SKÓPELOS is bigger and more rugged than Skiáthos and its concessions to tourism are lower-key and in better taste, despite a boom in recent years fuelled by the filming here of the Mamma Mia! film. Much of the countryside, especially the southwest coast, really is as spectacular as it appears in the film, with a series of pretty cove beaches backed by extensive pine forests as well as olive groves and orchards of plums (prunes are a local speciality), apricots, pears and almonds. Skópelos Town (Hóra) and Glóssa, the two main towns, are among the prettiest in the Sporades, their hillside houses distinguished by painted wooden trim and grey slate roofs.
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SKÓPELOS TOWN (Hóra) pours off a hill on the west flank of a wide, oval bay: a cascade of handsome mansions and slate-domed churches below the ruined Venetian kástro. Away from the waterside commercial strip, the hóra is endearingly time-warped – indeed among the most unspoilt in the islands – with wonderfully idiosyncratic shops of a sort long-vanished elsewhere, and vernacular domestic architecture unadulterated with tasteless monstrosities.
Walking on Skópelos
Away from the main roads there’s plenty of walking on Skópelos. Long-time resident Heather Parsons battles to maintain paths and leads spring/autumn walks along what remains (skopelos-walks.com), as well as publishing a hiking guide, Skopelos Trails. Among the better walks are those east of Skópelos Town, where three historic monasteries, Metamórfosis, Evangelistrías and Prodhrómou (all open approx 8am–1pm & 5–8pm daily), stand on the slopes of Mount Paloúki. Near Glóssa there’s a beautiful 45-minute trail to the renovated village of Palió Klíma, via the island’s oldest settlement, Athéato (Mahalás), slowly being restored by outsiders, and the foreigner-owned hamlet of Áyii Anáryiri.