Argosaronic Gulf islands
The Peloponnese’s east shoreline and the islands dotting the Argolic & Saronic Gulf waters are popular tourist destinations in close proximity to Athens. Salamina, Aegina, Agistri, Poros, Hydra, and Spetses can offer their visitors memorable experiences that include views of beautiful land & seascapes, impressive archaeological sites, museums, stately homes, picturesque villages, and wonderful beaches.
According to the myth, the name Salamina (Salamis) was given to the island by Kychreas in honor of his mother Salamis, one of the five daughters of the river god Asopos.
In Salamina you can visit the following museums and sightseeing:
- Municipality of Salamina Folk Art and History Museum: It hosts exhibits of the island’s history, including a collection of local costumes, furniture, agricultural tools, weapons and ceramic items.
- Maritime museum: An outdoor museum in the area of Paloukia exhibiting cannons and torpedoes.
- Ancient port: The ancient port is located in the area of Ambelakia and dates back to the 4th century BC. The port contributed significantly to the economic development of the ancient city of Salamis. The famous naval battle of Salamis also took place here. Ambelakia is the oldest village on the island, 4 km south of Salamina, and it is certainly worth visiting!
The island of Aegina is one of the most popular tourist destinations as it is the closest island to Athens (only 16.5 nautical miles from the port of Piraeus).
From 11/1/1827 until 3/10/1829 Aegina town was the temporary capital of the newly founded Greek state. It was during that period when Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias had impressive neoclassical mansions built to house his headquarters, which are well worth a visit.
During your stay don’t miss:
- Archaeological Museum of Kolona, Aegina
- Markellos Tower built by Markellos, a 1821 War of Independence hero and later Governor of the island, which now houses the Kapodistrias Spiritual Center
- Kapodistrias Orphanage, the first public building during Kapodistrias’ administration
- Eunardeio, a 1829 building in Doric style and
- Aegina Cathedral, the first Cathedral of the Modern Greek State, which also housed Kapodistrias Government and the first parliament of the modern Greek State.
Explore ancient monuments and old monasteries:
- The Temple of Aphea Athena: Close to Agia Marina lies the 500 BC Doric Temple of Aphea Athena, the most important monument on the island. The temple was founded there and it formed an equilateral triangle with the Parthenon in Athens and the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, the so-called “holy triangle” of antiquity.
- The Sanctuary of Apollo Delphinios, Kolona: Located at a short distance from the harbor, the area took its name from a standing column (of Doric type), the only one remaining from a 6th Century BC temple.
- Palaiochora, Agia Marina: The site of Paleochora represents Aegina during Byzantine times. This site is known as the “Island Mystras” because it once had 565 churches, 28 out of which (with exceptional wall paintings) have withstood the ravages of time, just like the ruins of a medieval castle and two incredible monasteries.
- Saint Nektarios Monastery: Near Paleochora, on the road to Souvala, lies the impressive Monastery of Agios Nektarios, one of the largest monasteries in the Balkans. It was built in the 20th Century (between 1904 and 1910) on the site of a small Byzantine monastery.
Its beauty has been praised by popular poets and prose writers, such as Georgios Seferis, Ioulia Dragoumi and the American writer Henry Miller. Pinewoods cover the island’s hills and go all the way to the sandy beaches. The Poros Strait, and the seaside area of Galata with its pine, olive, and lemon groves surround the picturesque Poros town, where beautiful neoclassical buildings grace the seafront; it’s a place of great beauty!
Poros is the ideal destination for water sports and activities such as swimming; visit the beaches at Mikro Neorio and Megalo Neorio, as well as the one at Limanaki tis Agapis (meaning ‘The Cove of Love’). Go diving in the crystal-clear waters and sail through the nearby islands and off the coast of the Peloponnese. You can also explore the inland; go biking and hiking through Poros’ pinewoods.
Make sure you visit:
- The Archaeological Museum on Koryzi Square
- The ruins of the temple of Poseidon (520 BC) are to be found in Palatia location
- The Folk Art Museum of Poros
- The Hatzopoulios Public Library of Poros
- Dana Lighthouse
A rich naval tradition and a cosmopolitan island ambience are the defining characteristics of Hydra - a popular island in the Argosaronic Gulf - which attracts every year many personalities and jet-setters from Greece and abroad. This was the favorite destination and place of residence of painter Nikos Hatzikyriakos-Ghika, Leonard Cohen, and Henry Miller. It is also the birthplace of painter Panagiotis Tetsis, and of many other famous artists, writers etc. The island’s great beauty was appreciated also by celebrities such as Maria Callas, Pablo Picasso, and Sophia Loren.
Apart from being a popular sailing destination, Hydra is also very interesting from an architectural point of view, as a number of luxury residences, built by Italian craftsmen, are scattered on the island. The grand houses of the local fighters for the Greek War of Independence (1821) are now museums which offer their visitors an insight into that particular period in Greek history. If you are interested in religious monuments, there are some 300 churches and 6 monasteries you can visit on the island. You will enjoy strolling about the streets of the picturesque Hydra town and the harbor; take trips in the countryside, while drinking in the amazing views over the Aegean Sea, swim in deep blue waters and savor tasty dishes in the local tavernas. Walking about the island is a true pleasure as it is car-free.
Don’t forget to visit:
- The History Archives - Museum of Hydra
- The Port Authority which is housed in the old stone-built powder magazine
- The stately home of Georgios Kountouriotis
- Take a trip to Kala Pigadia
- Megalo Kamini, a picturesque village where the locals used to repair their fishing boats once
Known as Isola di Spezie under Venetian rule and Pityoussa (pine-clad) in ancient times, Spetses, at just 54 nautical miles from Athens, is a picturesque, car-free island with a unique architecture, naval history and culture. The island flourished during the early 18th century, developing into a significant naval power, dominating the major shipping routes of the Mediterranean. Today, the two-hundred-year-old captains’ mansions lining the coast are testimony to the vast wealth and grandeur of that time. The mansion of the Greek War of Independence heroine Laskarina Bouboulina – the only female admiral in world naval history - now houses Bouboulina’s Museum which hosts a Cultural Festival every summer with a plethora of events - while the Spetses State Museum is housed in the mansion of Spetsiot revolutionary leader Hatziyannis Mexis and contains artifacts representing more than 4000 years of history.
With its rich history and culture, museums, beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, cosmopolitan nightlife, Spetses is the perfect location for a short-break or long vacation throughout the year. Visit Spetses during September, when “Armata”, a truly impressive re-enactment of a naval battle, takes place ever since 1931. If you are a sports lover, you definitely don't want to miss the unique athletic events organized every year in April "Spetsathlon" (the biggest triathlon in Greece) and October "Spetses Mini Marathon", where thousands of participants take part and enjoy running and swimming races for the young at heart!
Make sure to visit:
- The Bouboulina Museum. (Lascarina Bouboulina is one of the few female heroes of the Greek Revolution and notably one of the most renowned women in the history of Greece. The museum is housed in the home of Bouboulina, and displays a collection of personal objects and memorabilia. The building itself is noteworthy for its architectural details, especially the intricately carved wood ceiling in the main salon.)
- Poseidonion Grand Hotel, which was first built in 1914 and fully renovated 2009
- The Xatzigiannis- Mexis Museum (which is housed in the superb mansion of Hatzigiannis Mexis, one of the notables who played a leading part during the fight for Greek Independence)
- The Old Harbour (Palio Limani), via the coastal route
- The lighthouse on the tip of the Old Harbour (Palio Limani). The lighthouse is one of the oldest in Greece (it was built in 1837) and is still in operation
- The Anargyreios & Korgialeneios School