The Greek capital of Athens is a magnificent city in and of itself, though there is a string of astonishing islands close to Athens, that feels a world away from the vibrancy and hustle and bustle of the city. This guide will provide you with all the information that you need, such as major things to see, how to get to each of the islands around Athens, which port to use and how long it takes to travel there via ferry. Here are the best islands near Athens:
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8 Greek islands to visit close to Athens
One of the most popular Greek islands near Athens is Hydra; situated in the enchanting Saronic islands, it is easily accessible from Athens and has a rich, and vibrant culture and heritage, and an array of exciting things to do and see. Hydra makes the perfect day trip from Athens or a weekend getaway.
Things to see:
- Admire the architecture – one of the most charming aspects of Hydra is its gorgeous architecture; with its stunning white-washed buildings, magical archways, and pretty shops and cafes, simply wandering around is the best way to experience the true beauty of the island.
- Explore the Monastery of the Assumption of Virgin Mary – Hydra has a lot of churches and monasteries, well over 300 in total, but the main cathedral in Hydra is the Monastery of the Assumption of Virgin Mary; this was originally constructed in the 17th century and has an array of wonderful artifacts and features inside, such as its 18th-century frescoes.
- Stroll around Hydra Harbour –another great part of Hydra is its harbor, which is where you will arrive when traveling from Athens; it is so relaxing and peaceful to watch the boats and the gentle buzz of life and activity going on around you. Simply strolling around the harbor on a sunny afternoon is one of the best ways to experience the charm of the island.
How to get there: To get to Hydra from Athens, you will depart from Piraeus Port at Gate E8, where you will be able to catch one of several high-speed ferries, which operate daily. Two of the options include Flying Cat 5 and Flying Cat 6, which fit up to around 336 people, and the Flying Dolphins which are smaller, holding around 130 passengers. The price for all of these boats is around 31 Euro per person.
How long it takes: the journey to Hydra from Athens takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours depending on conditions, and which ferry you take.
Nestled in the Saronic Gulf lies the small island of Poros, which is one of the Greek islands close to Athens. It is a gorgeous haven of sandy beaches, chic and elegant towns, as well as having strong associations with ancient history; it is said to be the home of Poseidon.
Things to see:
- Explore Poros Town – Poros town is the main town of Poros Island, and is separated from the rest of the island by a small canal. In the town, there is a string of impressive vistas, private yachts, and Neoclassical architecture; there is an array of beautiful tavernas and cafes, and it is the perfect place to stroll around and take in the sights.
- Visit the Clock Tower – one of the first things that you will notice when you arrive in Poros is the magnificent clock tower that protrudes from the town; though only erected in 1927, the tower is definitely an iconic symbol of the island. It is possible to climb to the top of the tower, and from the top, you are able to see some breath-taking views, which are particularly magical at sunset.
- Discover Vagionia Bay – the magnificent Vagionia Bay is a gorgeous sandy but pebbled beach, with calm, beautiful waters that make for the perfect spot for snorkeling; you can actually see the foundations of the historic ancient town on the seabed! There is a wonderful taverna nearby, and this is the perfect place to spend the day relaxing, away from the crowds.
How to get there: in order to travel to the wonderful island of Poros from Athens, you will need to depart from the Port of Piraeus, at Gate E9. There are daily departures with the Flying Dolphins and the Flying Cats, both of which only take foot passengers rather than vehicles. The journey is absolutely gorgeous and you will see some incredible scenery along the way; it is also advisable to book your trip in advance.
How long it takes: Poros is one of the Greek islands closest to Athens, and the total journey time for the Flying Dolphins is 1 hour, and the Flying Cats is 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Located in the Saronic Islands, Aegina is one of the most idyllic islands situated near to Athens:
Things to see:
- The Tower of Markellos – the historic Tower of Markellos dates back to the 17th century, and was used as a watchtower by the Venetians; today, it is open to the public and is a fascinating way to explore the local heritage.
- Visit Kolona – the archaeological site of Kolona is one of the top attractions of Aegina; during ancient times, a Doric temple existed here, and was built to celebrate Apollo, the Greek god. Today, the site is open to the public and is very popular.
- The Temple of Aphaia – this ancient temple is one of the oldest temples in Greece, and even predates the Parthenon in Athens; it is incredibly well-preserved and is one of the top attractions of Aegina.
How to get there: to get to the island of Aegina from Athens, you will be departing from the Port of Piraeus. There are essentially two different ways to travel there; the first is the Agios Nektarios Ferry, which costs around 8 Euro each way. The second option is the Flying Dolphins ferry, which is a little more expensive but much quicker.
How long it takes: the Agios Nektarios Ferry will take anywhere between 60 and 90 minutes from Piraeus Port to Aegina, whilst the Flying Dolphins ferry will take just 40 minutes.
