Skopelos’ best kept secret is the marvelous, varied countryside, which is still nowadays undeveloped thus so attractive to nature lovers. Those who have already made the discovery, return again and again at every given opportunity. You may visit the various ancient monasteries, the forests and the springs, the archaeological sites, the traditional prune kilns, the original country lodges and picturesque cottages. Everywhere you will be pleased by wonderful views and vegetation scents.
For walkers and explorers...
Where the forest alternates with orchards and vineyards…
The ideal climate, quite rainy from November to February, in combination with the fertile soil, conserves a lush vegetation. Mountains covered with natural dense forests of pine and other wild trees alternate with olive groves, plum or almond orchards and vineyards. Resin, charcoals, chestnuts, oil, olives, prunes and wine have been the source of the island prosperity for centuries.
During April and May the whole island is carpeted in wild flowers (freesias and orchids, poppies and anemones, irises, lilies and gladioli, various species of herbaceous vines and bines of convolvulus -bindweed, morning glories- etc). Indigenous herbs and flavorings grow in abundance according to the season; chamomile in June, Oregano in July, sage in August, crocus in October, rosemary and bay all year round.
The vast tracts of pine forest regulate their own micro-climate here; the invigorating scent of pine which fills the air and assaults the nostrils, is one of the pleasures of any walk through the wonderful forests of the island. Forestry figures suggest there could be as many as five million pine trees on Skopelos. The forests are mainly of Aleppo pine, holm and kermes oak. Pines, or gymnosperms, were the earliest tree families on the planet.
Apart from the villages and the few summer resorts, the rest of the island is sparsely inhabited and there are plenty of places worthy of exploration. There are also some marvelous opportunities for walkers, as miles of old mule tracks and goat paths criss-cross the interior through forests and orchards; in addition a network of paved paths, known as “kalderimi”, has recently re-constructed. It is well worth, taking your walking boots, using the ANAVASIS map of Skopelos and trying the different routes suggested.
Useful tips and notes
Inhabited monasteries are closed to public between 14:00” to 17:00” hours. They prefer ladies to wear skirts and men to wear long trousers instead of shorts; although they would provide one if you forget, when you plan visiting, take with you a skirt or a pair of trousers; even a wraparound “pareo” would work fine.
The water all over the island is good to drink; so, if you feel thirsty whilst walking, do not hesitate to use any spring you find on your way.
If for some reason you are walking without a map and you loose your sense of direction, a useful tip is to look around for a shrine or even a church. As you face its iconostasis you will be looking to the east.
Islanders and fire brigade alike maintain a constant watch for potentially devastating fires, and visitors are asked to help protect the forest.