The Sporades islands are known as the jewels of the Aegean presenting a major interest for their natural beauty and historical events. The name Sporades, meaning “scattered” was given by their geographical location, as they remain scattered in the North Aegean. According to the archaeological evidence, the islands are inhabited from the Palaeolithic era but the first settlers arrived in Kokkinokastro in Alonissos. All the islands, Skiathos island, Skopelos island, Alonissos island and Skyros flourished economically when they were inhabited by the Minoans and this lasted until the Mycenaean period.
During classical antiquity, Sporades was an ally with the Athenians and in the Byzantine years they were used as place of exile and suffered from pirates invasions. Throughout the years, they met the Venetian occupation.
Today they are part of Thessaly region and regional unity of Magnesia.
The North Sporades islands complex are located in the area north of Evia and east of Magnesia. In ancient geographical perception Sporades was named all the scattered Aegean islands except around the sacred island of Delos Cyclades.
Skiathos is an island of 50 km2 located to the west of Skopelos island, a two hour ferry ride from the Greek mainland. There are over 60 sandy beaches, including the highly acclaimed Koukounaries Beach along the coastline. Inland, pine trees abound with forests located in the southwestern and northern regions. “Boomerangers”, as they have become known, return to Skiathos island year after year and it’s easy to understand why; natural beauty with stunning views of neighbouring islands, secluded beaches even in high season, a cosmopolitan nightlife, and superb Greek and international cuisine.
Skiathos is known for its beautiful beaches and, with over 60 of them along the the 45 km coastline, you’ll never have to go to the same one twice – unless of course you want to. Whether you prefer lively beaches with watersport facilities or peaceful, isolated beaches, you’ll find a wide choice of both in Skiathos. You can sail around the island on a hired yacht, visit hidden coves and the stunning rock formations of Lalaria, and anchor on secluded beaches only accessible from the sea. And it’s easy to tour the neighboring islands of Skopelos and Alonissos from your Skiathos base. The rugged, hilly terrain contains numerous hiking and mountain biking trails waiting to be explored. Pine forests provide both beautiful scenery and welcome shade.
Nightlife is centred around Skiathos town itself. There is a cosmopolitan feel to the town with most shops situated along Papadiamantis Street. Then there are charming cobbled back streets to explore in the “Old Port” with many authentic Greek Tavernas and Bars to choose from. The waterfront in the “New Port” offers a variety of traditional and modern cuisine.
Skopelos is an island of 96 km2 to the east os Skiathos island and according to the legend, was founded by Staphylos or Staphylus (Greek for grape), one of the sons of the god Dionysos and the princess Ariadne of Crete. Historically, in the Late Bronze Age the island, then known as Peparethos or Peparethus (Ancient Greek: Πεπάρηθος), was colonised by Cretans, who introduced viticulture to the island.
Perhaps because of the legend of its founding by the son of the god of wine, the island was known throughout the ancient Greek cities of the Mediterranean Sea for its wine. The play Philoctetes (first performed at the Festival of Dionysus in 409 BC) by Sophocles includes a wine merchant lost on his way to “Peparethos, rich in grapes and wine”.
Pliny the Elder, in his book “Natural History” writes: “The physician Apollodorus, in the work in which he wrote recommending King Ptolemy what wines in particular to drink — for in his time the wines of Italy were not generally known — has spoken in high terms of that of Naspercene in Pontus, next to which he places the Oretic, and then the Aeneatian, the Leucadian, the Ambraciotic, and the Peparethian, to which last he gives the preference over all the rest, though he states that it enjoyed an inferior reputation, from the fact of its not being considered fit for drinking until it had been kept six years.”
In 1936 excavations in the area of Staphylos / Velanio uncovered a royal tomb of the era of Mycenaean Greece. The island was briefly under the control of the city-state Chalcis, Euboea since at least the 8th century BC.
The length of the coastline of Skopelos is 67 km . Due to the island’s mountainous terrain most of the coast is inaccessible, exept by boat. The following are beaches accessible by road or trail: Staphylos, Velanio , Agnondas, Limnonari, Panormos, Adrines, Milia, Kastani, Elios, Hovolo, Armenopetra, Kalives, Glyfoneri, Glysteri, Perivoliou, Keramoto, Chondrogiorgos.
Alonissos island at its widest is 4.5 kilometres from northwest to southeast and at its longest is 20 kilometres from southwest to northeast. The area of the island is 64 km2. The island is mostly limestone. It is located east of mainland Greece and Magnesia, northeast of Skopelos and northwest of the island of Skyros.
In the Middle Ages and until the 19th century, the island was known as Liadromia . It was renamed in 1838, as it was – mistakenly according to later research – identified with Alonnisos of Antiquity. In reality, the present island of Alonnisos was known as Ikos to the Ancient Greeks.
The beaches around the island consist of pebbles. The ecosystem in the north side of the island is in good condition. The Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus-Monachus) is common around the island, and in 1992 the Alonnisos Marine Park was created to protect these seals and other animals.