Sporades Islands – a magical island hopping adventure in Greece

There are many different ways and reasons to explore the Sporades islands. Some of the best ways are by taking a boat and spending a few days island hopping the Sporades or navigating between them by ferry. Here is some advice to help you decide which islands to visit and what to do there. We’ll focus on visiting Skopelos, Skiathos, and Alonissos islands as those islands we visited ourselves.

Skopelos island, Sporades, Greece

Why visit Alonissos island

If you’re considering going island hopping during your vacation, you might want to include a stop at Alonissos, which was our first island of the Sporades and is the least popular which might remain the case for a few years to come. This island is best known for its natural beauty and stunning beaches. It also has a number of picturesque villages, such as Chora, which sits on a hilltop overlooking the Aegean Sea. The beaches here are crystal clear and surrounded by lush green vegetation.

The island is definitely not as visited as the other Sporades islands. Its distance from the mainland means that it remained untouched (or the least touched) by mass tourism and international tourists. It is also home to more than 300 churches, most of which are privately owned. There are few luxury hotels on the island. The landscapes are varied, with forested hillsides and a mix of forests.

Alonissos is ideal for the start of your island hopping adventures. This is also where we started. We used the ferry from Thessaloniki (which stopped at Skiathos and Skopelos first). Most islands in this region are easily accessible by boat, and ferries run several times per day. You can spend a day exploring Alonissos but we would recommend at least a few days.

Whether you want to relax on a pristine beach, enjoy the green mountains, or go on a boat trip to The National Marine Park of Alonissos – the island is perfect for both a relaxing vacation and adventurous exploration. From the turquoise sea to the pine-covered slopes, its area is perfect for beach lovers. Alonissos’ clear blue waters are a prime destination for divers and snorkelers. The nearby island of Peristera has Greece’s first underwater museum, home to the remains of a 5th-century merchant ship.

There are many things to see and do on Alonissos island. Its pebblestone beaches are gorgeous and most of them are organized for your convenience, and there are plenty of bars and beach clubs. You can find traditional Greek food in every tavern. We recommend stopping by at Women’s Agrotourism Cooperative of Alonissos and buying some of their delicious produce.

Why visit Skopelos island

If you are planning a vacation in Greece, you should consider spending a few days in Skopelos, another of the Sporades islands. The island is famous for its breathtaking natural beauty and laid-back atmosphere. From there, you can easily visit other islands of the Sporades, including Skyros and Skiathos.

While Skopelos is known for its spectacular cliffs and beaches, it is also home to a tiny chapel that is featured in the movie “Mamma Mia”. You can visit the Chapel of St. John (Ioannis) on the northern side of the island, for a romantic setting and a spectacular view of the sea. Of course, you’re going to have to climb stairs for the views and the romantic opportunity to sing love songs. But it is worth it. And you don’t need to hurry.

The island of Skopelos is less populated than Skiathos, making it a more relaxing place to spend time but not as relaxed as Alonissos. You can even take a walk on the island’s trails and discover its natural beauty. In the evening, you can experience a variety of live music and nightlife, which make Skopelos a great choice for a night out.

Skopelos’ beaches are some of the clearest in the country and are perfect for swimming. In addition, the island’s beaches are protected by lush vegetation. Tall pine trees and fragrant bushes line the shore. You’ll want to choose at least one sunny day to relax on the beautiful beaches here.

We strongly recommend taking a long walk around the town of Skopelos. It will surprise you with plenty of monasteries, churches, great views, and stairs (but you really don’t need to rush through them).

Why visit Skiathos island

If you’re planning to spend your vacation in the Sporades islands, there are many reasons why you should consider visiting Skiathos. The island is home to a medieval castle, which can be visited by boat or on foot. The castle was once the main town of the island, and you can see the ruins of the old structures like churches and baths.

Skiathos is a small island, but it attracts a large number of tourists each year. Its proximity to mainland Greece (just a two-hour ferry ride) has a lot to do with that so expect to meet plenty of other visitors. It has plenty of beaches and is great for families. It’s also easy to get around. Water taxis and buses run like clockwork, and driving is easy as well.

In Skiathos, you’ll find restaurants that specialize in fresh seafood and the famous distilled grape spirit, tsipouro. You can also take in the Old Town, where you’ll find picture-perfect courtyards and Byzantine churches, as well as medieval castles with sweeping Aegean views.

Skiathos is also home to a fascinating folklore museum. The town contains the former residence of Greek novelist Alexandros Papadiamantis. The streets are lined with cosmopolitan cafes and restaurants. You can also check out the lively nightlife.

An activity we found fun was finding a spot in town to watch airplanes taking off and landing up close. Another thing we loved was the boat trip to the majestic Lalaria beach with emerald waters, only accessible by water. That didn’t stop hundreds of people to access it but it was just so beautiful!

How to get to Sporades islands and how to do island hopping

There are several options for getting to the Sporades islands. You can fly to the closest airport in Skiathos, which is probably the easiest way to get there. Choose a window seat as the runway is close to the shore. You can also see planes land and take off if you find this place in Skiathos town or go to Xanemos Beach.

If you plan to visit all three islands, it’s important to plan ahead. You can start by getting your tickets in advance. The ferry terminals for the Sporades are in Volos (Agios Constantinos) and in Thessaloniki. From there, you can take a ferry to Skiathos, Skopelos, or Alonissos (and from the last two to Skyros). From Thessaloniki, it’s about a three to four-hour journey to the island of Skiathos and up to five-hour journey to Alonissos.

Another option is to rent a boat. The Sporades islands have some beautiful beaches and are ideal for island hopping. There are many historical sites here from the Byzantine Empire. If you’re a nature lover, you’ll find plenty of hiking trails in the picturesque countryside. There are also plenty of sandy beaches to relax on. Next time we visit we would definitely want to explore the option of renting a boat and doing island hopping that way instead of using the ferry between islands and our car to move around on each island.

We started island hopping in Alonissos, taking the ferry to Skopelos next and to Skiathos last before we boarded the ferry back to Thessaloniki. You can check out the schedules and book your ferry rides here. In case you want to rent a car, check out the offers here.

Lalaria beach, Skiathos, Sporades island hopping

Sporades islands holidays

The island group of the Sporades is a popular destination for nature lovers. The four inhabited islands are renowned for their beaches and woods. The islands are also popular places for snorkeling and coastal diving. The pristine waters around Skopelos and Alonnisos are home to a marine park where you can spot dolphins, Mediterranean monk seals, and many other species.

While some of the islands have developed resorts and other modern amenities, the traditional feel of the islands remains intact. Old towns, monasteries, and taverns will make sure you feel like on your magical vacation in Greece. The Sporades are made up of 20 islands, although only four are inhabited. Despite the number of beaches, the islands are relatively untouched, making them ideal for deep recharge and relaxation holidays. While the climate is mild and sunny all year round, the warmest months to visit are April to October.

If we had to choose only one island to visit, that would be our favorite Alonissos. Set on the eastern coast of the Sporades, the island offers unmatched beauty with its lush greenery and beautiful beaches. Most of the beaches felt secluded and the views underwater and overwater were just gorgeous!

The Sporades are waiting for you to explore them one by one or on an island hopping adventure. Just don’t leave them waiting for you for too long!

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