A Day at Sea: One-day Cruise of the Saronic Gulf

What you see when approaching the picturesque town of Poros from the sea.

What you see when approaching the picturesque town of Poros from the sea.

A truly lovely day trip to take from Athens is a tour of the three islands of the Saronic Gulf, Hydra, Poros and Aegina. Take a break from ancient columns and museums for a day and enjoy a refreshing day at sea; your Greek experience can not be complete without it. First stop is the lush green island of Poros with its’ famous lemon orchard forest. The charming neoclassical homes gently rise up from the port creating a charming postcard picture of the harbor with the central piece being the historic clock which is the jewel of the town. When I am in Poros one of the things I love to do is is to stroll up and down the harbor promenade and then stop at one of the charming cafe’s for a coffee and a traditional Greek sweet or some refreshing ice cream.

The cosmopolitan island of Hydra.

The cosmopolitan island of Hydra.

Next, we come to the cosmopolitan and very scenic island of Hydra. Hydra is a favorite playground of the international jet-set, celebrity and artist community. It is also an island where many famous and historic Greek families maintain holiday homes. It has a lovely picturesque harbor with the added value of having no motorised vehicles except for sanitation trucks! The only way to get around Hydra Town is either to walk, ride a bike or mount a donkey and take a tour of the town with its  historic buildings and stately homes and if you have a taste for history stop by the Museum of Historical Archives and learn some interesting facts about the Greek revolution and Hydras very significant maritime tradition and contribution to the fight for freedom.

Aegina looks even more beautiful at sunset.

Aegina looks even more beautiful at sunset.

The final port of call on your day cruise is the enchanting island of Aegina. It has that old world charm but in a laid back way. Aegina is famous for its’ pistachios and if you take some time to walk around the island you will see fields and fields of pistachio trees. A delightful and traditional way to see the town of Aegina is to hire a horse driven carriage. You can negotiate the duration and the price with the driver, who doubles as a tour guide as well. If you have kids they love this. The easy commute has made Aegina a suburb of Athens and many Athenians live here permanently but still work “across”.

Nikos Kazantzakis at his house in Aegina.

Nikos Kazantzakis at his house in Aegina.

There is a very large artistic community on the island as well as writers, journalists, film directors and renowned musicians and in the summer a very important music festival that takes place which is organized by the famous Greek pianist, Dora Bakopoulou. Two famous Greek Nobel laureates were also big fans of the island, the poet  George Seferis and the writer Nikos Kazantzakis. the latter actually lived on Aegina for a few years while he was writing Zorba the Greek.

You can travel to each island separately but it will take longer and probably be more expensive or you can do it the easy way by taking a highly enjoyable one-day cruise of the Saronic Gulf which stops at all three islands. All boats to the islands of the Saronic leave from the main port of Piraeus. If you opt for the one day cruise with the Athens Walking Tours you will have the added benefit of a pickup and drop off service from your hotel. Either way, this is a wonderful way to spend a day (or more) getting to know three of the friendliest, prettiest and most accessible islands to Athens.

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