• By Amanda Blackburn.

Our holiday in Skiathos!

Our holiday in Skiathos, Greece, Agia Paraskevi, Olympic holidays Roulla apartments August 2016.

Friday the 19th of August 2016 we were lucky enough to holiday on the beautiful island of Skiathos with its lush pine forests, golden sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. We booked with Olympic holidays and flew with Small Planet from Manchester airport. It was the first time I have ever been to Manchester airport as we usually fly from Birmingham, but booking last minute and being so much cheaper we decided to give it a go. We used the long stay parking for a week which was only £55 to leave your car at the airport and we found the service easy and would certainly use it again. The airport was great and we had no problems and our flights were perfect, the stewards and stewardesses were so helpful and friendly.

The Olympic reps were all there to meet us and were very friendly especially our rep Jamie. The airport was very small but this was great as our cases came very quickly and we were soon onto our coaches travelling along the coast road looking out of the windows at the views that were simply breathtaking. We were all so excited and in awe of all the beauty, and in only a short transfer of 20 mins with only 3 stops to drop off at other apartments we arrived at our destination of Agia Paraskevi apartments Roulla.

I had read mixed reviews of our apartments and was expecting it to be very basic at only 2 stars, and I can honestly say that although very basic it was very clean and the beds were comfortable. We stayed in room number 7 which was situated at the back and up some stairs. Our room had two rooms, one with two single beds and one with a double, it had a wet room with toilet and sink and a small kitchen area and a large balcony. There was plenty of wardrobe space and room for your things. The kitchen had plenty of utensils, bowls and plates and even included a toaster, electric kettle, small oven, electric hob and fridge. The wet room had a shower head that you had to hold when showering as there was no hook, it was a game to start with but we soon became used to it. We paid for air conditioning that cost €70 for the two rooms for the week and included the use of the safe. The balcony area was really spacious with a large table and chair that could fit six and there was a rail for drying your clothes and towels. The cleaner was brilliant and cleaned our room every day and changed our bedding twice and the towels three times during our weeks stay.

The swimming pool was fine and clean, although it only had a very small shallow end that came up to my middle so my 5 years old could not touch the bottom and the rest of the pool was very deep. This didn't bother us though as we can all swim. The sun loungers were very comfortable and we had no problem finding a space on them anytime of the day. The sun loungers were very close to the poolside though so expect to get wet when the children are all in the pool, but being August and very hot it was nice to get a little cool down. There were also plenty of water loungers and hoops left in the pool for the children to use.

All the beaches are stunning, the most impressive on the Island are Troulos, Banana, Agia Paraskevi and Koukounaries. Koukounaries beach is the most popular beach in Skiathos and it can get quite crowded. With fine white sand, beautiful crystal clear deep blue waters and fragrant pine trees forest it is considered as the most unspoilt natural beach of the Mediterranean and is a protected environment. The beach is very well-organized and offers many water sports, chairs, umbrellas and beach bars. Banana is a sandy beach in close distance to Koukounaries, on the western side of the island. Some nudism is practised in certain parts of this beach. Agia Paraskevi beach (where we stayed) in the resort of Agia Paraskevi is placed in the south area of Skiathos, 7 km from Skiathos Town. It is a beautiful beach with blue waters and golden sand. It took its name after the close little church of Agia Paraskevi. This large beach has enough facilities to practice lots of water sports, including water skiing and jet skiing. It is also possible to rent a boat to go on small trips around the island. The sun beds cost €10 a day this includes two loungers under a large umbrella, we purchased an umbrella from the beach shop for €10 that we used every day on the beach for some shade, we only spent half a day down at the beach as the children wanted to be by the pool with their friends in the afternoon so there was no point in us paying for beds. The beach shop was as cheap, if not cheaper than the supermarkets, the watermelon ice lollies were so lovely and refreshing and only cost €1 and drinks were cheap too. The beach was perfect for families with great sand to play in, the sea was shallow enough for the children to paddle and swim safely and wasn't cold but refreshing on the hot days.

