Saronic Islands 7 Days Suggested Itinerary
* Red represents Nautical Miles between suggested marinas
Verdant Poros is small in size but generous otherwise. It feels like a coastal town, as it’s separated by the Peloponnese only by a narrow sea channel. At the same time, though, it boasts all of the qualities found in the Greek islands of the Argosaronic Gulf. Poros is a very popular destination – and one the best weekend getaways for the Athenians- for many reasons.
It is easily accessible by boat or by car; it offers the irresistible combination of pine tree forests and small bays of emerald waters, plus a dynamic touristic infrastructure. Nowadays, it is a low profile but fairly cosmopolitan Greek island that still preserves its traditional, naval character!
Things to See & Do
- Russian Dockyard: A preserved monument that used to serve the refueling of the Russian fleet in the Aegean back in 1834. It is located at the picturesque sandy bay of the same name, which is ideal for swimming in its blue-green waters. At the bay’s entrance you can see the tiny islet of Daskalio. 9.0
- Temple of Poseidon: Few of its remains are located at the plateau of Palatia, a spot with amazing views of the Argosaronic Gulf. It was a Doric temple built in 520 BC, dedicated to god Poseidon, the island’s patron. For the record, the prominent Athenian orator Demosthenes sought refuge here and ended up drinking the conium.
- Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi: An historic fortified 18th c monastery, which contributed to the Greek War of Independence. It is situated in a magnificent location with plane trees and water springs.
- Nearby excursions: The coastal settlement of Galatas is just across Poros (less than 10 min by boat). Lemonodasos (aka Lemon Forest) is a beautiful hilly region full of watermills, springs and more than 30.000 lemon and orange trees – a blooming sensation in springtime. The ancient city of Troezen (birthplace of Theseus) is a few kilometers away, while further north, in Epidaurus, you can enjoy some more ancient sightseeing, swimming, as well as one of the renowned theatrical performances at the Great Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus.
Religious feasts & festivals
Celebration of Zoodochos Pighi The Monastery of Zoodochos Pighi, this historical monastery of Poros island, celebrates on the first Friday after Easter. This celebration attracts many visitors and is followed by an open panigiri.
Nautical Week Every other year, there is a Nautical Week in Poros island that takes place in early July. Sailing exhibitions, concerts, artistic events and other shows are part of this festival. International Piano Festival The International Piano Festival of Poros attracts pianists from all over the world. This glorious event aims to discover new talents. It was founded in 2009 and takes place towards the end of August.
ActivitiesThings to do in Poros are many. As most beaches in Poros are organized, there are many water sports centres with fun games for all ages. These games range from banana slides to water skiing. Such water sports centers are found in Askeli, Neorio and other less organized beaches. Most of all, Poros island is famous as a popular sailing destination in Greece.
Cosmopolitan, historic and elegant Spetses lies at the southeast of the Argosaronic Gulf. It was named by the Venetians “isola di spezzie”, aka the “island of scents”. Its history, however, is much more exciting than that. Spetses is one of the Greek islands that played a major role to the Greek Revolution of 1821. Moreover, Spetses was the birthplace of famous heroine Laskarina Bouboulina, whose former house is now a private museum and statue stands proudly at the port. Spetses also prospered as a shipbuilding and naval trade center. Canons, neoclassical buildings, old houses and captain mansions remind the glorious past, together with the numerous romantic horse carriages of the island. Cars are not allowed in Spetses, therefore transportation is carried out by buses, bicycles, scooters and mopeds. The most developed part of the island is its town, Dapia, with the port, the Hotel Posidonion –an architectural gem at the waterfront-, the cobbled streets and the busy square Platia Rologiou, among others.
Meanwhile, the nearby Old Harbor (combining yachts, restaurants and nightlife) and the village Kounoupitsa (a colorful place of another era) are the main, picturesque island attractions. Spetses is covered in pines that reach up to its lovely seashores. Accommodation amenities are more than satisfactory and the island’s gastronomy is superb. It is considered to be a rather expensive island, but generally it corresponds to the “value for money” criteria. Spetses is a very popular destination for many types of visitors – and a favorite “escape” for Athenians, as it’s merely two hours by boat from Piraeus. Its special character, derived by the irresistible blend of present and past, makes Spetses simply unforgettable.
Things to See & Do
• Cave of Bekiris:This is a gorgeous place a bit difficult to access. You can go by boat or through a track path from Agioi Anargyroi beach. It has a tiny, sandy beach inside and formations of stalactites and stalagmites.
