During the summer months in Athens you may find the heat stifling on some days. This is a perfect opportunity to escape the city and take advantage of the nearby islands in the Saronic Gulf. Pirius, the port of Athens give access via its regular ferry services to the many island of the Saronic Gulf and it is even possible to fit in two or three in one day if you set off early in the morning. There are many islands to explore but following are three of my favourites.
Aegina is one the largest of the Saronic Gulf Islands, with a population of around 13,500 people over 34 square miles. It is comparatively suburban in contrast to many of the other islands, with a popular party atmosphere at the weekends. Perhaps despite this, it is still an exceptionally picturesque island and has many sightseeing opportunities such as Nektarios Church, a pilgrim destination for the sick similar to Lourdes (but without the hordes of tourists) or the domineering extinct volcano, Mount Oros.
Paros acts as a central hub for some of the smaller islands but is well worth a visit in itself. Despite some signs of tourism, Paros retains much of its authentic ‘greekness’ which will be a welcome relief for Greece holiday makers. Sites of interest are well sign-posted making Paros a joy to explore whilst the white, sandy beaches are kept in pristine and litter free.
Despite being relatively large, Hydra has a very small population of around 3,000 people, most of whom live in the main town of Hydra. In many ways, Hydra is very similar to the Italian island of Capri – no cars, few sandy beaches but a peaceful and quiet retreat (which is perhaps why it is, as with Capri, popular with celebrities). Hydra presents an opportunity for the Greece holidays maker to reflect and unwind and escape the chaos of modern life.
Whilst these islands could very well be the main focus of your Greek holiday I strongly recommend, at the very least, setting aside one or two days during your holiday in Greece to explore these islands.