As I gazed out of the window at the blue sea ahead of me and listened to the gentle lapping of the waves, I had to admit it. I was falling in love… with the Greek islands.
There’s something so magical about stepping foot onto a new island and breathing in a new day in a new destination. And Greece has dozens of islands to choose from (227 in fact!)
Not only do they have their own character, but they also have friendly locals. If you are planning a solo trip to the Greek islands, this article covers a summary of each of the Saronic islands to help you decide which of these gorgeous places to spend your time Greek island hopping.
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Just 45 minutes from Pireaus is the small island of Agistri. If you’re searching for somewhere small and beautiful, this island is a perfect choice and it’s as peaceful or as loud as you want it to be, depending on which side of the island you stay.
It’s an island of verdurous pine woods, sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, and attracts artists looking for their muse. What I loved about this island is that it is underwhelmed by tourism yet it has as much nightlife as you need.
Agistri has a population of more than 1000 islanders and is split into four communities: Megalochori, Skala, Limenaria, Metochi.
Things To Do in Agistri
Megalochori is the Administrative capital of the island and is also known as “Mylos.” It’s one of the island’s natural ports and if you’re travelling with the Flying Dolphin from Athens, it’s the port that you arrive at. There isn’t that much here but you will find bakeries, supermarkets, a bank and a pharmacy. There’s also a health centre if you need one.
Along the northeast coast is the more touristy area of Skala. You can walk along the coastal path from Mylos passing fish taverns and restaurants along the way.
Skala has a natural port and the best tourism infrastructure on the island. Here you’ll find bars and clubs as well as the typical touristy shops and a sandy beach but the main attraction here is the stunning church called the Church of Agioi Anargyroi, a beautiful white church with a blue dome.
If you’re just here to sunbathe, eat delicious cuisine and relax, you don’t really need to go any further than Skala and Mylos but if you want to see more of the island, do what I did and hire a bike to explore the rest of Agistri. The island isn’t quite flat so you may prefer an electric bike to get around.
Where To Stay in Agistri Greece
I stayed in two areas on the island. The first in a studio apartment on the northwest side of the island, just 5 minutes from the port. I loved this place! It had everything I need to cook my own food, it was close to a bakery and supermarket and just steps away from a beach so I could hear the sounds of the ocean lapping as I awoke in the morning. Find out more (You can save $20 off your first Airbnb stay with this link).
I then stayed 3 nights at Oasis Beach Hotel in Skala. My room was beautifully decorated and a fantastic breakfast was included with freshly-squeezed orange juice. They also had special offers at the time which included a dinner option. There are a few places outside the hotel to dine and I could lay on the sandy beach just in front of the hotel. I loved it! To check all accommodation in Agistri, click on the link below.
Getting around Agistri Island
Hire a moped or an electric bike to see the rest of the island. There’s also an island bus, taxies, and a tourist train. The bus runs from Skala to Mylos and drops you off at the port before heading around the island. There’s a bike shop in Megalochori.
How To Get To Agistri
Agistri has two natural ports. There are ferries to Skala from Piraeus (Athens) and the flying Dolphin to Megalochori. The Flying Dolphin departs daily and takes 45 minutes. If you’re sailing into Sakal, the ferry takes 1.5 hours from Athens.
Just a 10-minute ferry ride from Agistri is the island of Aegina. Aegina is one of the most well-known Saronic islands. Its export is pistachios and there are pop up stalls and shops near the port selling pistachio oil, butter, sweets and anything and everything that can possibly be made from pistachios. (You can taste a free sample to see if you like it before you buy).
The island is only 15 km by 10 km with Aegina Town, the capital. Aegina Town has some chic bars along the port. A street running parallel has more authentic Greek restaurants and seems to be where the locals hang out. At night, the beach promenade is the place to be with swanky bars and open-air restaurants where you can gaze out at the harbour.
In Aegina Town is the Tower of Markellos. This 17th-century pink tower was used in 1821 as headquarters during the Greek Revolution. Also in the town is the Christos Kapralos Museum, showcasing the works of this famous Greek sculptor who produced some of his works in this former workshop.