• Bouboulina Museum: This private museum is housed in the home of Bouboulina and displays a collection of personal objects and household furnishing of the Spetsiote heroine. This traditional Spetsiotes mansion is really interesting to visit for its collection but also for the astonishing wood-carved Florentine ceiling in the main salon. Lascarina Bouboulina is one of the few female heroes of the Greek Revolution and the most strong and commanding women in Greek history. She was born in 1771, lost her two husbands from pirate attacks and used the fortune and ships of the second one help the fight for independence.
• Spetses Museum: The Museum of Spetses is located in the Mansion of Hatzigianni-Mexi, a local trademan of the 19th century. It hosts items that depict the history of Spetses from the ancient till the modern times.
Festivals and cultural events of Spetses
Spetses island is a huge inspiration for many people considering its traditional history and artistic wealth. Locals try to share the beautiful and old customs and show the warm hospitality to visitors.
Religious feasts & festivals
July 17th On the 17th of July there is a celebration on the chapel right above the beach of Agia Marina. July 26th On the 26th of July, the locals organize a feast to commemorate Agia Paraskevi. The celebration lasts till the early hours with food, live music and dances.
Agios Mamas The feast of Agios Mamas is a romantic happening on Spetses island. It takes place in the small chapel of Agios Mamas, very close to Dapia.
Armata Festival The most important festival in Spetses is Armata Festival and it is held to commemorate a naval battle between Greek and Ottoman ships during the Greek War of Independence. The celebrations last for a week but the peak is the representation of the “burning of the Ottoman flagship” that takes place the first weekend after September 8th.
Mountain Biking is one of the first things you will want to do once you have your bicycle is the round of the Island. There is a well-paved road of a manageable 26 kilometers that gives you almost a complete view of the Island’s coastline, as well as commanding views of the entire Argosaronic gulf.
Hiking is a more relaxed approach to exploring the island, walking along the numerous footpaths the island has to offer is an activity suitable and fun for adults and children alike and is a favorite family’s day out.
In the province of Kynouria there is the township of Leonidio, built between the sea and the foot of the mount Parnon. Completely devastated by Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt in 1826, the place brags about the Frankish-styled stone mansions, and the gardens of geraniums, honeysuckles and lemon trees giving off a scent of nostalgia. Striking among the mansions are those of Polýtimos and Katsikóyiannis, whereas temporary exhibitions are housed in the tower of Tsikaliótis’.
The sweet “tsakóniki” aubergine, an appellation d’origine contrôlée (= controlled designation of origin) product grows in the fertile plain around Leonidio. Visit the festival of “tsakoniki” aubergine in August, when delicious dishes are served based entirely on aubergine, and cooked on the spot by the local cooks. Taste alsolocal honey, noodles and rusks.
In the narrow streets of Leonidio and the villages around it, a different language is spoken. It’s the Tsakonian language, which derives from the ancient Doric dialect. Regarded as the oldest dialect in the world, it is spoken and written by some 2,000 people in this area.
While in Leonidio:
• Enjoy the sea and the sea sports at the cosmopolitan beach of Pláka, or explore the beaches of Poúlithra, Tygáni and Fokianós to enjoy blue waters in peace.
• Go on half-day excursions to rural and seaside villages, such as the green-clad village of Aghios Vassilios (St. Basil), the traditional Poúlithra and the perched on the rocks of
Parnon village of Peléta.
Porto Heli is a small, coastal town in the peninsula of Argolida, Peloponnese. It is built around a picturesque natural harbor in the prefecture of Argolida, Peloponnese. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty that attracts many tourists every summer, thanks to its natural beauty, its facilities and the sightseeings of the area.
Surrounded by rolling pine clad hills, the village is situated on a vast bay, providing one of the safest natural harbours in Greece, which today has been transformed into a miniature cosmopolitan port without having lost its traditional charm.
With 18 miles of beaches & coves, there is always somewhere new to go for a swim or explore by boat. The mild climate, because of its 350 days of sunshine, the unforgettable sunsets, and the innumerable cultural activities, ensure that Porto Heli is a popular holiday resort throughout the year.
Things to See & Do
- During your stay in Porto Heli, you may visit the ancient city of Alieon on the South side of the bay. Some of the ruins (both on land and in the sea) are still visible nowadays.
- Other interesting sites near Porto Heli are the caves at Didyma (twins), Koilada (a nice fishing village) and Kranidi (a village unspoilt by tourism).The caves at Didyma, so called in Greek, aren’t caves at all! They’re dolines, or big depressions in the ground with very interesting features. The small doline or ‘small cave’ can be reached from the Didyma bypass road where there’s a small parking area. There is a steep stairway dug into the ground that will take you into the doline.There are two Byzantine churches in the vicinity, one of which was actually a cave. The ‘big cave’ is 500 meters up the road accessible by foot more than by car. Follow the sheep and goat footpaths around the boulders until you see the doline. It has a diameter of around 150 meters, reaching 80 meters deep. Both dolines are quite impressive. In Kilada the Frachti cave was the site of important paleontological findings and is worth visiting.
