When planning a trip to Greece, look just north of tourist hot spots Mykonos and Santorini to the more remote destination of Skopelos. Unlike its trendier neighbors, the second largest of the Sporades Islands located in the Aegean Sea offers picturesque views and relaxation, minus the crowds.
You might also recognize scenes from the Abba musical Mamma Mia, which used the island as its primary filming location in 2007 for good reason: Between the turquoise-blue water and vibrant greenery, every corner of the island looks movie-worthy.
The island can be windy and wet between November and February, so it's best to plan your trip between May and October. Plan to stay on the island for your full trip or venture to nearby locations like Skiathos and Alonissos — either way, you'll find yourself surrounded by a tropical paradise.
Fair warning: Getting to Skopelos is quite the journey (but one that's well worth the effort). Once you arrive in Greece, there are several airports that offer connections to the Skiathos International Airport, which is the closest you can get to Skopelos by air. From there, Skopelo' main port, Skopelos Town, is accessible by ferry or water taxi.
Like in Mamma Mia, you'll want to make sure your timing lines up if you plan to take the ferry. There is usually only one stop per day and the boat waits for no one before embarking on its journey.
Where to Stay:
The island offers many affordable options, and with such beautiful views it's hard to go wrong, but I nestled up at Adrina Beach Hotel. The simple villas offer ocean-front balconies and are just a stone's throw away from a private pool and beach. The family-owned lodge also has a five-star resort next door for those who want additional amenities like a full spa and bigger rooms.
Regardless of which location you choose, you'll be met with top-notch service, authentic Greek cuisine, and fantastic views everywhere you look. One TripAdvisor reviewer says it best: "I really didn't want to leave this place, it's going to stay in my memory for a long, long time."
What to Eat:
- Breakfast: I was able to take advantage of the Adrina Hotel's delicious Greek yogurt and honey (a Skopelos delicacy) offerings, but if your hotel doesn't offer a morning meal, TripAdvisor reviewers say Skopelitikes Tiropites Mixalis has the "best pastries on the island."
- Lunch: Don't leave town without trying a cheese pie from Michalis Pie Shop. Ask for Kephalotyri cheese in your pastry (the goat-cheese is local to Skopelos).
- Dinner: Visit Faros Skopelos Restaurant for some of the tastiest seafood you'll ever eat. Our recommendation: Order the delicious fresh-caught fish baked in the oven.
What to Do:
- Kastani Beach: It's featured in most of the dance scenes in Mamma Mia and one of the few beaches on the island that offers an accompanying beach bar.
- Church of Agios Ioannis Kastri: You'll recognize the exterior as Sophie's wedding location in the film. The interior is much smaller in real life, but once you ascend the rocky stairs to the top, you'll be greeted with some of the most beautiful views on the island.
- Skopelos Town: Take a taxi or shuttle into the Skopelos' historic cobbled streets. You'll be met with steep slopes littered with white washed houses and some small businesses perfect for picking up souvenirs.
- Antoniou Family Olive Press: This olive-oil maker is one of the most famous on the island. After the tour and tasting, buy a few bottles to bring home.
Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is available on digital now and will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on Oct. 23.