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Get a glimpse into Greek island life

on the Mamma Mia isle of Skiathos

AS a single dad I was finally facing my Waterloo and taking the kids on our first foreign holiday.
Greek isle Skiathos — where Abba-themed movie Mamma Mia! was filmed — was our destination, and I couldn’t escape if I wanted to.
Luckily, I didn’t want to. Despite pre-holiday jitters about whether I would be vigilant and fun for an entire week on my own, the children and I ended up having the time of our life.
Although there were times I wish I’d brought a nanny with me.
Skiathos’s beaches are just as beautiful as in the movie, the home-cooked food in each taverna is phenomenal and there is lots to do with two nippers in tow.
Our base was the 5-star Princess Skiathos Hotel, just 20 minutes from the airport and set on the golden sands of Agia Paraskevi, one of the tiny island’s best beaches.
With a complimentary kids’ club, park, creche and babysitting services, the family-friendly hotel was well-equipped for Lily, seven, and four-year-old Clark.
For those parents who manage to sneak some kid-free time, the resort offers an in-house spa and a wealth of adult activities such as paddleboard yoga and guided hikes at £15pp.
The pool and beach were all my two could think of as they enjoyed hours of fun diving, splashing about and jumping in the waves.
The resort’s two restaurants offer incredible Greek food and home comforts, especially the beach front restaurant where I had some of the best seafood I have ever tasted.
One of the highlights of our week-long stay was exploring the old town. A bus arrives outside the hotel regularly and does a lap of the seven-by-four-mile isle.
The beautiful Aegean marina bustles with boats offering tours of Mamma Mia! filming locations on neighbouring islands within the Sporades archipelago.
Stop-offs include the stunning Church of Agios Ioannis Kastri in Skopelos, home to the movie’s wedding scene, and a few hours to meander around the restaurants and shops of Skopelos Town.
With Abba blaring and a bar on board the boat, it is a bargain at £17.12.
Scuba diving is a big draw for the island with opportunities to see dolphins, octopus and sunken World War Two warships. The Dolphin Dive Centre offers day trips from £43 and five-day courses from £360.
The kids are yet to find their sea legs, so we enjoyed nipping between narrow alleyways of Skiathos Town, dodging scooters, shopping for bargains and stopping for treats among the dozens of tavernas squeezed into the isle’s main town. Melina’s doughnuts and coffee were our personal favourite.
I couldn’t resist a gyros kebab, as you could barely turn a corner without one of the locals chomping on the chicken doner, chip and salad wraps.
Being such a tourist hotspot, you can’t move without finding yet more Mamma Mia! references, and the town’s Attikon open-air cinema shows the hit movie throughout the week.
Staff say the evening viewings get lively, so expect singing and dancing in the aisles, and all for just £6 per ticket.
Each stop on the bus home offers up more family-run tavernas, offering beautiful Greek dishes for a fraction of the cost back home.
Salt And Pepper in Troulos was our personal favourite, with live music, space for the kids to explore and friendly service.
The Santikos Collection has five resorts spread across the Sporades Islands and offers a ten-day tour of their resorts on the archipelago’s three main islands.
On Alonnisos, the stunning Marpunta Resort has only been open to British tourists since 2017. Before then, the converted fisherman’s village remained a chic and serene secret escape.
Marpunta has recently undergone a £3million refurbishment, nestling in a pine forest surrounded by the Aegen sea.
The island is home to just 3,000 people, and has one main old town featuring breathtaking views and cobblestoned streets.
In 1965 a devastating earthquake struck the Sporades. One of the biggest casualties was the main town of Alonissos.
The inhabitants had to leave their homes behind and move a few kilometres down to the coast where a new town and port, Patitiri, was under construction.
Old Alonissos Town lay abandoned until the 1980s, when foreign tourists began to buy up and renovate houses there.
Soon the town was a multinational melting pot, with Germans, English, Greeks and other nationalities living side-by-side in their adopted Mediterranean paradise. Alonnisos is also home to Greece’s first national marine park, the largest of its kind in Europe.
Swimmers, snorkelers, scuba divers and sailors can anticipate encounters with dolphins, seals, sperm whales and loggerhead turtles, as well as more than 300 species of fish.
Back on land, twitchers will be able to tick off up to 80 species of birds, including Eleonora’s falcons, cormorants, Audouin’s gulls and shags.
Skopelos is the last stop on the Sporades. More than 100 tiny chapels are dotted around the island, which is half-covered in forests of pine trees and ideal for hikers.
Glossa and Skopelos Town are well worth a wander, if only to stop at the Kafenon and watch old boys play backgammon over coffee.
Skopelos Town’s harbour is home to dozens of traditional tavernas, with matriarchal restaurant owners serving up beautiful home-cooked meals on paper napkins.
A feast of kleftiko, fresh calamari and taramasalata at Gorgones was needed after a day of hiking and monastery noseying.
But before we knew it, our Greek adventure was over and we were back at the tiny Skiathos airport, famed from viral videos where planes land crazily close to roads.
The Sporades gave us a glimpse of Greek island life, and a constant questioning as to why we live so far from it. Our trip was over but, mamma mia, we will go again.

Tag:Luxury YachtsCharter Yachts, Charter Skiathos, SkopelosAlonissosRent Yacht, Rent BoatCharter SkopelosCharter BoatNorthern Sporades

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