables) and some even produce their own wine. Food is not cheap but the prices are fair since the portions are really big.
I have to mention traditional taverns like Stelios and Mouries , which are really well known for their great food and service. Definitely try any dish containing eggplant, (goat) kid, ladopita and/or xinotyri (it’s something like a sour cream-cheese but not quite, try at your own risk if you like acquired tastes). The lobster spaghetti at Stelios’ is really worth a shot, and the sweet treat was also generous and very tasty – Chocolate and ice cream donuts, yum!
The Mouries tavern has great food and it is a really nice place for lunch even during hot summer days since the yard is covered by the shade of mulberry trees (Greek: Μουριές – Mouriés). There is a small playground for the kids to play until the food is served at the table, while you enjoy a cold beer.
Mouries are also known for their Skyrian horse farm, as they try to preserve and breed the Skyrian horses. They have a volunteer program so people come to help them manage and take care of the horses and also to educate visitors about this unique endemic horse breed. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year there were not nearly enough volunteers to do the horseback riding lessons or the educational programs. We got a close look at the ponies though!
Another place that is great to visit on Skyros island is the Aigaioris cafe-pool bar. It has a very clean swimming pool and a great view of the Aegean. So, we enjoyed our coffee having a stunning view of the Aegean and the kids played at the pool.
Especially if you have small kids like us, Skyros is great for short family trips. But Skyros is so much more than that. This trip must be the first one in quite a while, that we felt was truly relaxing for us and the kids enjoyed themselves so much that they said they want to go again. Every day, they could see many different kinds of animals in the next corner -or I should better say in every corner. They went horse riding, we tasted great food in a great environment, we swam to crystal clear waters, the kids made new friends in Hora and wanted to meet and play with them every afternoon while we relaxed and had a drink, (parental-)stress-free. Driving distances are short and no matter what you can definitely find calm waters to swim.
So maybe Skyros neither resembles the Sporades nor the Cyclades but the going there guarantees relaxed holidays in an island that has its own wild beauty.