Skiathos is a charming compact island in Greece that attracts thousands of visitors each year. Regardless of the small size, there is a lot to discover and you might consider getting a rental. If you have doubts then this article is for you as we’ll cover all aspects of driving in Skiathos.
Whether you are a new driver or an experienced one, going to new places can always raise many questions. We’ll try our best to answer every doubt or question you might have so you can decide if you want to drive in Skiathos or you would skip this experience.
Do you need a car in Skiathos?
As always let’s start with the basic question: do you actually need a car in Skiathos. Surprisingly the answer is most likely no. We are so accustomed to saying yes to this as many Greek islands leave plenty to be desired when it comes to public transport.
Not in the case of Skiathos. Due to the compact size, the local bus company has tight schedules and runs between the two ends of the island. This route goes along the coast and passes by multiple beaches so you can always get off and enjoy the sunshine whenever you want.
Sounds great, right? It is but keeps one thing in mind. July and August are peak tourism months for Skiathos. You might feel like packed sardines if you decide to take the bus in these months. Many people are trying to fit on them and they get overloaded quickly. It’s a bit of a downside for public transport in the peak months.
A rental car will allow for more comfortable travel these months. Also, you will be able to visit some secluded beaches that are only reachable via car. Needless to say that the amount of people on these beaches is much lower than the ones near the bus line.
In this sense, we think that it’s worth renting a car for one or two days. The island is compact so you can do your exploring and drive around Skiathos. Meanwhile, you will save money, because of the short term of your rental.
Driving in Skiathos
Now let’s dive into the interesting part of this article. We’ll take a look at the aspects of driving in Skiathos and we’ll start right at the beginning.
The basics of driving in Skiathos
As it is with the other parts of Greece the people of Skiathos drive on the right side of the road. Make sure you give yourself time to adjust if you are coming from a country with left-hand side driving.
The official speed limits in Skiathos are 50km/h (30mph) within city limits and 110km/h (68mph) outside of cities. In reality, the 110km/h limit is almost never applied. The island is too small and the roads are too small.
Always pay attention to the road signs as we have seen a variety of limits introduced by them for different parts of the road. Sometimes you can go up to 90km/h meanwhile a more twisty section might be reduced to a 60km/h limit.
There is no drinking and driving in Skiathos. You can expect a hefty fine if the policemen catch you doing it and you will probably earn a ride in the police car as well.
Children under 10 must be seated at the back always.
You can’t hold your phone in your hand when you are driving in Greece. Always use the car mode and if you do need to hold your phone pull over and stop first. Police will definitely give you a fine if they see you holding your phone while driving.
The legal driving age is 18 in Skiathos but most rental car companies require you to be at least 21 or even 23.
You will need an EU driving license or an international driving license to drive in Skiathos.
Roads in Skiathos
There are no highways in Skiathos. There is one main road that runs between Skiathos Town and Koukounaries. This road is paved with asphalt and is pretty wide. It is also the road where the local public transport buses run.
Although this main road is of great quality the minor roads are more often than not unpaved. This means an extensive collection of gravel and dirt roads that you have to drive on if you want to visit the secluded villages and beaches.
Most of these gravel roads are pretty bad quality. You’ll feel like offroading in a jungle at times. There is a lot of vegetation all around and the gravel roads twist and turn to get you through the hilly terrain.
It can be super daunting for a new driver and even for experienced ones if they are not used to off-roading. It takes a different mindset to drive on these unpaved gravel roads. Many other islands have better maintained gravel roads but here it does feel like a true offroad adventure.
Traffic in Skiathos
You would think that the low local population means low traffic. Unfortunately, this is not true due to the tourists. Each summer thousands of people visit this island and traffic in Skiathos can get really bad.
The main road is especially prone to a high volume of traffic and even traffic jams. Once you are off to the dirt roads it gets better with the more secluded spots not seeing as many cars as the main road.
Once the summer tourism season comes to the end the traffic on Skiathos is relaxing. You can drive around the island easily and you probably won’t meet many cars on the minor roads.
Is it difficult to drive in Skiathos?
We rate driving in Skiathos difficult. This is because the twisting roads that are often gravel. You will be traveling between mountains and lush forests on tiny gravel roads that are not all that well maintained.
You need to be confident in your driving abilities if you want to explore Skiathos to the fullest. This is why we think that it’s difficult to drive in Skiathos but if you have experience with off-road or have a lot of years of driving experience then you should be fine.
Tips for renting a car in Skiathos
Now that you are ready to decide if you want to drive in Skiathos or not we don’t want to let you go without some useful tips on renting. This section is for those who are thinking about renting. We’ll give you all the pointers to pick the perfect car for your adventures.
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What kind of car to pick in Skiathos?
Usually, when we are talking about Greek islands, we recommend small cars. We often feel like even the mini category will do. In Skiathos, we feel you need something bigger.
We recommend that you rent a 4×4 for your travels on the island. It will be easier to traverse the gravel roads and you will feel safer. A 4×4 will be especially good for more inexperienced drivers as they will have more control.
Now, if you are an experienced driver and especially if you have off-road experience we would still say go for a small car. You’ll save money by doing this. Just keep in mind that you will be driving a small car around roads that are better suited to 4x4s.
What else to look out for?
- Make sure the AC works.
- Take photos of the bodywork damage before you drive away.
- Get the highest level of insurance. The gravel road is full of small pebbles and rocks and it’s super easy to damage the car.
- If you need an automatic transmission book in advance. There are only a very limited stock of them and if you don’t book in advance you might end up with a manual transmission car.
Should you rent an ATV in Skiathos?
Let us add one final thought on driving in Skiathos. Usually, we never recommend renting an ATV. It’s because if you have no experience it might look fun but it’s also a little bit dangerous.
We would never put our readers at the risk of injury so generally, we don’t recommend ATVs. Yet, Skiathos has a landscape that’s just perfect for an ATV. So if you feel like you have the ability to safely drive one around the island it’s worth thinking about renting one.