If you’re lucky enough to have chartered a yacht in Athens for two weeks or are considering to expand your sailing trip in Greece, we have the perfect route for you. Spend two weeks island hopping from Athens on this sailing itinerary created by Georgina Moon.
Island hopping from Athens
Spend a wonderful two weeks sailing in the beautiful Saronic Gulf from your yacht charter base near Athens. On this route, you will visit up to six Greek islands, and have the chance to visit many beautiful locations. You will love the picturesque harbours and pretty villages, and you will be able to experience real Greek hospitality in some waterside tavernas while watching some amazing sunsets.
Day 1: Athens to Aegina
After picking up your charter yacht from Athens, your first destination after leaving the marina is the island of Aegina, 15 miles south west. The port of Aegina is on the west coast, and offers good shelter, except in strong S or SW winds. Moor stern-to on the town quay and enjoy a meal or just coffee in one of the many tavernas just a stroll away. This is a good place to provision your yacht, as there are supermarkets, butchers, and a fish market close by. Be sure to visit the famous Aegina fruit boats along the quay towards the big church of Agios Nikolaios. Or hire a quad bike and take a trip to the ancient temple of Aphaia.
Day 2: Aegina to Poros
Heading directly south from Aegina, you will sail approximately 13 miles until you will reach the entrance of the huge sheltered Poros lagoon. Keep a look out for the ferries and hydrofoils which frequently appear from the narrow entrance. Once in the lagoon, there are many pretty anchorages where you can stop for a lunch break, or for a swim, in the clear waters.
The town of Poros is two miles east from the entrance to the lagoon, recognisable from a distance by the blue and white church tower on the hillside above the harbour. An evening walk up the hill is recommended, where you will be rewarded by an amazing sunset. Mooring spaces can be found on the town quay, or on the pontoons to the north. There are plenty of facilities in Poros town, with shops and tavernas lining the quay and the little streets behind.
Day 3: Poros to Ermioni
Leaving Poros through the southern channel, you will have a wonderful view of the waterside buildings. After 5 miles you will round the headland, and sail a further 14 miles SW along the coast to Ermioni. This pretty town is situated on a narrow peninsula and you can go stern to on the southern side, also known as Mandraki. The taverna owners are friendly, especially the Millennium Bar, and will help you moor up. They can provide water and electricity if you buy a drink. If there is a southerly wind, it might be preferable to moor on the pontoons on the northern side which are closer to the village centre with local shops.
Day 4: Ermioni to Hydra
Hydra is a very special place, and not to be missed. You might chose to sail here after leaving Poros as an alternative to Ermioni, or return later on in your trip, before returning to Athens. There is just one main town on the island, known as Hydra port.
The attractive harbour resembles a crescent shaped ampitheatre and is a magnet for all sorts of boats including many day trip cruises. Many tavernas and up-market shops surround the waterfront. Hydra does not allow motor vehicles, except for the refuse wagon.
The only transport is by mule or donkey, who also carry all the goods which are unloaded from the cargo boats. If you take your yacht here, you need to be prepared for the harbour to be very crowded in the summer months. It is usual for boats to raft up in front of each other, and crossed anchors are common! Alternatively, you could try free anchoring in the bay a few miles to the east, also known as Mandraki. There are small tavernas ashore, or catch the taxi boat which will take you round to Hydra town.
Day 5/6: Dokkos and Spetses
After the hustle and bustle of Hydra, you may prefer a quieter destination. From Hydra, sail west and choose a quiet anchorage on Dokkos island, where the only residents are sheep and goats. The clear turquoise water is perfect for swimming and snorkelling, and if you are lucky you may have a bay to yourself. This is a perfect lunch stop, or you may choose to anchor overnight.
The pretty island of Spetses is just 16 nautical miles SW of Hydra, and a slightly shorter distance from Ermioni, if you wish to miss out Hydra. Spetses is a good midway stop on the way to the Peloponese mainland. Tuck your yacht into pretty Baltiza creek, looking out for the metal sculptures by a local artist, displayed in Navy Park, as you approach.
If you visit Spetses on your charter yacht from Athens, in September, you may see the island’s biggest celebration, called the Armata, in honour of a naval victory. A huge fleet of the island’s boats, old and new, take to the water, and there are fireworks and music too.
Day 7/8/9 : Leonidhion Plaka and the Peloponnese mainland
If you sail from Spetses 15 nautical miles west, you will reach the Peloponnese mainland. There are many harbours and anchorages to visit on this coast. A good destination to start from is the safe harbour at Leonidhion Plaka. This tiny village hosts an important aubergine festival in late summer, which attracts many visitors from all over the Peloponnese. There are several fish tavernas along the harbour side, and there is a long sandy beach for your relaxation.
You may now choose to sail south along the coast to the historic hilltop walled town of Monemvasia, then you could also visit the harbours at Yerikas and Kiparissi on your way back. However, you need to check the weather carefully if you want to sail to Monemvasia, as you can get caught out by strong prevailing southerly winds on your way there. For less experienced sailors, I would recommend sailing north along the coast from Leonidhion and make a stop at Astros. There is a new harbour here, a castle to explore, and a pedestrianised Main Street where locals like to sit in the evenings to watch the world go by.
Day 10: Hinitsa Bay
If you would like to spend a day and a night at anchor, then head for the beautiful bay behind the tiny islet of Hinitsa, This peaceful anchorage is situated east of the entrance to Porto Hele. The water is crystal clear and the holding is good. There is a taverna ashore should you wish to eat out, but why not spend a night onboard and watch the sunset or count the stars….
You will now be thinking of returning in your charter yacht to Athens, but be sure to call in at some of the places you might have missed in your first week. Spetses, Hydra and Ermioni are all within a half day sail of Hinitsa Bay. Before you leave the Hydra gulf and sail round the headland towards the Poros channel, there is a very nice anchorage by Nisos Soupia. This is a rock, which resembles a crouching frog or lizard, and is also known as ‘frog rock’. This is a good place for a final swim, or lunch aboard.
Day 13/14: Aegina/Perdika/Agistri
The island of Aegina makes an excellent last night stop, before you return your charter boat to Athens. The pretty harbour town of Perdika on the south west corner of the island, is an attractive alternative to Aegina town. Here you will find many tavernas which overlook the harbour and the nearby island of Moni, which is a nature reserve, home to deer and peacocks.
If you want to add a final island to your collection, you could think about a stop on the neighbouring island of Agistri. There is a harbour on the north coast, ideal for visiting yachts, but it is shallow in parts so watch your depth gauge. A short walk ashore will bring you to a typical Greek village, with whitewashed houses and walled gardens. There are small tavernas and a small shop here, too.
The Argo Saronic gulf has so many beautiful harbours and anchorages, and only a few are mentioned here. Be sure to return to this beautiful part of Greece, to experience more of the wonderful sailing opportunities, friendliness of the people, and the Greek culture.
Ready to try out this route on your own? Start planning your dream boat holiday spent island hopping from Athens with Zizoo. And for more local tips and sailing routes in Greece, read more from Georgina in our Sailing Magazine.