The Sporades are a group of islands in the northwest Aegean Sea, known for their lush pine forests, emerald waters and serene atmosphere. They consist of four main islands: Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonissos and Skyros, as well as several smaller ones. The Sporades are a popular destination for sailing enthusiasts, as they offer many secluded bays, calm weather conditions and charming harbours. But what are the customs and etiquette of these islands? How can you make the most of your visit and respect the local culture? Here are some tips to help you enjoy your Sporades adventure.
Be polite and friendly
The Sporades are known for their hospitality and friendliness. The locals are usually welcoming and helpful to visitors, especially if you show interest in their culture and history. A simple “Kalimera” (good morning) or “Kalispera” (good evening) can go a long way in breaking the ice and starting a conversation. You can also learn some basic Greek phrases, such as “Efharisto” (thank you), “Parakalo” (please or you’re welcome) and “Signomi” (excuse me or sorry). Avoid using informal or slang words, such as “Ela” (come on) or “Re” (hey), unless you are very familiar with someone.
When greeting someone, a handshake is the most common form of physical contact. You can also kiss on both cheeks if you know the person well or if they initiate it. Avoid hugging or touching someone’s head, as this can be considered rude or intrusive. Respect personal space and don’t stand too close to someone when talking.
The Sporades have a Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and mild winters. You can dress casually and comfortably for most occasions, but avoid wearing anything too revealing or offensive. For example, don’t wear swimwear outside the beach or pool area, or shirts with vulgar slogans or images. Cover your shoulders and knees when visiting churches or monasteries, and remove your hat or sunglasses when entering. You can also bring a scarf or shawl to wrap around your head or waist if needed.
When sailing, wear practical and protective clothing, such as a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, windbreaker and shoes with good grip. Avoid wearing high heels, flip-flops or sandals on board, as they can be dangerous or damage the boat. You can also bring a swimsuit, towel and snorkeling gear if you plan to swim or explore the marine life.
Follow the rules and regulations
The Sporades have some rules and regulations that you should follow to ensure your safety and respect the environment. For example, don’t litter or leave any waste behind on the beaches or in the sea. Use the bins provided or take your rubbish with you. Don’t light fires or camp on the islands without permission, as this can cause wildfires or damage the natural habitat. Don’t pick flowers or plants, or disturb any animals or birds.
If you are sailing, make sure you have a valid license and insurance for your boat. Follow the instructions of the local authorities and marina staff when docking or anchoring. Don’t enter any restricted areas, such as the National Marine Park of Alonissos, without authorization. Respect the speed limits and other signs in the water. Don’t fish or collect shells without a permit.
Enjoy the local cuisine
The Sporades have a rich and varied cuisine, influenced by their maritime location and agricultural traditions. You can enjoy fresh seafood, such as grilled octopus, fried calamari, baked fish or lobster pasta. You can also try local specialties, such as cheese pies, spinach pies, stuffed peppers or tomatoes, lamb with herbs or goat stew. Don’t miss the delicious desserts, such as baklava, loukoumades (honey doughnuts) or amygdalota (almond cookies).
You can find many tavernas, restaurants and cafes on the islands, serving traditional dishes and drinks. Try some local wine, ouzo (anise-flavored liquor) or tsipouro (grape brandy) to accompany your meal. Be careful not to drink too much alcohol, especially if you are sailing afterwards. Tip around 10% of the bill if you are satisfied with the service.
Have fun and explore
The Sporades have a lot to offer to visitors who want to have fun and explore their natural beauty and cultural heritage. You can relax on the stunning beaches, such as Koukounaries on Skiathos, Kastani on Skopelos or Agios Dimitrios on Alonissos. You can also hike, bike or horseback ride on the scenic trails, such as the one leading to the Byzantine castle on Skopelos or the one crossing the pine forest on Skyros. You can also visit the museums, churches and monasteries on the islands, such as the Archaeological Museum and the Folklore Museum on Skyros, the Monastery of Evangelistria and the House of Papadiamantis on Skiathos, or the Church of Agios Ioannis Kastri (where Mamma Mia! was filmed) on Skopelos.
The Sporades are a great destination for sailing enthusiasts, as they offer many opportunities to discover hidden gems and enjoy the sea breeze. You can sail from one island to another, stopping at secluded coves, charming villages and picturesque harbours. You can also join a guided tour or charter a yacht with a skipper if you prefer. You can find more information and tips on sailing in the Sporades here and here.
The Sporades are a wonderful place to visit if you want to experience the authentic and relaxed side of Greece. They have a unique charm and character that will captivate you and make you want to return. By following some simple customs and etiquette, you can show your respect and appreciation for the local culture and people, and make your trip more enjoyable and memorable.