8 Kids-friendly activities in the Saronic islands in Greece

The Saronic Gulf in Greece is located to the south-southwest of Athens, and has 7 inhabited islands in it, called the Saronic islands. All islands are easy/fast to reach from the capital, with the farthest one – Spetses – taking just 2-3 hours by ferry or flying dolphin.

With its wonderful beaches and picturesque villages the Saronic is one of our favorite locations for spending a family holiday. If you happen to be around for your summer vacation, here are the eight places/activities we enjoyed most as a family.

Poros island

Walk around Poros city, enjoy magnificent views from the Clock Tower
Poros is just an hour from Athens by hydrofoil, but is perhaps one of the most picturesque islands in Greece. Its main town, Poros, beautifully spreads out on a hill, thus offering great views to the port, and the lovely bays just nearby.

Take the narrow paths and steps up to the Clock Tower, walk past lovely houses with differently colored windows, relax at the port-side cafes and tavernas while watching the vessels crossing the narrow channel between Poros and Peloponnese.
Except for the busy port street, the town itself is quiet, with kids playgrounds and lovely fountains here and there.

Poros – the port


Take a tour around Poros island

There is a frequent bus from Poros town to Askeli Monastiri, and from Poros town to the Russian Dockyard. The first route will take you to Askeli beach (approx 3 km from the town) and Panagitsa (small cove next to a church), while the second will let you enjoy the lovely bays near the main town, with shady and welcoming tavernas along the road.
If your family enjoys sightseeing – you may check the Temple of Poseidon (6th century BC), Zoodochou Pigi Monastery, the ancient Trizina village, and the castle on the small island of Bourtzi.

Hydra island

Enjoy a car-free town
Hydra is one of our favorite Greek islands, and it’s a great place to be with kids. No automobiles, just donkeys and motor bikes. Let the kids play in the lemon gardens and giant chess games you can find in public areas while you sip a cup of greek coffee served with liquor.
Hydra has several streets, starting from the port and winding up through attractive houses, churches and tavernas in a kind of a labyrinth. No matter how many times you visit Hydra town, each time you uncover yet another small road, yet another little square, or a welcoming taverna.

Hydra island

Walk to and stay at Mandraki beach
Mandraki bay used to be the old military port of Hydra. Now it’s simply a quiet place, with a nice sandy beach (the only sandy beach on Hydra) and MiraMare hotel & restaurant. The beach offers sun chairs and tents, showers, kids water facilities and everything you will need to relax together with your kids.

Mandraki is only 20 minutes by foot from Hydra’s main port. It’s best if you walk to it, and enjoy the beautiful mansions and amazing views from above. The alley to Mandraki makes for a terrific walk in the evenings too (it’s well-lit).
Should you decide to get by water taxi – it’s a quick ride, and takes about 2 EUR per person.

Lovely taverna at Mandraki beach


Spetses island

Enjoy a walk in Spetses town
Spetses is 2 hours by hydrofoil from Athens, a short ride from Hydra, and is also reachable from Peloponessos. In ancient times Spetses was known as ‘Pityoussa’ – the Pine island – because of the many pines covering its steep slopes. It’s current name derives from the name Venetians gave the island – Isola di Spezie (island of spices) due to the many spices and herbs found on the island.

The town of Spetses spans mostly along the coastline, and is a great place to walk. Few automobiles, lots of cafes and tavernas, cute little streets with shops, bakeries, large city square, stands with delicious ice-cream, kids playgrounds – there’s hardly anything you can’t find here.

Spetses town


Visit the museum of Lascarina Bouboulina

Lascarina Bouboulina is the only woman admiral in the world, and a key figure in the Greek revolution against the Turks, in the 1820s. Her face was depicted on the Greek drahma coin during 1988-2001.
The museum is actually Bobolina’s mansion, and your kids will enjoy the curious personal belongings, books, letters from the revolution, maps, paintings and other during the 30-40 minute visit. It’s a great opportunity to learn more on the history of Spetses and Hydra islands (2 centuries ago Spetses was the bigger and more important than Hydra), on how the Greek islands liberated from the Turkish occupation and the amazing life of Bobolina itself (which started in the prison of Constantinople, where she was born). Check the opening hours at the museum website.

Relax at the beach
Spetses beaches are very diverse – ranging from mostly pebble beaches on the north side, to the awesome sandy Paraskevi beach on the south side.
There are party beaches, with bars, volleyball and other sports facilities, and secluded ones, just perfect for families with kids. All of them are reachable by bike, motor bike, bus or boat. The beach we most liked is Xilokeriza – on the south-eastern coast of Spetses, offers sunbeds, volleyball playground, small taverna, sand and pebbles beach, and crystal clear waters.

Small, secluded sandy or pebble beaches are available all around Spetses


Bike the island

Biking around Spetses has been one of our most pleasant biking experiences. First, because it’s a fairly leisure route – it’s a total of 26 km, and approx 2-3 hours of a nice ride, without long stops. Next because of the picturesque scenery on your way. You pass through most beaches of the island, lots of luxury mansions built on it (Jackie Onassis is said to have had a house on the island), the road is easy to bike for the most of it (but for a few steep passages), and it’s mostly shady.

A lovely beach just along the biking route 🙂

 

Poros, Hydra and Spetses are close to each other, and close to Athens, and all three combined offer so much for a true, relaxing and diverse family vacation! Plan at least 2-3 days in each of the islands to get a real taste of their unique atmosphere. If you need help planning your vacation in any of these places – feel free to contact me.

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