Explore the top 5 islands of Saronic Gulf
It’s hard to choose a Greek island vacation with more than 6,000 to choose from. The Saronic islands are very popular Greek islands for summer holidays and weekend breaks. This is because there are the closest Greek islands from Athens. Aegina, Poros, Hydra, and Spetses have developed a lot in tourism over the last years, while Agistri is not that famous but remains a true gem to explore. The crystal water, the relaxing atmosphere and the long history are the most distinctive characteristics of Saronic Gulf, which have a different character each. Poros is great for sailing, Hydra has amazing architecture, Spetses stands out for the elegant mansions , Agistri for it’s nature and Aegina is ideal for family vacations.
Hydra is without doubt, the most cosmopolitan island of the Saronic island chain and stands out for its classy beauty! On Hydra island, there are no cars! Everyone uses their foot, boats or donkeys to get around the island. The car ban, along with the elegant stone mansions of the island, create a charming atmosphere and make the island one of the most serene destinations near Athens. Spilia, Mandraki and Vlichos are some of the top beaches across the island. You can mix gastronomic pleasure with breathtaking views of the sunset on one of the many restaurants around the island.
Miaouleia are the biggest events of the island, dedicated to the Admiral Andreas Miaoulis, held each year approximately at the last week of June. The celebration lasts one week. The event includes, in the day before the last, celebrations, the welcoming of the representatives of the Government, the Navy and the officials at City Hall by the Mayor and the City Council. The last day, there is a Holy Mass at the Cathedral and a transfer from the Archive – Museum of the vessel with the heart of Admiral Andreas Miaoulis and then a memorial ritual at the statue of Admiral Andreas Miaoulis. In “Miaouleia” unless part of the ritual, including exhibitions, lectures, musical events, theatrical performances, games, folk dances, torch etc. Followed by a crowd, honoric thus feast of remembrance events and people that played a major role in the outcome of the revolution of 1821.The festivities end with the burning of fireworks and the enactment of the Battle of Gerontas and the burning of the Ottoman flagship, the final day of events.
Miles from Athens: 40 n.m.
How long it will take you to get there: 4-5 h
Located in the heart of the Saronic Gulf, Poros has long been a popular destination among the Greeks for weekend getaways from the capital. Thanks to its natural beauty, picturesque port, and elegant beaches, Poros emits a vintage aura. Stroll along the seafront promenade, eat fresh fish and seafood at traditional taverns, dive in the crystal-clear waters of the Aegean, marvel at all-encompassing views of Galatas. Holidays in Poros is the ultimate relaxing experience. Vagiana beach is actually the northernmost beach on the island, secluded and surrounded by lush greenery, this beach rarely receives visitors and also Russian bay an unorganized beach on the western side of the island. Love Bay is a gorgeous beach located 4 km northwest of Poros Town. Love Bay features white pebbles mixed in with the sand and breathtaking emerald waters. The beach is a true paradise. The ruins of an old navy station can be seen along the beach. Apagio, Poseidon and Primasera are definitely some of the restaurants that every visitor should try during his stay.
Miles from Athens: 28 n.m.
How long it will take you to get there: 3-4h
Aegina really does have it all—seafood tavernas, small pebbly beaches, archaeological sites and a yachting and café lifestyle. Greek mythology tells us that Aegina derived its name from a nymph daughter of the river god Asopos. Zeus fell in love with this nymph and took her with him to the island. It’s also of historical importance as from 1827-1829, Aegina Town was the temporary capital of the newly formed Greek state. Vacationers tend to be drawn to Aegina for the archaeological sites. The Temple of Aphea Athena is a 500 B.C. Doric site located near the small town of Agia Marina and one of three historical Greek monuments that form the so-called “holy triangle” of antiquity, the Parthenon in Athens and the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion being the other two. Visit one of the largest monasteries in the Balkans, the Monastery of Saint Nektarios, to admire its architectural magnificence. Souvala fishing village in the north offers thermal hot springs that have been known to help with rheumatism and other various dermatological problems. Aegina is really famous for its topical pistachio which you can taste it in local shops or take it with you as a gift. Last but not least, the islet of Moni is located south-west side of Aegina, opposite Perdika village. Moni is a great place for sailing and excursions, as it counts on great turquoise waters and lush nature. The island is not inhabited, as there is no drinkable water. The only inhabitants are some animals and, in particular, some deers, kri-kri goats brought from Crete and falcons.
