As you might have already discovered on these pages, there is no shortage of one-day trip ideas or weekend getaway possibilities around the city of Athens; hiking trails, towns and villages rich in history and culture, and sandy, wide beaches are just few kilometres away from the heart of the city. To add to this already long list I thought I'd write some lines about a classic destination for Athenians, Spetses’ island. Just a three-hour long ferry trip from the port of Piraeus, this lush island has, for decades, been an outstanding shelter from the chaotic streets of the Greek capital and it has not lost this quality a bit.
As the ferry approaches the shore of the island, visitors can already spot one of the island’s most iconic buildings, the Poseidonion Hotel which has welcomed travellers from 1914. As you might expect, prices are not very economical in this establishment, but a coffee or a drink on the terrace might be worth the overcharging. From the square in front of the hotel starts a boardwalk; while walking on it towards the east side you’ll find on one end, elegant shops and busy tavernas (watch out, at times tavernas might really overprice their offers), and on the other end, the sea, with waves gently lapping the small stone walls.
If you enjoy walking and hiking, Spetses is perfect for you. No cars are allowed on the island, people usually walk or bike and the few motorized means of transport are scooters, which you can obviously rent. It is very doable to just walk around the whole island and I’d suggest you definitely give it a try: the main town can get really busy during July and August so a walk to discover some other parts of the island is usually a positive experience; on the west side of the island you can find the less-crowded, calmer beaches that you were imagining before getting here; while strolling you’ll have all the time to admire and enjoy the combination of simple architecture with bright, vivid plants and flowers which give Greek islands their typical flair.
On the island you’ll spot statues and monuments dedicated to the independence of Greece; this is because Spetses and its people were crucial during the Greek War of Independence (1821) with their capacity to provide help and support to the Greek army during those events. If you’ll be here in September, you’ll also be able to actually see it. Inhabitants re-enact one of the battles on the isle’s shores to keep the memory of those times alive.
Spetses’ island, despite its minor size, has a lot to see and enjoy and you should pay it a visit if you have enough time. Just keep in mind the island has an “exclusive” reputation and might make you rolls your eyes or faint at the prices on a menu.
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