- The lake of Ververoda is a popular place a superb seawater lake just behind the village of Porto Heli, located approximately 5 km from Porto Heli. In the medieval times, the areas around the lake were thought to be a pirate hideout. The locals believe that the waters of this lake have medicine properties and can cure them from some diseases, mostly bone pains.
Feasts and Events
Porto Heli is a small town that comes alive in summer, when tourists flow there. Most festivals and events are held that time, but some other happenings also take place round the year. The Easter celebrations in Porto Heli are performed with solemnity, like in any other part of Greece. On Easter Sunday in the evening, an impressive custom takes place in Porto Heli: the burning of Judas.
The International Culture Festival of Porto Heli takes place in July and August at the Manessis Estate, a private estate above the sea of Port Heli. It includes musical performances, art exhibitions and workshops.
Water sports are great fun in Porto Heli and are without doubt the most popular activity amongst visitors. A wide range of equipment is available for hire such as windsurfing, water skiing and sailing dinghies. For a real adrenaline rush, try out a high speed inflatable donut ride. Excitement and thrills aplenty await on the water during a Porto Heli holiday and should be experienced by all.
History, architecture and tradition create a unique fusion in Hydra, one of the most cosmopolitan Greek islands.
The island’s 18th century architecture is one of its trademarks. Grey stone manors blend with red tiled houses in white and blue, while the amphitheatrically built town features a lively waterfront – a cafes and restaurants day & night promenade. Hydra differs from the majority of Greek islands in other terms, too. The road network is very limited, while the beaches are few and rocky, due to the mountainous landscape. Moreover, all types of motor vehicles are prohibited in the island, so the best ways to get around is on foot, by donkeys and water taxis. Despite the above, and the fact that it is a pricey destination, Hydra is extremely popular among Greek islands. Its serene, sophisticated atmosphere attracts visitors from all over the world, as well as Greek weekenders and day-trippers, as it is close to Athens.
The island offers excellent touristic infrastructure and preserves a strong sense of tradition. It also has the reputation of being the artists’ favorite: In the ‘50s and ‘60s it became popular among poets, painters, musicians and celebrities from Greece and abroad, such as Leonard Cohen, John Lennon, Peter Ustinov, Melina Merkouri etc., while the film “Boy on a Dolphin” starring Sophia Loren was shot here. Hydra itself is an island “socialite” who yet refuses to give up on its origins. It remains a wild beauty, chic and unspoiled, reflecting Greece at its best.
Things to See & Do
- Merchant Marine Academy This is the first Merchant Marine Academy that operated inGreece. It is housed in Tsamadou Mansion, on a hill overlooking the port and the whole village.
- Bastions: These cannons were used for protection in the past. They surround the port of Hydra and serve as reminders of a glorious past.
- Historical Archives Museum Location: The Museum of Historical Archives is located in an elegant stone mansion, at the port of Hydra Town. It houses manuscripts from the revolutionary period, paintings and ship models, rare books and other interesting exhibits.
- DESTE Foundation: Have a fine taste of contemporary art at the Old Slaughterhouse of the island, where every summer the Greek institution DESTE Foundation hosts a series of significant art projects and events.
Feasts and Events
Hydra offers to its quests the opportunity, inside from a variety of local customs and activities, to entertain themselves and get in touch with the navy tradition.
A big festival, called Miaoulia, takes place in Hydra the weekend closest to the 21st June, to honor Admiral Miaoulis, a most important man of the Greek Revolution in 1821.The festival lasts for three days and it is a part of the “Navy Week”. During Miaoulia one can see custom dances and sports among the others. Miaoulia come to its closure with fireworks and the representation of the burning of the turkish flagship the last day of the festival.
During the summer and not only, many pieces of art are exhidited, mostly, famous paintings and take place musical festivities and concerts.
Every July takes place in Hydra the International Festival of puppet show. It’s a non-profit festival and it is done with the Kind cooperation of Sweden. The actors don’t get paid and the audience, who come to see the marvelous plays, do not pay for a ticket. It is a very interesting and beautiful festival which has got many supporters, among them and Eberchar Ebne.
The puppet show is done every year and gives a breath of life to Hydra and a chance for the local people and the tourists to get to know puppets and puppeteers.
