Best Greek Islands Near Athens

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Written By: Pavlos

One of the best things about Athens is basically the fact that is very close to some fantastic greek islands that you can visit on a day trip with a 2 hours ferry from Piraeus port.

There are some really unique greek islands near Athens and a day trip there, is in fact one of the best things you can do while visiting the capital of Greece.

BEST DAY TOUR FROM ATHENS: Full Day Cruise to Hydra, Aegina, Poros islands

Yes, while visiting Athens your focus should be on sightseeing and the main attractions of this historic city but…if you are visiting in the summer and you actually have an extra day to spend (in general I do not recommend visiting Athens for more than 3 nights if it’s your first time in Greece as I do suggest to people to head over to a greek island) then hop on a ferry from Piraeus Port or Lavrio port and spend a day (or more) into these little Mediterranean gems. You can even try island hopping between these islands, although this can be tiring if you have limited time in the area.

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The best greek islands near Athens are:

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Get Your Guide has the best and largest variety of Tours in Athens and the greek islands (Santorini, Mykonos, Crete etc)

Rentalcars is the easiest way to rent a car or a quad for Greece with thousands of available options

There is no shortage of cute blue doors and 18th-century mansions on Spetses island

What Greek islands can I visit from Athens?

You can visit all greek islands from Athens but the thing is that you won’t have the time to do it. Athens is directly linked with a ferry or a flight to every greek island. However, there are some islands that are ideal for a day trip or a 1-night stay. These islands are Hydra, Spetses, Poros, Agistri, Aegina, Poros, Kea (Tzia), Kithnos, or Andros. Though most of these islands are quite small compared to other greek islands, Andros, Kea and Kithnos can actually be considered for an even longer stay as they are pretty big islands (especially Andros is one of the largest greek islands but it’s just a 2 hr ferry from Athens).

What are the easiest islands to get to from Athens?

The easiest islands to get to from Athens are Hydra, Spetses, Aegina, Poros, and Agistri. These are all within a 1.5-hour ferry trip from Piraeus port and are all perfect for a day trip. If you want to take it a little further you can definitely go to Kea, Kithnos, and even Andros. however, bear in mind that it’s not just the distance from Athens. It’s also the size of these islands that is extremely convenient for a day trip as they mostly have a small capital town and some lovely restaurants along with some beaches around the island. I do not recommend visiting Santorini or Mykonos as a day trip from Athens. In fact, do not even think about it! Yes, it’s totally possible but a day trip to Paris is also possible from Athens, though you wouldn’t try it, would you? Better keep your money and your energy for these islands for your second trip to Greece as they are totally worth more time and dedication.

Is Hydra worth visiting??

Totally! Hydra is an amazing little island near Athens that is probably on the list of the most famous greek islands, as it’s been on the set of numerous movies and shows. I do not recommend though spending more than a day trip (or maximum 1 night) on the island as there are limited things you can do there (unless doing nothing is basically what you are looking for…). Hydra does not have any memorable beaches though you can definitely go swimming from the rocks anywhere around the island as the seawater of Argosaronikos gulf is crystal clear. Hydra island has been the home of many singers, poets, and writers back in the ’60s and ’70s. Hydra is a very relaxing island and you can definitely have a great time if you are looking to relax and get away from the civilization. There are no vehicles on the island and all transportation is still done with donkeys and horses on the island. And that’s a plus for any place on earth…

Is Spetses worth visiting??

Absolutely! Spetses has one of the most beautiful and picturesque harbors in Greece. It is an island where many wealthy greek shipowners have their own villas and that says a lot. The island is a little paradise with a magnificent little town and smells of pine and jasmine everywhere. Lots of secluded beaches are scattered on the island that has been famous since the romance between Aristotle Onassis and Jackie Kennedy back in the ’70s that took place there.

So, without further ado let’s see the best greek islands near Athens:

1. Hydra

The “picture-perfect” island of Hydra where no cars are allowed to embark!

One of the most gorgeous islands near Athens is Hydra. In fact, if you have ever seen a carte-postal from Greece it is probably a photo from Santorini or from Hydra! It takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes by speedboat or 2 hours by ferry to reach there from the port of Piraeus. The fact that there are no motor cars on the island distinguishes it from others; all modes of transportation must be accomplished by boat, foot, or…donkey. You won’t get bored in Hydra as there is a lot to do, including hiking, admiring the fine stone mansions of Greek Independence war heroes, relaxing on lovely crystal-clear beaches, climbing up to the bastions, and exploring the charming fishing village of Kaminia. Hydra has been famous since the 1950s when the movie “Boy on a Dolphin” with the great Sophia Loren was shot. Since then, Hydra has become a regular spot between yachters and celebrities from all over the world. Hydra has a very relaxing atmosphere and it’s ideal for either a daytrip from Athens or even a 1 night stay, if you have the time.

