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greece travel map skyros greek islandMap & Synopsis: Greek Island of Skyros (Sporades)

Skyros is the largest island in the Sporades group, with a very small population of about 2700, and also the most remote island in the group, harder to get to by ferry, though there is a half hour plane ride from Athens.

The island remained quite traditional up until the 1980s, due to its relative remoteness, and has not been thoroughly ruined by the increasing visitors since them. Its pre-Lenten period festival with its 'Goat Dance' is well known, and there's a shepherd's festival in early September.

Crafts such as ceramics and wood carving still survive on the island. Though the southern part of Skyros is barren and mountainous, farther north is green farmland and pine forest.

Its small port of Linaria on the west coast has some rooms and good tavernas. The main town, Skyros (or Horio, which means village) is 10 km (6.2 miles) across the island on the east coast, and much resembles a Cycladic villages, with narrow lanes and flat roofed, whitewashed houses, crowned by a 13th century castle, with a 14th century lion on its gate. A frescoed church and a Byzantine monastery are passed on the way up to it. There's an archaeological museum in the town.

Accomodation is affordable, with some rooms in traditional houses, and there are many tavernas to choose from, along with bars, pubs, grills, etc. and some nightlife. The traditional houses seen on Skyros often have shared walls, built closely packed together against the threat of pirate raids, with conical hearths inside, embroidered cloths in front of them to keep smoke out of the room, carved furniture that doubles as storage space, decorated jugs and plates, wall niches, lofts, hanging storage baskets-all of these features representing the need for maximum utilization of limited space. Roofs are covered with layers of seaweed and dried cane mixed with waterproof clay; smoke from the hearth pours out of clay pots on these roofs.

The Faltaits museum is housed in a 19th example of these houses, with displays of costumes, embroideries, porcelain, and more; the archaeological museum complements the Faltaits one, with a reconstruction of such a house, and also houses pottery and statues from excavations on Skyros.

Below the archaeological museum is a campsite, near the village of Magazia, a very long sandy beach stretching between it and Molos, which gets quite crowded in season, with rooms, tavernas, watersports, etc. More undeveloped is Papa tou Homata beach, frequented by nude bathers, after Molos, far below the Kastro. Asprous, to the south of Skyros Town, has a couple of tavernas, rooms and a hotel; Ormos Ahili has a yacht marina, Palamari, and Ayios Petros beaches, up towards the north tip, are quite lovely (away from the main bus loop); Atsitsa on the west coast has a rocky beach on a wooded bay with some rooms and a fish taverna; to the north of Atsitsa are two small sandy beaches. Aghios Fokas bay has a pebble beach with a taverna, beautiful Pefkos bay has a nice beach (though not always with clean water) and two tavernas. One of the few good beaches in the rocky south, is Kalamitsa, with a sand and stone beach, some tavernas and rooms. Skyros is a nice island for walking, with some hikes organized by Nikos Sikkes, owner of a shop called Argos.