35 Best Sights in The Saronic Gulf Islands, Greece

Ayios Nikolaos

Fodor's choice

Boats ferry bathers from Hydra Town harbor near the Mitropolis church to pebble beaches on the island's southern coast, the best of which is Ayios Nikolaos, where there are sun beds and umbrellas for a charge (starting at €3) and you can also rent canoes. Ayios Nikolaos is located on the south side of the island, facing the Aegean Sea, and it is the largest organized beach on the island. It is mostly pebbled with some small sandy stretches that are ideal for children's play. The large boats heading to and from here have set fees (to Ayios Nikolaos from Hydra Town is €8); water taxis, max 8 passengers, charge around €150 for the round trip. Amenities: food and drink; water sports. Best for: snorkeling; swimming.

Bouboulina's Museum

Fodor's choice

In front of a small park is Bouboulina's House, now a museum, where you can take a 45-minute guided tour (available in English) and learn about this interesting heroine's life. Laskarina Bouboulina was the bravest of all Spetsiot revolutionaries, the daughter of a Hydriot sea captain, and the wife—then widow—of two more sea captains. Left with a considerable inheritance and nine children, she dedicated herself to increasing her already substantial fleet and fortune. On her flagship, the Agamemnon, the largest in the Greek fleet at the time, she sailed into war against the Ottomans at the head of the Spetsiot ships. Her fiery temper led to her death in a family feud many years later. It's worth visiting the mansion, which is run by her fourth-generation grandson, just for the architectural details, like the carved-wood Florentine ceiling in the main salon. Tour times (in groups of up to 35 visitors) are posted on the museum website, in front of the museum, and in announcement boards at the port of Dapia. The museum closes for maintenance during winter.

Spetses Town, Spetses, 18050, Greece
sights Details
Rate Includes: €6, Closed Nov.–late Mar, Late Mar.–Oct., daily 9:45–2:15 and 3:45–8:15

Hydra Historical Archives and Museum

Fodor's choice

Housed in an impressive mansion, this collection of historical artifacts and paintings has exhibits that date back to the 18th century. Heirlooms from the Balkan wars as well as from World War I and II are exhibited in the lobby. A small upstairs room contains figureheads from ships that fought in the 1821 War of Independence. There are old pistols and navigation aids, as well as portraits of the island's heroes and a section devoted to traditional local costume, including the dark karamani pantaloons worn by Hydriot men. Temporary art exhibits are also showcased from time to time.

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Moni Beach

Fodor's choice

In summer, caïques make frequent 10-minute trips from the fishing port of Perdika to the little island of Moni, a real heaven-on-earth inhabited only by peacocks, wild deer, relocated kri-kri (Cretan goats), and some remains of a 1960s campground. Shadowed by pine trees, hiking trails wind their way through the island's pristine landscape. Once the property of the Monastery of Chrysoleontissa, it is now a nature preserve. After your hike, take a most refreshing swim off the little sandy beach in the marvelously clear green waters by the quay. Note that the boatmen come back every hour, allowing you to leave whenever you wish (the round-trip ticket costs €5). A small beach bar operates in summer, offering cool drinks and toasted sandwiches, but if you plan to spend the day here, you would be better off bringing a full picnic lunch. In crowded peak season, Moni is a lovely way to escape the madding crowds. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: swimming; walking.

Spetses Museum

Fodor's choice

A fine and impressive late 18th-century archontiko, owned by the locally renowned Hatziyianni-Mexi family and built in a style that might be termed Turko-Venetian, contains the town's municipal museum. It holds articles from the period of Spetses's greatness during the War of Independence, including the bones of the town's heroine, Bouboulina, and a revolutionary flag. A small collection of ancient artifacts consists mostly of ceramics and coins. Also on display are representative pieces of furniture and household items from the period of the Greek revolution.

Spetses Town, Spetses, 18050, Greece
sights Details
Rate Includes: €4, Closed Tues., Tues.–Sun. 8:30–2:30

Temple of Aphaia

Fodor's choice

One of the great glories of ancient Greek art, the Temple of Aphaia is among the most extant examples of classical Doric architecture. Once adorned with an exquisite group of pedimental sculptures (now in the Munich Glyptothek) it still proudly bears 25 of its original 32 columns, which were either left standing or have been reconstructed. The structure is perched on a pine-clad promontory, offering superb views of Athens and Piraeus across the water—with binoculars you can see both the Parthenon and the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion. The saying goes that the Ancient Greeks built the Temple of Aphaia in Aegina, the Parthenon in Athens, and the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion as the tips of a perfect equidistant triangle (called Antiquity's Perfect Triangle). This site has been occupied by many sanctuaries to Aphaia; the ruins visible today are those of the temple built in the early 5th century BC. Aphaia was apparently a pre-Hellenic deity, whose worship eventually converged with that of Athena.