There is a beach in the town called Karnagio Beach on the way to the Temple of Apollo but you may prefer to head to Marathonas with its sandy beaches. You’ll find restaurants on the beach here too serving Greek cuisine. Sarpa and Kilma beach are also beautiful but the island’s longest sandy beach is Agia Marina, a tourist beach with water sports and bars. It’s also a good spot for snorkelling.
Other beaches to try are Portes Beach which has a small harbour or Souvala Beach where you can visit the nearby thermal springs of this traditional fishing village.
Take a boat to the surrounding islands. As well as Agistri, you can also visit Moni, an uninhabited island with clear waters and a great beach. You can hike on the island or just spot one of the peacocks that roam around this small nature paradise. You can reach Moni from Aegina Town or take a water taxi from the fishing port of Perdika, where the favourite pastime is dining on freshly caught fish at a local taverna (you may see the octopus drying here too).
Things To Do in Aegina
Visit the numerous stone chapels at Paleahora, the island’s former capital with its hillside churches. Then see the beautiful Monastery of Agios Nektarios, popular with pilgrims, that was built to honour Greece’s first modern saint.
But the number one sight to see in Aegina is the Temple of Aphaia. This ancient temple that stands on a hilltop with beautiful views of the Gulf, dates back to 480 BC and is dedicated to the goddess Athena. The temple you see today was built over a temple built around 570 BC that was destroyed in a fire. The temple of part of the ‘sacred triangles’ of Greece along with the Athens Parthenon. You can walk around the 32 original columns that have been restored and learn more at the Aphaia Museum that’s included in the entrance fee.
A taxi cost approx 30 Euros to the temple where there was plenty of time to look at the temple and around the museum before hopping back in the taxi to be taken back.
On the way to the temple, the driver stopped at the church of Agios Nektarios and the Monastery of Agia Triada. This is also one of the must-sees on Aegina. Agios Nektarios is one of the most well-known Greek Orthodox Saints who was said to be a healer and a miracle worker. You can see the mausoleum of Agios Nektarios inside the church before climbing the stairs to the monastery where you can see the marble tomb where he was buried. There are two small chapels in the monastery area too. It’s a beautiful site but you need to make sure that you cover your arms and legs before you enter the monastery.
Within walking distance of Aegina Town and the harbour, is the Temple of Apollo, a singular pillar that stands alone on a small hill. Dating back to the 6th century BC, it is hard to imagine what this temple once looked like but you can see the findings from the temple and other collections within the Archaeological Museum of Aegina in the same archaeological area.
If you travel here in the summer months, you may even get to watch the big screen outside in the fresh Greek air. There are several open-air cinemas here and it’s an ideal way to spend an evening solo.
Where To Stay in Aegina
I stayed at Hotel Aegina in Aegina Town. It was in a great location, walking distance to the port and restaurants and in the other direction was the beach. If you decide not to stay in the main town, there are taxis at the port to take you to your accommodation. Other areas to stay in Aegina are Agia Marina, Perdika, Marathonas, Souvala and Vathi. For all other Aegina hotels and Aegina accommodation, click on the link below.
Getting Around Aegina Greece
I stayed near the port which was within walking distance. It’s easy to get around by taxi when you want to explore the island. The taxi rank is near the harbour in Aegina Town and will take you to the Temple of Aphaia, or any beach you want to go to. Just check the standard price that is shown at the taxi queue to know how much you should expect to pay. You don’t really need to rent a car but there are scooters for hire if you want to explore by yourself for a day’s rental. There are also buses that operate to the villages around the island but they may not set times so if you’re on there for a short amount of time, I recommend getting a taxi or even a water taxi instead.
Getting to Aegina
Aegina is easily reached from Piraeus in Athens in less than an hour on the Flying Dolphin or 1 hour 15 minutes on the car ferries. It’s only a 10-minute ride to Agistri from here so you can visit on a day trip or extend your trip by staying on both islands.
If you’re a Leonard Cohen fan, then you’ll have heard of Hydra (pronounced ‘Ydra’). It’s an island where the famous singer-songwriter frequented regularly in the 1960s as a holiday destination. There’s even a bench memorial dedicated to him (it’s on the coastal path as you head out of the harbour). It’s also appeared as a film location in movies.