Miles from Athens: 17 n.m.
How long it will take you to get there: 2h
Agistri sits in the Saronic Gulf, close to the islands of Aegina and Poros. Its proximity to Athens and the rest of the Saronic islands make Agistri an excellent destination for quick getaways, day trips and island hopping in Greece! The beaches and the island’s breathtaking natural landscape are the standouts of Agistri. Regarding the beaches, they are known for their beautiful natural surroundings, exotic ambiance, and mesmerizing waters. Especially in Aponissos beach, you’ll have the chance to swim in a huge natural pool. Equally beautiful are Skala beach and Dragonera beach while Halikiada is a go-to beach for naturists. Skala is not only the main port of Agistri but also its main town. Along the coastal road of Agistri, you’ll find a selection of restaurants, cafes, beach bars, and traditional taverns, where you can eat fresh fish and seafood, along with local delicacies. Agistri island is a little Aegean gem, ideal for getting away from it all for a few days!
Miles from Athens: 22 n.m.
How long it will take you to get there: 3 h
Spetses Town, the picturesque capital of Saronic island is perfect for endless strolls such as swimming at the secluded Spetses beaches(some surrounded by pine forests). A selection of yacht marinas, boutique hotels, and sophisticated restaurants complete the unique atmosphere of Spetses. Full of elegant mansions, and narrow alleys, it emits a cosmopolitan aura. Spetses is an island that has several historic sites worth visiting, such as the House of Bouboulina (a heroine during the 1821 Greek War of Independence). It was built around the end of the 17th Century, and it’s now a museum with a wood-carved Florentine ceiling, 18th- and 19th-century furniture, and a collection of old weapons, fine porcelain, and rare books. Spetses Cathedral (Ayios Nikolaos) is important to the islanders as it was here where the island’s Independence flag was raised on April 3, 1821. Cars are forbidden, there are only bicycles and carriages on the roads of Spetses! It is really worth visiting cave of Bekiris , which is a gorgeous place and it is accessible by boat or through a track path from Agioi Anargyroi beach. It has a tiny, sandy beach inside and formations of stalactites and stalagmites. Kaiki beach, Agios Nikolaos, Agia Marina and Agia Paraskeyi are some of the most popular beaches on the island. Spetses is a place with vivid nightlife, particularly in summer weekends when many Athenians visit the island for a weekend break. The most popular nightlife spot in Spetses is the old port, lined up with many bars and clubs that stay open all night. Few cafe-bars are also found in Dapia, but things are quieter there compared to the bars in the old port. For a more peaceful night out, try a long dinner in the many restaurants around the town. The most important festival in Spetses is Armata, which extends over the second week of September and includes mainly artistic events, such as traditional dances, theatrical performances, various exhibitions, and presentations. This celebration reaches its highest on Saturday, when locals and visitors get together in order to celebrate the anniversary of the Spetses naval battle, occurred on September 8th of 1822. This battle was part of the 1821 revolution and constituted one of its most important fights. There are dramatizations of this victory, performed by night. Real ships are used and a model ship is built especially for the occasion, in order to be burnt in the sea among a massive firework display, which closes in a big manner the festive week.
Miles from Athens: 50 n.m.
How long it will take you to get there: 6-7 h
The Saronic Gulf Islands dot the waters nearest Athens and offer a fast track to Greek island life. As with all Greek islands, each of the Saronics has a unique feel and culture, so you can hop between classical heritage, resort beaches, exquisite architecture and remote escapism.