Beyond its bustling port, Aegina (eh-yi-nah; Αίγινα) has the seductive, easygoing character of a typical Greek island but with the added bonus of more than its fair share of prestigious ancient sites. Weekending Athenians spice up the mix of laidback locals and commuters who use the island like an Athens suburb.
Life in Hydra centres around the gorgeous port. Whether you sail or ferry in, the sparkling boat-filled harbour and the bright light striking the tiers of carefully preserved stone houses make a lasting impression. The harbour in high season is an ecosystem of its own, with yachts, caïques, water taxis and sailboats zipping in and out.
Spetses (Σπέτσες) stands proudly just a few kilometres from the mainland Peloponnese, but there is a stronger sense of carefree island Greece here than in other Saronic Gulf destinations. The lively, historic old town is the only village on the island; the rest, ringed by a simple road, is rolling hills and crystal-clear coves.
Bustling Spetses Town stretches along a meandering waterfront encompassing several quays and beaches. The main Dapia Harbour, where ferries arrive, and the area around adjacent Plateia Limenarhiou and inland Plateia Orologiou (Clocktower Sq) teem with chic tourist shops and cafes.
Poros (Πόρος) is separated from the mountainous Peloponnese by a narrow sea channel, and its protected setting makes the main settlement of Poros Town seem like a cheery lakeside resort. Its pastel-hued houses stack up the hillside to a clock tower and make a vibrant first impression.
Zippy Poros Town is a mishmash of charming ice cream–coloured houses that look out across the narrow channel at Galatas and the shapely mountains of the Peloponnese. Sailboats bob along the lengthy quay while ferries glide through the channel and smaller vessels scurry to and fro.
Hydra’s mountainous, arid interior makes a robust but peaceful contrast to the clamour of the quayside. A useful map for walkers is Anavasi's Hydra map. A map is posted on the quay, and several marked trails extend across the island. Once you leave Hydra/Kamini/Vlyhos there are no services. Take plenty of water.
Skala & Around
The port-resort village of Skala is crammed with small hotels, apartments, tavernas and cafes but life, in general, still ticks along gently. A right turn from the quay leads to the small harbour beach and then to a church on a low headland. Beyond lies the best beach on the island, but it disappears beneath sun loungers and broiling bodies in July and August.
Aegina is lush and wildflower laden in spring, and year-round offers some of the best archaic sites in the Saronic Gulf. The interior hills and mountains add drama to the small island, but beaches are not its strongest suit. The east-coast town of Agia Marina is the island’s main package resort.
The quaint fishing village of Perdika lies about 9km south of Aegina Town on the southern tip of the west coast and makes for a relaxed sojourn. Perdika’s harbour is very shallow so, for the best swimming, catch one of the regular caïques (little boats, €4) to the small island of Moni, a few minutes offshore. A nature reserve, it has a tree-lined beach and summertime cafe.