The Mamma Mia Island
…is a beautiful place.
You may have come to know of it as the Mamma Mia island and it’s little surprise why it was chosen as a film location. Skopelos, Greece is lush, plush and hushed!
Like us, if you’re still in the planning stages, you may have wondered ‘which is better, Skiathos or Skopelos?’ and after spending a week on both, the Mamma Mia Greek island definitely won our hearts. It’s still quiet enough to be bliss but has enough local hospitality to provide you with a memorable Skopelos holiday.
So, what is Skopelos like? Which is the best area to stay in Skopelos? How many days do you need? Is Skopelos touristy? How do you get there? And what is there to do in Skopelos?
We will endeavor to answer all of these questions and more, and put Skopelos, Greece, at your fingertips.
A BIT ABOUT SKOPELOS, GREECE
Is Skopelos Touristy?
Skopelos is the Mama Mia island in the western Aegean Sea, part of a group of Greek islands called the Sporades. We very much expected Skopelos to be a little too crowded due to its recent Hollywood appearance, but actually, it’s still very peaceful and protected. It’s not huge, only a little larger than Santorini, and hasn’t yet succumbed to tourism like other more built-up islands. In fact, until it became the Mamma Mia film location, very few made the effort to visit as tourists, which is probably why Skopelos, Greece, still remains unspoiled and old-fashioned in many respects.
Restaurants and bars are still owned by locals, proud of the mamas in the kitchens and the sons who still bring in the catch of the day. And hotel owners are still interested in your comfort and aim to please – excellent hospitality is still very easy to find on Skopelos.
The island is a union of two hills that protrude out of the Aegean. If you hire a car you can climb these peaks for some of the most impressive views of Skopelos, or visit many of the many monasteries and chapels that dot the slopes. A few of the beaches in the north are hard to get to and may involve a steep descent, or an approach by sea, but the lush forested backdrops make them some of the most beautiful too. The southern coast, on the other hand, is far more accessible and most beaches can be reached from more gentle slopes. These beaches are busy but still not as overloaded as Skiathos beaches.
Where To Stay In Skopelos…
Deciding on the best area to stay in Skopelos very much depends on the type of holiday you are after. I would imagine most people would at least like to visit some of the Mama Mia film locations Skopelos has to offer? If so, you would definitely need to hire some form of transport, car or bike/scooter, and the best deals can be had in Skopelos town.
In fact, Skopelos town is the perfect place to use as a base for your Skopelos holiday because it’s pretty, scenic, has plenty of bars and restaurants, and is well connected to everywhere on the island. We fell in love with Skopelos town instantly and were very glad we chose it as our base.
Buses leave from the port in Skopelos town every hour and travel to the beaches in the south for only a few Euro’s each which meant we didn’t have to hire a scooter for all 7 days of our holiday. Most of the best things to do in Skopelos can be accessed by public transport.
OUR SKOPELOS TOWN HOTEL…
We stayed at Evlalia Studios in the bay of Skopelos town. It was a 15 minute walk into the centre of the town but there were so many excellent restaurants along the front only a couple of minutes from the hotel so some evenings we stayed more local. We cannot recommend Evlalia Studios highly enough – the place is fantastic! The pool area is stunning, staff are extremely welcoming, even offering us a free ride into town if they were going that way. The rooms are a dream and the views across the bay are incredible. We would book again in a heartbeat.
A SKOPELOS ISLAND BEACH HOLIDAY…
If you were wanting to have a Skopelos holiday which mostly involved lying on the beach then our favourite area was the west coast beaches of Panormos and Paralia Milia, the latter being slightly more secluded. It’s 30 minutes from Skopelos town by bus though so it is absolutely possible to visit these beaches if you do decide to make Skopelos town your base. For the best deals on hotels in this area click here.
Incidentally, Kastani Beach (just north of Paralia Millia) is one of the Mamma Mia film locations in Skopelos, so if it’s good enough for Hollywood… (A jetty was assembled for filming and is no longer there.)
