5 Tops things to do in Skopelos

IMG_20170827_152132_765Listen to Jazz at Platanos

Whether it’s for a mid-morning coffee, an aperitif before dinner and a night of drinks – Platanos Jazz bar by the harbour is my favourite spot. Sitting under ancient platanus trees facing the Aegean sea and listening to subtle jazz music on a mix match of antique furniture. It’s one of those places that is a little off the main tourist track but still in a central location, with a good mix of locals and foreigners. You can easily spend an entire day here, watching harbour life go by. As a avid jazz fan, definitely my favourite spot.

Hike the Retsina Trail

Hiking was a bit of a challenge in Skopelos as a lot of the maps and guide books were out of date, and a lot of the trails have been lost due to bad weather. If you want to experience good hiking conditions, I’d recommend the beginning of the season after the trails have just been cleared. We managed to find the Retsina trail, which is the ancient cobbled path from the east to the west coast, where in older times the retsina traders carried the tree sap from harbour to harbour. You will have to go through quite thick undergrowth from time to time so nothing for the pavement-hikers. However, the breathtaking views are worth every scratch. One guide book to recommend is the one by Heather Parsons.

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Find a hidden beach

One thing we found about Skopelos beaches is that they are small…. Small and over-crowded, not necessarily just with tourists but local holiday makers as well. But there are lots and lots of hidden coves and little beaches, so if you have a car, drive off the beaten track and you can find the most extraordinary secluded beaches. Mostly all to yourself. Our tip: Παραλία Αρμενόπετρας – drive past the little blue chapel (the path get very narrow but doable with a car,) and you’ll find the most beautiful little beach all to yourself.

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Get lost in the cobbled streets

I loved just walking through the town of Skopelos, aimlessly taking a left here and a right there, discovering something new and beautiful around every corner. The town has been kept in extraordinary condition, you can really tell how proud the locals are of their little harbour next. I greatly enjoyed taking a hours walking every morning with my camera, find little hidden gems and great photo shots to take home as everlasting memories of this magical place.

Cook local food

Skopelos is a little bit more expensive when it comes to eating out than some of the other Greek islands we’ve been to, although the food quality is outstanding. I enjoy cooking when on holidays, to really get to grips with the local flavours and ingredients. There is nothing more special than cooking your own lunch from locally sourced food and enjoy it on your terrace facing the sea. Pure bliss.

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“In many ways we are all sons and daughters of ancient Greece.” (Nia Vardalos)

It wouldn’t be a normal summer without an escape to beautiful Greece. Having spend a fair amount of time in the Cyclades and Aegean Sea, this year’s destination is Kefalonia, an island in the Ionian Sea, west of mainland Greece, marked by sandy coves and dry rugged landscapes.

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Kefalonia is one of the larger islands I’ve been to, and when you hire a car you will quickly come to recognise the endless amount of rugged, desert-like countryside in between the little villages and towns. There are many faces to the Island and the vegetation changes quickly from bone dry to luscious pine, cypress and olive tree groves. Well known for its wine production, at the foot of Mt. Anos vineyards produce the popular Kefalonian Robola wine variety.

We chose to stay far far away from the touristy resorts, which nowadays destroy the authenticity of any Greek island. If you are in the same boat as me, avoid the southern coast of the island. That doesn’t mean that you can’t find a nice beach down there, but you will also find half of the UK and mainland Europe slurping a cocktail next to you.

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Our place of choice – Agia Efimia, a little fishing village with a small harbour, tucked away on the east coast of the island. The village is small but has everything you would want – breathtaking sea views, authentic tavernas, 3 local supermarkets, 1 meat market and a number of very well equipped bakeries. The village is a bit off the beaten path but also the favourite holiday spot for Greeks who come to visit the island. Localisation – tick!

We managed to bag a studio right by the edge of the water – Ballas Apartments is an absolute insider tip. The photos on Booking.com don’t make the location justice and the views of the apartments is breathtaking. Stravos is a great host, welcoming you with bottles of local Kefalonian wine and home-made baklava from the village bakery. Your balcony opens up to the Ionian sea and every morning at 7am an amazing sunrise greets you to start the day. The property has a large outside space with Bougainvillea bushes, olive trees and lots of space to lounge if you want to descend from your own private balcony. Some steep steps allow you to access the water straight from the property – absolute bliss in the mid-day heat.

So far we have spend our days watching the harbour activity, sailing boats arriving or heading off for a day of exploring. Wandering into the village to buy some local produce for lunch, cooking some local recipes. Enjoy an aperitif on the balcony watching the sunset. Walking into the village for dinner in one of the tavernas. What more could you want?