2. Spetses

Spetses is a beautiful island with lots of beautiful beaches and a lovely town and port

Spetses, the island of the sea captains, can offer a great escape from the buzzing city of Athens, whether for a brief weekend break or even a day trip. In Dapia, you can have a leisurely coffee while gazing out over the sea at Kosta and Porto Heli on the Peloponnese side. The Old Harbour, with its ancient boatyards, is reached by walking down the riverfront, past the beautiful homes beneath St Nicholas’ Church. Then you go to the Hatzigiannis-Mexis and Bouboulina museums where you can find artefacts and objects from the Greek Independence War of 1821. Spetses is considered a very romantic island and it’s an island full of villas of wealthy greek shipowners. But this doesn’t mean it’s not pretty. Quite the opposite!

3. Poros

Poros can be reached within 1.5 hr speed ferry from Piraeus and it has some really good sandy beaches with many beach bars

Poros is one of my personal favourites as it’s the island near Athens with possibly the most family-friendly beaches, although all of the islands on this beach are family-friendly, to be honest. It can be reached from Athens with 1.5 hr speed ferry (there is also a slower ferry that takes up to 2.5 hours and I do not recommend it). Poros has some really nice hotels as well and it’s ideal for a weekend visit or even a daytrip if you feel like it. There are lots of sandy beaches on the island and the sea waters are crystal clear on the sandy beaches of Askeli or the very romantic beach of Love Bay. Poros is home to some excellent seafood restaurants and it’s a favourite spot among Athenians.

4. Aegina

The Temple of Aphaia in Aegina island is one of the best well-preserved temples in Greece and it’s really worth your visit if you are in Aegina

Aegina is very close to Athens and you can reach it within 40 mins from Piraeus port with a ferry. Aegina is famous for its stunning ancient Temple of Aphaia and… its pistachios! In fact, the word we use in greek for the “pistachio” is literally translated to “Aegina’s peanut” because this is where they basically grow in Greece. Aegina is a lovely island with a pretty town and many beautiful seaside villages such as Perdika or Marathon. The island has lots of sandy beaches with many restaurants, tavernas and amenities. Fun fact: Aegina was the first capital of Greece after the country became independent from the Ottomans in 1827 and it remained the capital for 2 years. The island is also the home of the first library of modern Greece.

5. Agistri

Agistri is a tiny island close to Aegina with fantastic beaches, such as Halikiada beach

Agistri is a small gem in the Saronic gulf , about 1 hr away from Athens by ferry and literally 5 mins away from Aegina. The island is very small and you can basically cycle around it very easily. Actually, renting a bike or even hiking is ideal for this island with the beautiful sandy beaches and crystal clear waters (like Halikiada or Skala) . If you are looking for alternative holidays away from civilization or even for a little escape from Athens then Agistri can be perfect. I’ll be honest though, there are not that many things you can do on the island but that’s not necessarily a bad thing…

6. Kea (Tzia)

Kea is perfect for a weekend visit

Kea is the greek island in the Cyclades islands group that is closest to Athens. Kea has fantastic beaches and since it’s in the Cyclades it’s full of whitewashed houses and traditional villages. Kea is also known as Tzia and it has a very cosmopolitan feeling and atmosphere. you can reach the island from the port of Lavrio (only 1 hour by ferry). If you are in Kea, then don’t forget to visit the famous Lion of Kea since it is one of the oldest sculptures of its style in Greece!

7. Kythnos

The famous double beach of Kolona in Kithnos island

You can easily reach Kithnos island from the port of Lavrio in less than 1 hr. The island is situated on mountainous and wild terrain but it is home to one of the most impressive beaches in the world: the famous Kolona beach which is basically…a double sandy beach. Kythnos is a common destination for Athenians and because the island is less known it is always perfect to visit it. Kythnos is definitely worth your visit but I do recommend spending at least 2 nights on the island.

8. Andros

Andros island has some of the best beaches in Greece but the island becomes very windy during summer (July and August mainly)

Andros can be reached with a 2 hours ferry from Rafina port and it’s actually one of the largest greek islands and the largest island in the Cyclades group. Andros has a long list of beautiful sandy beaches such as Psili Ammos, Batsi, Agios Petros, Ahla and Golden beach. The capital of the island is called Chora and it’s one of the most beautiful ones in Greece with lots of artistic shops and a very elegant architectural style that differs from the typical Cycladic architecture. I do recommend spending more than just 1 or 2 days in Andros as there is so much to see and do on the island that would be a pity not to dedicate more time to explore it properly.

CONCLUSION

One of the best things to do in Athens is actually to visit a greek island near Athens. That is very easily done through a 2-hour ferry and sometimes even quicker. My favorite place for a day trip on a greek island near Athens is Spetses or Poros, as apart from the picturesque traditional villages they also have some very beautiful beaches. Apart from Kythnos and Andros, all the other islands on this list are on the Saronic gulf which is basically the sea surrounding Athens. Kythnos, Kea, and Andros can also be visited for more than just a day trip and they definitely have more things to do than the rest of the islands.

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