After enjoying visits to many Greek islands during various Mediterranean cruises, this year we decided that we would like to start exploring Greece further. The two islands we chose to visit this September were Spetses and Hydra. We did a lot of research and made all our reservations online – our flights to Athens with BA, Hellenic Seaways Flying Cat (the catamaran from Piraeus on mainland Greece to the islands) and the various hotels we used.
We decided to stay our first night in Athens and chose the Hotel Theoxenia Palace in Piraeus as it was in easy walking distance to the port for our catamaran journey the next day. We were taken out that evening by a friend for a lovely meal at the Vosporos Restaurant in Mikrolimano, right by the waterfront of the old harbour.
Our 8 minute walk the next morning took us to the port of Piraeus where we boarded Flying Cat 6. We had a smooth journey to Spetses which took less than 3 hours, calling at Poros and Hydra on the way. Our hotel in Spetses was the Armata Boutique Hotel, a short walk from the harbour but in a quiet location and in easy walking distance from several restaurants, shops and bus stops.
We were fortunate to have beautiful weather during the 5 days of our visit so we spent every day at the beach. On the first day we rented a quad bike to explore the island (26km round) and the various beaches. As there are no hire cars on the island, this was a very good way of getting about, the alternatives being motor bike or public bus. In Spetses town itself there are several horses and carts which can take you along the seafront to the old harbour, but we preferred to walk. The roads were well kept, especially out of the town, so we felt quite safe on the quad bike, along with the fact that it was very slow, “not unlike driving a ride-on mower” according to my husband! It was easy to stop at various viewpoints around the island and enjoy the lovely scenery, predominantly pine trees, eucalyptus trees, olive trees and grapevines.
The first beach we visited was Anargiri. There was a nice cafe and toilets here and many sunbeds with umbrellas which you could rent for the day for €10 per pair. You could walk over a hill from the beach and down to a cave where you could swim but we did not do it, intending to come back another day as we did not have our beach shoes with us (but not achieving it!). We continued to Paraskevi Beach which was quieter, which we preferred, but then carried on to Vrellos Beach. We stopped here for a drink and snack for lunch but it was our least favourite, with lots of sunbeds and tables and chairs and it was very busy, probably because it was the weekend.
We then went back to Paraskevi where we stayed for a while and did some snorkelling to try out our new full face masks which have proved to be fantastic, although there was not a great variety of fish.
The next day we caught the local bus from town to Xilokeriza Beach which had been recommended to us. The fare for the 20 minute ride was €3 per person each way. The beach was a lovely 10 minute walk downhill from the bus stop (and back up at the end of the day of course!). This was our favourite beach of all and we ended up visiting this one every day. It had several sunbeds along the waters edge, a couple of toilets and a kiosk where you could buy a sandwich and drink. As with most Greek beaches, they are mainly pebbles and shingly sand but the water was crystal clear. It was not very busy (people may be put off by the walk!) so we thought it was perfect.
There is a huge choice of restaurants in the town and we thought each one we visited was excellent, a couple of them being right on the water’s edge. There are supermarkets where we could buy bottled water, (very good) wine and beer etc.
From here we got the catamaran to Hydra where we stayed another 5 days (review of Hydra posted separately). Both islands were lovely, very different to each other and we would like to visit them again, but we are also looking forward to discovering more of the many other Greek islands over the coming years!