You can visit the museum for no extra fee. The exhibit has a reconstructed section of the pediment of the temple, many fragments from the once brilliantly colored temple interior, and the votive tablet (560 BC) on which is written that the temple is dedicated to the goddess Aphaia. From Aegina Town, catch the KTEL bus for Ayia Marina on Ethneyersias Square, the main Aegina Town bus station; ask the driver to let you off at the temple. A gift and snack bar across the road is a comfortable place to have a drink and wait for the return bus to Aegina Town or for the bus bound for Ayia Marina and its pebbled beach.

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Aegina Archaeological Museum

This small but choice collection of archaeological artifacts was the first ever to be established in Greece (1829). Finds from the famed Temple of Aphaia and excavations throughout the island, including early and middle Bronze Age pottery, are on display. Among the Archaic and classical works of art is the distinctive Ram Jug, which depicts Odysseus and his crew fleeing the Cyclops, and a 5th-century BC sphinx, a votive monument with the head of a woman and a body that is half-eagle, half-lion.

Aegina was one of the best schools of pottery and sculpture in antiquity and the exhibits here prove it. Just above the Archaeological Museum is the ancient site of the Acropolis of Aegina, the island's religious and political center. The settlement was first established in the Copper Age (early Bronze Age), and was renamed Kolona, or "column," in the Venetian era, after the only remaining pillar of the Temple of Apollo that once stood there. While in great disarray—11 successive cities once stood here—it remains a true treat for those into archaeology. Examine ruins and walls dating back to 1600–1300 BC, as well as Byzantine-era buildings.

Harbor front, 350 feet from ferry dock, Aegina Town, Aegina, 18010, Greece
sights Details
Rate Includes: €4, Reduced: €2, Closed Tues., Tues.–Sun. 8:30–3

Aegina Museum of History and Folklore

Within an 1828 neoclassical house endowed to the municipality of Aegina, this museum colorfully allows you to experience home and working life in a traditional Aegina house. On the second floor discover exhibits of authentic old furniture, paintings, costumes, and lace in a typical island setting. On the first floor, the Fisherman's house features fishery and sponge-fishing equipment, while the Cottage house displays farm tools of the old days. The first-floor hall regularly hosts temporary exhibitions.

Aeginitissa Beach

After Marathonas, Aeginitissa is a small, sandy bay with crystalline green waters surrounded by huge eucalyptus trees. The shallow water makes it accessible to novice swimmers. There's a bar, a beach volleyball court, and umbrellas and lounge chairs are available for rent. Amenities: food and drink; showers; water sports. Best for: sunset; swimming.

Anargyrios and Korgialenios School

Known as the inspiration for the school in John Fowles's The Magus, this institution was established in 1927 as an English-style boarding school for the children of Greece's Anglophile wealthy elite. Until 2010, tourism management students studied amid the elegant amphitheaters, black-and-white-tile floors, and huge windows. Today, the buildings are used for conferences, private seminars, and summer schools. Nevertheless, visitors can still take a peek (free) inside the school and stroll around the fabulous gardens throughout the year.

Ayia Marina

Favored by fashionable Greek socialites, the mostly sandy beach at Ayia Marina is the home of the elegant Paradise Beach Bar, tavernas, and many water-sports activities. Sun beds and umbrellas are available for a fee. You can hire a horse-drawn buggy from town to arrive in style, or you can come by caïque. Warning: this beach can get pretty busy during the summer months with a younger, party-loving crowd. Amenities: food and drink; showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: partiers; swimming; walking.

Agia Marina, Spetses, 18050, Greece
22980-72195-Paradise Beach Bar

Ayia Marina Beach

The best sandy beach on the island, Ayia Marina is popular with the parenting set, as the shallow water is ideal for playing children. A more rocky beach lies to the north of the marina that is good for diving and snorkeling. There are plenty of tavernas and cafés along the bay, while Hotel Apollo is not too far away. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; toilets; water sports. Best for: snorkeling; swimming; walking.

Ayia Paraskevi

Pine trees, a canteen, sun beds, and umbrellas line Ayia Paraskevi, a sheltered and popular beach with a mostly sandy shore (and coarse pebbles in other parts). Look for the cubic Ayia Paraskevi chapel at the back—it has given its name to the bay. Many locals consider this beach the most beautiful on the island; it can be reached either via road or with a caïque. The beach gets fairly busy during the summer months, and if you don't manage to snag a sun bed (€10 for a pair), you can sun yourself on the red rocks bordering the sandy beach. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: snorkeling; swimming; walking.

