Connected via three ports (Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrion), Athens puts you right on the doorstep of many beautiful islands. Piraeus is the largest; from there you can take a ferry after transferring via public transport from the airport. Rafina is the second port, located 30km (19mi) from the city centre and only 10km (6mi) from the airport. It can be reached by bus or taxi. At the southernmost tip of Attica peninsula, Lavrio is about 60km (37mi) from Athen city centre and 25km (16mi) from the airport. Again, it can be reached by taxi or bus.
Aegina is part of the Saronic Islands and only 37km (23mi) from Athens. After a 40-minute ride on a hydrofoil ferry from Piraeus, you can discover the many charms of the island. Explore the Temple of Aphaia, which dates back to around 500BCE. The Monastery of Saint Nektarios shouldn’t be missed; nor should Paleohora, the former medieval capital. There’s also an archeological museum, where you can admire ruins and walls from the Neolithic period. Of course, is it really a Greek holiday without a good beach? Aegina has several worth visiting, such as Marathonas and Kleidi.
Another island in the Saronic Gulf, Hydra feels unspoiled, thanks to motor vehicles being forbidden. It’s an excellent getaway from bustling Athens, not to mention a paradise for hiking enthusiasts: stunning 18th-century villas pack the waterfront, alongside cafés, restaurants and several museums. The trek from town to Kamini is a particular must-see, while the secluded beaches of Bisti, Limnioniza and Agios Nikolaos are perfect for a relaxing beach day.
Spetses is a charming verdant island known for its neoclassical houses and role in the Greek War of Independence. This is another spot are cars aren’t allowed, so rent a scooter and go explore to find your little piece of paradise. Agia Anarghiri and Agia Paraskevi beaches – each a few kilometres away from the main town – are ideal on hot, summer days. But, don’t spend all your time at the beach; Spetses boasts interesting museums, such as the Spetses Museum or Bouboulina Museum.
Agistri, or Angistri, is just a short ferry ride from Athens, making it a popular weekend destination. It’s a small paradise where you can relax on pebbly beaches such as Aponisos or Dragonera. The beautiful waters there are ideal for swimming, diving and snorkelling alongside tranquil little villages.
Consisting of two islands (Sferia and Kalavria) connected by an artificial canal, Poros is separated from the Peloponnese by a narrow sea channel. Sferia has beautiful neoclassical houses, while pine-covered Kalavria is where you’ll find secluded beaches and hotels. Attracting many from Athens for a weekend or day trip, Poros is home to the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon. Climb up to the clock tower to enjoy all-encompassing views over the bay.
A Cycladic island well under the tourist radar, Kythnos has picturesque villages, crystal-clear waters and golden beaches. Tranquil and serene, yet with a traditional character, Kythnos is an unspoiled gem worth discovering.
Kea, or Tzia, proves popular with Athenians during the summer. However, all year-round, the island has a rich history, quiet beaches and quaint seaside villages. Visit the Lion of Kea, an ancient sculpture from around 600BCE, still in remarkable condition. Ancient Karthea is an archeological site to visit, featuring the ruins of a temple and theatre. Kea is also home to beautiful beaches, where you can enjoy some water fun.
Andros is perfect for hiking enthusiasts, water-sport aficionados and art lovers. Andros has a museum of contemporary art, as well as an archaeological museum and a museum on the olive tree. It also boasts remarkable beaches: Agios Petros, Ormos, Batsi, Korthi and Tis Grias To Pidima are all incredible. A visit to the Byzantine monastery offers a panoramic view over the deep, blue sea.
Christina Collins contributed additional reporting to this article.
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