This was the first island that I stayed on and it honestly is one of my favourites. There’s something magical about it and the fact that there isn’t any transport just makes it even more special (just one dust cart that you hear in the mornings). The only other noise you’ll hear are the sounds of donkeys and the cats (or which there are many) that will befriend you as you sit al-fresco dining for one.
Things To Do in Hydra Greece
Hydra has a charm to it with narrow alleys, boutique shops and a picturesque waterfront where you can yacht spot to your heart’s content. The island played an important role in the Greek War of Independence, and you can still see the bastions and cannons that protected the island as you enter the port by sea.
For a small island, there are a lot of restaurants and traditional taverns to choose from. You could easily spend hours in the main town but venture away from the marina and you’ll find the more traditional and picturesque villages of Vlichos and Kamini.
Hydra is more of a destination to just relax. There isn’t that much to do here but surprisingly for a small island, there are a number of museums such as the Museum of Hydra, the Lazaros Kountouriotis Mansion, the Ecclesiastical Museum, and the Tetsis House & Atelier. All within walking distance. If you love history, the Museum of Hydra gives an insight into the history of the island and the part that it played in the Greek War of Independence.
If you’re feeling active there are various walking trails and footpaths across the island each one promising a different view of a hilltop, seaview or even leading to a secluded beach for one. One of these hikes leads you to the blue and white Church of Agia Marina; just look out for the black and yellow signs to direct you around the island.
I hiked to the Panagia Zourva monastery which has amazing views. As one of the most remote Greek Orthodox monasteries, it remains a fully functioning monastery and is a steep climb to get there. But it is easy to navigate your way if, like me, you get lost easily. You may not even pass a single person on your way up there!
From the port, you can walk along the coastal path to Paralia Vlichos where there’s a private beach. Along the walk are a couple of restaurants and it’s lovely walking back to the port for sunset. It cost me 5 Euros for a sunbed and you can order drinks here too.
The other beaches on the island are reachable by boats that depart the main town. I took a boat from the marina to Bisti Beach. There’s something exclusive about sailing into a cove and disembarking onto a private beach. There’s a shack here that serves snacks and drinks so you don’t need to pack any extra drinks. For other beaches on the island, head to Kamini beach (also known as ‘Baby Beach’) which is reachable on the coastal road or by boat.
Vilichos Beach is a bigger beach and although it’s a pebbly one, there are sunbeds there and places to buy food and refreshments. All of the beaches in Hydra have the stunning blue waters that Greece is known for. Agios Nikolaos is more of a deserted beach so be prepared to take water and snacks with you and check the times of the boats coming back so that you don’t get stranded.
You can also dive from here. Apparently, Hydra has some reefs and underwater caves but my absolute highlight is having a drink at the port at dusk and watching the hive of activity as yachts come in. Bliss…
Where To Stay in Hydra
I stayed at Hotel Delfini which was at the port. The lounge had a balcony that overlooked the port where I could watch the hive of activity as I sipped my morning coffee. I definitely recommend staying at the port or there are guesthouses and pensions located a few streets behind the port. If you decide to self-cater there are small supermarkets and bakeries in the town.
Getting Around Hydra Island
There are no cars allowed on Hydra so the only way to get around is on foot or by donkey. Boats from the harbour will take you to various beaches and coves and bring you back again within the same day. You can even order your own water taxi and arrange a time for them to collect you if you decide to head somewhere more remote. You can find ATMs to withdraw your cash at the harbour.
How To Get From Athens to Hydra
There is a choice of ferries from Athens to Hydra. From the port of Piraeus in Athens, you can take the Flying Dolphin which takes 1 hour 45 minutes. Blue Star Ferries also take 1 hour and 5 minutes and make at least 2 ferry crossings a day.
What I love about the Greek islands is that each island is so different. Spetses is another popular choice for visitors. With its Venetian mansions, Spetses feels elegant with its boutiques and glamorous town.
