Within the Gulf of Saronic, also known as the Gulf of Aegina, are scattered a series of islands and islets, immersed in the deep blue of the Aegean Sea.
Each of these islands is rich in history, culture and breathtaking natural landscapes. These islands are absolutely out of the most intense flow of mass tourism that strikes Greece every year, so this allows you to discover a much more traditional, calm and peaceful aspect of this beautiful destination, without having to enter the middle of the Aegean in search of some remote destination. Visiting these islands by boat means enjoying, almost alone, some of the most beautiful bays and coves in the Mediterranean. Aegina with its splendid temple of Efea, Poros with its lemon-scented orchards and Hydra with its narrow streets and attractive mills are certainly among the most beautiful islands of the Saronic Gulf.
By the end of this itinerary we also interviewed George, base manager at Alimos Marina, one of the largest marinas in Greece, located South West of Athens. Alimos Marina is the best spot to sail through the Saronic Islands.
Piraeus is known by all as the main port of Athens, but very few know the beauties and this city. One of the most authentic areas is Maniatika, a place where tradition, art and architecture have remained unchanged over the decades. The Pasalimani area is a different one, more lively where you can relax in one of the cafés or restaurants in the area. Here you will find the famous and picturesque stone clock, a meeting point for the locals.
Mikrolimano marina in Athens
Due to its proximity to the mainland coast, Aegina is an island in the Saronic Gulf, a destination of many sailors and boats in general. In the main town, you can visit the church of Agios Nikolaos and many temples. The sea is so crystal clear that you hardly need goggles or masks to admire the seabed if you enjoy snorkelling. Also not to be missed are the pistachios produced on the spot.
Aegina Island long promenade, why not spend it whilst sipping a drink with a view?
Among the blue of the Saronic Gulf, well protected in its small bay we find Epidaurus, surrounded by the scent of orange blossom and the sea breeze of its port. Ancient, traditional and modern, Epidaurus is always ready to welcome travellers from all over the world. The local church, St. Nicholas, is built on the ruins of the Temple of Hera and nearby is the Sanctuary of Asklepios, Ancient Theatre that attracts thousands of visitors every day.
The island of Hydra is a paradise where the only wheels allowed are those of bicycles. Entering from the port, you can not miss the magnificent archontika, ancient homes of Greek nobles now luxurious hotels or museums. The town of Hydra is especially lively in the evening at aperitif time, especially the Hydronetta bar with a terrace overlooking the sea with breathtaking views. Bisti and Agios Nikolaos, bays accessible only by sea, are a must. Dokos, a small Greek island of the Argo-Saronic Gulf is just adjacent to Hydra, George says about Dokos: "It's a nice option to stay only with your anchor and mooring lines to the shore".
The buzzing harbour of Hydra
Nafplio is a lively and fascinating city, especially for the mix of cultures that have crossed it. From the famous Syntagma Square, you can visit the Vouleftiko, the palace that in 1825 hosted the first parliament. Not far away is a Turkish madrassa, first a mosque, then a church, school and theatre.
Bourtzi Castle is a landmark, a fortified island located at the entrance to the bay that now also houses the Nafplio Music Festival.
Nafplio quaint alleys
Spetses is a very characteristic and folkloristic island, linked to its traditions, here, in fact, there are many cultural festivals, such as August Anargyria, or theatrical performances in the ancient theatre of Epidaurus. Spetses also has many bays to offer for mooring and bathing, such as the famous Agia Paraskevi. If you're looking for fun, Lazareto, Zogheria, and Vrelos, where you can go diving, are all beautiful. There are two worthwhile stops as you may your way to Spetses: "Hinitsa Bay a very protected bay where you can stay there and anchor. Porto Hervi, a protected bay from northern winds. If the weather is not great you can go down these bays."says George.
Aerial view of Spetses Island
The island of Poros is actually the whole of two islands, Kalavria and Sferia, connected by an isthmus
Poros City is a must, ideal for those who want to dive into Greek culture, visiting the streets of the city and spending a quiet holiday in full relaxation.
In Poros city there is also the port and all the main activities are developed right between its streets. Here the choice between different beach clubs and typical restaurants is very wide.
Down the streets of Poros
George is the base manager at Alimos Marina, one of the largest marinas in Greece, located South West of Athens and also the best harbour to visit the Saronic Gulf by boat.
In this interview he explores the best places he recommends sailing to as you make your way from Athens harbour. "Western winds can blow pretty quickly and when the wind is blowing from the north, you need to be aware of the big waves, when crossing to Poros. The Saronic and Algonic Gulf sailing area is ideal for anyone who wants to start sailing. Much easier than other parts of Greece."
"Don't forget to have an overnight at Island Dokos. You can say the water is wonderful and the best port all around the area." says George. Watch the full interview here.