Ready for some relaxing Island hopping? Come and see the islands in the Saronic gulf for a day trip when coming from Athens.
The islands of the Saronic gulf are ideal for a short one or two day trip while coming from Athens as they are very close. They are the perfect getaway from the city’s pollution and constant activity. To visit the Saronic gulf is to feel very far away from everything else, while still being very close to the mainland. The Saronic gulf is full of islands including the most popular : Aegina, Poros, Hydra, Spetses, Agistri and Salamis.
The Saronic gulf is situated in the Aegean sea between cape Sounion and the Attica peninsula. It is only eighty kilometers long and thirty kilometers wide. Each island has a different history and was affected by a different culture. This group of islands has preserved its traditional and original Mediterranean lifestyle even with the upcoming amount of tourists going there every year. On these islands there are cosmopolitan cities and small peaceful fishing villages.
-There is one island that has a particularly rich history and that is Salamis. This island is mostly known because it is where the Greeks have won a battle against the larger Persian naval force in 480 BC. It was a decisive battle as the Persians were definitely repelled and the war ended soon after. The Persian ships were larger and more difficult to maneuver and the commander Themistocles took this to his advantage by bringing the Persians into a narrow water strait where they became slower. It was the first great naval battle reported in history.
-On Poros, Poseidon was particularly worshiped. It is also on this island that King Minos of Crete rejected Scylla, the daughter of the chief of the city Megara he was fighting against. She decided to jump into the sea to drown and the place where she died is now called Cape Skili. During the Greek revolution against the Ottoman the island had impressive naval forces but they weren’t used during the battles nearby.
– Aegina was one of the strongest naval powers in antiquity; and you will find highly preserved artifacts remaining of antiquity. It was named after a nymph, daughter of the river god Asopus and Zeus. Aegina’s son was the grandfather of Achilles the Trojan War Hero.
– Spetses has been attacked many times before being able to have big settlements in the 15th century. During the 18th century the island had an impressive naval fleet that participated in the Greek revolution against the Ottoman empire.
– Hydra has very little traces of its history prior to the invasion of the Ottoman Empire, unlike the other islands where there are numerous traces of the Mycenaean period. During the 18th century the islands economy became important as it developed its commercial fleets all around the world.
What to do in the Saronic gulf
All of these islands have crystal clear water, great beaches, a vivacious nightlife and fresh local seafood. By choosing to visit the Saronic gulf you will experience the slow Mediterranean pace, great hospitality and very charming villages. There is a very large selection of different day trips that are proposed, so rest assured you will find something right for you. The Saronic gulf is a common destination for tourists but also for locals as is it easy to go from Athens. It is less popular than Islands like Mykonos so it will make your trip more enjoyable if you are looking for some quiet time and it is also more family friendly .
–Poros : It is situated in the middle of the other islands, so it is perfect if you wish to hop to another island easily while you visit the Saronic gulf. It is a good destination to sail as there are a lot of different sailing companies you can choose from. You will definitely enjoy a romantic excursion to Love Bay, which is a cute little beach but there are many other idyllic beaches where you can enjoy the golden sand.
–Hydra : This island is particular as there are no cars allowed on it ! Everybody moves by foot, boat or even with donkeys. This gives an interesting atmosphere to the island and the absence of noise and air pollution is quite noticeable. Aside from that, the architecture is interesting in the main city but especially in the small villages surrounding it. There are also great museums. It is a popular place to hike, even though there aren’t any official beaches but you can find some secluded ones. There are more than five different monasteries and two museums including an ecclesiastical one. Many artists have come here to be inspired by the untamed beauty of this place.
–Spetses : This island was under the influence of Venice and you can still see today mansions built in that style. In the main town cars are banned, but they are allowed on the rest of the island during the day. This island was home to the famous hero Lascarina Bouboulina. She is one of the very few Greek women to have made history and is probably recognized as the strongest and independent one.
–Aegina : On this island you will find important archaeological sites, such as the Doric Temple of Athena Aphaia that was built during the 6th century BC, the Temple of Apollo, the Temple of Ellanios Zeus. The main town is cute and colorful. The ancient main town Paleohora is now a mysterious ghost town due to frequent pirate attacks at the time. Barbarossa himself, the famed Ottoman corsair, not Frederick I Barbarossa the Holy Roman Emperor, attacked the town in 1537 but most of the buildings were left intact and set an interesting atmosphere. The island is also famous for its pistachios and pottery.
–Agistri : On this island you will mostly enjoy the breathtaking landscapes, incredible water quality and stunning beaches. It is quite smaller than the other ones mentioned but it made its place on this list as it is truly beautiful. It is also the place where the first naturist beach in Greece was created.
–Salamis : This island may have a rich history but is today not a very interesting islands to visit as it is mostly an industrial and suburban place. It is the closest island to Athens but do not just stop there if you wish to visit the Saronic gulf ; go further away if you truly want to experience something special.
How to get to the Saronic Gulf
To visit the Saronic Gulf you will have to buy a ferry ticket from Athens for any Island you want to visit :
Athens to Aegina or Poros takes an hour or so. Athens to Hydra or Spetses takes two hours. (Keep in mind that on Hydra and Spetses cars are not allowed)
Or you could also book a tour of several islands with a local tour operator
Where to stay
Wondering where to stay when you visit the Saronic gulf ? You will find many hotels on the capitals of the islands mostly. It will be harder to find accommodations in the small villages although you will still find a few options if you book in advance, especially during high season. You will find hotels for every budget and we recommend you to stay in these two cities:
Aegina : If you wish to visit the temple of Athena Aphaia, you should book a hotel directly in Aegina, the capital of the island that shares the same name. It’s situated next to it and even though it is not directly situated on the coast it is very close to it.
Hydra : The capital is situated on the coastline so finding a hotel nearby will facilitate your departure, as ferries come and go from there. You will also enjoy waking up to a beautiful view on a island where no motors run, and only hear the waves calling you to join the beach.
GOOD TO KNOW
Concerning the sailing : The winds are usually mild, so perfect for a relaxed sailing sessions. It is even weaker in Autumn. It blows full strength in August.
The islands are underrated compared to other islands such as the Cycladic Islands, but they are still very visited during summer. They are still unspoiled by tourism for now so you should consider going there before it isn’t the case anymore !
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