Located in the center of Greece, Athens is the main gateway to the Greek islands. Most Greek ferries to almost all the islands of the Aegean Sea depart from the ports of Athens. Some islands are found in long-distance from Athens and need many hours of a ferry traveling to go. However, there are also many islands close to Athens which are reachable by ferry, perfect for a short trip or weekend break. Ferries depart from the three main ports of Athens: Piraeus, Rafina & Lavrion.
From Piraeus to Saronic Islands
The closest islands to Athens by ferry are the Saronic islands: Aegina, Agistri, Poros, Hydra and Spetses. Only 1 to 2 hours ferry ride from the port of Piraeus, these small islands are perfect for weekend visits and even day trips. In fact, these islands get very busy with Athenians on summer weekends.
Each one of these small islands has a special character, lovely beaches and relaxing atmosphere. They are all great for family holidays, but also have a unique feature each: Aegina is nice for swimming and sightseeing, Agistri for relaxation and naturism, Poros for sailing, Hydra for traditional life away from motor vehicles and Spetses for lounge nightlife.
From Rafina to Andros, Tinos and Mykonos
Rafina is the second busiest port of Attica and the closest to the International Airport of Athens. As the port of Rafina is very close to the islands of northern Cyclades, travel time by ferry is shorter than traveling from Piraeus. Therefore, it is a great base for ferry trip to Andros (2 hours), Tinos (3,5 hours) and Mykonos (2-4 hours).
All these three islands are typically Cycladic. Andros distinguishes for the elegant architecture and the lovely beaches. Tinos is a religious destination for the Orthodox due to the miracle-working icon of the Virgin Mary, but it is also an island with traditional villages and a relaxing atmosphere. Mykonos needs no special presentation: this is the second most popular Greek island with fabulous beaches, exciting nightlife, and traditional style.
From Lavrion to Kea island
Only 1-hour ferry ride from the port of Lavrion, on the southernmost spot of Attica, is the beautiful island of Kea. This island has not much opened to foreign travelers but it is a very frequent weekend destination for the Athenians, many of whom have holiday homes there. Although administratively it belongs to the complex of Cyclades, it does not have evident Cycladic style. Its colors are earthy and nature is green and not barren.