Thomson Holidays

Hilltop Kastro of Skiathos

The rocky ruins of this Kastro fortress are a big draw for holiday visitors

The Kastro of Skiathos lies on the north east tip of the island and, despite little being left of the original settlement but ruins, this is one of the most visited of island attractions.

This fortified outpost known as the Kastro dates from the 14th century and, at its zenith, grew to a medieval township of some 300 houses and more than 20 churches.

Today much of it has disappeared. Just one church and a couple of restored houses remain among the hilltop ruins but it is still worth a visit to experience the extensive sea views from the impressive cliff-top location.

The Kastro once provided protection for the island population against repeated pirate attacks. At one point the pirate raids were so bad that the whole population of Skiathos Town moved into the Kastro.

Located on a rock promontory, three of its four walls overlook the sea above sheer cliffs with a single entrance over a wooden drawbridge that once crossed a deep chasm, now replaced with concrete steps.

Moving into the confines of the Kastro proved popular with the Skiathos islanders and for many years this was the only settlement on Skiathos. Turkish occupation of the island from 1538 saw even more building and a mosque was once built within the fortifications.

The Skiathos Kastro is a very popular destination for holiday boat excursions with at least four boats docking here ecery day in the high season. There is a small pebble beach below and a beach taverna opens in ths ummer. A steep pathway leads to the top.

Boat excursions usually include a stop at the beach below the Kastro while visiting the famous Lalaria white pebble beach nearby. As boats rarely stop for more than a hour, a walk up to the Kastro and back can be tiring.

Donkey rides have made an appearance in recent years and take tourists about halfway up the steep cliff steps but the final stretch can only be made on foot.

The beach is best enjoyed early in the day before the boats arrive in numbers, disgorging hundreds of sightseers into the small pebble bay.

The Kastro can be reached overland but a four wheel drive is recommended. A cobbled road leads to a viewpoint car park on the hill above and it's a steep walk down another cobbled path to the ruins.