Do you know where a true sailing paradise can be found? Hidden out of sight from tourists and less adventurous sailors, the archipelago of the Sporades can be found in the Aegean Sea.
We invite you on a voyage full of the most stunning places. Lovers of ancient Greek history and fans of the summer musical Mamma Mia will be especially enchanted by this voyage!
Experience islands with lush flora, beautiful scenery, alluring beaches with crystal-clear water and white, blue and pink houses. Awaiting your arrival are affordable prices, warm welcomes, first-rate gastronomy and the most beautiful sea imaginable.
Where are the Thessalian Sporades?
The Sporades are a charming group of islands scattered in the Aegean Sea; the name is generally used for the northern group of islands. It consists of about 135 mostly uninhabited islands and islets, which lie along the coast of Thessaly, north of the island of Euboea. The most important of these are Skyros, Skopelos and Skiathos.
Yes, you guessed it: thanks to these islands we use the word sporadic (meaning scattered or infrequent).
Tips for voyages around the Sporades
Get some inspiration from our route plan through the glimmering ocean, lined with the most beautiful destinations. The distances between the islands are short and the southern coast of the islands is well protected from the meltemi winds and its waves.
You can select a week-long route which will take you on a journey of about 150 Nm. If you want to enjoy a larger slice of Greek relaxation, go for our 14-day route.
You can start your cruise from the island of Skiathos or from the Milina Port in the east of the Bay of Volos. The bay is shallow and has plenty of picturesque fishing ports. And, according to myth, it is from here that Jason and the Argonauts set sail on their quest for the Golden Fleece.
1 week cruise - 150 Nm
Skiathos - Arkos Island - Skopelos Panormos - Patitiri, Alonnisos Island - Kokkinokastro, Alonnisos Island - Kira Island Panagia (Paigniou Bay) - Kira Island Panagia (Pelagos, Monastery Bay) - Skyros Linaria - Skantzoura Island (Skantzoura Bay with its sandy beaches in the south) - Skopelos Loutraki (trip to the Mamma Mia Chapel) - Skiathos
2-week trip - 250 Nm
Skiathos - Arkos Island - Skopelos Panormos - Alonnisos Patitiri - Alonnisos Kokinokastro - Kira Panagia Bay of Paigniou - Kira Panagia Bay Monastery - Kera Panagia Bay Plantis - Gioura (a small bay with a pebble beach in the middle of the west coast) - Gioura sandy bay at Cape Kavos Pnigmenou - Psathoura island (a sandy bay in the south) - sailing around Piperi island with the chance of seeing Mediterranean seals - Skyros Linaria - Skiropoula islet in the southeast - Skantzoura (a mysterious beach in the south) - Skopelos Loutraki (a trip to the chapel of Mamma Mia) - Skiathos
Unmissable stops on your tour of the Sporades
Skopelos is the largest and greenest island with shores washed by clear, turquoise water. It will captivate you with its incredible fertility. The slopes are covered by pine forests, and orchards and groves full of the pears, almonds, citrus, and plums that make the island famous. Of course, there are also olives and vineyards. Be sure to try the local specialties: olives, feta cheese, the local cheese pie, honey and plums.
The first stop on the island (only 15 Nm from Skiathos) will be a bay and the Panormos beach, which is made of white pebbles. Near Panormos, on a hill above the town, lies the beautiful St. Panteleimon monastery with its stone church.
Skopelos is indeed a "city of churches". There are one hundred and twenty-three of them, and among these, the 9th century Agios Athanasios, with its beautiful 16th-century frescoes, is certainly not to be missed. It is protected by the walls of the Venetian Fortress, and was built on the ruins of the ancient temple of Athena.
From the town, there are countless hiking trails and, from one them, along the olive groves, you can reach the highest peak of the island, Mount Delphi (680 m). One of these paths will also take you to the Sedoukia Pirate Graves, which are carved into the rock. Finally, in the hills east of the city, you will happen upon the several scattered monasteries and nunneries.
Skopelos is well known as the filming location of the summer musical Mamma Mia! based on the music of Abba. The chapel on the steep cliff in the final scene is located on the east coast. If you want to see where, in the film, Pierce Brosnan surprised Meryl Streep, be sure to visit this location before returning to Skiathos.
Upon setting out for your sightseeing tour, you can either hail a taxi at any port on the island or, if the sea is calm, anchor directly under the cliff with the chapel. Be careful, though: you can only anchor here in the absence of the meltemi wind. After climbing the steep stairs, you’ll be rewarded with a magical, romantic view.
Where to anchor?
- The port of Skopelos. From the east side you will see the harbour at the entrance to the dock. You can also anchor by bow and stern at the north pier. About 30 metres from the pier, there is a large mooring chain on the bottom, to which you can attach your anchor. The seabed is muddy, so the anchor holds well. When there are strong meltemi winds, docking can be difficult; the ropes need to be loosened and you should anchor further from the dock. The port offers all regular services; fuel can be transported by mini-tanker.
