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A Saronikos Gulf cruise from Athens is the perfect answer to those who think that by spending a holiday in Athens they are leaving a visit to an island out of their itinerary.
Many of you might be surprised to hear that there are actually quite a few islands near Athens that are ideal for a short break from the city’s hassle and bustle.
Getting to the islands from Athens is quite easy and in some cases, it takes less than an hour.
It feels like you’re being transported from the busy downtown of a vast metropolis to a sandy shore of a tropical islet instantly.
Feeling intrigued? Read on to explore our tips and recommendations for an amazing day trip from Athens to the Saronic Islands.
Which Islands Can You Visit From Athens?
Apart from the islands listed below, you can virtually visit any Greek island that has an airport on a day trip from Athens.
For example, one of the questions we get frequently from readers is whether they can visit Santorini for a day. The answer is yes, you can visit Santorini from Athens for one day, by plane.
However, boarding a place twice a day is not something we would call enjoyable and, furthermore, most of the larger Greek islands are definitely worth more than a day of your time.
Hence, we decided to include only islands that are very close to Athens and can be visited by a ferry to our recommendations.
Besides, boarding a Greek ferry to get to an island is far from a drag.
The views you will have from the deck will add to the experience and some would go so far as to say that a ferry ride is a memorable experience in itself.
The most popular islands for day trips near Athens are listed below.
How to Get from Athens to the Saronic Islands
All the islands listed above are situated very close to the city center of Athens and are ideal for short breaks and day trips. They are all exclusively accessible by boat as none of them has an airport.
In order to get to the islands, you will first need to reach the Piraeus port. You can get to Piraeus by hopping on the train (green line) and getting off at the last stop.
When in Piraeus you will have the chance to book a ticket with either a ferry boat or a hydrofoil boat.
The latter is a quite faster option, but we really recommend choosing the ferry to complement the experience.
The ferries run between the port and the islands several times a day – up to 6 times a day during summertime. Both the hydrofoil boat and ferry tickets can be booked in advance.
How Far Are the Saronic Gulf Islands From Athens?
The trip duration between Athens and the Saronic Gulf Islands can vary depending on your final destination.
The island located closest to Athens is Aegina, with a ferry trip to Aegina lasting only 40 minutes from Piraeus port.
The island farthest away from Athens is Spetses. A ferry trip to Spetses lasts approximately 2 hours from Piraeus port.
The rest of the islands (Hydra, Poros, and Agistri) can be reached within a little over an hour on average.
Things to See and Do on a Day Trip From Athens to the Saronic Gulf Islands
Despite the Saronic Gulf islands being literally minutes away from each other, they all have a very different character and present quite distinct atmospheres.
Nevertheless, they might attract different kinds of travelers but they still have a few things in common; beautiful sandy beaches with crystal-clear waters, splendid architecture, and superb gastronomy.
Below you will find our top picks for things to see and do on every island.
The island closest to Athens retains a low profile compared to its neighbors, especially Hydra and Spetses.
Apart from enjoying the views of the sailing boats rocking gently at the port, make sure to visit the ancient Temple of Aphaia and the ruins of Apolo Temple for a deeper look at the island’s rich history.
While there, head south to find Agia Marina beach, one of the most beautiful spots on the island.
Finally, don’t leave Aegina without trying the island’s trademark product; the famous pistachios that come in all forms.
Very close to Aegina and about one hour away from the port of Piraeus, Agistri is usually a bit less crowded than the rest of the islands on this list.
However, it’s a favorite weekend destination for Athenians and that should be an indication that Agistri deserves a place on your bucket list.
It doesn’t have that many options in terms of cultural and historical sights, but the small island teems with traditional tavernas and cafes as well as beautiful pebbly beaches with cerulean waters.
Poros is closer to the Peloponnese than mainland Greece but it’s still only one hour away from Athens if you choose to travel by hydrofoil boat.
Most of the social life on Poros revolves around the port and its traditional houses where you will also find a beautiful 90-year old clock tower.
Visiting Poros is a must for nature lovers. The island features unspoiled beaches with azure waters like Monastiri beach and lush pine tree forests.
Don’t omit to pay a visit to the Museum of Poros and the Temple of Poseidon if you’re looking for some historical sightseeing.
Just one hour away from the port of Piraeus, the island of Hydra is a hub for high-class socialites and a favorite for the wealthier Athenians.
Hydra has a strict motor vehicle-free policy that prohibits cars and motorbikes from moving around the island. That should not worry you, as the island is quite small and walkable anyway.
Hydra features neoclassical architecture, high-end restaurants, designer boutiques, elegant jewelry shops, and beautiful sandy beaches.
At two hours away, Spetses is the island furthest away from Athens but it’s really worth the time.
Similar to Hydra, private cars (but not motorbikes or scooters) are prohibited on Spetses but there are a few taxis to be found around the island.
Apart from swimming and sunbathing on pristine beaches like Agioi Anargyri, you can also go snorkeling or diving to explore the stunning underwater world of the Saronic Gulf.
Spetses is also known for its vibrant nightlife. A nice walk combined with a night drink to one of the bars of the old port is highly recommended.
We have handpicked a few of the best sailing trips from Athens to the Saronic Gulf Islands. See photos, and check reviews from other travelers!
Which Is the Best Island in Saronic Gulf to Visit From Athens?
As mentioned above, all the islands in the Saronic Gulf have different charms and have different characters.
What the best island is to visit on your trip to Athens, therefore, depends on your tastes.
Choose Poros if you’re looking for amazing natural beauty.
Board a ferry to Aegina if you want to combine sightseeing with walks in picturesque streets.
Opt for a day trip to Hydra for a touch of luxury or Spetses for the golden-sand beaches.
Finally, head to Agistri if you want to experience a small break as locals do.
There are a lot of ideas for a day excursion from Athens but we are certain that a day trip from Athens to one of the Saronic islands is one of the best you can choose. In case you’re looking for some more options for a day trip from Athens, take a look at the article below.
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