How to do Greek Island Hopping near Athens
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How to do Greek Island Hopping near Athens

Aegina ● Agistri ● Andros ● Athens ● Cyclades ● Hydra ● Kea ● Kythnos ● Mykonos ● Poros ● Saronic islands ● Serifos ● Spetses ● Tinos ● 14 May 2018
 
Athens has a great asset, which can not be easily found in other destinations. It has many beautiful islands in a close distance (that means 1-2 hours by ferry). The islands near Athens are located either in the Saronic Gulf or in the Aegean Sea (Cyclades). They are numerous, and each of them has something really different to offer. If you can't decide which island to choose, you can definitely explore more islands as the distance between the islands is very short. Greek Island Hopping near Athens is a must, and you can simply organise it after reading this article!

Saronic islands

Saronic Islands have as general characteristics the small beaches surrounded by verdant nature, just like in Attica, and the picturesque ports you see as the boat approaches the island. You can go from one island to another in less than one hour, and the Saronic Gulf has mainly calm and shallow waters, ideal also for kids.

Aegina

Located only 45 minutes by ferry from AthensAegina is an authentic place that is typically an Athens island, a part of a large city, which however can offer to its visitors everything that an island of the Aegean Sea has to offer. Beaches with crystal  clear waters, a traditional Chora and port with beautiful places to walk, shop and eat by the sea as well as important historical sites, such as the ancient Temple of Aphaia. The first picture of Aegina is its town, a lovely harbour with neoclassical buildings, cafés and taverns at the beachfront, which is the best spot to spend your evenings. It is amazing also for a day trip from Athens. Don't miss eating the local product of Aegina, the pistachio!


Agistri

Agistri is a small, undiscovered Greek island in a very close distance to Athens (less than 2 hours by boat, 1 hour by ferry) in the Saronic Gulf near Aegina (so you can visit it after Aegina). Agistri is a perfect excursion for a day trip or a weekend from Athens, and you can combine it with swimming in truly crystal waters on the beaches with the lush greenery around the bay. Agistri is a tiny island, and you can go everywhere you want on foot or by bicycle. It is an off-the-beaten track choice, where you can find peace and privacy. However, in the port, you can find some bars and cafés to have fun.


Poros

Poros is located 1 hour from Athens by ferry, and it impresses its visitors with its town, which is built amphitheatrically on a cliff, like on a cart-postal. Colourful neoclassical buildings, verdant nature with pine trees and hospitable locals are the characteristics that make the visit to Poros, the island of lemons, a must. It combines lovely beaches with delicious cuisine in a cosmopolitan scenery.


Hydra

Hydra is located 1,5 hour from Athens. The picturesque architecture of its Chora, with the stone-built mansions and the elegant houses in this traditional and protected settlement, looks like a wonderful painting. The houses are standing amphitheatrically on the cliff, and the harbour is full of lovely sailing boats, local shops, restaurants by the sea and bars for entertainment until the dawn. This little heaven is ideal for having a stroll inside its paved streets, buy beautiful things and souvenirs, eat seafood, drink your cocktail and generally relax.


Spetses

Spetses is one of the most elegant Saronic islands. It is located 2 hours away from AthensSpetses is considered to be the counterweight to Mykonos, concerning the nightlife, the luxury boutiques and restaurants and the cosmopolitan atmosphere. The old port and Dapia are the perfect places to have a walk on foot or by a horse during sunset. The scenery is lovely, the neoclassical houses are impressive, well-preserved and imposing. In the old port, beats the heart of Spetses nightlife, and you can have fun there, in the cozy small bars until the dawn. Spetses has also friendly beaches with deep blue waters surrounded by pine trees.


Cyclades

Cyclades are located in the Aegean Sea and impress with their stunning beaches and the turquoise waters. White-washed houses and dry landscape give these islands a wild character. Some of them are located near Athens (1-3 hours by ferry) and can be combined all together in an amazing Greek Island Hopping!

