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When the 2008 musical Mamma Mia! first hit the cinemas, audiences all over the world were stunned by the beauty of the island it was set on. The island of Skopelos is indeed as beautiful as Mykonos and Santorini and has been termed “the perfect Greek island”.

In Greek, Skopelos means reef.

Originally the island was named “Peparithos” after its first inhabitant, the son of goddess Aphrodite and Dionysus. The island’s rocky and forbidding northern coastline eventually gave it its current name. Unlike its cosmopolitan neighbour Skiathos, Skopelos remains, surprisingly enough, undiscovered by visitors.

The only way to get to the island is by boat since it lacks an airport.

Any signs of fatigue or discomfort from the brief boat travel are though washed away the moment you set eyes on the picturesque Chora, the port of Skopelos. Dazzling white houses amphitheatrically built up a hillside, their terracotta roofs glistening in the sun.

In addition, ancient churches and traditional mansions are scattered around a labyrinth of stone paths and tiny squares.

Skopelos Island - church
© Stefanos Zacharakis

Skopelos has been termed ”the perfect Greek island”

The island is indeed as beautiful as Mykonos and Santorini.

The other hidden gem on Skopelos is the village of Glossa.

Perched high in a mountainous landscape, the village retains its authenticity both in terms of architecture and relaxed atmosphere. The amazing vistas towards the nearby island of Skiathos are an added bonus.

Even deeper in the heart of Skopelos, lost in a sea of wood are the mysterious "Sentoukia" or Chests, four roman tombs carved in stone.

The air of mystery combined with the amazing views of the mountain and forest below inspire awe to unsuspecting visitors, who come to Skopelos for the beaches, but stay for the beautiful nature. More than 80% of Skopelos is covered by forest, with hiking trails throughout the island.

Besides the occasional goat herder, you are guaranteed to have the mountain all to yourself.

For lovers of nature, Skopelos combines mountain and sea in a unique way.

It is home to the biggest sea park in the Mediterranean and to the Monachus Monachus seal as well as other rare species of flora and fauna. There are several areas within the park that are open to visitors, and day trips by boat can be organized.

The beaches in Skopelos are picturesque, set in a backdrop of green hills and clear turquoise waters.

The most popular is Kastani Beach, a Mamma Mia! location, and the only one on the island that attracts large groups of visitors. For the most part, though, the beaches are rather quiet and secluded, save for the occasional tavern. For real solitude, you should rent a boat and explore the stunning beaches on the northern part of the island.

It was this need for solitude and serenity that caused a lot of people over the centuries to establish so many monasteries and churches on the island.

The one you simply cannot miss is Evangelistrias Monastery. Built on the steep side of a hill in the later Byzantine Era, the monastery was built like a fortress to fend off pirate attacks.

The same precaution was applied to the chapel of Agios Ioannis, which perches on the top of a hill. It is here that the wedding scene from Mamma Mia! was shot, and has become a favorite wedding location for couples from around the world. Brave the 105 steps to reach the top – the enchanting vistas of the sea are more than worth the climb!

Skopelos is one of the many hidden gems of the Aegean that remains greatly unspoiled by tourism, despite the fame it earned recently.

Similar destinations we recommend: Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Karpathos, Rhodes

Lalaria Beach - Skiathos
Rethimno Harbour - Crete