A TWO-PART HOLIDAY IN SKOPELOS
We decided to leave the last 2 days of our holiday for a trip to the Mamma Mia chappel on Skopelos and a day trip to the old town of Glossa. For that reason we took a bus from Skopelos town to Glossa and stayed a couple of evenings in the cute sleepy port area known as Loutraki. We booked into the Natural Luxury Boutique Hotel for a bit of luxury and thoroughly enjoyed the change. It was also much closer to the Mamma Mia chapel from this side of the island.
Another plus point is that Loutraki port is only half an hour by ferry back to Skiathos and a cheaper ticket too. It’s a sleepy little town where locals take an evening swim in the sea and there are some excellent fish restaurants. And, the sunsets over mainland Greece were stunning on this side of the island.
How To Get To Skopelos Island…
Whilst it is possible to get a ferry from mainland Greece, the easiest and quickest way to get to Skopelos island is to fly to Skiathos and catch a ferry from the port. Skiathos port is a 5 minute drive from Skiathos airport.
Ferries to Skopelos from Skiathos run daily throughout the summer. There are about 7 a day and start around 10.30am and finish around 9.30pm but check the timetable. The trip takes about 1 hour and you can either disembark in Skopelos town or Glossa (Loutraki) on the other side of the island. (Day trippers can use the Glossa stop if they are intending to catch a taxi to the Mamma Mia church in Skopelos.)
There are several ferry companies; ANES, Dolphin, and SeaJets. The offices are separate but can all be found along the front near the port in Skiathos town. Prices range from €8 – €18 depending on the company, the speed and the stop (Glossa is closer, therefore cheaper). Buy a single and sort out your return journey once you are on Skopelos. (Skopelos ticket offices are along the front of the port too)
THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN SKOPELOS
HOW MANY DAYS DO YOU NEED IN SKOPELOS?
There are plenty of things to do on Skopelos island we think 5 – 7 days is the perfect amount of time. You could really make the most of some awesome day trips combined with a few relaxing beach days. You will definitely want to set aside one full day to explore Skopelos town too.
1. SKOPELOS TOWN
After the disappointment that was Skiathos town, we were more than a little relieved to step foot off the ferry into a decidedly more beautiful Greek harbour town on Skopelos. An uplifting sight of white and blue just begging to be explored.
The whitewashed houses rise steadily up the slopes from the harbour and the narrow cobbled streets have you lost before you can say spanakopita. But that’s ok, you could spend hours wandering and never tire of the Bougainvillea, rainbow shutters, cats basking and the occasional view across red roof tiles out to sea.
NOT TO MISS IN SKOPELOS TOWN…
Our favourite places for a drink were Lethe Bohemian and a cute little terrace cafe called Thalassa Cafe on the higher northern edge of the town. The latter was where the cast of Mamma Mia held their wrap party on the last day of filming… a beautiful terrace laden with flowers and neverending views over the Aegean where an old couple serve up whatever they have in their fridge. She told us that Pierce Brosnan taught her how to make a proper Margarita, needless to say we’d cleaned her out of tequila by the end of the week!
Thalassa Cafe, Skopelos Town
Whilst an aperitif at Thalassa Cafe is about just you and the view, Lethe Bohemian is great for a spot of people-watching and in very comfy surroundings.
Lethe Bohemian, Skopelos Town
Our favourite restaurant was Kyratso’s Kitchen. Kyratso herself still sits in the corner, occasionally mumbling orders to her kids and grandkids, but the food is a testament to her keen eye over the proceedings. This is a traditional taverna with all the usual offerings but you won’t go wrong with the fish of the day or Mama’s Goat with Plums. Plus, this was the best Souvlaki we had the whole holiday! And, every meal is concluded with a secret recipe plum liqueur and smiles from the front of house.
2. Glysteri Beach Bar
There are many beach bars across the island of Skopelos but the Glysteri Beach Bar ended up being our favourite. We decided to day-trip there on our scooter because it was one of the Mamma Mia film locations – the one where the 3 dads jump off the rocks at the end of the fishing trip. However, it was the tiki-style beach bar and over-tanned DJ that made us stick around! As a girl of the 80’s I was in total heaven sipping an iced baileys frappe to Culture Club and Bob Marley.