Before Spetses was called Spetses (it was named ‘spice island’ by the Venetians after the aromatic smells). It was then named ‘Pityoussa’ after the pine trees that covered it. As with Hydra, there are old footpaths across the island that take you on a path of discovery past small chapels and villages and across the green hilltops.
Things To Do in Spetses
Spetses is 15 miles long and has a rich maritime past. One of the must-sees in Spetses is dedicated to the world’s first-ever female admiral. The Museum of Bouboulina is within a 300-year-old mansion that used to belong to this famous admiral. Learn about the life of Laskarina Bouboulina, her fearless role within the Greek War of Independence and why she is so important to the island of Spetses. There is also a statue of her art the port where she is looking out to sea.
Bouboulina wasn’t the only maritime influence to live here. The island was popular with captains after the Greek War of Independence) who built their grand mansions here, many that you can see below Agios Nikolaos Monastery. This 18th-century monastery is inhabited by nuns and can be accessed from the old port.
The lighthouse is also worth seeing especially because it is the oldest one in Greece! You can walk from the harbour in less than an hour and be greeted with views of the old harbour on the way.
One example of the elegant buildings and landmarks in Spetses is the Poseidonion Grand Hotel, which sits in front of Dapia Port with its stately facades. Built-in the 20th century, it is adorned with marble staircases and its original tiles. From here you can walk along the beach promenade that leads round to the old port.
Dapia harbour is in the main town where you can find lots of cafes and restaurants. For more traditional Greek food, you’ll find traditional Greek places which serve some of the best fresh fish. You can even dine on the beach too! Stroll along the old harbour, enjoy a coffee with a view or relax at a bar on the beach or a rooftop bar. In Dapia, you’re rewarded with views of Kosta and Porto Heli on the land opposite.
One of the hikes you can do is to Spetses’ highest point. Walk past the pine trees to Prophet Ilias and treat yourself to a glass of vino at the bar when you arrive at the top.
The beaches here aren’t as picturesque as the ones on Poros, for example, but there are several to choose from. If you only have time to see one, make it Kaiki Beach, the main one (but not the largest) and most accessible (about a 40-minute walk from the main town). It’s known for its party atmosphere. Ayios Manas is a popular beach in the main town where you’ll find a couple of cafes.
The largest beach in Spetses is Ayia Anargyri that you can take a water taxi to or swop the secret for a beach surrounded by pine trees that the island is known for at Vrellos Beach.
I stayed at Theo Studios for 3 nights. The owner was really nice and gave me fresh pomegranate to eat. It was a short walk to the water’s edge where there were three restaurants and I found a cute cafe near the water that served smoothies for breakfast and burgers for dinner. Dining alone never felt a problem here. To find a Spetses hotel or other accommodation, click on the link below.
Getting Around Spetses
Near Theo Studios were also bike shops so I hired a bike and spent a few hours cycling around the island. The cost for an electric bike was 20 Euros and a normal bike was 10. There are some hilly roads so I recommend an electric bike if you don’t have the pedal power. You can also rent a scooter or an ATV (if you’re feeling adventurous).
There are taxis on the island that you may need to pre-book especially if you arrive on the island. During the summer months, there are public buses that head both east (from Ayios Mamas Beach) and west (from Poseidonion jetty) from the main town and stop off at the beaches. As with the other islands, Spetses has water taxis that take you to different beaches. Find the numbers for these in the main town at Dapia harbour.
Athens To Spetses
Ferries take 1 hour 45 minutes if you depart from Athens. I travelled from Poros to Spetses on my way there from Aegina, then back to Poros to spend a few nights. It’s easy to reach the other Saronic Islands from here as it’s connected to Hydra too.
I loved this island and immediately felt at ease here. There’s just something about being on an island seeing the mountains of the mainland in the distance. And Poros is so close to mainland Greece that you can take a small ferry across to the Peloponnese for just one Euro.
Poros is 33 square km and is actually made up of two islands both with a different landscapes. These islands are called Sphairia (a volcanic rock) and Kalaureia which has many pine trees. Poros is the type of island that I could easily live on. It has beautiful bays, historical sites and picturesque villages. It is said to inspire writers and I can see why.