Greek Orthodox Easter in Hydra is a unique experience, from the majestic Orthodox services held outdoors in candlelight on Good Friday and Good Saturday, to local customs like immersing the Epitaph in the sea, on Good Friday evening, in Kamini beach. It is a great opportunity to enjoy custom dances during the day and fireworks at night.
The Resurrection of our Lord, in Good Sunday, is done in a candlelight atmosphere, with fireworks. In Hydra takes place many meetings like the Orthodox Scientific Meeting, which first create the Bishop of Hydra Ierotheos. The visitor can take part to many festivities that keep their traditional way, like the festival of the eight Saint Protectors of Hydra (24th June).
Hiking is very popular in Hydra as there are no motor vehicles and old footpaths cross the island, leading to old monasteries, secluded beaches and hilltops with breathtaking view to the Saronic Sea. An activity that is gradually developing in Hydra island over the last years is diving. The sea bottom around Hydra has many interesting reefs and underwater caves, ideal for scuba divers. Diving trips are also organized in close islands, like Dokos and Spetses, and in the neighbouring coasts of Peloponnese.
Epidaurus is an area of mainland Greece which is found at the Peloponnese region. The most important sight in Epidaurus Greece is the Ancient Theatre. Apart from the symmetry of this structure, the theater is unique because of its excellent state of conservation, which allows it to be still in working order. Another distinctive detail about this construction is the perfect acoustics. In fact, if you drop a pin on the stage, it will be heard even if your sitting at the last seats of the theater. In summer, this theatre hosts performances of ancient Greek drama. Few steps from the Ancient Theatre is the Sanctuary of Asklepios, a very popular healing center in the antiquity. The Archaeological Museum hosts many interesting exhibits from excavations on this site. Epidaurus is among the most famous archaeological sites in Greece due to its ancient theatre that works till today and hosts ancient Greek dramas. However, apart from the site, the entire area is also beautiful, with lush green nature and calm beaches.
Things to See & Do
- Ancient Theatre: The ancient theater of Epidaurous is the most famous ancient theatre of Greece. With amazing harmony and acoustics, this theatre was built in phases from the 4th till the 2nd century BC. In summer, many theatrical performances take place there.
- Little Theatre: The Little Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus is located amidst many fruit trees close to the village of Palia Epidaurus. It was built in different stages from the 4th century BC till the Hellenistic times. Some theatre and musical performances take place there in summer.
- Sanctuary Of Asklepios: The Sanctuary of Asklepios, also called Asklepieion, was a healing centre in the ancient times. People would go there to be cured from illnesses and diseases. It is located next to the Ancient Theatre.
- Archaeological Museum: The Archaeological Museum of Epidaurus is located next to the Ancient Theatre. Small in size, it hosts interesting findings from excavations in the site.
Feasts and Events
The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus hosts major drama performaces every summer, in the weekends of July and August, as part of the Greek Festival. These performances are mostly ancient Greek drama. Few other theatre performances, musical concerts and lectures are hosted in the Little Theatre of Epidaurus, in the port village of Palea Epidaurus.
The Greek Festival is held in Athens and Epidaurus all summer long. Particularly in Epidaurus, the events take place in the weekends of July and August in two venues of Epidaurus: the Ancient Theatre and the Little Theatre. The events include performances of Ancient Greek drama, musical concerts and lectures.
An agricultural exhibition with local products is organized in July in the beautiful port village of Palea Epidaurus.
Cycling: The bike paths leading to one of the many beaches or any archaeological site is a
wonderful activity in nature of Epidaurus
Hang gliding: In recent years more and more frequent the appearance Hang gliders in the sky of Epidaurus. Athletes of this activity can enjoy their favorite sport, from the nearby hillsides reaching more often to a nearby beach.
Hiking: Another enjoyable activity in Epidaurus is hiking. Many old footpaths cross the region and lead to tiny chapels, small settlements, secluded beaches and hilltops with breathtaking view to the sea. Hiking is best in autumn and spring, when the weather is not so hot. In summer, long hiking can be quiet uncomfortable.
Just a breath away from Athens, Agistri is a tiny island of truly unexpected merits. It is rather hard to believe that in merely one hour from the port of Piraeus lays a destination with so much to offer. Located in the Argosaronic Gulf (very close to the island of Aegina), Agistri is in fact one of the most unspoiled Greek islands.
Azure waters, pine trees and lush vegetation (where many bird species find refuge) are the main characteristics of this tiny, yet charming, island of less than 1,000 inhabitants!
Things to See & Do
- Skala is the main port of the island. Many picturesque beaches surround Skala and this is the most tourist developed spot in Agistri.Walk from Skala to Chalkiada beach enjoying a magnificent tree covered path near the sea.
