Though the harbor is picturesque from a distance—especially from a ferry docking at sunset, when a violet-orange light casts a soft glow and the lights on the hills behind the quay start twinkling like faint stars—Skiathos town close-up has few buildings of any distinction. Many traditional houses were burned by the Germans in 1944, and postwar development has pushed up cement apartments between the pleasant, squat, red-roof older houses. Magenta bougainvillea, sweet jasmine, and the casual charm of brightly painted balconies and shutters camouflage most of the eyesores as you wander through the narrow lanes and climb up the steep steps that serve as streets. Activity centers on the waterfront or on Papadiamantis, the main drag, with banks, travel agents, telephones, post offices, police and tourist police stations, plus myriad cafés, fast-food joints, postcard stands, tacky souvenir shops, tasteful jewelry stores, and car- and bike-rental establishments. Shops, bars, and restaurants line the cobbled side streets, where you can also spot the occasional modest hotel and rooms-to-rent signs. The east side of the port (more commonly known as the new port), where the larger boats and Flying Dolphin hydrofoils dock, is not as interesting. The little church and clock tower of Ayios Nikolaos watch over it from a hill reached by steps so steep they're almost perpendicular to the earth.
To enjoy the silver screen under the summer stars spend a few hours at Attikon Cinema, which screens three different films per week and two English language films per night (with a regular tribute to Mamma Mia), from 9 pm on.
You can't get any closer to the fish market than this family-run taverna, and the fresh seafood dishes (served grilled or fried) prove it. Sit outside facing the sea and sip an icy ouzo while sampling a variety of mezedes (appetizers), or if you prefer a heartier meal, try some of the finny creatures: mussels steamed in wine, or the taverna's specialty of fresh swordfish with a rosemary, garlic, raisin and honey sauce, or a seafood pasta with tomato sauce. Psaradika also serve fresh and boiled salads, grilled meats and a few traditional home-style dishes like the oil-based ladera stuffed tomatoes and a creamy moussaka.
Don Quijote Tapas Bar Restaurant
The tapas bar, a rare type of restaurant to find not only on Skiathos but in the country overall, will provide you with a pleasant change of flavor and scene. Its colorful selection of hot and cold tapas includes classic Spanish eats such as paella and jamon (Spanish crude ham) as well as Greek-inspired appetizers, to be savored with a local or Spanish wine, or a refreshing mojito. Try also the tuna tartare, made with fresh local tuna and seasoned with a zingy lime and coriander dressing. The Catalan cream (a Spanish version of crème brûlée) or the chocolate soufflé make for two sweet finales. A friendly waitstaff is happy is happy to advise you on dishes as you take in the expansive harbor view, intoxicated by the lively atmosphere—but not the noise—of the main town below.
Set on a balcony overlooking Siferi bay, this restaurant, open
throughout the day, pairs an inviting ozonic breeze with one of the most
sprawling views in town. The menu is focused on fresh local fish, and the latest
additions to the menu are an entrée of fresh tuna fillet sautéed with onion and
lemon and "Chef" mussels cooked in a mustard and feta sauce. Owner Christos
takes pride in the organic vegetables he serves, which are all sourced from his
own garden. Service is attentive and the white house wine crisp and refreshing.
Leave space for the feather-light traditional ekmek (custard cake) with
mastic ice cream or try the restaurant's cheesecake if you prefer a more western
Escape the buzz of Skopelos town by climbing up the hill above Ayios Nikolaos to dine at this well restored 1880s mill–turned–unpretentiously elegant restaurant. Run by Scottish Karen McCann, the Windmill offers the town's most awesome views of the moonlit harbor accompanied by a gourmet rendition of British pub dishes with a breezy Mediterranean and southeast Asian twist. Start with the calamari with Parmesan crumb, chilli, and ginger dip, then sample the popular char-grilled fillet of beef (with a choice of sauces such as peppercorn or mushroom and bacon) before ending with a rich dessert. The Windmill has a little balcony that seats two, which places diners at the highest spot above the town; if you'd like to dine at new heights, book this coveted perch way in advance.
Slip Inn is liked for its good coffee during the day while at night it transforms into a funky lounge where passion-fruit margaritas are best enjoyed resting on one elbow, Dionysian style, on multicolor floor cushions.
The popular Kentavros Bar entertains a young professional crowd with rhythm and blues, funk, soul, and classic rock starting at 9:30 pm.
Rock 'n' Roll
Rock 'n' Roll, located at the far eastern end of the harbor, is a trendy bar that serves more than 100 exotic cocktails to a mainly youthful crowd and has a DJ from 9:30 pm.
For late-night action along a row of hopping clubs, head to Kahlua, which has indoor and outdoor dancing and is open in summer until at least 3 am.
For a real change of pace take a gentle stroll to a lesser known café/bar at the tip of the Bourtzi fortress' promontory. Here, like the locals, you can enjoy an affordable seaside drink away from the madding crowds.
Greek jewelry, original-looking glass lampshades, and a variety of ceramic plates are among the wares here.
Kilims, embroideries, jewelry, icons, and hundreds of antiques from around the world are available here, all set off by proprietor Charalambos Varsaki's impressive surrealistic paintings and prints. Also noteworthy is his collection of guns and swords dating to 1780-1820 and used in the Greek War of Independence.
Jewellery in 14 karat and 18 karat yellow and white gold, and more recently in silver, are Simos specialties, from simple designs to classical Greece-inspired baubles encrusted with precious stones.
Celebrating jewellery-making with an artsy twist, Phaedra showcases silver and gold pieces that are part of collections by noteworthy Greek designers.
The House of Papadiamantis is a tribute to one of Greece's finest writers, Alexandros Papadiamantis (1851–1911), lauded by some as "the Greek Dostoyevsky." His native Skiathos played a prominent role in his essays, short stories, and novels, as did plots strongly inspired by the human condition, war, pirate invasions, the Greek Orthodox faith, captivity, and simple rural life. Several of his novels have been translated into English, including the internationally acclaimed The Murderess. The exhibits here deal with the author's daily life, ranging from his furniture and personal belongings to vintage photographs.
A lovely physical feature of Skiathos harbor—standing on a small, piny peninsula that divides the main port—the Bourtzi was a fortress built in 1207 by the Venetian Gyzi brothers to protect Skiathos from pirate attacks. Not much remains of the original building, also called "the castle of St. George," yet the cultural center here hosts wonderful events every summer, particularly in July and August, when art and antiquities exhibitions and open-air performances entertain tourists and locals alike. It's well worth taking in the view of the harbor from the tranquil, refreshing spots found here; west of the waterfront you'll see the fishing port where caïques come and go. The sidewalk is increasingly filled with cafés and ouzeris(ouzo bars) and, at the far end of the port beginning at the square and set around the 1846 church of Trion Hierarchon, more elegant restaurants spread out under awnings. There is also a café-bar at the Bourtzi itself.