Really close to the city of Athens, just 1-2 hours by ferry from the port of Piraeus, are the beautiful Saronic Islands, spread in the Argosaronic Gulf. So close and still so far from the Greek capital, these islands keep their traditional distinctive character and peaceful atmosphere.
The Saronic group of islands consists of Aegina, Agistri, Spetses, Hydra and Poros, small islands with a long history, and special natural beauty. Each of them is unique, with its own special traits and highlights. Easily accessible from Athens, as the ferry to Saronic islands is daily and quick, these small islands are a very popular destination for holidays and weekend breaks.
Ferry to Saronic islands: Hydra
The island of Hydra, the most impressive and romantic destination of the Saronic Islands, gets very popular in summer weekends due to the short distance from Athens. Hydra distinguishes for its architecture, counting many elegant stone mansions. Built amphitheatrically on the slopes of a hill, Hydra Town is a great place for romantic walks along the sea promenade and the narrow cobblestone streets.
All transport around the island is done by foot and boat. The locals also use donkeys because cars and motor vehicles are prohibited, so as to keep the scenery unspoiled. The ferry to Hydra takes just 1 hour and half from Athens.
Aegina is mostly popular as a family destination, as it has a serene atmosphere and charming villages. Although the island is small in size, it has a wonderful landscape, sandy beaches, and many historical landmarks. Aegina was a great naval power in ancient Greece and the capital of Greece for the year 1828. Remnants of its rich history are found all around the island, with the most important being the Ancient Temple of Athena Aphaia, built in the 6th century BC, Markellos Tower, and the Neoclassical buildings in the Town.
Aegina also has some excellent tourist resorts, such as Agia Marina, Souvala and Marathon. Each September, there is a festival dedicated to pistachio, an important local product, with many producers participating. As the ferry to Aegina takes only 1 hour from Athens, it is a popular destination especially during summer weekends.
Poros is a small island of the Saronic Gulf, ideal for relaxing in wonderful beaches, under the shade of pine trees. As the ferry to Poros takes only one hour from Piraeus, the main port of Athens, the island is much preferred as a summer weekend destination. Poros Town is a historical place with picturesque cobbled alleys, elegant mansions, and interesting museums. The port promenade bustles with shops, cafeterias, and restaurants of cosmopolitan feeling. Askeli Beach and the Love Bay are the most beautiful beaches of Poros.
Take a horse-drawn carriage from the port of Spetses and meet this stunning little island. The traditional character and splendid past of Spetses Town have been kept alive due to the well-preserved mansions that survive still. A very popular period to visit Spetses is during the Armata Festival in September. This is actually the representation of a naval battle between the Greeks and Turks that originally took place in 1822. There are daily ferries to Spetses from Athens and the trip takes about 2 hours.
Agistri is a tiny island in the Saronic Gulf, with daily ferry connections to Piraeus. The hydrofoil (quick) ferry to Agistri takes about 1 hour and the normal ferry 2 hours and half. This charming little island has stunning sapphire waters, pine trees, and lush vegetation, that create a restful environment. The most popular resort in Agistri, where there are a lot of facilities, restaurants, and activities like water sports, is Skala.