The rocky and partly volcanic Argo-Saronic Islands, lie just in front of the mainland and most of them are only a short sail away from the Athenian Coast. Saronic Gulf is the best destination to combine a short stay in Athens and a sailing holiday in the beautiful nearby islands.
Aigina is the most fertile island of the group, famous for pistacchio plantations and has a rich history including one of the finest ancient temples in Greece. Tiny Agkistri is often treated as a little adjunct to Aigina, but itâ€™s a lovely place, ideal for swimming and complete relaxation.
The three southerly islands - green Poros, tiny, car-free Hydra and upmarket Spetses -are very special and have and every island has a character of its own. Given their proximity to Athens and their beauty, the Argo-Saronics Islands are hugely popular destinations, almost becoming city suburbs at weekends and with significant expat populations.
More than any other group, these islands are best out of season and midweek, when visitors (and prices) fall dramatically and the port towns return to a quieter, more provincial pace. You will also notice a significant difference between Hydra and Spetses, the remotest of the islands, and those closer to Athens since theyâ€™re accessible only by hydrofoil and catamaran rather than the cheaper conventional ferries, what makes them market wise more expensive and exclusive.
The islands were not extensively settled until medieval times, when refugees from the mainland established themselves here, adopting seagoing commerce (and piracy) as livelihoods. Today, foreigners and Athenians have replaced locals in the depopulated harbor towns; windsurfers, water-taxis and yachts are faint echoes of the massed warships, schooners and kaÃ¯kia once at anchor.
Amidst the blue of the Saronic Gulf, well protected on its own smaller gulf, with the scent from the valley's orange blossoms meeting the sea breeze in its picturesque and friendly port, with its beautiful beaches, Epidavros is always ready to welcome travellers whatever the season.
The captivating suburb of Glyfada stretches along the Saronic Gulf coast often referred to as the "Athenian Riviera". It is an absolutely delightful holiday resort and features the latestmodern facilities, some of the best sandy beaches in Attica, seaside restaurants and marinas with hundreds of yachts.
Loutraki-Agioi Theodoroi is a municipality in the Corinthia regional unit where the total absence of humidity in the area and the prolonged sunshine period provide the ideal climate conditions while the coexistence of mountain and sea create a magnificent scenery.
A major Greek port, Piraeus is an important city and often considered to be a suburb of Athens. The most appealing area lies around its easterly quarter with waterfront restaurants, bars and nightspots in a beautiful harborfront promenade, lined with trees and passing the medieval city walls.
Spetses is a historic island in the Argosaronic Gulf, full of pine trees, surrounded by the small picturesque islands of Spetsopoula, Mikro Bourboulo and Agios Giannis. It is one of the most popular all-year-long destinations for both local and foreign tourists.