The restaurants and tavernas were all lovely and were quite expensive but we knew this before we went, we spent about €40- €50 a night for two standard adult meals, two children's meals a beer, half a carafe of wine and water. They always bring bread and dips as a starter unless you tell them not to and they charge for this on the bill. Most of the restaurants are situated along the main road which is the only downfall. There is no path so you have to walk along the main road, which is not much fun with young children, however once inside the restaurants and tavernas with the Greek music playing, people's conversations over wine and the Mediterranean atmosphere you soon forget you are close to the road.

There is plenty of sightseeing to do on the Island including the Medieval Castle of Skiathos, accessible by tour boat, and the Museum of Papadiamantis, an important Greek writer who was originating from this island. The sea caves on the northern side of Skiathos can be reached by tour boats from the town where the landscape is wild and the water is crystal clear.

The bus connection from Koukounaries to Skiathos town is great with plenty of nearby stops, stopping every 20 minutes and costing about €1.50 per person to travel from one end of the island to the other. We paid €4.25 for a family of 4 from Aghia Paraskevi to the harbour stop in Skiathos town. During the summer months, these buses get really busy so expect to be squashed together like sardines. Another option if you prefer is the Taxis these are very reasonably priced.

Skiathos is a city on the island of Skiathos in the Aegean Sea belonging to Greece. Skiathos town has a port which shelters small boats and ferry services connect to Skopelos, Volos, Agios Konstantinos and the rest of Greece. The area around the villages and Skiathos Town are farmland. The island of Skopelos can be seen from Skiathos with the most distant islands of Euboea and Scyros also visible in clearer conditions.The capital of Skiathos is built sloping around a bay surrounded by pine trees. Skiathos Town is recognised for its traditional architecture and the vivid nightlife. We visited Skiathos town in the late afternoon, taking the bus and getting off at stop number 0 by the harbour. We thoroughly enjoyed strolling along the harbour and admiring all the boats and yachts. We then had a lovely meal in one of the restaurants by the waterside admiring the beautiful sunset. And after dinner explored the side streets and purchased some gifts in the shops. Before heading back to the bus stop we sat and enjoyed crepes and ice cream and watched as the city came to life.

I would definitely like to visit Skiathos again and would recommend visiting, we all thoroughly enjoyed our holiday. Here is some information about the Island's history:-

Ancient times(480BC)- the island played a minor role during the Persian Wars. Persian king Xerxes and his fleet were hit by a storm leaving them badly damaged on the rocks of the Skiathos coast. Following this, the Greek fleet was held to stalemate with the Persian fleet at Artemisium but finally managed to destroy the Persian fleet at the Battle of Salamis. Skiathos remained in the Delian League until it lost its independence. The city was destroyed by Philip V of Macedon in 200 BC. Venetian Era(1207)- brothers Geremia and Andrea Ghisi captured the island and built the Bourtzi, a small Venetian-styled fortress on a very small island just out of Skiathos town. This was to protect the capital from the pirates but was unsuccessful in protecting the population. The residents moved the capital from the ancient site to Kastro in the mid-14th century. Kastro remained the only settlement of the island until the end of the Greek War of Independence when the island's capital was relocated to the original site, where it still remains. Ottoman Era(1704)-monks from Athos built the Evangelistria Monastery, Skiathos which played a part in the Greek War of Independence as a hide-out for Greek rebels. The first flag of Greece was created in Skiathos in 1807 where several important military leaders gathered together to have a discussion concerning a rebellion, here they were sworn to this flag by the local bishop. During the 19th century, Skiathos became an important shipbuilding centre in the Aegean due to the very large area of pine forests on the island. The pine woods of the island were then almost destroyed,although this soon stopped due to the arrival of steamboats. A small shipwright remains north of Skiathos town, which still builds traditional Greek caïques. 1964-Skiathos was chosen by the Greek National Tourism Organisation as a development zone for tourism and due to tourist-orientated building projects, the construction of the coast road from Skiathos town to Koukounaries was built. In 1984 the construction of Skiathos Airport began and also the construction of the first large hotel over Koukounaries beach.

Many hotels have since been built along the coast road making Skiathos a tourist destination.


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