Saronic Gulf Islands
The Saronic Gulf islands are the closest to Athens and can be reached in an hour or less by highspeed in the case of Aegina and Agistri and are great for daytrips and overnights even in the winter. These islands can be visited by the One-Day Saronic Cruise which boasts a 364-day-a-year schedule since even in bad weather the Saronic Gulf is sheltered from the wind. But the Saronic islands are also worth spending more time on and the island of Hydra has a jet-set reputation that rivals Mykonos.
A nice day trip from Athens. Take the ferry rather then the Flying Dolphin(hydrafoil) so you can relax and enjoy the scenery of the short trip. You can sail to the main port or else the resort town of Agia Marina. Nice island for bicycling and the small coastal village of Perdika has some good seafood restaurants but should be avoided on weekends when it is busy with visiting Athenians. Visit the Temple of Aphaia above Agia Marina. Surprisingly Aegina is one island which has really retained it’s ‘Greekness’. Maybe because it is too close to Athens to be attractive to mass tourism. It is a great place to go in the winter and the off-season. Agia Marina is a beach town with some tavernas a view of Athens and two nice hotels owned by a very friendly and hospitable young woman named Sophia. Check out the Voula Apartments and Hotel Karyatides. This is a good place to stay for people who want to see Athens but not necessarily stay in Athens because you can get there in an hour.
Angistri is a small island near Aegina with beautiful sandy beaches and a devoted following. Famous for being one of the first places in Greece to experiment with naturism, ( it was one of the first islands to have a nudist beach, and in fact it still does.) Some nice tavernas and the famous Agistriclub Hotel , a favorite for people who have made a career of visiting Greece every summer, make Angistri an excellent place to stay and still be able to zip into Athens to see the Acropolis. The far side of the island is mostly agricultural and in the village of Limineria, named after its lake, the inhabitants devote themselves mostly to farming and fishing. These islands near Athens are also a good choice for the winter months when weather is unpredictable and you don’t want to be too far from Athens.
Former home of Leonard Cohen and jet setter heaven. No beaches but who cares? Magnificent village and swimming off the rocks is good enough for recovering from the previous nights festivities. Restaurants and cafes on waterfront are for people-watching. For good inexpensive food search the back-streets or walk down the coast. No cars,no bikes on the island!!! Lots of donkeys. Suitable for families or jet-set nightlife lovers. There are excursions to Ancient Mycenae, Epidavros and the beaches of the Peloponnisos. The town has been restored and preserved exactly as it appeared in the 1800’s when its inhabitants built it in a period of prosperity gained from piracy and blockade running. The Hydriotis made a name for themselves during the war for Independence. Nice seafood restaurants in the village of Kaminia. When you tired of walking there are water-taxis.
Imagine staying on an island so close to Athens that you could wake up in the morning and in a little more than an hour, be walking around the Acropolis, shopping in the flea-market or wandering around the Plaka looking for gifts or a nice place for lunch. Imagine an island that is a three minute boat ride to the Peloponisos and places like Naphlion, Myceneae, Epidavros. Imagine an island that is less then an hour from Pireaus, where you can make ferry connections to Mykonos, Ios, Santorini, Crete, Paros, Naxos, Lesvos, Rhodes and almost every island in the Aegean sea. And if this island was blessed with beautiful forests that came right down to the beach, inexpensive accommodations, great restaurants, water sports and cafe life on par with the best Greek islands, then why would you bother staying in Athens?
The Jewel of the Saronic. Well maybe a couple thousand years ago. It is now more of a suburb of Pireaus with ferries doing the 10 minute commute every 20 minutes or so from Perama, an industrial area that is worth a visit for people who like shipyards, factories and things like that. The island of Salamina itself makes an interesting day trip if you have many days to spare (like a year! ). There are restaurants and beaches on the far side and a few derelict ships and wrecks scattered around.There are also boats from the big harbor in Pireaus but something tells me that not many people will make the trip after reading this.(and you shouldn’t !).
Nice beaches. Pine trees. Water-taxis and Nightlife in the old harbor plus one of the oldest wooden boat building yards in Greece. Spetses is most famous for being the setting for the John Fowles book, The Magus which is suggested reading for your visit here.You can travel all around the island by bicycle or water taxi and there are excursion boats and buses to the various beaches. Flying Dolphin service to Naphlion and points south make Spetses a doorway to the Peleponisos.