Saronic Gulf Islands - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Saronic Gulf Islands

Saronic Gulf Islands

Located a stone's throw away from Athens and the Peloponnese Peninsula, the Saronic Gulf Islands are wildly popular as weekend holiday destinations for Greeks. Crowded to the point of madness in the peak July and August season, the islands of the Saronic Gulf are also gaining popularity with American and British tourists looking for a quick island getaway while on holiday in the Greek mainland.

The most popular islands in the Saronic Gulf are Aegina, Poros, Hydra and Spetses, although lesser-known islands like Agistri, Salamis, Patroklou, Vleves and Dokos have their own charms.

Day cruises from Athens' port of Piraeus shuttle tourists back and forth with daily service to many ports, making getting to the Saronic Gulf Islands incredibly easy. Package tours stop at as many as three islands per day, however these can be rushed and leave visitors unsatisfied with only a cursory glance at the diverse towns and landscapes in the islands.

Information & Facts

Greek is the national language, but English is widely spoken.

The Euro (EUR) is the official currency, divided into 100 cents. Banks and bureaux de change are widely available and travellers cheques and major credit cards are widely accepted. ATMs are widespread and are generally the cheapest and most convenient method of obtaining euros.

Aegina is the closest Saronic Gulf Island to Athens, and such has become almost a suburb of the city with cosmopolitan shops, restaurants and accommodation. It boasts a few cultural attractions, like the well-preserved Temple of Aphaia and the monastery at Agios Nektarios, as well as a few good beaches. Pretty towns of Paleohora and Perdika offer a small-town break on Aegina, though they are likely to be busy as well, especially in the peak summer months.

Considered the most beautiful island in the Saronic Gulf, Hydra has a number of pretty towns with not a high-rise building or noisy car in sight thanks to zealous development restrictions. Pebbled beaches ring Hydra's impressive mansions of wealthy Athenians, and cultural attractions like the Cathedral of Hydra and the Hydra Museum. Though the island is beautiful, its longstanding reputation as a weekend getaway spot has obliterated most traditional ways of life in favour of catering to tourists.

Poros, separated from the Peloponnase by only a few hundred metres, is a quiet wooded island with scenic pine, olive and lemon groves and a pretty monastery, as well as two good beaches at Askeli and Neorio. The presence of a naval training base means that Poros Town's waterfront area is lively and crowded at night.

Spetses is a popular weekend destination in the Saronic Gulf, with towns full of white-washed mansions and fragrant pine forests. Catering more for wealthy travellers than package tourists, the island's gently rolling hills are good for hiking, and intrepid explorers will find good swimming holes and beaches. The highlight of the season in Spetses is the celebration of the Panaghia Armata, which re-enacts an 1822 naval battle between the Greek forces and the Turkish Armada.

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