A Saronic Gulf islands day trip from Athens
There are plenty of companies offering Saronic Gulf islands day trips from Athens or you could travel under your own steam. Either way, no mini-island hopping adventure in the Saronic Gulf would be complete without visiting these little gems:
Your day out in the Saronic Gulf begins in Hydra, the furthest away of our chosen islands. The buzz and energy of Athens are instantly replaced by the charm and charisma of Hydra as you are greeted by 18th-century captain’s houses and a waterfront of restaurants and cafes. In the labyrinth of alleyways in town, there are flower-filled courtyards and souvenir shops and, best of all, the island is car-free.
To head to the beach, you have to walk or take a sea taxi. But spend time just exploring. There’s the Miaoulis Monument (honouring the revolutionary naval hero) and you can visit Hydra’s Museum of Historical Archives and the Kimisis tis Theotokou Cathedral, in a 17th-century monastery complex that includes an Ecclesiastical Museum, right next to the harbour. Look out for the Lazaros and Pavlos Koundouriotis mansions, with a collection of folk exhibits.
A tip is to climb the Profitis Ilias Hill, where there’s a fantastic view of the red-tiled roofs around the harbour. And for a swim, there’s the beach and little harbour of Kamini (15mins walk away) and beyond that Vlychos and Mandraki. Not a bad way to start your day out in the Saronic Gulf.
You are immediately seduced by the serenity of Poros as you arrive on the greenest of the Saronic Gulf islands. Poros is in fact two islands separated by a natural canal, with the neoclassical buildings rising amphitheatrically above the port on Sferia and Kalavria characterised by pine trees reaching the sea.
The flower-filled courtyards, fish tavernas and souvenir shops of town satisfy every craving for island life and there is history to dip into here as well, with an Archaeological Museum and the church of Agios Georgios and Folklore Museum. Climbing to the 1920s clock tower (Roloi), you are treated to a wonderful view.
Walking-distance beaches include Kanali (20 minutes) and, a little further away, Askeli and Mikro Neorio (30 minutes). And if you have transport, head to the ruins of the 6th-century Temple of Poseidon or Monastiri Beach and the Limanaki tis Agapis (Little Port of Love).
Returning towards Piraeus, you reach Aegina, famous for its antiquities and pistachios. The neoclassical houses paint a picture of the island’s 19th-century glamour days, but there is still a traditional feel to the town with coffee houses and tavernas for a late-afternoon ouzo and seafood meze.
The alleyways of Aegina town are full of houses and shops (be sure to take home a bag of pistachio nuts or liqueur) and look for the Markellos Tower (the pink watchtower housing Greece’s first government after independence from the Turks), Archaeological Museum and Historic and Folk Museum.
Just 10mins away by foot is the archaeologic site of Kolonas but more impressive (reached by bus or car) is the 5th-century BC Temple of Aphaias, built on a pine tree-filled hill and one third of the ancient Sacred Triangle of temples including the Parthenon and Temple of Apollo at Delphi.
A final treat is to nip over from Aegina to the tiny island of Moni, with its unbelievably clear water, wild goats and peacocks. It’s included in some day trips, or you can reach it by boat from the fishing village of Perdika on Aegina. Or there’s Angistri, another magical little isle next door to Aegina. There are ferries that head there from Aegina port or directly from Piraeus… in which case a tip is to take a bike and find your own special cove or beach to swim in.