3. The Old Town of Glossa
To visit the old town of Glossa would have meant a 50-minute bus journey from Skopelos town, which is why we decided to incorporate it into a couple of nights staying in the north of the island, and pull in a day trip to the Mamma Mia church too.
But, if you enjoyed wandering the pretty streets of Skopelos Town then making a trip to the traditional village of Glossa is definitely worth it.
Glossa is the second largest village in Skopelos and is a network of hilly cobbled streets where old men play backgammon and old ladies bask in the glory that they reside in the most beautiful location on earth. Local life is unquestionably strong enough to absorb the tourism, and still come out content on the other side.
The surrounding slopes are carpeted with olive, plum and almond trees which might go some way to explaining why Glossa has become a bit of a serving platter of contemporary restaurants enthusiastically showcasing local produce.
There are dozens of worthy establishments for lunch or dinner but our favourite was the stylish farm-to-table Agnanti Restaurant, especially if you snag a balcony table. And, just as a side note, this was the only place on Skiathos and Skopelos where we were served a decent glass of wine! In fact, as far as romantic locations go, Agnanti at sunset has to be the ultimate choice on Skopelos.
The rest of the town is a super pleasant amble through colourful sleepy streets with the opportunity to pull in a bit of eclectic shopping and superior coffee stops with beautiful views. Glossa truly is the balcony to the Aegean.
Glossa does get a little too sleepy between 3 – 5pm, when the majority of places close for a nap. So, it’s maybe a choice for a morning trip or a sunset session. Make sure you book your chosen restaurant if you’re eating in the evening, lunchtimes are much quieter however.
4. Agios Ioannis Church (Mamma Mia Church)
Sophie’s wedding scene undoubtedly propelled this church into instant insta-fame and indelibly stamped it onto everyone’s Skopelos Must-See list. But Agios Ioannis Kastri has sat on this rocky outcrop for centuries. And regardless of its Hollywood appearance, I promise you will make this trip with nothing but awe and amazement in your mind.
For starters, the descent down to this famous rock is one of unmatched beauty on Skopelos island. Pine and olive groves with the occasional peek at the Aegean make this the most glorious road trip, especially from a scooter or quad bike. But once you are staring up at this 100 meter rock, apart from wondering if your holiday-atrophied thighs will make the 2000 steps you just cannot fathom HOW such an undertaking happened!
Apparently, locals thought it a worthwhile project to protect a religious relic that was found at the top, and a church to house it must absolutely be built. And, even if you feel a little robbed and disappointed that once you’re up there this is NOT the actual church from Mamma Mia, the feeling soon passes and you are once again drawn in by the most impressive panoramic. And the fact your little legs didn’t betray you! Besides, a dip in the crystal clear waters at nearby Agios Ioannis beach is all that’s needed to soothe your muscle spasms.
If you didn’t want to take public transport then make a 2km hike in the blistering sun, or you haven’t hired a car or scooter, the church of Agios Ioannis Kastri is part of the Mamma Mia Skopelos tour that you can book with GetYourGuide here.
5. Breakfast At The 4M Coffee House
One of the best things to do in Skopelos is have breakfast whilst your toes are dangling in the gentle waves of the Aegean. Agnontas Bay was one of our favourite places on Skopelos island to do this. It’s an easy 15 minutes by bus from Skopelos town and the reward is a plate full of waffles or pancakes with a massive mug of great coffee!
Boats are moored right up to the water’s edge where the terraces of cafes and restaurants meet. Little fish swarm the shallow shores and one or two savvy holiday-makers take a morning dip in the less crowded waves of Agnontas beach. Even in Skopelos in August you can find peace and serenity at this tiny little seaside village.
At this time of day you could walk off the waffles along the coast to a pretty little cove called Amarandos, or even take a dip in the nearby Cave of Love.
We know you’re going to love Skopelos – it’s one of those quieter Greek island gems that ticks all of the boxes. And if you have any more questions, do feel free to ask – we will endeavor to answer them!
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