Top Reasons Why You Should Visit Skyros Island, Greece

You‘ll find beautiful untouched nature on Skyros
You‘ll find beautiful untouched nature on Skyros | © Richard Swarbrick / Alamy Stock Photo
Kim Gregory

Secluded Skyros is a gem of an island home to rare ponies, prehistoric sites, creative retreats and a vibrant carnival. Here’s why you should visit this Greek island.

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Skyros, one of the Sporades islands, isn’t a typical tourist destination – but that’s what makes it so great. The nature on this small, peaceful island is raw and untouched. You’ll find rolling hills that are yours to explore, along with unspoilt beaches, tranquil lakes and rare Skyrian horses – found nowhere else in the world. There are creative and wellness retreats to help tap into the beauty around you, while festivals, such as Skyros Carnival, provide a chance to party. Top all of this off with the prehistoric, literary and mythical sites, and you’ve found a small Greek island with big secrets ready to be uncovered.

Because you’ll find ultimate seclusion

Skyros isn’t as developed for tourists as some of its neighbouring islands, so it’s a remarkably peaceful place to visit. It has rolling hills and secluded lakes to explore, along with beaches big and small set amid raw nature with little to no tourist amenities. Experience the beauty of Greece authentically as the tranquillity of Skyros washes over you like those glistening Aegean shores.

Because it’s a place of myths and legends

If you know anything about Greek history, you’ll have heard of the minotaur. According to legend, Theseus, the hero of the story who fought the minotaur, died in Skyros. Also, you can visit Achilli Beach – the place where the hero Achilles is said to have departed for Troy.

You can spot adorable rare ponies

The island is home to Skyrian horses – tiny, long-maned beauties that you’ll only find in Skyros. Only a few hundred remain. There’s also some history behind them; legend has it that they’re descendants of the horses that pulled Achilles’s chariot. Take the whole family and see them at the Skyrian Horse Conservation Centre at Mouries Farm.

You can visit rare cliffside sites

Carved into a rock face in Pouria, you’ll find a picturesque hidden gem – the holy Agios Nikolaos Church. Inside, find a chapel with an altar and beautiful paintings. Meanwhile, proudly looking over Skyros is a Byzantine castle built to protect the island from pirate invasion. Visit by walking from the main town with breathtaking views along the way. Don’t miss the 13th-century Monastery of Saint George inside the castle, with its impressive balconies and beautiful flower-strewn courtyard.

To soak up some literary history

Renowned English poet Rupert Brooke rests here in Skyros. His tomb is nestled in a peaceful olive grove on the quiet southeast side of the island, close to where he – who travelled to Greece as he served in the Royal Navy during World War I – died of sepsis following an infected insect bite. His most famous sonnet, The Soldier, is inscribed on his tomb. In Chora, visit Brooke’s Square, dedicated to the writer, to see the statue Eternal Poet, depicting a man gazing out to sea.

To party like a local

Skyros is home to religious festivals thrown by locals, usually followed by a panigiri, a cultural celebration with food, wine, music and dancing. Travelling near Easter? Don’t miss the Skyros Carnival, which takes place the last weekend before Lent. The island swells with music; locals in unique costumes fill the squares and dance the night away. It’s a wonderful atmosphere and a great insight into local Skyros culture.

To cycle the island with incredible views

Join Skyros Bike Tours by Nefeli Hotel to explore this traditional island on two wheels. The expeditions promise cyclists will learn about traditional wood carving and ceramic art on the island, visit those famous horses and stop at natural springs. Cycle through the picturesque hills, over rock bridges and past remote churches, all with views of the natural island and sweeping Aegean.

Because you’ll love a picnic by Loustria Lake

Gather your goods from the local bakery – spanakopita and spinach pie are always excellent choices – and head to Loustria, a lake on the Ari Plateau. Its purple-hued waters seem to glow in the sunshine, reflecting the lush maple forest that surrounds it. It’s a gorgeous slice of nature for a picnic, and best of all, Skyrian horses have been known to gather here. Keep an eye on your sandwiches.

You can get creative

Looking for a trip built on wellbeing, creativity and shared experiences? Check out the Skyros Centre, a retreat that encourages you to try new things, live out your hobbies and enjoy relaxation with fellow creatives. It offers writing, art, wellbeing and yoga classes, all in a beautiful island setting.

And you can stroll a village from 2500BCE

Northern Skyros is proudly home to one of the most impressive Neolithic sites existing today. Palamari – the remains of a settlement dating back to the early Bronze Age – was discovered in 1995. Stroll by the stone walls of this special historical discovery with the sea stretching out below. Also, visit the Archaeological Museum of Skyros to see some of the excavated artefacts from the site.

Need to find the perfect place to stay in Skyros? Book one of the best hotels on the island. Extend your trip with some island hopping and take a journey to not-so-far-away Mykonos. Stay in one of the best hotels there (with options from budget to luxury), check out all the must-see sights and then relax with a delicious dinner at one of the best restaurants in Mykonos.

This is an update of an article originally by Ethel Dilouambaka.

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