By Isabelle Clayton
Spectacular sunsets, cobblestone streets, chrystilline shores, romantic restaurants and traditional tavernas, just a short ferry ride.
If you’re looking for a quieter, more peaceful destination, look no further than Agkistri. With its stunning beaches and rich natural environment, Aegina’s neighbor island is the perfect place for you. Just an hour and a half ferry ride from Piraeus port and with relatively low-ticket prices, it is one of the best vacation spots to visit. If you are an avid fan of hiking, camping, and generally the outdoors, you’ll be delighted to know that there are multiple hiking trails riddled across the island, as well as a multitude of camping sites. If you’re more of a beach person, most of the islands’ beaches are easily accessible on foot, like Skala beach, located next to the port.
Blends, in the most perfect way, its mountainous landscapes with its beautiful waters. Only a short drive away from Athens, it is perfect for a quick getaway during your stay in Greece. Its breathtaking natural environment combined with its relaxed atmosphere makes it the ideal place to escape to. The straits of Evripos are perfect for a swim and then a quick bite at Asteria Plage, offering a wide range of dishes, from brunch to shrimp risottos. Its beautiful waters and scenic views make it a perfect day-trip location.
The ideal destination for a seaside trip, just a 45 minute drive from Athens, with beautiful forests and endless beaches, it is the perfect place to be. There’s a beach for everyone’s taste, from organized beaches, full of sun beds, umbrellas and beach bars, to natural beaches, where all you need is your beach towel. Especially well-known is Schinia beach, with its golden sand and bright blue waters, surrounded by a forest. For sports lovers, Moraitis beach is perfect for water sports, like water-ski and wake board. After a visit to the beach, countless taverns and restaurants are scattered across the coastline, offering fresh dishes.
Póros, with its cobblestone streets, terracotta roofs, and yacht-laden ports, looks fit for a postcard. From the island’s central port, take a water taxi to Askéli Beach for a day full of swimming and water sports, or, plan a romantic getaway to Love Beach’s serenely pebbled shores. If you can’t decide whether to go swimming or sightseeing, visit Russian Bay Beach, where ruins of a Russian naval base during the Greek Revolution backdrop the beach’s white sand and verdant trees. In the evenings, silverware clatters as couples indulge in fresh seafood, and music pulses from neon-lit clubs into the early hours of the morning. Climb up to the Póros clocktower at sunset to watch as hues of pink and orange disappear behind Peloponnesian windmills and the still blue waters of the Saronic Gulf.
Thought of as one of the best day-trip locations, the closest Cycladic island to the capital, just one hour away from Lavrio port, Tzia is one of the most popular destinations for Greeks and tourists alike. Its small alleyways leading to beautiful beaches and its vibrant natural landscapes make it stand out from other islands. Downtown Tzia is full of traditional houses and is perfect for walk and even hiking, offering a total of 81km of hiking trails.
The crescent-shaped port of Ydra offers a beckoning image of the island’s picturesque shores. White-stoned buildings dot the island’s slopes, and at night, the island’s pier glows warmly under the lights of numerous restaurants and bars. With no cars or motorcycles, donkeys are tasked to transport luggage, produce, and sometimes even people, to different destinations, their clacking hooves setting the island’s rhythm. Explore Ydra Town by strolling through its web of narrow pedestrian streets, and meander up hiking trails to visit hilltop Monasteries. Watch the sunset over drinks and a swim at Spilia Beach, or spend the day soaking up the sun at one of the island’s more remote beaches, like Bisti, accessible by water taxi. Only a two hour ferry ride from Piraeus, Ydra is a perfect destination for those interested in a day trip, weekend getaway, or more budget-friendly island hopping experience.
In the warmer months of July and August, the hour-long ferry ride to Aegina attracts both Athenians and tourists to the island’s crystalline shores. Small villages line the coasts of Aegina, their quaint beach clubs and tavernas accentuating the more traditional, intimate mood of the island. Those interested in sightseeing will enjoy Aegina’s incredible trove of ancient temples, monasteries, and museums; those sweating beneath the Mediterranean sun will find cool respite swimming in Aegina’s turquoise waters, or sipping on cocktails in umbrella-covered daybeds, as they look out over the motionless sea. Whether you’re here for a day, or two, or three, make sure to try a pistachio during your stay. Soft and sweet, Aeginian pistachios are like none other.
A quick getaway by car, in the southernmost part of Attica is Sounio. The combination of the Ancient Temple of Poseidon and the Sounio beach located right beneath is exactly what you need to get away from the fast paced life of the capital. The beautiful view of the sunset with the temple seeming almost like a painting is an experience you only get in Sounio. After a quick dip, all roads lead to the local taverns with fresh seafood and fries. The Archaeological Site of Sounio is the best place to visit, before or after a swim, as it is open throughout almost the entirety of the day, from 9:30 to 20 minutes before sunset.
Below towering Mount Parnassus lies the remains of ancient Delphi. This location is rich with history and one of the most important archeological sites in Greece.
As a visitor, you are transported back to a time where fact and fiction are intertwined and sometimes indistinguishable. Less than a three hour drive from Athens, you can experience the tangible past of Delphi in a single day.
A 3 hours drive from Athens and you’ll find yourself immersed in a tranquil setting of nature with postcard blue waters and Mediterranean flora. This small seaside village, arranged over the eastern side of Peloponnese, is a frequent family destination and a summer haven for fishing boats and yachts. There are a few organized beaches in Porto Heli, but the majority is small secluded coves off the beaten path. From here you can easily access other, equally spectacular, day-trip destinations, among which Ancient Epidaurus, Poros, Ermioni, Mycenae and Nafplion, while from the small seaport of Costa, close to Porto Heli, there is frequent ferry connection to Spetses.
Like in Ydra, you would be hard-pressed to find many cars on this island, instead finding horse-drawn carriages operating from just by the port. Known by many as one of the most stylish islands near Athens, Spetses is a fashion-lover’s paradise, full of sophisticated stores and quirkier shops. Walk around Old Harbour to get a sense of its luxurious atmosphere, replete with chic bars and restaurants. Spetses also has secluded beaches, most of which require reserved transportation to get to but are well-worth the visit!