The Saronic Islands or Argo-Saronic Islands is an archipelago in Greece, named after the Saronic Gulf in which they are located, just off the Greek mainland.
The main inhabited islands of this group are Salamis, Aegina, Agistri, Poros, Hydra, Spetses and Dokos. There’s myth, legend, and history around every corner of the winding white alleyways. Each of the Saronics has a unique feel and culture, so you can hop between classical heritage, resort beaches, exquisite architecture and remote escapism.
Besides the fantastical white-walled fortified towns like Hydra rising from the sparkling Mediterranean, you’ll discover authentic Greek culture and traditional tastes, with no shortage of tiny tavernas that explode into a lively and unforgettable night.
A substantial and attractive island with a proud history, less than an hour from Pireás, ÉGINA (Aegina) is not surprisingly a popular weekend escape from Athens. Despite the holiday homes, though, it retains a laidback, island atmosphere, especially if you visit midweek or out of season. Famous for its pistachio orchards – the nuts are hawked from stalls all around the harbour – the island can also boast substantial ancient remains, the finest of which is the beautiful fifth-century BC Temple of Aphaea, commanding superb views towards Athens from high above the northeast coast.
HYDRA, built in the shape of an amphitheatre on a slope overlooking the Argosaronic gulf, is one of the most romantic destinations in Greece. Its harbour and main town preserved as a national monument, it feels like a Greek island should, entirely traffic-free (even bicycles are banned) with a bustling harbor, traditional stone mansions, narrow cobblestoned streets, secluded squares and the use of around 500 donkeys as means of public transportation.
In antiquity POROS consisted in fact of two islands, Sphería and Kalávria, but the last explosion of the Méthana volcano in 273 BC radically changed the morphology of the area. Sphería was cut off from Méthana, and in this way Póros took its present-day form.
The town of Poros is built in the shape of an amphitheatre over two hills.
A popular, upmarket escape for Athenians, SPÉTSES had brief fame and a vogue as a package destination, largely thanks to John Fowles, who lived here in the early 1950s and used the place, thinly disguised, as the setting for his cult novel The Magus. But the island never developed the mass infrastructure – or the convenient beaches – to match.
Spetses, an island boasting a long naval tradition, is famous for its significant contribution to the 1821 War of Independence. The island has managed to retain its individual traditional character thanks to its well-preserved grand captain mansions, still bearing eloquent witness to the island’s glorious past.
The picturesque old harbour and Dápia, a tourist and commercial centre where the heart of the island’s entertainment beats, are the trademarks of the town of Spetses.
Today, the town is much the biggest in the Saronic islands.
Sightseeing on the Island
The rich history and naval tradition of the island is reflected on numerous sites that are definitely worth visiting:
- The House of Bouboulina
- Church of Panayia Armata
- Cathedral of Ayios Nikolaos
Peristera is the island lying roughly parallel to and just to the east of Alonissos whereas further north is the island of Pelagos with the bay of KYRA PANAGIA. All these spots offer unrivaled beauty with crystal clear water.
Alonissos is long and thin and surrounded by scattered islets. These islets and the area around them are the Marine Park which is the last refuge of the Mediterranean seal “Monachus‐Monachus”. The ruins of an ancient city can be found on Psathoura and a cave decorated with multi‐hued stalactites and stalagmites is the famous cave of Cyclops. Rich vegetation covers the island, and in some cases, the pines actually touch the deserted beaches while fresh lobster, and local cheese pies are there for you to taste.
Skyros is low hills, good underwater fishing and diving, crystal clear water, sandy beaches, little seaside taverns, sea caves, and the unique Skyrian ponies. From the castle above the Hora, which combines Byzantine and Venetian ruins with older fortifications, the town spreads out below you in a cubists dream. Each of the houses has an interior that reminds one of a folk art museum, and much of the handmade folk art is sold in little shops.
Skopelos is exceptionally beautiful with scenic coves, bright white churches and monasteries among picturesque farm‐house glimpsed through the gold‐green of the olive groves on even slopes, under the brilliant light of the sun. Moreover, the Venetian Castle and the 123 chapels ‐ most of which act as bulwarks for Orthodoxy ‐ present throughout the island are sure to produce a profound effect on the beholder. In the few scattered villages and the picturesque sites we are sure that you will re‐discover peace and tranquillity.