And its harbour, Loutraki
And its harbour, Loutraki
Glossa, which derives its name from the Minoan Knossa, sits about 200 metres above the small harbour of Loutraki, into which the ferries from Skiathos arrive. The site has been inhabited continuously from antiquity to the present day. Eleni’s House is located centrally within walking distance of all of Glossa’s amenities, which include tavernas, cafes, bakeries, shops and restaurants. This small but delightful village really does have everything you need to enjoy your stay at Eleni’s House, including the friendly locals who appreciate a “kalimera” (“hello” / “good morning”) no matter how dodgy the accent!
Cats sunbathe on roofs, small birds chirp from balconies, donkeys clip-clop through the lanes, and the sun reflects off the white-washed houses . . . It certainly doesn’t take long to feel like you’re on holiday! Sometimes having a nice cold drink in one of Glossa’s cafes or tavernas is the best way to take it all in. However, the benefit of staying at Eleni’s House is that you can do that from the privacy of your own balcony!
A local British photographer has produced a very useful guide about Glossa and the northern part of the island. It contains a schematic map of the village and describes the principal sites, shops and tavernas. A copy is provided in Eleni’s House for guests’ use.
There is also an additional range of shops and tavernas in Loutraki, which is the second harbour of the island (after Skopelos Town). Like most places on the island, Loutraki is also a great place to have a drink or a bite to eat and watch daily Greek life go by, with fishermen bringing in their catch and the ferries and sailing boats coming and going. Here is also the nearest beach to Eleni’s House, with a changing hut and fresh-water shower, also with sun beds and parasols available to hire in high season.
In fact, the famous church of Agios Ioannis is only a 15-minute drive from Glossa. It’s a truly beautiful church, even without a Hollywood A-lister in sight! There is a cantina there and a small beach that provides some of the best swimming and snorkelling on the island.
Other Mamma Mia! locations include Kastani beach, which you can explore via 'The Beaches' section below.
The greenest of all Greece's islands
The greenest of all Greece's islands
. . . He sieved out all the good earth to build the other countries and then threw over his shoulder all the stones that were left – and that became Greece! As a result of this legend, many are surprised to discover the remarkably green island of Skopelos.
Yes, it is rocky and dominated by two main mountains – Mt Delphe (660m) to the NW and Mt Palouki (546m) to the SE – but the larger part of the island is covered by dense forests of pine, Holm oak and plane trees, which often run all the way down to the sea, creating scenery of extraordinary and verdant beauty.
The architecture is also different from that which one might expect, with houses having tiled, apex roofs in view of the more temperate weather than further south; snow is not unknown here! Mild, wet winters drift into wet springs but summers are warm and dry, with a mean annual temperature of about 17˚C, and mean summer months temperature of 25˚C.
Skopelos, Skiathos and Alonnissos are the principal islands of the Northern Sporades group, of which Skopelos is the largest (see the map on the Getting Here page). The island’s length from NW to SE is 17 kilometres, while it measures only 8 kilometres at its widest point, with a coastline of approximately 67 kilometres.
The island numbers approximately 6000 inhabitants, mostly living in the capital, Skopelos town, and in the villages of Glossa, Loutraki and Elios. Unlike the resort island of Skiathos, for example, whose population expands several times over in the summer season with imported workers to service all the holidaymakers’ needs, Skopelos natives mostly remain on the island. This is where they live and work all year round which results in them being proud of their home and protective of its special qualities.
Several years ago, a referendum was held about a proposal to build a proper airfield to the south of the island; otherwise there is only a heliport. With direct flights thus avoiding the need to travel to Skopelos by ferry, it was believed that this initiative would enhance the holiday trade. Nonetheless, the measure failed because of greater concerns that the character of the island would be irretrievably damaged, with local arts and crafts being lost forever. Accordingly, whilst tourism is undoubtedly an important industry for the island, it is kept in perspective and that short sea crossing discourages any destructive elements of the tourist trade whilst protecting the more traditional Greek way of life.
