One of the most popular destinations in the country, racy, cosmopolitan Skiáthos is not for the shy teetotaller or anyone looking for a slice of ‘authentic’ Greece. An isolated peasant community in the early 1970s, Skiáthos catapulted faster than any other island into big money tourism, especially with the construction of its airport. Away from the main road, it is as stunning as ever, rimmed with 62 gorgeous beaches. Add to this a host of lively bars and restaurants and you have the ingredients for a heady cocktail that attracts a fun-seeking crowd.
When Xerxes sailed to conquer Athens in 480 BC, his fleet met a fierce storm off Skiáthos. So many ships were damaged that Xerxes put in for repairs and, during his stay, invented the world’s first-known navigational aid on a reef called Myrmes (now Lephtéris and still a menace to ships). ‘Thither the barbarians brought and set up a pillar of stone that the shoal might be clearly visible,’ Herodotus wrote. Thanks to its guidance, Xerxes slipped past the Athenian patrols towards his first sea battle at Cape Artemisíon (a draw) and eventual defeat at Salamis. Part of the pillar can still be seen today, in the courtyard of the Naval Cadet School in Piraeus.
Images by Dan Taylor-Watt, gichristof, Herbert wie, rustyruth1959