Spread out across the Saronic Gulf and until the entrance of the Argolis Gulf, its islands and shores of the Saronic Gulf region are an extremely popular destination due to their short distance from Athens. The six islands (Salamina, Aegina, Angistri, Poros, Hydra and Spetses) and Methana on the coast of the Peloponnese, combine a short distance from the city, with great scenery, unique archaeological sites, museums, mansions, picturesque villages and wonderful beaches.
Hoist your sails and head for Spetses, an island which boasts a glorious naval past! When you arrive at the port of Spetses, look out for the horse-drawn carriages; you can take a trip around the island in one. At the old harbour, you will witness the century-old craftsmanship of making wooden boats.
Have a shot of “ouzo” at the island’s old careenage (shipyard)! Follow cycling routes around the island, or pedal past the magnificent mansions that adorn the town’s narrow cobblestone streets.
Visit historic monuments, such as the house of Bouboulina (a heroine of the 1821 War of Independence) with its wood-carved Florentine ceiling, 18th and 19th century furniture, interesting collection of old weapons, fine porcelain and rare books.
Sail around lovely beaches or on to the privately owned island of Spetsopoula to the southeast of Spetses. Come back to Spetses again in September and take part in the truly impressive re-enactment of the naval battle, which has taken place every year since 1931.
All aboard for Hydra, the jet setter haven! Hollywood stars and other famous celebrities visit the island every year! The most striking feature of the island is that here cars are banned! There are 500 donkeys that can take you on longer trips around the island.
Hydra is also a yachting paradise, as every summer groups of sailing boats moor at the harbour, where they are joined by dozens of sensational motorboats and yachts. The island also boasts exceptional architecture, with lavish stone mansions built by Italian artisans.
Today, the grand mansions of the warriors of the Greek War of Independence house most of the island’s museums. Take advantage of the opportunity to peer into Hydra’s history in the luxurious environment they offer. You can always visit some of the 300 churches or the 6 monasteries spread around the island, or follow the coastline path through coastal villages, old bridges, and small chapels.
If you want to find more about Hydra, watch the film “Boy on a Dolphin”, shot on the island in 1957; Sophia Loren, Alan Ladd, Clifton Webb and Alex Minotis act out a magical tale for you!
Poros is our next port of call. Poros is an island town built like an amphitheatre on two hills. Its archaeological museum hosts important findings from the Mycenaean and Roman era, as well as findings of ancient shipwrecks from the Argo-Saronic Gulf.
Visit the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon, built circa 520 BC, in the northern part of the island. The Athenian rhetorician, Dimosthenes, committed suicide in this temple by drinking poison, pursued by Philip, the King of Macedonia. 4 km east of the town of Poros, you will find the most impressive ecclesiastical monument on the island.
The Zoodohos Pigi Monastery, built in the 18th century, is surrounded by high walls with no windows. 30 cells can still be seen in the monastery. In its library there is a stunning collection of 150 volumes of ecclesiastical books and other rare old patriarchal manuscripts. At the entrance to the monastery, have a sip of the spring water, famous for its healing properties. Enjoy a sweeping view of the island from the famous Lemon Forest (Lemonodassos).
Take your sailboat to discover the surrounding islets: Bourtzi, home to the fortress of the Byzantine admiral Nasar; Modi, with its shipwreck from the Mycenaean period, and Daskaleio, with its chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Let the wind fill your sails as you head off to the peninsula of Methana, which is actually a volcano that emerged from the sea. The peninsula has two steep volcanic slopes, each with a road.
Take one of them to head up to the fishing village of Agios Georgios and on to the Baths of Pausanias, one of the peninsula’s hot springs.
Take the other and follow in the footsteps of the ancient historian Pausanias to the ancient city of Methana. In the village of Paleokastro stand the remains of the classical walls and gates of an acropolis, the rest of which fell into the sea due to a volcanic eruption. The peninsula boasts approximately 32 volcanoes.
Climbing to the largest crater is a challenging experience! Start from Kameni Hora, wear sturdy shoes, take water and follow the path on a 25-minute climb to the lip of the volcano. Step on now solid red lava flows and take in views of a different world of savage black, red and green crags and sharp abysses.
Methana is also famous for its thermal springs, which attract senior citizens from many European countries.