With its rolling green hills and breath-taking beaches, Kythnos is one of the most picturesque islands in the Cyclades:
Things to see:
- Go Scuba Diving – across the island of Kythnos, there are a string of Scuba Diving centers; beneath the surface of the crystal-clear waters lay a vast array of marine species just waiting to be discovered!
- Explore local shops – one of the most charming things about Kythnos are the local shops and businesses; make sure to spend some time exploring local products and souvenirs.
- Relax on the beaches – because Kythnos is an island, there are no shortage of beaches to explore and relax on; ensure that you spend lots of time sunbathing and listening to the waves.
How to get there: to get to Kythnos from Athens, you will depart from Piraeus Port; there are two options, firstly the regular car ferry, which takes a lot longer but is cheaper and generally more popular. If you wish to get to Kythnos quicker, you can take the high-speed ferry, which is smaller and more expensive.
How long it takes: this journey takes approximately 3 hours.
The small island of Agistri is situated in the Saronic Gulf, but has one of the most gorgeous, rugged coastlines, and some of the most charming beaches and towns.
Things to see:
- Explore the Church of Agioi Anargyroi – well-known for being the most photographed church on the island, the Church of Agioi Anargyroi in Skala is completely gorgeous and totally unique.
- Visit Aponisos Beach – the fantastic and unique Aponisos Beach is a private bathing area, where you can travel by steps and ladders down to the beautiful waters below.
- Explore Megalochori – Megalochori is the capital of this stunning island, though it is a small village. There is lots of history to explore here, and a fantastic fishing port.
How to get there: like many of the Greek islands, you will depart from Piraeus Port in Athens in order to get to Agistri. There are two options, the Ferry Boat, and the Flying Dolphins, and both of which depart from Gate E8, and there are multiple departures throughout the day.
How long it takes: by travelling via Ferry Boat, the journey will take approximately 1 and a half hours, whereas the Flying Dolphins speedboat will take around 50 minutes.
The enchanting island of Kea is one of the most magical islands close to Athens, and has so much to offer.
Things to see:
- Explore Ioulida – the main town of the island is Ioulida, which is a fantastic historic center, that only allows pedestrians and donkeys. There are some beautiful buildings here, and it is wonderful to just stroll around, particularly at sunset.
- Go beach-hopping – Kea has some fantastic beaches, and some of the best include Sykamia, and Koundouraki, both of which are accessible by car and have beautiful waters and sands. Another great beach is Mavrabeli, which is only accessible by boat.
- Visit Panagia Kastriani Monastery – Panagia Kastriani Monastery is a fantastic building, that is painted with some of the most gorgeous deep blues. It has a fascinating history and is well worth the visit.
How to get there: it is really easy to get from Athens to Kea Island; there is a regular ferry connection that departs from Lavrion Port in Athens, and there are multiple departures throughout the day. It costs 11 Euro each way.
How long it takes: the overall duration of this journey is roughly around an hour.
Part of the Saronic Islands, the island of Spetses is out of this world; with its stunning beaches and magnificent landscapes, it is a total paradise.
Things to see:
- Dapia Square – having played a crucial role in the 1821 Greek Revolution, Dapia Square is a historic hub, and is today bustling with life and tourist activity, with a string of restaurants and cafes on offer.
- Old Port – one of the most gorgeous parts of Spetses is the Old Port; here you will discover an array of different architectural styles and quirky buildings, as well as a string of bars, cafes, and restaurants.
- Church of Panagia Armata – the Church of Panagia Armata is absolutely stunning; it is well worth the visit, as there are some beautiful paintings here, such as the painting of Koutsis.
How to get there: to get to Spetses from Athens, you will depart from the Port of Piraeus. There is a regular ferry connection, and there are departures every single day, around 5 times on average. The mode of transport available is a high-speed vessel.
How long it takes: the journey from Athens to Spetses takes around 3 hours on average.
Andros is one of the most peaceful and unspoilt islands near to Athens, and there are very few tourists, making it feel truly authentic.
Things to see:
- Explore Gavrio – Gavrio is a fantastic and calm village, in which there are many traditional and authentic restaurants, taverns, and shops; it is the perfect place to explore and stroll around.
- Discover Batsi – situated to the south of Gavrio lies Batsi, which is a wonderful seaside resort with lots going on. There are some beautiful bays, waterfronts, and sandy beaches, as well as lots of shops, bars, and restaurants.
- Go Hiking – Andros is the perfect island for hikers, as there are 18 marked trails and over 100km of hiking paths. There are numerous itineraries for all types of hikers and abilities.
How to get there: in order to get to the island of Andros from Athens, you will need to depart from Rafina Port in Athens, rather than Piraeus Port, which is situated very near to the airport. There are regular ferry connections throughout the day, and there are several different departure times on offer.
How long it takes: this journey can take anywhere between 1 and a half hours to 2 hours.