Plum-picking and Aperol sipping in Skopelos

Josh Ferry Woodard 31 January 2022

From perfect prunes to delicious wines, it's no wonder that this Aegean gem has been the backdrop of Hollywood films

Mamma Mia! Here I go again. A Greek island, how can I resist you?

Skopelos: the picture-perfect Greek island that provided the backdrop for the 2008 film Mamma Mia!

Bursting with romantic charm and surrounded by the crystal-clear Aegean, the island will win your heart with its colourful characters, heart-warming hospitality and passionate artisan producers.

SEE: Mamma Mia! tour and stunning beaches

Local guide Cherry knows all there is to know about the island

Kickstart your island getaway with Dolphin of Skopelos’ Mamma Mia Highlights Tour, an ABBA-fuelled daytrip to various filming locations, hosted by Super Trouper local guide, Cherry. Cherry knows everything there is to know about the island and will regale you with insider anecdotes from the “days when our humble island became a film set for Hollywood A-listers.”

Once you’ve followed in the (199) footsteps of Meryl Streep and climbed to the top of the unforgettable Agios Ioannis ‘wedding scene’ chapel, it might be a good idea to spend the afternoon relaxing on one of the island’s many stunning beaches.

You can’t go wrong with the untouched white pebbles of Velanio, the cocktail-sipping sunbeds of Limmonari, the exotic pale sands of hidden Hovolo cove or the infinity pool-like turquoise waters of Panormos beach.

The beautiful waters of Panormos beach

STAY: Skopelos Village Hotel

Spacious rooms, characterful fittings and glorious sea views make Skopelos Village Hotel an excellent accommodation choice. From the moment you check-in, through every interaction until you leave, the staff of this family-run establishment will greet you with a smile and help make the most of your time on the island.

Residing along a quiet section of the Skopelos Town seafront, the hotel is perfectly situated for those who enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep to the soothing sound of ocean waves. What could be better after a night exploring the cafes, restaurants and bars of the island’s capital by foot?

MEET: Artisans of Greek wine and Skopelian plums

Winemaker Giannis Ksirogiannis with his wines

Viticulture is a 4000-year-old tradition on Skopelos, dating all the way back to the island’s first mythic inhabitant, Staphylos, son of Dionysus, the God of vines and wine. However, winemaking came to an abrupt halt around 70 years ago when the island’s vineyards were struck with an epidemic of phylloxera.

In recent years, another son of Skopelos, Mr Giannis Ksirogiannis, has taken up the baton and resumed production. Using a combination of techniques passed down from his grandfather and newer ideas from friends on the mainland, Giannis is attempting to put the island back on the winemaking map.

Keep an eye out for Mr Ksirogiannis’ Staphylos Wine on the menu at the island’s tavernas. Alternatively, contact the Dolphin of Skopelos travel agency to arrange a tour of his vineyard up in the mountains, where the air is clean, the views are sublime, the wine is fresh, free-flowing and served with barrels of laughter.

Thanassis Gripiotis is a producer of the famous Skopelian plum

Another artisan who has made a name for himself perfecting the fruits of the island is Mr Thanassis Gripiotis, a third-generation producer of the famous Skopelian plum. The plums he produces and dries into prunes are renowned as a superfood, appear on menus all over the country and are even counterfeited by farmers from neighbouring countries.

Mr Gripiotis says the plums are so reliant on Skopelos’ fertile terroir that whenever farmers try to plant them on the nearby islands of Skiathos and Alonissos, the plums always “find their way home on the next boat back to Skopelos.”

Having been hand-picked, carefully dried in a custom-built temperature and humidity-controlled oven and meticulously sorted for texture and humidity by hand, it’s no surprise that each prune is a joy for the tastebudswhether you try one at Mr Gripiotis’ scenic cliffside factory, or baked into a sauce with local goat at his restaurant, Platanos in the town centre.

EAT: Hearty plates and elevated Greek cuisine

Classic Greek dishes like creamy moussaka and cuttlefish with spinach, tomato and dill are The Name of the Game at Apolafsi Taverna, a buzzing haunt popular with British holidaymakers. You may even be treated to some live ouzo-fuelled bouzouki music if you’re lucky.

More traditional fare can be found along the harbourside strip at Nostos Taverna. Relax with a beer or two and get stuck into hearty plates, such as herby stuffed courgette flowers with tzatziki, sharp grilled feta and moreish octopus stifado stew.

Sit beneath the stars, or under the shade of a resplendent pomegranate tree, to enjoy Rodi Restaurant’s selection of stylishly presented local dishes. Take a Chance on Meat, with a candle-lit dinner of earthy beef patties stuffed with smoked cheese, balsamic vegetables and herby chicken ballotine with rich brandy sauce and sweet potato purée.

Experience the hustle and bustle of the atmospheric courtyard outside Platanos Taverna for a unique menu of delights specific to Skopelos island. Start the evening with an obligatory glass of sharp-but-sweet plum liquor and a spongy homemade pita bread.

Next, sample a superfood salad of Skopelian plum, sun-dried tomato, local white cheese, toasted sesame seeds and lettuce, before moving on to the star of the show: melt-in-your-mouth local goat stifado stew with unctuous plum sauce and herby potatoes. If the idea of a counterfeit plum sounds absurd to you, it won’t after you taste this dish.

The delicious local cuisine on offer at Platanos Taverna includes Goat stifado stew with plum sauce and potatoes

For an evening of classy, friendly service under green vines and hanging candles head to Muses Restaurant along the seafront. You can’t go wrong with plates like salty kalamata olive spread and fresh bread, gooey cheese croquettes with berry marmalade and walnut, honey and kefalotyri rocket salad.

But the menu is really elevated by delicious dishes like seared tuna steak soaked in citrussy puy lentils and finely chopped celeriac and the most succulent whole squid, stuffed with three cheeses served alongside subtly fragrant raisin and mushroom rice.

This is refined Greek cuisine, with all the heart that makes traditional Greek food so good.

DRINK: Innovative cocktails and craft beer

Enjoy a harbourside Aperol spritz or cocktails at Pablo's Bar

There are plenty of places in Skopelos Town for an evening tipple or an after-dinner cocktail. Try Veranda Café Bar for a sturdy cocktail among the town’s cobbled backstreets, or visit SPIRASkopelos Brewers for local craft beer on tap.

Swell Café Bar enjoys a privileged position overlooking the ocean, while Pablo’s Bar is set up perfectly for harbourside Aperol Spritz. However, nothing on the island compares to the creative and painstakingly prepared cocktails at the enigmatic The Hidden Door bar.

GET AROUND: 2‘n’4-wheel road trips

A herd of goats sit around an empty road in Skopelos

Hire a car from Moto Centre or borrow a bike from Cycling of Skopelos to explore the many and varied natural beauties of the island. You’ll find everything from pine forest trails leading to ancient Roman tombs, to mountainous monasteries and breathtaking hidden beaches.

GET HERE: Island hopping in the sun

A short hop on the ferry from Skiathos is all it takes to see the beauty of Skopelos 

Fly direct to Skiathos with Jet2.com, it’s easy, convenient and allows you to experience the joy of island hopping en route.

Take a ferry or hydrofoil from Skiathos Town and within an hour you’ll see the brilliant whitewashed buildings of Skopelos Town glimmering in the reflection of the aquamarine Aegean.

Josh was invited to visit the island of Skopelos by RE:MAKE.grMeals, accommodation, transport and tours were provided by the Municipality of Skopelos.

Flights were provided by Jet2.com, which flies direct to Skiathos from May-October.

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