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Trip Report beaches as good as the carribean: skiathos

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Had I known how wonderful Skiathos was, I would have made it my main holiday in 2013 as opposed to the Caribbean. There are many Greek islands that I will consider returning to (Corfu – probably; Crete – probably; Samos – probably; Rhodes – maybe; Cyprus – maybe; Santorini – probably not; Zante – definitely not) but Skiathos I definitely will be. Never have I returned from a place and started planning my return. I am not on my own; many tourists I talked to had been there for the ‘umpteenth time. Why should this be?
Is it the delightful Skiathos Town with its maze of charming streets where every turn exposes a new restaurant where it is nearly impossible to be served a poor meal? It has a ridiculous number of romantic settings ie the street of fish tavernas that overlook the old port where you can get a meal and litre of decent house wine for two, for 35 euros.
The transport system must be the envy of all Greece. With a regular (every 15 minutes regardless of day of week) and easy to understand system the bus stops are used to landmark the best beaches and restaurants - "There is an excellent beach from Number 15" or: "There is a scenic walk from Number 23". It makes for ease of communication between travelers who exchange tips on where to visit.

The friendliness of the place almost matches Barbados (but that would be a tall order) and I am not sure whether it is the friendliness of the locals that is picked up by tourists through osmosis, or maybe its the friendly locals that appeal to already friendly tourists and draw them in like a magnet. Whatever, everyone seems to mix very freely and exchange information freely with each other - you soon get to know the best walks, beaches, trips and places to eat. This generates competition and enhances quality - you not only know where to eat but where not to eat, and restaurants know this.

Then there are the boat trips - great days out to the beautiful mainland (45 mins) or spectacular Skopelos or rugged Alonissos. Dolphins are frequently spotted but we were unfortunate.

Lastly, there are the beaches. Never have I swum so much. The beaches equal the Caribbean but with the advantage of having abetter choice of beach bars. Koukounaries in Skiathos is frequently cited as the best beach in the Mediterranean, but I prefer Troulos beach in Skiathos and my all time favourite of Elias Beach. Elias Beach has bath warm water mostly due to its shallowness - your feet can touch the bottom for miles out into the bay - and the ramshackle tavern serves ice cold Mythos and the most wonderful chips and sardines. To get to this beach you walk through a shady pine forest - bliss.
I stayed at Achladies Beach in a set of apartments called Filokalia. It receives excellent reviews on account of its wonderful friendly staff which is not too distant from a lovely beach. The accommodation is good but basic and the shower a little too primitive. The food, served by the pool at the bar, is lovely and freshly prepared and they cook a mean English Breakfast.
http://www.skiathos-filokalia.net/

There are two very good tavernas here and two very good restaurants. The following is the best on the beach.
http://www.paradiseholidays.gr/
The Porto Rossa served the very best moussaka, and had a character of a waiter called Costa who had a very dry sense of humour.
http://www.skiathosportarossa.gr/
The Rose Garden in Achladies has no website but is a fabulous restaurant and serves mainly Greek food as well as standard favourites: pasta and pizza. I was talked into having the chilli and garlic chicken because they had run out of beef stiffado, but it was very good.
Apart from the excellent bus service from Achladies there is also the water taxi that takes about 10 minutes to get to Skiathos Town and seeing it lit up as you sail in is a highlight.
The best place we ate was very close to the airport: Mylos. It serves the best pizza I had ever tasted – we ate twice there (never heard of before). They serve delicious sardines and a lovely lamb kleftika. It is set by the sea and you are nearly able to touch the fish as they swim in shoals through the seagrass.
The other very good restaurant is set in the maze of streets by the old port and it had been recommended to me, again I had lamb kleftika here which was as good as the one at Mylos. I was told to go for the house rose on account of it being the best on Skaithos, which I did but wasn’t impressed.
http://www.palouki-skiathos.com/
The cheapest meal we had was grilled chicken at the Grill House which is on a street of excellent tavernas overlooking the old port but off the harbour. It was 25 euro for two and included a litre of house white.
We did two very good boat trips: Secret Skiathos was the best (via Pabel Tours) and also took us to mainland Greece where we stopped on a superb beach and had a lovely meal at a Greek Taverna right on the beach – grilled small fish with Greek salad. The other would have been good but the itinerary was poorly balanced as we would have liked more time on Skopelos, this was on the Poseidon boat:
http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Travel-g775993-c182607/Skiathos-Town:Skiathos:Mama.Mia.Trip.On.Poseidon.html
You can get to Skopelos on your own volition via the ferry that sails from Skiathos to Skopelos as well as the Greek mainland:
http://greeceferries.com/port/skiathos/?gclid=COaA0tCvzbkCFQ_LtAodL1EArw

This is one of the only destinations when we have come back and already started to plan to return. If you want an extremely friendly island with a great transport system, great beaches and a wide range of dining options then why not give it a go.

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