The most amazing islands of the Saronic Gulf and the Peloponnesian coast in seven days.
Day 1: Athens - Poros (31 NM)
After renting a vessel and safely accommodating on board, spend some time talking to the manager of the charter company. Before sailing from Athens, you’ll have enough time to see the city and enjoy dinner in one of the restaurants.
Day 2: Poros - Hydra (14 NM)
No connection here between the island’s name and the mythological goddess, but rather, deriving from the Greek word Ύδρα meaning “water.” Historically living up to its name, it used to be a site for plentiful fresh-water springs which would later facilitate naval glory, Hydra’s golden age began in the 15th century, when the population of the neighbouring Peloponnese began fleeing the islands from the advancing Turkish invasion. The rocky local terrain was difficult for growing crops, so the inhabitants were forced to turn to the sea. Gradually, the talented fisherman began distinguishing themselves as outstanding mariners and the island wound up giving Greece dozens of admirals and fleet commanders. But Hydra’s cultural life was not to be outdone. Despite its relatively small size, the island counts roughly 300 churches, six ancient monasteries, numerous captains’ houses turned museums, and a handful of monuments to prominent local figures and milestone events. The Greeks decided that the locally shot film, Boy on a Dolphin (1957), was one such milestone event. It dramatically enhanced the locality’s tourist attraction, making Hydra a high-end resort for international celebrities. The monument to the film was erected on the island in 2006.
Day 3: Hydra - Spetses (17 NM)
This small island at the mouth of the Argolic Gulf was called Pityoussa, the ancient Greek word for “pine.” The Venetians dubbed it, Isola di Spezzie, or “aromatic island.” Both monikers are fair – sprawling pine groves coexist harmoniously with copious herbs, such as thyme and rosemary. Much like Hydra, Spetses is an island of maritime glory. The local inhabitants took active part in the war for Greek independence. One of the more pivotal moments in that campaign was the Battle of Spetses, and today, the island celebrates the annual Armata festival dedicated to the victory over the Ottoman fleet. To commemorate the event, the locals gather in the harbour to build, and then ceremonially burn, a model of a Turkish ship. Today, Spetses’ glory rests entirely in its tourist and cultural aspects. In 1965, the English writer John Fowles published his novel, The Magnus, the events of which unfold on the Island of Fraksos, inspired by Spetses. The book’s debut began drawing affluent tourists to the island; this traffic shows no signs of slowing. Even so many years later, Spetses is still viewed as a vacation spot for the elite – the last Greek monarch, Constantine II himself, visited in 2013.
Day 4: Spetses - Nafplion (27 NM)
Ancient little Nafplio is rightly considered one of the most beautiful and interesting places in Greece. Legend links the town’s origins with Poseidon’s son Nauplius – the inspiration for the town’s current name. Over the course of its centuries-long history, Nafplio has belonged to different states, with the Venetians and Turks exerting the greatest impact on its development. From the days of their rule, modern-day Nafplio inherited – and continues to be the home of – several fortresses (the Italian Palamidi, the Turkish Bourtzi), Baroque buildings, churches and mosques, and narrow cobbled lanes with bright, multi-coloured houses. The most picturesque part of the town is Acronafplia, or the “inner castle.” The old town is perfect for leisurely strolls. There is no vehicle traffic here – just plenty of fragrant flowers and shade trees growing between the stone walls.
Day 5: Nafplion - Porto Heli (26 NM)
Right up until the mid-20th century, only a tiny fishing village stood on the gulf shores – Porto Cheli. Later, it became popular among sailing enthusiasts, necessitating the construction of yacht clubs, refined hotels, restaurants, spa resorts and the like. Devoid of important historical monuments, Porto Cheli has earned the affection of tourists the world over simply for its magnificent beaches, calm bay waters, and fantastic climate. Today, Porto Cheli is a destination for experienced yachtsmen and novices alike; the gulf offers terrific conditions for learning to sail, and it also has a great location relative to the islands of Spetses and Hydra, rich in sights and points of interest.
Day 6: Porto Heli - Ermioni (15 NM)
The small port town of Ermioni is conveniently situated on the Peloponnese peninsula – just a stone’s-throw away from the islands of Hydra, Dokos and Spetses, a well as from the popular villages of Porto Cheli and Nafplio. Ermioni’s recreational offerings are standard for Greece: sandy beaches, tranquil little coves, a shoreline dotted with pines and a handful of architectural landmarks. The Agioi Anargyroi Monastery, the Venetian Castle of Thermisia and the Byzantine Church of the Holy Trinity are worth a visit.
Day 7: Ermioni - Aegina (40 NM)
A pearl in the waters of the Saronic Gulf – that’s the Aegian Island. It’s a perfectly appropriate comparison – after all, Aegina has virtually no shortcomings. A rich historical past, an abundant cultural heritage, and charming little villages, manicured shores and magnificent beaches – Aegina has it all. Speaking of Aegina’s history, it would be hard not to mention the myths and legends, so, without delving into long and drawn-out tales, we’ll just say that it has something to do with Zeus. But interestingly, the main local attraction was not built in his honour at all, but for the Goddess Aphaea, the island’s protector. The Doric temple has survived largely intact, and today is one of the island’s main landmarks. Also noteworthy are the Monastery of Agios Nectarios, the archaeological museum next to the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, and the nature preserve on the Island of Moni. In the interests of ensuring a comfortable and relaxing vacation, the island has arranged roughly 20 beaches, the most popular of which is Agia Marina. Within the vicinity of the Town of Aegina are the sandy beaches of Avra, Kolona and Panagitsa, each of which boast fabulous amenities and cozy restaurants close nearby.