Skopelos is not only the largest island, but it is also the capital of the Sporades Island chain. Its charms are many and varied: firstly the /chora/ or main town of Skopelos, is considered by many to be one of the prettiest harbour side towns in the Greek islands. It is built amphitheatrically around a natural, perfect, simi-circular harbour. Dating back several centuries, it is protected by a preservation order, and so has managed to retain its old world charm. Entering the harbour by sea reveals the striking Byzantine churches which crown the sheer cliffs protecting the town. It is well worth spending time to explore its labyrinthine maze of narrow, stepped streets to admire the mostly Venetian architecture. As you wander through the colourful, flower-filled backstreets of town, the houses are charming and beautifully kept and around nearly every bend is an enchanting little chapel. No matter how small these chapels may be, the interior of each one is exquisite and unique. The island is famous for its numerous churches, Skopelos Town has more than 120 churches; the island, over 360 churches, chapels and monasteries.As we head down nearer the waterfront to the towns centre, one finds small neighbourhood utility shops such as markets, hardware and dry cleaners right alongside the good selection of quality tourist shops on offer. This gives the town the feeling of a living, working community with a heartbeat still focused on ordinary life outside of tourism. The shopping district spills down naturally to the harbourfront and boasts many shops producing locally made products. A good variety of pottery, jewellery and lace can be found, much of which is hand made by local artists in unique and beautiful designs. The picturesque harbourfront is lined with mulberry and ancient plane trees which provide shade from the summer sun to the numerous tavernas, bars and cafes. Food varies in its quality and taste, but in general Skopelos boasts a number of excellent tavernas and restaurants. Several tavernas, particularly in the old harbour area, have traditional home-cooked meals where the proprietors prefer the tradition of inviting guests into the kitchen for an examination of the dishes on offer. The waterfront becomes a lively hub of activity during the high season months. The evening brings out horse-drawn carriages with their well-dressed drivers, street vendors selling everything from corn and nuts to sponges and handmade costume jewellery. You can have your portrait painted, hair braided or skin tattooed by the varied and colourful characters who circuit the Greek islands to ply their trade. The waterfront is closed to all traffic in the evenings and often there is music, dances and local festivals. The busy harbour itself is another story and it is fascinating to watch the intricate ballet of the huge ferry boats as they enter and dance around the tiny fishing boats to moor their bulky forms. These ships are the life link to the islands and carry all of the supplies for everyday living to stock the homes, shops and restaurants. Alternatively, the high speed Flying Catamarans, which are fairly new to the Sporades, create a comfortable and efficient system of carrying locals and visitors to and from the islands. Definitely, the harbourfront is the best place to sit back, relax and let the world go by whist enjoying a meal or drink. Morning, afternoon or evening, there is always an interesting sight to watch and become intrigued in. Heading out of town, one discovers the wonders of the exceptional nature and pristine beaches that make Skopelos a true gem of the Greek islands. There is a wide selection of beaches from which to choose, whatever your taste. The majority of the beaches are situated along the southern coast, which are accessible by bus, car or moped along the islands one main road. A hired boat on the southern coastline is a great option for those looking for real privacy. With the freedom to cruise wherever the mood strikes, you have the opportunity to find tiny sandy coves lapped by turquoise sea, which likely will be shared with just a few seagulls.Often referred to as the 'greenest island in the Agean" Skopelosnature is pure and un-spoilt for those who enjoy walking, mountain biking or exploring the back roads. The interior of the island has a myriad of unmade tracks and trails which pass by peaceful country chapels and through tiny hamlets which often give unexpected glimpses of the sea. In a single walk you may pass through an amazing variety of terrain. From rolling hills and valleys filled with almond, plum, walnut, chestnut and olive trees, past free flowing mountain springs, and up steep mountain tracks surrounded by the extensive, lush pine forests. Your company will be only sounds of the wind in the pines, bird song and the distant tinkle of goat bells. Throughout a day of walking, you may only meet up with a goat herder reigning in his goats for the day or a friendly farmer with his mule in tow. All in all, Skopelos island offers the visitor a rich and varied holiday experience. As one of the most traditional and picturesque towns found in the Greek islands with its expanse of pristine nature, beaches and clean water, it is a place to fall in love with. It is no wonder why so many who visit, feel the pull to return again and again.During the months of April and May, the islands are carpeted with a profusion of wild flowers, such as poppies, wild irises and freesias. The weather is mainly sunny and warm, with occasional showers, and cool evenings.The sea is usually cool and warms up towards the mid of May. There is a feeling of activity and excitement as everyone prepares for the summer season ahead. In April, the Greek orthodox Easter festivities are definitely worth experiencing. April and May are ideal months for walking, painting and all special interest holidays.By June, the sun has become hotter, although the countryside is still fresh and verdant, and there are still flowers to be found. The sea becomes warmer too, and all bars, tavernas and other facilities are functioning. The islands are still fairly quiet as most of the tourists have still not arrived, making June a good time to visit.From mid July onwards, the islands fill up and August is the busiest month of the year. The air and sea temperatures reach their peak and evenings are warm, although some respite is offered by the strong winds known as ?meltemia?By September the islands begin to return to their quiet self although most of the tavernas, bars and clubs are still open, and there are enough people around for there to be a lively atmosphere in the towns. The countryside is still beautiful, as the wild pink cyclamens appear and the bracken and foliage turn golden. The weather becomes a little cooler, and there is an increased risk of showers, especially as October draws nearer, but this is still a good time to swim and enjoy the sun before the winter. Towards the second half of October, tavernas and most other facilities begin to close down.If you have never witnessed Easter in Greece and you are at all interested in its culture or are a true Greco-file, this is a holiday that is not to be missed. The holiday begins with Big Week and culminates with Big Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday (Pasca). Good Friday begins with each of the village churches decorating the Epitafios a symbolic bed where Christs body lies, which is elaborately decorated with flowers by the women of each Parish. A friendly rivalry between the parishes exists for the most beautifully adorned. After an evening service the church bells are rung, signaling all of the villagers to gather at the church carrying a simple brown candle which symbolizes the death of Jesus. A candlelit procession begins at the highest church in the town and proceeds down the narrow winding streets, stopping at each of the main churches, thus adding its Epitafios and parishioners to the procession. The procession eventually reaches the waterfront only to head back up to the top and complete the circle by returning each parish to its own church. This procession through the town is so beautiful and moving, such a special sight that will not soon be forgotten by any visitor.In contrast to the fairly somber Friday evening, Saturday nights mid-night service brings joy and happiness as the parishioners gather outside of their neighbourhood church. Tonight, they hold a beautifully decorated white candle which symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus. At midnight the bells are rung and the priest pronounces “Christ has Arisen!” He offers the parishioners the “Light of Eternal Life” from the Holy Candle and this flame is then passed from person to person uniting the entire community in celebration. With candles lit, the villagers disperse to carry the holy flame to their homes. Here they make the sign of the cross on the lintel of the front door which is thought to bless the house for the entire year. Then the feast begins with the traditional Easter soup being served, the fireworks and celebrations last until the early hours of the morning. Easter Sunday is usually enjoyed at a beach or country house with roast lamb on the spit.