What to see on a cruise around the Saronic Islands
On a cruise through the Greek islands you can also explore the Argo-Saronic islands of the Aegean Sea. These, due to their proximity to Athens, make them the perfect destination for both short visits and longer stays. The landscape is astonishing; pine forests and crystal-clear waters in sparsely visited but welcoming bays.
Aegina, the first step into the world of the Saronic islands
Aegina is the ideal starting point for a cruise around these Greek islands. Like the others, it has picturesque harbors with cobbled streets and neoclassical buildings. Packed with elegant bars and shops, the cosmopolitan air of the Argo-Saronic gulf is tempered by the caiques (light boats) that sell vegetables by the sea edge and the buggies that still traverse the docks.
Located at a distance of only 12 kilometres away from Piraeus, in the southwest, Aegina has been inhabited for more than 4,000 years. According to mythology, she was named Aigina in honor of the daughter of the River God, whom Zeus placed there as her lover. This significant Greek island became a thriving maritime state and, in the 7th century B.C., the second largest in the Saronic Islands: it was the first place in Europe, which minted its own silver coins and accepted throughout the Greek-speaking world. Also, this island controlled almost all foreign trade in Greece.
Poros and Hydra, the jewels of the Saronic
Sailing on a cruise through the Greek Saronic islands, you can also give a complete visit to Poros - which takes its name from the 400-meter passage (poros) that separates it from the mainland at Galatas. In fact, it is made up of two joined islands and a causeway: to the north Kalavria, lined with pine trees, and to the south the volcanic islet of Sfairia, where the capital is located. Despite the tourist exploitation, the town remains an evocative place as it stretches along the strait and with 19th century houses lining up to the clock tower.
For its part, Hydra is a narrow strip of bare rock with little history until it was settled in the 16th century by Orthodox Albanians, who later earned their livelihood at sea. The capital was built during the brief period of prosperity in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, years that benefited from the Napoleonic blockade.
At the time, horses were a must in Poros, Hydra and Spetses. However, at present, only in Hydra and in some places in Spetses are vehicles prohibited and visitors must travel on foot or ride donkeys.
This, and much more, you can discover on a cruise around the Greek Saronic Islands.