Islands close to Athens
Saronic Islands Cruise
The food, the vibe, the outdoor living and, of course, the people. It doesn’t take much to fall for Athens. So what if you were told that your city break or stopover could include a taste of island life?
Well, the islands next to Athens aren’t exactly secrets. So close that their silhouettes tantalise you as you gaze into the Saronic Gulf, they are (if you want them to be) just as much a part of the Athens experience as the city centre. Aegina and neighbouring Angistri ,followed by Hydra, Poros and Spetses.
And further up the coast, Tzia (or Kea) , Kythnos and Andros (part of the Cyclades but far closer to Athens than the more illustrious members of that island chain). They are all so close that each can be visited in a day.
For decades, many Athenians have made them weekend escapes. So if you really want to turn on the summer style, how about a city break with an island-hopping twist? Take one of organized excursions of Eskapas that take you to Hydra, Poros and Aegina – and back to Piraeus or one of the nearby Athens marinas in time for dinner.
A final treat is to nip over from Aegina to the tiny island of Moni, with its unbelievably clear water, wild goats and peacocks. 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. A tip is to take a bike and find your own special cove or beach to swim in.
Saronic Islands Cruise
Choose Eskapas organised tour to explore the islands most commonly visited in day trip.
Instantly replacing the buzz and energy of Athens is 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 the island’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. Saronic Islands Cruise
You are immediately seduced by the greenery and serenity of Poros. It 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).
Famous for its antiquities and pistachios, Aegina is one of the closest islands to Athens. 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 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.
Pick up service from most of the hotels in Athens at 07:30 am.
Drop-off back to Athens hotel at 07:45 pm
Saronic Islands Cruise
Departure of our boat is at approximately 08.00 a.m. heading to the three beautiful islands of the Saronic Gulf. After departure, our guide and the hostesses will ask you to assemble in one of the main lounges of the ship to get acquainted and give you all the information concerning the ship, the program of the cruise and the islands. The order of the island visits may be changed with no prior notice.
- Hydra (apprx. 2 hours)
The favorite island of the jet set, whose old traditional stone houses and mansions have over the years housed the enfant gâté of the art world. The narrow stone-paved streets await for you to explore them on foot or by saddled donkey, as the island belongs to a niche group of places that do not allow motorized vehicles. Captivating walks along the old seaside promenade crystal clear waters and radiant fine craft shops create an incredible amalgamation of two different worlds!
- Poros (apprx. 1 hour)
Although it is the smallest of the three islands we will visit, its narrow strait offering a most enchanting view of the town of Poros, is a site to behold. The island is extremely close to Peloponnese, with a 200m (650ft) strip of water separating it from the mainland. That gives Poros a unique coastline, as a big part of it is almost lagoon-like.
- Aegina (apprx. 2 hours)
During ancient times it was a rival of Athens, the great sea power of the era. As such, the island is, to this day, full of archaeological sites and historical points of interest. Apart from its harbor, there are optional organized tours by air conditioned busses visiting the Temple of Aphaia (archeological site) or the Church of Saint Nektarios, whose relics are on display. These tours are optional and are sold on board the ship. On our way back to Marina Flisvos, a traditional Greek folk show with singers and dancers will entertain you up to the final moment as the ship arrives at Marina Flisvos. Saronic Islands Cruise
Optional excursions (extra charge):
- Classical tour (Aegina) :
Start your classical tour with a Guided Bus Tour of the island, starting with a visit to the Temple of Aphaia which is the best preserved temple in Greece and one of the 3 temples forming the famous “Sacred Triangle” of Greek antiquity. Built on top of a pine tree covered hill, it offers the most magnificent view over the island, the Saronic Gulf, Piraeus and Salamina Island. Our guide will tell you the fascinating story of the intriguing history of this beautiful temple and then from there we make a small stop for photographs to the Church of Saint Nektarios, where you can admire its beautiful Byzantine architecture. On our way back to Aegina Port you will have the time to relax and appreciate the exquisite peaceful nature of the island.
- Panoramic tour (Aegina): Drive across the entire island (without visiting the archaeological site) admiring the beauty of its nature, the famous Aegina pistachio groves, the island’s medieval capital of Paleohora and the Saint Nektarios Monastery. Final stop is at a local taverna at the port to enjoy some meze and tsipouro.
- Swimming excursion (Aegina): Enjoy a soft drink while we transfer you by our company’s speedboat to the coast of Moni, 7 minutes away from the port, to a private organized beach with umbrellas which is ideal not only for swimming but also for enjoying the natural beauty and landscape filled with pine trees. You can swim in the crystal clear blue waters and enjoy the sandy beach next to peacocks and if you are lucky you can see the deer enjoying the landscape as well. Saronic Islands Cruise
Make sure you have everything you need for a day in the sun:
Our organised day trips throughout the year, but April-October are the best months to visit, with spring and autumn being particularly special and the bonus of an early or late-summer swim.
Saronic Islands Cruise
Saronic Islands Cruise
A carefree one-day cruise from the capital to three nearby picturesque islands of the Saronic Gulf. You will visit Hydra, the haven of the artistic world and favorite jet set destination, the quaint island of Poros and the historic Aegina, an island that was a major naval force during antiquity and now has the ruins to prove it. At each location you are afforded some time for sightseeing, picking up mementos and exploring at your own pace. Buffet lunch is included and served on board and optional excursions on the islands are offered upon request. With three islands in one day and a luxurious vessel to traverse the crystal clear waters of the Saronic Gulf, this is an unmissable opportunity!