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One of our favorite island is the Island of Spetses located in the Saronic Gulf very close to Athens
Located in the Saronic Gulf, Spetses is a wonderful little island that is only a few hours away form Athens. It has kept its traditional style, architecture and no cars are allowed! Despite the fact that it is small and has kept true to its history and culture, Spetses is a very cosmopolitan island. It boasts a number of modern bars and clubs and lovely restaurants.
Spetses is riddled with picturesque bays, stunning beaches, quaint villages and a varied landscape. The island is covered in pines trees, mountainous areas, sandy beaches and rocky sea sides.
Don’t let the lack of cars put you off, people on this island travel by foot, donkey, horse drawn carriage or local buses. The island is small and travelling around in this way, lets one soak in the surroundings.
This little gem of an island has lush green pine forests and crystal clear waters. It is a very popular destination all year round for weekends away and holidays.
Archaeologists have found signs that Spetses was first occupied in around 8000 BC. Further signs show that in 2300 BC Spetses 3 natural harbours acted as a refuge for ships carrying goods from the Argolis Gulf.
Spetses has a history of being used as a place of refuge, whether for ships or people. During invasions of neighbouring areas, many people took refuge in Spetses. The refugees on the island built most of the old village of Kastelli in the 18th Century.
The island has been occupied by a number of different people, as with most of Greece and its Islands. The Turks, the Russians, the Venetians have all past through.
At one stage the naval force of Spetses was one of magnitude and played a role in fighting off the Turks.
Spetses was the home to two well known heroes, Bouboulina from the war against the Turks in the mid 1800s and to the architect George Diamantopoulos who was killed by the communists in the late 1930s.
The Hadjiyannis Mexis Museum is located a short walk from the Harbour and houses a collection of items, from the 4,000 year old history of the Island. The Museum is an 18th Century home that belongs to the Hadjiyannis Family; it’s a beautiful setting for a lovely collection.
The Bouboulina Museum is privately owned and located within a 17th Century mansion. It boasts a collection of items from the period of the war in 1821.
THINGS TO DO
Spetses has hardly any form of Transportation, so walk around and you will come across the most important things on the island.
One walk you should take is to the Old Harbour. The walk itself is a great one to do in the evening. The roads are closed to all vehicles in the evenings and you can enjoy the view of the sea from the coastal road, but also see the beautiful mansions that line the side of the road. You will also come across the Marina and its luxury yachts; don’t miss the Lighthouse, one of the first to be built in Greece and dates back to 1837. You can then have a nice walk up the Old Harbour, past all the cafes and restaurants.
You can also wander along up a steep dirt road to the tiny little church of Prophet Elia and enjoy the stunning views.
If you are on the island at the beginning of September, you may be able to witness a celebration that the island is famous for. The celebration of Panagia Armata is to put it very simply, the re-enactment of the battle against the Turkish Ships, with a wonderful display of fireworks.
The most popular beaches are: Agia Paraskevi and Agioi Anagyroi they are both accessible by bus. If you do decide to go to Agioi Anagyroi check out the Bekiris Cave which even has its own little sandy beach.
Zogeria Beach is the most picturesque on the island and has a lovely restaurant on it. You can jump on a water taxi to get there if you don’t want to walk. Other beaches that are only accessible by water taxi or private transport are, Ligoneri, Vrellos and Xylokeriza.
We wouldn’t suggest that you swim in the Town beach as it gets quite dirty. However, you can walk about 20 minutes along the island’s main road and swim off either Kaiki Beach or College Beach, where you will find a few facilities.
You will find a number of small boutique style shops in the Main Town. They have items such as sarongs, clothing, souvenirs, local specialties, hand made jewellery etc. As with most of the Greek islands it is best to wander around and have a look as there is also something new popping up.
With its cosmopolitan status and its close vicinity to Athens, Spetses has a very good Nightlife. Concentrated almost 100% in the Town and around the Old Harbour, there are a number of bars and clubs along the waterfront as well as in the little streets that run just behind the harbour.
WHERE TO WINE AND DINE
With a variety of things on offer, you will be able to find fast food, haute cuisine, ouzeris and traditional tavernas. There is a lot on offer on this little island. You should ask the restaurant in which you choose to dine what their specialty is; it might be something you would like to try.
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