No visit to Greece is complete without visiting the Greek islands near Athens. They’re laced in mystery and filled with beauty, from sunny beaches to coastal caves. Even better, these islands are all within a two-hour ferry ride from Athens, making them incredibly easy to explore in a short day trip. If you’re fancying an island holiday after exploring Athens, read on.
Serifos is located in the Cyclades, an island group southeast of mainland Greece. The popular tourist beaches here are Livadi, Livadakia and Megalo Livadi. Chora, the main town in Serifos, is located on a hill. A white church at the top of the hill rewards climbers with a breathtaking view of the Aegean Sea. It’s ideal for those seeking a Greek island with traditional character. Serifos is about two hours from Piraeus, the main port in Athens.
Kea is one of the closest Greek islands near Athens. The Lion of Kea, located at the top of a rugged hike, is a must-see: it was carved sometime prior to 600 BCE. Local legend says it was carved to commemorate a mythical lion who almost destroyed the island. Looking for beaches? There are ample choices here. Koundouros Beach and Otzias Beach are especially gorgeous. Kea is an hour’s ferry ride from Lavrio, one of the other ports in Athens.
Seeking a secluded place for your island holiday? Then Andros is for you. Few tourists stop here, and it’s possible to have a beach totally to yourself. After relaxing on the beach, head to the main town, Chora, for a bite to eat. Ferries to the island only depart from Rafina, which is located on the northeastern side of Athens. Rafina is just 30 minutes from the Athens airport. The ferry ride to Andros is two hours.
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Travelers consider Poros to be one of the most distinctive Greek island experiences. It’s actually two islands, Sferia and Kalavria, that are connected by an artificial canal. There’s lots to explore here. For a stunning view of the bay, climb up to the clock tower. The ruins of the Temple of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, are also exciting. Poros is a popular destination for day trips or weekend getaways. It’s an hour from Piraeus.
The most popular site here is the Temple of Aphaia, which dates back to 500 BCE. The Aegina archeological museum, perfect for history buffs, has many ruins from the Neolithic period. The monastery of Saint Nektarios is also worth seeing. It is dedicated to Agios Nektarios, the most recent Greek Orthodox saint, who died in 1920. Aegina is only 40 minutes by ferry from Piraeus.
Hydra was anciently known as “Hydrea” for the natural springs of water that flourish here. The main town, Hydra port, is located on a slim crescent of land overlooking the water. Follow the steep stone streets to journey farther afield and discover more markets and shops. The island’s cathedral and its six monasteries are also worth a visit. Hydra is about two hours from Piraeus, and the ferry stops at Poros and Spetses on the way.
Agistri is a tiny island close to Aegina (number 5 on our list), so you can combine your visit to Aegina with a stop on Agistri. Skala, the main town on Agistri, has a sandy beach, and plenty of options for food and drink. On the weekends, Greeks like coming here to go snorkeling in Agistri’s beautiful waters. Agistri is 55 minutes from Piraeus.
There’s one thing you won’t find on Spetses: cars. They’re forbidden here! It’s easy to explore the Spetses foothills by scooter or on foot. Two of the island’s beaches, Agia Anarghiri and Agia Paraskevi, are close to the main town. The Spetses Museum showcases 4,000 years of the island’s rich history. Spetses is about two hours from Piraeus.
Pack a bathing suit and some sunscreen and prepare to enjoy your island getaway. With eight charming Greek islands near Athens to choose from, there are plenty of options for your next trip to Greece.
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