What I love about Poros is the names of the beaches. One area that I loved is Russian Bay, named after the Russian base that was here during the Greek Revolution. You can see the historical monument that sits on the sand.
Love Bay is another one and you don’t have to be loved up to go here. It’s close to Russian Bay and there are places to get drinks and snacks there and you can sit under the pine trees (or even swim beneath them) if the sun gets too much.
One of the most popular beaches in Kanali Beach, walkable from the old town. This is where I stayed and I loved it! It’s just over the bridge and on your right-hand side as you leave the town.
Askeli Beach is reachable from the town and you’ll be rewarded with nice scenery along the way. As well as a water-ski school, there are sunbeds here too and restaurants. Vagionia Bay is a quieter beach located on the opposite side of the island to the town, where you can snorkel to your heart’s content without the crowds.
Things To Do in Poros
When you travel to the centre you feel as though you’re on a different island with pine forests and greenery and the Monastery of Zoodochos Pygi sits on one of these green hillsides with spectacular views. Founded in 1720 in a basilica style, it is said that the fountain at the entrance contains healing powers. See the dome and the carved altar as you step inside. It feels really peaceful here and has a lovely courtyard. You do need to cover up to enter. If you’re cycling around the island, you have to turn around from this point and either head down to Monastiri Beach or cycle to Poseidon’s Temple from here.
The Sanctuary of Poseidon was built in 520 BC. I was a little disappointed as the ruins aren’t what I was expecting but the historical rocks that remain from the temple apparently date back to the 6th century. There isn’t really much to see here as most of the remains are within the Archaeological Museum of Poros so I combine your visit here with the museum which is located in town. You can also see artefacts dating back to the Mycenaean era and excavations from the volcanic region of Methana.
The Citronne Gallery is another place to see within the main town. Visiting the gallery you can see what the architecture used to resemble on the island back in the 18th century, as well as the enriching art scene that Poros has to offer. You only need an hour or so to explore here.
Be sure to see the Monument to the Fallen Heroes whilst you’re in the town. The white stone monument is dedicated to the Greek soldiers who fought in the many wars between 1912 to 1922.
Other sights to see on Poros are the islet of Bourtzi on the east entrance of Poros. This small island has its own castle that was built to protect the harbour. The Chapel of Our Lady of Agia Zoni is said to be one of the most spots on the island and the Dana Lighthouse that was restored in 2001.
At night, an ideal place to watch the sunset is from the clock tower of Poros which sits above the city and dates back to 1927. The restaurants around the harbour have a buzz at night and you can happily sit here Al Fresco and people-watch without that awkward feeling of being alone.
I looked at various accommodations here and decided on a studio apartment at Kanali Beach for 5 nights. It was a 15-minute walk into the port and waking up with the sunrise was just beautiful. There was a beachfront restaurant here too.
You can save $20 off your first Airbnb stay through this link. Other accommodation that I considered was the Dionysos Hotel and Guesthouse ERI that both had good reviews. For all Poros hotels and other accommodation, click on the link below.
Getting Around Poros
Poros Town is easy to walk around. To get around the rest of the island you could either hire a bike or there is a bus from the main town to the beaches such as Russian Bay and Love Bay. You can also reach both the monastery and Poseidon’s Temple by bus too or take a taxi from the dock to wherever you want to explore on the island. I hired an electric bike for €20 from Moto Rental Fotis near Kanali Beach and cycled my way around the island in less than half a day. There is another bike shop called Moto Kostas in the main town.
Athens To Poros
From Athens, you can either reach Poros on the Flying Cat which takes either an hour or 1 hour 15 minutes depending on which schedule you book the Flying Dolphin in an hour, or a larger ferry such as Saronic Ferries that takes 3.5 hours. You can actually take your car onto Poros from Athens. Drive to Galatas, a small port in the Peloponnese and take the 10-minute car ferry across to the island.
If you’re travelling to or from Methana on your ticket you arrive at a different area of the Port of Poros. You need to follow the port around to the clock tower and the small travel agent in-between the bars where the Fast Cat departs for Piraeus in Athens.
I loved the Saronic Islands and recommend all of them for solo female travel depending on what you're looking for. They are safe, beautiful and ever so relaxing.