Circling into the azure Aegean, the Sporades form a family of enchanting sea maidens. From wild Skiathos to sophisticated Skopelos to quiet Alonnisos, the islands have beckoned to visitors for millennia. Ancient Athenians and Romans, early Venetians, and modern-day tourists have all basked on their sunlit shores and trod their shaded forests.
To get to most of the Sporades from Athens, take the bus to Agios Konstantinos (2!2hr. every hr. ‚11), where Hellas Lines (22 209) operates ferries to: Alonnisos (5V4hr. 2 per week, ‚14); Skiathos (2hr. 2 per day, ‚21); and Skopelos (3hr. 2 per day, ‚27). Flying Dolphins leave Agios Konstantinos for: Alonnisos (2%hr. 1-5 per day, ‚27); Skiathos (IMihr. 1-5 per day, ‚21); and Skopelos (2l4hr. 1-5 per day, ‚27). Ferries also shuttle between the islands (see below).
Having grown up almost overnight from an innocent island daughter to a madcap dancing queen, Skiathos (local pop. 5,000; summer pop. over 50,000) is the tourism hub of the Sporades. Buses leave the port in Skiathos Town for the southern beaches (every 15min. ‚1.10). The bus route ends in Koukounaries, near the lovely, pine-wooded UKoukounaries Beach and Biotrope and the nude Banana Beach and Little Banana Beach. Indulge at the countless bars in Plateia Papadiamantis or along Polytechniou and Evangelistra, then dance all night long at the clubs on the eastern side of the waterfront. Hellas Lines ferries ( 24270 22 209) run to Alonnisos (2hr. 1-2 per day, ‚8) and Skopelos (lihr. 1-3 per day, ‚5.40). Domatia are the best deal in town. The Rooms to Let Office, in the wooden kiosk by the port, pro-vides a list of available rooms. ( 24270 22 990. Open daily 9am-8pm.) The rooms at Australia Hotel , in an alley on Evangelistra off Papadiamantis, have AC, private baths, fridges, and balconies. (Singles ‚20; doubles ‚25-30; triples ‚36; in Aug. prices increase.) Primavera has delicious Italian food. (Entrees ‚5-10. Open dally 6:30pm-12:30am.) Postal Code: 37002.
Skopelos (pop. 6,000) sits between the whirlwind of Skiathos and the wilderness of Alonnisos featuring the best elements of both. Hikes and moped rides lead to numerous monasteries, bright beaches, and white cliffs. Buses leave from the right of the waterfront (as you face the sea) for beaches near Stafylos, Milia, and Loutraki. At night, the waterfront strip closes to traffic and crowds swarm the streets in search of the tastiest gyros and the most authentic Greek tavema. Hellas Lines (a 22 767) runs ferries to: Alonnisos (30min. 1-2 per day, ‚4.10); Skiathos (lhr. 3-4 per day, ‚5.50); and Thessaloniki (1 per week, ‚40). Thalpos Travel Agency, 5m to the right of Galanatsiou along the waterfront, provides tourist info. (a 22 947. Open May-Oct. daily 10am-2pm and 6-10pm; Nov.- Apr. info available by phone.) The Rooms and Apartments Association can provide a list of current domatia. (a 24 567. Open daily 10am-2pm and 6-10pm.) Pension Sotos , on the waterfront at the comer of Galanatsiou, has a fantastic location and unbeatable prices. (a 22 549. Singles ‚22; doubles ‚32; triples ‚55.) Plateia Platanos abounds with fast, cheap food. Postal Code: 37003.
Of the 20-odd islands within Greece’s new National Marine Park, only Alonnisos (pop. 2,000) is inhabited. Hikers take to the highland trails in the north; pick up Alonnisos on Foot (‚9) in Patitirl for walking routes. In the south, endless beaches satisfy sun-seeking souls; many are accessible from the island’s main road. A 1 ‘ihr. walk from Patitiri takes you to Votsi; locals dive off the 15-20m cliffs near Votsi Beach. Beautiful Hora (Xcopa; Old Town) is ideal for both hikers and beachgoers. A bus runs between Hora and Patitiri (every hr. ‚1). Ferries run to Skiathos (2hr. 2 per day, ‚6) and Skopelos (30min. 1-2 per day, ‚4.10). Alonissos Travel, in the center of the waterfront, exchanges currency, finds rooms, books excursions, and sells ferry tickets. (a 65 188. Open daily 8am-llpm.) Panorama , down the first alley on the left from Ikion Dolophon, rents bright rooms and studios, (a 65 240. All rooms with bath. Singles ‚25; doubles ‚40; 2-bedroom suite with kitchen ‚40-60.) Locals adore the ouzeri To Kamaki , on the left side of Ikion Dolophon, past the National Bank. The octopus salad (‚8.50) is delicious. (Open daily llam-2am.) Postal Code: 37005.