Ayioi Anargyroi

A clean and cosmopolitan beach, Ayioi Anargyroi has a gently sloped seabed with deep waters suitable for snorkeling, waterskiing, and other water sports (rentals are available on-site). It is the island's best-known beach, 6 km (4 miles) away from town. You can also swim (or take a path) to beautiful Bekiris cave, a famous historical spot used by Greek revolutionaries as a hiding place during the 1821 revolution. Look for Taverna Manolis by the beach; nearby you can rent two sun beds and an umbrella for about €10 a day. There is also a pretty hotel (Acrogiali) right on the beach. Amenities: lifeguards; showers; water sports. Best for: snorkeling; swimming; walking; windsurfing.

Spetses, 18050, Greece

Ayios Mamas

The town's stone promontory is the site of the little 19th-century church, Ayios Mamas—take your photos from a distance as the church is privately owned and often locked. Bring a swimsuit, as the beach here is great for a dip.

Ayios Nikolaos

As you approach from the sea, your first view of Aegina Town takes in the sweep of the harbor, with quaint neoclassical buildings in the background, the lovely vista punctuated by the gleaming white chapel of Ayios Nikolaos Thalassinos (St. Nicholas the Seafarer).

Harbor front, Aegina Town, Aegina, 18010, Greece

Church of the Dormition

Founded in 1643 as a monastery, the Church of the Dormition has since been dissolved and the monks' cells are now used to house municipal offices and the small ecclesiastical museum "Ayios Makarios Notaras." The church's most noticeable feature is an ornate, triple-tier bell tower made of Tinos marble, likely carved in the early 19th century by traveling artisans. There's also an exquisite marble iconostasis.

Hydra Town, Hydra, 18040, Greece
sights Details
Rate Includes: Church free (donations accepted), museum €2, Museum closed Nov. 16–Mar. 31 and every Mon., Church: daily 10–2 and 5–8. Museum: Apr.–Nov. 15, Tues.–Sun. 10–5



Ships dock at the modern harbor, Dapia, in Spetses Town. This is where the island's seafaring chieftains met in the 1820s to plot their revolt against the Ottoman Turks. A protective jetty is still fortified with cannons dating from the War of Independence. Today, the town's waterfront strip is packed with cafés, and the navy-blue-and-white color scheme adopted by Dapia's merchants hints of former maritime glory. The harbormaster's offices, to the right as you face the sea, occupy a building designed in the simple two-story, center-hall architecture typical of the period and this place.

Ekklisia Ayios Nikolaos

On the headland sits Ayios Nikolaos, the current cathedral of Spetses, and a former fortified abbey. Its lacy white-marble bell tower recalls that of Hydra's port monastery. It was here that the islanders first raised their flag of independence.

Spetses Town, Spetses, 18050, Greece


Trendy Kaiki Beach (otherwise known as Scholes or College beach due to its proximity to the Anargyros School) is a triangular patch of sandy beach that draws a young crowd with its beach volleyball court, water-sports activities (about €40 for 20 minutes of Jet Skiing), and the Kaiki Beach bars (yes, there are two of them!) and restaurant, the hippest on the beach in Spetses. It will cost you about €10 for a huge umbrella, two bamboo sun beds, two beach towels, and a bottle of water for a relaxing day on the beach. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; toilets; water sports. Best for: swimming; walking.

Spetses Town, Spetses, 18050, Greece
22980-74507-Kaiki Beach Bar Restaurant


A semisecluded sandy beach, Klima (aka Keithi), which is just south of Perdika, has a finely pebbled bay of crystal-clear waters that rarely kicks up any waves. To reach it, turn left at the intersection toward Sfentouri before entering Perdika, and then go right at the crossroads and continue until you reach Klima. It is also a popular destination for yachts. There's a beach bar that rents sun beds and umbrellas during the summer months. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: snorkeling; swimming.

Kolona Beach

Aegina Town's beaches, notably the pine-surrounded Kolona, are pleasant enough with their shallow waters—and crowds—for a refreshing dip after a hot day. This largely undeveloped beach is within easy walking distance to a few tavernas and the archaeological site of Kolona (hotel Rastoni is also not too far away); you can find some precious shade in the adjacent pine forest. Amenities: none. Best for: swimming.