Skopelos is not the destination for you if you’re seeking night clubs and late drinking! Instead, there is a calmness and peace to the island to help you put all your worries to one side, wind down and relax fully. The island is truly beautiful and, to see all that it has to offer, a hire car is recommended; our local agent can put you in touch with suitable companies. Alternatively, quad bikes, scooters, motorbikes and jeeps are all available. For more ideas, see TripAdvisor’s Best Things To Do In Skopelos.
That said, self-driven transport is not essential. A very good, air-conditioned coach service runs regularly backwards and forwards from one end of the island (Loutraki) to the other (Skopelos Town) passing all the main habitations and beaches. Even if you have a car, we’d still suggest that you make the entire round trip at least once, so that you – and particularly the driver – can enjoy all the fabulous vistas on offer from an elevated view.
The Glossa Guide mentioned above tells you all about where you can eat in the village – from the widely-renowned Agnanti’s restaurant to a simple gyro at Louki’s – but there are many other good tavernas in Skopelos Town, Panormos, Agnondas, etc. Menus are invariably written in both Greek and English and might seem rather bland and all the same, but never be afraid of asking what ‘special’ they have on offer that day, when you will be told what fish has been caught fresh or if they have had a recent delivery of something not on the list.
Loutraki (already covered in the Glossa section, above), is the closest beach to Eleni’s House. Catching the bus at Glossa and heading towards Skopelos Town, the road takes you to other beaches in the following order (which is not an exhaustive list)...
This a quiet arc of a beach of fine shingle, which can be seen from the balcony of Eleni’s House towards the south. There are no sun beds or umbrellas here, nor any cafés or cantinas, but several of our guests have enjoyed the peaceful ambience and good swimming there. The principal disadvantage is the quite long and steep climb down the track from the main road if you do not have a car, quad bike or scooter.
This is where the jetty and beach scenes were shot in Mamma Mia!. The jetty was specially built for the movie and removed entirely afterwards. Since 2011-12, a smart bar area has been created adjoining the beach, with grass, decked areas, quality loungers and parasols provided at no charge to the clientele. The music played can be slightly annoying, depending on tastes, but overall it all makes for a good beach experience, with views of the densely forested islands just offshore.
(Kastani is also the beach in the main header image of 'The Beaches' section, above.)
One of the best-known and largest stretches of beach, this has sun loungers and parasols available for hire throughout the season. There is also normally a cantina open to provide drinks and other refreshments.
This is our personal favourite. Not only does the road pass close to the beach here, but also Panormos is a small settlement in its own right, with a supermarket and a number of established, family-run tavernas right on the beach. This enables you to have a dip, dry off and sunbathe, order a drink, go back in the water, have either lunch or evening meal, ending a perfect day on this west-facing beach, watching the sun go down over the islets, Skiathos and the far-away mainland.
The name derives from the Greek word for lake – limni – which aptly describes its unusually calm, blue-green waters, which are ideal for swimming.
This is another hamlet with tavernas bordering the narrow beach. There is also a sizeable jetty here which is used by the ferries as an alternative to Skopelos Town when the northeasterlies blow too hard.
Well to the south of the island, this is probably the most commercial tourist area of Skopelos, tending to attract younger people and others staying in Skopelos Town, which is just four kilometres away.
This small beach is right next to Skopelos Town, towards the northwest.
This is further northwest still, this beach is at the end of a beautiful valley and situated in a lovely bowl of a bay with a relatively small opening onto the open sea, rendering it very safe for swimming. There is also a taverna there.
Legend has it that one night a fisherman from Glossa saw a white light shining at the top of this steep rock. When he saw it again, investigations discovered an icon of St John the Baptist, which was put safely in the nearby church of Evangelistria. The following day, all were surprised to find that the icon had disappeared, only to be found again at the top of this rock. Accordingly they decided to build a small church and a few monastic cells on this lovely spot, and to plant a few olive trees. A very peaceful place, it is worth climbing the 105 steps to visit it. Now, of course, it is often referred to as the Mamma Mia! church but visitors might be surprised to find it is much smaller than as portrayed in the film; there would hardly be room for a priest and the happy couple, yet alone for a multitude of guests!