Kythnos

Kythnos is an island that now becomes known, but it is still a virgin paradise. The most famous beach of Kythnos is Kolona with its both sides overlooking the crystal waters, but Kythnos has numerous gorgeous beaches, most of them unorganised and ideal for relaxation. The most traditional villages on the island are Chora and Driopida, which have stone houses and paved streets, while Merihas and Loutra have the most touristic facilities. You can go to Kythnos from Lavrion port (2 hours) or Piraeus port (3 hours) by boat.


Kea

Kea (also known as Tzia) is the closest Cycladic island to Athens (1,5 hour from Lavrion port by boat) and gets popular during the weekends of summer. However, it has kept its authentic character, and most of its beaches are unorganised and secluded. Kea has the typical mountainous wild landscape of Cyclades, but the architecture of its seaside villages is not typically Cycladic as they are built with neoclassical houses and not small white houses. Ioulida is the Chora of the island on the slopes of the hill, and it is a perfect spot to spend your weekend away from mass tourism, lost in a unique world.


Serifos

Serifos is an island with gorgeous beaches and a typical Cycladic Chora on the top of a cliff, from where you can have a magnificent view of the Aegean Sea and the neighbouring islands. When reaching the island, you can't believe that it is so close to Athens (2 hours by boat). The central square is the best spot of the, while beaches like Agios Sostis and Ganema are one of a kind. Don't miss the famous bar "Yacht Club" in the port.


Andros

Andros is a large island with rich history and stunning beaches. You can go to Andros from Athens in less than 1,5 hour by ferry. You will be impressed by the port of Andros, Batsi, as well as the other villages of the island. Neoclassical houses and lush greenery remind more of the Saronic islands than the Cyclades. Batsi is the most touristic spot of Andros, while Chora is a cosmopolitan town full of museums and galleries.


Tinos

Tinos is located in a short distance to Athens, after Andros. It is a famous religious destination thanks to the Monastery and Church of Virgin Mary, while the villages of the island are elegant, with white houses, pebbled streets, cozy cafés and pigeon houses everywhere. Tinos is the island of the Greek sculpture, but in addition to that and the amazing mainland villages, it has also wonderful beaches, such as Kolympithra.


Mykonos

Mykonos is the ultimate queen of the Cyclades, the centre of the nightlife and the elegant cosmopolitanism. It is located 2,5 hours by ferry from Athens, and you can visit it after Andros and Tinos. The Chora of Mykonos is a true gem. Traditional architecture, Cycladic white houses with blue windows and numerous pebbled streets with every shop you can imagine. Cafes, bar, restaurants, souvenir shops and haute-couture boutiques are around you, and it is really difficult to choose the best place. Little Venice is considered one of the most romantic spots on the island and Chora, while bars, luxury restaurants, beach bars and clubs make the nightlife of Mykonos famous worldwide. Near Mykonos, is located one of the most significant archaeological sites in Greece. Delos is a small island, which can be reached by boat from Mykonos within 20 minutes. It was a sacred island for the ancient Greeks, as, according to the myth, God Apollo, the God of Sun, was born there. The archaeological findings of Delos are important and have been declared as World Heritage Site, protected by UNESCO. Mykonos has also astonishing, well-organised beaches with golden sand and emerald waters.


How to combine the islands

If you want to visit more islands, then the best thing you have to do is to choose either Saronic islands or Cyclades. There is no ferry connection between a Saronic island and a Cycladic island. The ferry and boat routes between the islands in the Saronic Gulf are very often, and you can go to Aegina-Agistri-Poros-Hydra-Spetses by one boat with this sequence. From one island to another, you need less than one hour. In Aegina, Agistri and Poros, you will relax, but in Hydra and especially in Spetses, if you visit these islands during a weekend, you can enjoy nightlife and have fun. So it is up to you whether you want to start or end your Greek Island Hopping with the calm or the party islands.