Danger: During strong north-easterly winds, the sea can be difficult as a result of the shallow entrance to the port, which sometimes completely prevents entry. Under these conditions, there is a ferry that goes to Agnondas on the west side of the island.
Arkos is a 15-minute cruise from Skiathos Harbour. There is a fairy-tale sandy beach with a bar on the west coast. From the beach, you can climb a steep sandy dune which is especially fun for children. Moor in front of the beach, ideally anchoring from the bow with a long rope to the stern.
This wild island, with its magnificent mountainous landscape, flowering meadows, and pine and olive groves, is not particularly popular with tourists, but this is what will make it all the more seductive to sailors. In addition to the more rugged inland, you will be spellbound by pristine, secluded beaches, superb swimming opportunities in the most immaculate sea, as well as safe mooring. For sure, try the local almonds, grapes, figs, olives and wine, as well as their cheese and the delicious pecan pie.
The establishment of the National Marine Reserve for the protection of the Mediterranean seal has also contributed to the preservation of the island. To date, barely 800 of these creatures have survived and 30 of them live in the islands. The reservation includes other interesting islands - Pelagos (Kira Panayia), Yioura, and Piperi.
Where to anchor?
- Port Patiri - From the sea, the port is visible by looking for the old village of Alonnisos on the hill behind the harbour. Anchor at the NE pier, stern or bow. The bottom is sandy and muddy, so the anchor holds well. There is very little space for mooring in the harbour, but you can find mooring spaces on the south side. The space is well protected against the meltemi winds, although mild swelling may occur. You can rely on a full range of services, including shops, taverns and bars. The water tap is immediately at the pier.
- The most beautiful beach is Agios Dimitrios with its white sand. Other pristine, tranquil beaches where you have the choice of mooring include Megalos Mourtias, Steni Vala, Chrisi Milia, Marpounta and Spartines.
Kyra Panagia (Also know as Pelagos or Kira Panagia)
Kyra Panagia is also part of Alonnisos Marine Park. On the east coast, there is a small bay with a pier in the middle and a monastery on the rock above the bay, whose history dates back to the turn of the first millennium. There you can admire 6th-century relics, 18th-century icons, and also a beautiful star-shaped mosaic in the courtyard.
There’s an old monk who until recently was the only inhabitant of the island. He lives at monastery and is extremely hospitable and sociable. Speaking perfect English, he makes you feel that you are genuinely in the presence of a holy man, and you will long to be as calm and serene as him.
Mooring is possible in the bay (anchoring by the bow and using ropes to tie the stern to the concrete pier or the rocks). There is also a nice little beach and excellent opportunities for fishing.
If you like snorkeling, don’t miss the north of the northernmost island of Psathoura, where, according to legend, the sunken ancient city of Halonnesos lies. However, what looks like the remains of walls and streets on the bottom is, most probably, simply rocks that appear to form regular shapes. The best time to go snorkeling is in the morning, before the afternoon wind blows and the sea gets choppier. You can dock comfortably in the south of the island, where there is a pleasant sandy beach.
It was Skyros where Achilles was sent by his mother so as not to have to partake in the Trojan Wars. Skyros, with its handful of white, cube-like houses, speaks to us of old times. In the side streets you have the chance to marvel at beautiful ceramics, wood carvings and copper products.
In pride of place, above the city where the acropolis used to stand, there now stand the towers of the Castle of Lycomedes, named after the king of the same name. You can get there by using the mysterious tunnel under the monastery of Moní Agíou Georgíou, where you can admire the magnificent fresco of St. George slaying the dragon.
Your journey will begin and end on Skiathos Island. Be sure to make a stop at Lalaria Beach.
Legend has it that when you sail under the naturally created stone gate, you will be blessed with eternal youth. Lalaria Beach is only accessible by boat, but you will be rewarded with views of the magnificent rocks and white sand washed by the turquoise sea.
Where to anchor?
- Skiathos Port. You will recognise it by the lighthouse on the island of Repi and by the cluster of surrounding islets. Many places are booked well in advance, so it is advisable to make a booking as soon as possible. Anchoring is by stern and bow here, though there are also a couple of mooring spaces on the pier. The old port in the south of the city is reserved for cruise ships. The eastern part of the harbour is well protected against the meltemi winds; just be careful of crosswinds when manoeuvring. The harbour offers all necessary facilities, though the water is reportedly not potable. Be aware that at night, it becomes somewhat busier.
What to expect of the weather and winds in the Sporades.
The meltemi winds are not as strong here as they are to the south. The prevailing wind is NNE, but the exact direction is influenced by the islands and the channels between them. On the southern side of the archipelago, there are few waves. The combination of the meltemi winds on one side of the island, and calm seas on the other is thus very attractive for yachtsmen, as it is for cruises.
Has Greece won you over yet? No wonder. The diversity of its beaches and coves means that you could spend a lifetime exploring it on your yacht and still have more to discover. So perhaps it's time to start and the Sporades are the perfect place to do so. There are boats available and waiting for you!