The Peloponnese’s east shoreline and the islands dotting the Argolic & Saronic Gulf waters are popular tourist destinations in close proximity to Athens. Salamina, Aegina, Agistri, Poros, Hydra, and Spetses can offer their visitors memorable experiences that include views of beautiful land & seascapes, impressive archaeological sites, museums, stately homes, picturesque villages and wonderful beaches.
The island of Aegina is one of the most popular tourist destinations as it is the closest island to Athens (only 16.5 nautical miles from the port of Piraeus).
From 11/1/1827 until 3/10/1829 Aegina town was the temporary capital of the newly founded Greek state. It was during that period when Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias had impressive neoclassical mansions built to house his headquarters, which are well worth a visit.
Agistri is a small pine-clad island, with pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters; it’s a popular destination for all those keen on outdoor sports such as hiking, cycling, sailing, kayaking or horse riding. The place is ideal for those of you who wish to take a break from your daily routine, and enjoy some peace and quiet, long walks in the countryside, great food and lovely beaches.
Since ancient times, Megalochori (the island capital) has been a safe haven for ships which carried goods and supplies to its harbour. Over the ages, Agistri shared the history of neighbouring Aegina Island. Legend has it that it was part of the kingdom of Aiakos of Aegina, and it is believed that modern-day Agistri was ancient Kekryfaleia, known to have been an ally of Aegina during the Trojan War.
There are three villages on the island: Megalochori, Limenaria, and Skala. Visit them, get to know the local traditions, and taste delicious local dishes. Stroll along the island’s picturesque little alleys, visit the traditional coffee houses and the windmill.
A rich naval tradition and a cosmopolitan island ambience are the defining characteristics of Hydra - a popular island in the Argosaronic Gulf - which attracts every year many personalities and jet-setters from Greece and abroad. This was the favourite destination and place of residence of painter Nikos Hatzikyriakos-Ghika, Leonard Cohen, and Henry Miller. It is also the birthplace of painter Panagiotis Tetsis, and of many other famous artists, writers etc. The island’s great beauty was appreciated also by celebrities such as Maria Callas, Pablo Picasso, and Sophia Loren.
Apart from being a popular sailing destination, Hydra is also very interesting from an architectural point of view, as a number of luxury residences, built by Italian craftsmen, are scattered on the island. The grand houses of the local fighters for the Greek War of Independence (1821) are now museums which offer their visitors an insight into that particular period in Greek history. If you are interested in religious monuments, there are some 300 churches and 6 monasteries you can visit on the island. You will enjoy strolling about the streets of the picturesque Hydra town and the harbour; take trips in the countryside, while drinking in the amazing views over the Aegean Sea, swim in deep blue waters and savour tasty dishes in the local tavernas. Walking about the island is a true pleasure as it is car-free.
Its beauty has been praised by popular poets and prose writers, such as Georgios Seferis, Ioulia Dragoumi and the American writer Henry Miller. Pinewoods cover the island’s hills, and go all the way to the sandy beaches. The Poros Strait, and the seaside area of Galata with its pine, olive, and lemon groves surround the picturesque Poros town, where beautiful neoclassical buildings grace the seafront; it’s a place of great beauty!
Poros town and the harbour area have been built on the hillside, opposite the shores of Troizinia. The town’s picturesque alleys, Neorio, and Bourtzi Islet are some of the must-visit places on the island. As you stroll along the streets you will be impressed by the neoclassical style of most buildings, such as the Deimezis building, constructed with grey and red stone, and Grivas’ shop, with the large doors and charming interior decoration, a late nineteenth century -sort of- department store. Villa Galini is another really beautiful house, built in 1892 near Aspros Gatos location, which has time and again provided accommodation to celebrities of the arts.
Poros is the ideal destination for watersports and activities such as swimming; visit the beaches at Mikro Neorio and Megalo Neorio, as well as the one at Limanaki tis Agapis (meaning ‘The Cove of Love’). Go diving in the crystal clear waters and sail through the nearby islands and off the coast of the Peloponnese. You can also explore the inland; go biking and hiking through Poros’ pinewoods.
Poros is made up of two islands, Sferia (named after Sferos, the charioteer of Pelopas, a mythical king of the Peloponnese) and Kalavria (meaning ‘fine breeze’); a small bridge connects the two islands. At first, Kalavria was dedicated to god Apollo, who later ceded the island to god Poseidon in exchange for the Oracle of Delphi. It is a green island with freshwater springs and streams. The smaller Sferia Island is a volcanic rock, where present-day Poros town was built.
According to the myth, the name Salamina (Salamis) was given to the island by Kychreas in honour of his mother Salamis, one of the five daughters of the river god Asopos.
Known as Isola di Spezie under Venetian rule and Pityoussa (pine-clad) in ancient times, Spetses, at just 54 nautical miles from Athens, is a picturesque, car-free island with a unique architecture, naval history and culture. The island flourished during the early 18th century, developing into a significant naval power, dominating the major shipping routes of the Mediterranean. Today, the two-hundred year old captains’ mansions lining the coast are testimony to the vast wealth and grandeur of that time. The mansion of the Greek War of Independence heroine Laskarina Bouboulina – the only female admiral in world naval history - now houses Bouboulina’s Museum which hosts a Cultural Festival every summer with a plethora of events - while the Spetses State Museum is housed in the mansion of Spetsiot revolutionary leader Hatziyannis Mexis and contains artefacts representing more than 4000 years of history.
With its rich history and culture, museums, beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, cosmopolitan nightlife, Spetses is the perfect location for a short-break or long vacation throughout the year. Visit Spetses during September, when “Armata”, a truly impressive re-enactment of a naval battle, takes place ever since 1931. If you are a sports lover, you definitely don't want to miss the unique athletic events organised every year in April "Spetsathlon" (the biggest triathlon in Greece) and October "Spetses Mini Marathon", where thousands of participants take part and enjoy running and swimming races for the young at heart!
Greece is the ideal place for a surreal escape to the endless blue. Its seas and islands need no further introduction. By sailboat or motorized craft, inflatable or even by boat – the choices are endless.