The Most Beautiful Islands Closest To Athens

12 May 2014

You don’t need to set sail far from Athens to have a gorgeous Greek Island holiday. Just a short ferry ride from the port of Piraeus in Athens await some of the Mediterranean's most spectacular islands; a world away from the busy capital. Here are five islands closest to Athens that are sure to have you setting off on your own Grecian adventure.

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Hydra

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Popular with local Athenians for a weekend away, the island of Hydra is a contrast of wealth and traditional village life. Neo-classical stone mansions tower over a town that is serviced by donkeys and horse and carriage (all vehicles are banned from the island).

Hydra has an air of exclusivity and takes pride in its windy cobblestone lanes and magnificent views out to sea. Walk the pebbled Boundouri path from the port up to the fishing village of Kamini for spectacular ocean panoramas. As the day warms up, head to Mandraki and Vlichos beaches or hire a water taxi and get dropped at one of the magical secluded swimming spots.

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Aegina

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With a fascinating history, ancient ruins, beautiful walks and bike trails, the island of Aegina is the perfect destination for those looking for more than just sunbathing.

Its proximity to Athens means that it has a close relationship with the capital and ferries leave regularly from the capital’s port of Piraeus. Visit the immaculately preserved 5th Century BC Temple of Aphaia and climb Mount Oros to watch the sunrise over the Saronic Gulf.

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Spetses

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Exclusive and affluent Spetses embraces island life. It is calm, idyllic and relatively undiscovered by tourists. Cars are banned, making walking, scooters or horse-drawn carriages your mode of transport.

Spetses showcases authentic Grecian life with locals drinking espresso and playing backgammon in the streets, and whitewashed neo-classical houses surrounding its tiny port. Our pick of the beaches is Kyslokeriza. Accessible via the coastal road from the port, it lies in a hidden cove making it hard to believe you are so close to the busy capital of Athens.

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Poros

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Known as the 'green island', Poros is covered in pines and home to fascinating archaeological sites. The main feature of the island is the Clock Tower that sits in the town centre and is visible from every part of the island.

The beautiful Cathedral of Saint George attracts many visitors for its amazing frescoes painted by the famous Greek painter Konstantinos Parthenis. For a quick dip, head to the sheltered cove of Limanaki Agapis.

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Agistri

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This small island close to Athens is popular for its beaches and village feel. It was one of the first islands to have a dedicated nudist beach and still remains relatively unspoilt by tourism.

Visit the village of Metochi, which lies high up in the hills and stop at Parnassos Taverna for a quintessential island meal and drink accompanied by amazing views out over the glistening harbour. Alternatively, take a 10-minute drive to the village of Limenaria for panoramic vistas of the nearby islands.

Rowena Ryan

As a well-travelled writer, Rowena looks for the local experience. Whether it’s a glass of rose in Paris or a shiraz in the Barossa, she embraces the fascinating and different cultures around the globe. Rowena loves Canada for its Caesar’s (a Clamato-based cocktail), the local markets in regional France, and a North American sports bar for wings and a cold beer.