Lazaros Koundouriotis Mansion

Impressed by the architecture they saw abroad, shipowners incorporated many of the foreign influences into their archontika, old, gray-stone mansions facing the harbor. The forbidding, fortresslike exteriors are deliberately austere, the combined result of the steeply angled terrain and the need for buildings to blend into the gray landscape. One of the finest examples of this Hydriot architecture is the Lazaros Koundouriotis Mansion, built in 1780 and beautifully restored in the 1990s as a branch of Greece's National Historical Museum. The interior is lavish, with hand-painted ceiling borders, gilt moldings, marquetry, and floors of black-and-white marble tiles. Some rooms have pieces that belonged to the Koundouriotis family, who played an important role in the War of Independence; other rooms have exhibits of costumes, jewelry, wood carvings, and pottery from the National Museum of Folk History. The basement level has three rooms full of paintings by Periklis Vyzantinos and his son, friends of the Koundouriotis family

Hydra Town, Hydra, 18040, Greece
sights Details
Rate Includes: €3, Closed Nov.–Feb. and Mon. Mar.–Oct., Mar.–Oct., Tues.–Sun.10–2 and 5:30–8:30

Mandraki Beach

One of the few sandy beaches of Hydra, the ever popular Mandraki is a leisurely 2-km (1-mile) walk west of the town, but you can also come here by small boat or water taxi from the main port. You can enjoy the fine sand and the comfy sun beds (€10). Amenities: food and drink. Best for: swimming; walking.

Hydra Town, Hydra, Greece

Marathonas Beach

There's a good swimming spot at the sandy Marathonas A beach on the west side of the island. Beyond the village lies another nice beach, Marathonas B; both beaches get very busy during the summer months, and both have sun beds and umbrellas for rent, so be sure to arrive early if you want to beat the crowds (and pick the perfect spot!). Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards. Best for: sunset; swimming.

Marathon, Attica, 18010, Greece
22970-28160-Ammos Taverna

Mikro Kamini

Kamini's small gray-pebbled beach, known as Mikro Kamini, is about 1,000 feet beyond the sleepy fishing port, just in front of the Castello Bar & Restaurant, where you can rent sun beds and umbrellas. There are more tavernas nearby where you can spot arriving boats and water taxis. The water here is calm and shallow, so the beach is good for families with small children. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: swimming; walking.

Hydra, Greece
22980-54101-sun lounger reservation

Palio Limani

Take a horse and carriage or stroll the seafront promenade to the old harbor, Palio Limani, from the bustling new harbor, Dapia. As you wander by the waterfront, you might imagine it as it was in its 18th- and 19th-century heyday: the walls of the mansions resounding with the noise of shipbuilding and the streets humming with discreet whisperings of revolution and piracy. Today, the wood keels in the few remaining boatyards are the backdrop for cosmopolitan bars, cafés, and restaurants; the sailing boats linger lazily in the bay. Walk up the hill to the ocher-hued chapel of Panayia Armata for unforgettable sunset views.

Poseidonion Grand Hotel

This 1914 waterfront landmark, a fitting backdrop to the defiant bronze statue of Bouboulina, was the scene of glamorous Athenian society parties and balls in the era between the two world wars. It was once the largest resort in the Balkans and southeastern Europe. The hotel was the brainchild of Sotirios Anargyros, a visionary benefactor who was responsible for much of the development of Spetses. After extensive renovations were completed in 2009, it recaptured its former glory and is once again the focal point of most Spetsiot cultural and social events.


A trip to (not to mention a bite to eat at) the covered fish market is a must in Aegina Town. A small dish of grilled octopus or sea urchin salad at the World War II–era Tavernas Agora or To Steki is perfect with an ouzo—if you aren't averse to the smell of raw fish wafting over. Fishermen gather mid-afternoon and early evening on the pedestrian-only street, worrying their beads while seated beside glistening octopus hung up to dry—as close to a scene from the movie Zorba the Greek as you are likely to see in modern Greece.

Panayi Irioti, Aegina Town, Aegina, 18010, Greece

Slaughterhouse/DESTE Foundation Project Space

Internationally renowned modern art collector Dakis Joannou acquired this former Hydra slaughterhouse, a leisurely 10-minute walk from the town (toward Mandraki), in 2009 to host artistic events and projects organized by his budding DESTE Foundation. Surprisingly, this is not what one might expect a chic and modern art gallery to look like: housed in an unassuming small building on a cliff by the sea, it can be missed if you don't actively look for it. But perhaps that is exactly the point that Joannou wanted to make with the Slaughterhouse, which has already acquired a leading role in Hydra's cultural life. Starting with the 2009 multimedia project "Blood of Two" by Matthew Barney and Elizabeth Peyton (which paid homage to the space's morbid past), every summer the space is now assigned to a different artist who is invited to stage a site-specific exhibition. Since then Doug Aitken, Urs Fischer, Paul Chan, Pawel Althamer, and Kara Walker, among others, have had works and installations exhibited there.