- Visit Agistri’s satellite islets: Visit Agistri’s satellite islets -Metopi, Dorousa, Kyra, Spalathronisi- and swim in “private”, pristine beaches.
- Church of Zoodochos Pigi: The island’s cathedral is located at Megalochori. A major feast takes place here at Easter.
- Megalochori is the capital village of the island. It has traditional architecture, a sandy beach and a small port where fishing boats moor. Excursion boats from Megalochori make the tour of the island.
During summer you will have the chance to enjoy some local feasts that take place in Agistri . There is a large panigiri on August 15th in the small church of Panagia in Metohi. This church us accessible on trek. On July 1st, visitors can attend the feast in the church of Agioi Anargyroi. This is the lovely white and blue church above the beach of Skala and on July 7th, there is the feast of Agia Kyriaki in Limenaria, Agistri island.
The island provides a multitude of activities to do: water sports at Skala and Aponisos, horse riding at Megalohori, cycling and wimming in the wonderfully secluded beaches of Agistri is a delight. Walking around Agistri is a pleasant activity, as long as you start early in the morning in order to avoid the heat. Otherwise, you can rent a bike or a bicycle and move from one village to another, plus enjoy some beach hopping. Many old footpaths cross the island and lead to tiny chapels, small settlements, secluded beaches and hilltops with breathtaking view to the sea.
Aegina Greece is a verdant island known for its great production of colorful pistachios. The Greek Island has a lovely capital full of fine neoclassical buildings and narrow alleys where one can enjoy fresh fish and excellent appetizers in the taverns of the fish market, in the heart of the town. The 5th century BC temple of Aphaia can be visited; it is located in an area full of olive and pine trees, overlooking the deep blue sea.
On the Southern edge of the island lies the small fishing village of Perdika. This is one of the most picturesque spots on the island and still has the characteristics of the Aegean Sea-style of square houses and narrow streets. Many restaurants to eat fresh fish, surrounded by a beautifull and scape full of big pine trees and calm beaches. For swimming you can choose the sunny pebbled beach of Klima, located on the south side of the island.
Things to See & Do
- Ancient monuments: A must starting point is the 5th century BC temple of Aphea (daughter of Zeus), Aegina’s sightseeing highlight and one of the best preserved archaeological sites in Greece. Situated on a pine tree hill, it offers great views of the Argosaronic and a small museum. Next stop is the Temple of Apollo, where one Doric column, among other ruins, reminds its past glory. Last but not least, the Archaeological Museum of Aegina is one of the most worth seeing museums among all Greek islands. It lies at the Kolona archaeological site and it was founded in 1829 by Ioannis Kapodistrias.
- Paleochora: This charming ancient town -Aegina’s former capital in medieval times for almost a millennium- is set in an imposing rocky landscape. Its remains include nearly 30 byzantine churches, out of more than 500 that used to be there.
- More Town sights: The Cathedral (the first parliament of the Modern Greek state) and Markellos Tower (a trademark Venetian small castle, now open only for art events).
- Agios Nektarios Monastery: One of the biggest orthodox churches in the Balkans and a famous religious centre that counts numerous visitors.
- Visit the Hellenic Wildlife Hospital: It is the largest in Southern Europe and treats up to 4.500 wild animals every year. Feel free to make a donation, as it is a nonprofit institution, based exclusively on volunteers’ work.
Religious feasts & festivals, Events
Agios Nektarios The most famous celebration is the feast in honour of Agios Nektarios, the patron saint of Aegina island. It celebrates twice a year, on November 9th and September 3rd. These days, many pilgrims visit the Monastery of Agios Nektarios. August 15th On August 15th is the largest panigiri on Aegina, the celebration of the Monastery of Chryssoleontissa. Established in the 17th century, this monastery is located in the centre of the island.
Pistachio Festival: The Pistachio Festival takes place in September. The main events are organized in Aegina Town, but there are also many events in the villages of Aegina island. This festival aims at the promotion of local products and particularly the pistachio nuts of Aegina. A large trade market with local products is set along the port promenade of Aegina Town. Other events include cooking courses, theatre performances, musical concerts, art exhibitiosn and ceramic workshops. International Music Festival: The International Music Festival of Aegina is organized since 2006. Every year, it hosts some of the most renowd artists of classical and jazz music, choirs and bands aiming to promote new talents and at the same time to inspire visitors and locals. It is usually held in August and lasts for two weeks.
An enjoyable activity in Aegina island is hiking. Many old footpaths cross the island and lead to tiny chapels, small settlements, secluded beaches and hilltops with breathtaking view to the sea. Hiking is best in autumn and spring, when the weather is not so hot. In summer, long hiking can be quiet uncomfortable.