On the other hand, the ferry connection between the Cycladic islands is not so easy as in the Saronic Gulf. For Andros-Tinos-Mykonos, you can take one ferry or boat, and with this sequence visit all the three islands, starting from Andros and ending up in Mykonos. Andros and Tinos are relaxing islands, where you can enjoy peace, sunbathing and swimming, while Mykonos is ideal to spend funny moments. It is again up to you which island you want to visit first and which last.

Kea and Kythnos are in the same route of boat. So, you can visit Kea and then Kythnos easily in only 1 hour between the two islands. Unfortunately, Serifos is not connected with these Cycladic islands. The boat reaches first Serifos and then continues to Sifnos and Milos. You can, of course, make on these islands your Greek Island Hopping, but Sifnos and Milos are quite away from Athens (more than 3 hours by ferry). Your other option from Serifos is to return back to Athens and take another boat to Andros-Tinos-Mykonos or the Saronic islands.

From where to start

All boats to the Saronic islands depart from Piraeus Port. To Hydra and Spetses, you can also drive to Peloponnese (Metohi to Hydra and Porto Heli to Spetses), and then from this village take a taxi-boat for several minutes. This option can be expensive and tiring, but it is definitely cheaper if you have a car and you are more than 3 persons. Otherwise, taking the boat from Piraeus is traditional and refreshing, seeing the sea gulls following the boat (you can also feed them, they will take the biscuit from your hand while flying!). Remember to be early at Piraeus port because the traffic jam, especially in the morning when all boats depart at the same time (about 7-7:30), is really heavy. You can go to Piraeus port by train from Athens Center, you need less than 40 minutes. The boats and ferries to the Saronic islands depart very close to the train station.

From Piraeus, depart also the boats and ferries to Serifos, but you need about 5-10 minutes walk from the train station to this gate.

To Andros-Tinos-Mykonos, you have two options. You can take the boat or the ferry from Piraeus, the gate is close to the train station. However, from Piraeus, the route is longer than from the other port of Athens, Rafina. Rafina port is located in the northern-eastern side of Athens, and thus it is closer to these Cycladic islands. For example, to Mykonos, you need 2 hours by ferry from Rafina, while from Piraeus you need almost 3! Consequently, the ferry tickets from Rafina are cheaper than from Piraeus. The problem with Rafina is that it is located away from Athens center (about 30 km), and the only way to get there is either by taxi or bus.

To Kythnos, you can take the boat from Piraeus, but it is much wiser to take the boat from Lavrion port. From Piraeus, you need the double time, and there is also another problem: you can't go also to Kea. Although boats to Kythnos depart also from Piraeus, boats to Kea depart only from Lavrion. Thus, if you want to combine both islands, you have to take the boat from Lavrion or end your journey there. Lavrion is situated 50 km from Athens center, and you can go there by bus. However, we recommend it because the area is very beautiful. After your island hopping, you can visit Sounio, the cape of Attica, which is located near Lavrion, has stunning beaches and clear waters and has also, standing imposing at the top of the cliff, the well-preserved ancient temple of Poseidon overlooking the Aegean Sea.

Where to Stay

Hotel in Athens, Greece Acropolis Museum Boutique Hotel
8.9 10
Acropolis Museum Boutique Hotel
48, Syggrou Ave., 11742 Athens, Greece

Acropolis Museum Boutique Hotel is located in the heart of the historical center of Athens, just a few steps from the Acropolis and Plaka, next to the new Acropolis Museum. Elefthérios Venizélos Airport is a 35- minute drive from the hotel.

Hotel in Athens, Greece Elite Hotel
8 10
Elite Hotel
23, Pireos Str., 10552 Athens, Greece

Elite Hotel has a great location on Pireos Street, just a 3-minute walk from Omonia Square. Eleftherios Venizelos airport is a 25- minute drive from the property.

Hotel in Athens, Greece Hotel Marina
7.8 10
Hotel Marina
13, Voulgari str., 10 437 Athens, Greece

Situated in the center of Athens, Hotel Marina is just a five-minute walk from Omonoia Metro Station which allows easy and quick transportation within the city. Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos" is 34 km away and Piraeus Port 10 km away.


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