Very near to Athens are the islands of the Saronic Gulf, Salamina, Aegina , Agistri, Poros, Hydra and Spetses. All of those islands belong to the prefecture of Piraeus and the distance from Athens is to the nearest of those, namely Salamina or Salamis, only 10 minutes from the suburb of Piraeus, Perama. Aegina and Agistri are accessible within an hour and few minutes by boat, Poros is a few miles further to the South of Aegina and finally the islands of Hydra and Spetses 3 to 3 and half hours away by ferry boats and hydrofoils . The Saronic gulf islands are ideal for small excursions from Athens and traditionally used to be the weekend outing for many Athenians .
Before the connection with Salamina's Paloukia by small ferries, small boats where departing almost every 20 minutes from Piraeus to the most popular resort of Salamina, Selinia, especially on Sundays when the labour class of Piraeus used to spend the Sunday excursion with the whole family in their small holiday house. Many Athenians even today have holiday houses in Salamina, with the difference that the old small houses of 40 years ago today have become luxury villas and the once labour class resorts of Salamina today are luxury villa resorts with new roads and beautiful beaches.
Aegina in the past as well as nowadays is one of the popular day trips for the many Athenians and locals. Aegina, once Capital of Greece, still has her charm with the beautiful neoclassical buildings from the 19th century. The neighbouring islands of Aegina is Agistri and Poros. Poros is known as the green island and has crystal clear sea and idyllic beaches with a small channel separating it from Peloponnesus and the idyllic resort of Galatas with its famous beach in Lemonodasos. Many Greek films have been made during the 50's and the 60's in Aegina and Poros as well as in Hydra, the most cosmopolitan island of the Saronic gulf. Hydra long time before Mykonos and Santorini were discovered by the international jet set, VIP's and celebrities use to be the most cosmopolitan island of Greece, as well as Spetses. The Famous Greek ship owner Niarhos owned the small island of Spetsopoula between Hydra and Spetses famous for its participation in the 1821 Greek Revolution. This island has as well a cosmopolitan atmosphere and from here you can take the hydrofoil to visit Nafplion in the Peloponesse and return to Athens by road, passing on the way the ancient town of the King Agamemnon, Mycenae and also the ancient city of Tyrins and the famous ancient theatre of Epidaurus which, every summer, performs famous traditional plays from ancient playwrights such as Sophocles and Aristophanes as part of the Athens festival. .
That was the good old times when the Greek ships owners where competing in matters of how many private islands they had and how many luxury yachts they owned. Long before the foreign tourists arrived in Greece 'en masse' , Aegina, Poros, Hydra and Spetses the islands that are so closed to Athens where popular and well known among the Greeks. Today other islands like the islands of the Cyclades, the cosmopolitan Mykonos, the world famous Santorini, the party island of Ios, the idyllic islands of Naxos and Paros attract thousands of tourists but the Saronic gulf islands are keeping their charm and magic and are always there for us to enjoy their beautiful beaches, landscape, history and tradition.
Today with the fast ferries and the cheap domestic flights from both Aegean and Olympic airlines one can say that all Greek islands are near to Athens. A flight to the beautiful islands of the Dodecanese like Leros, Kos, or Rhodes Greece is less then an hour, while a super fast ferry to the island of Crete can go there within 5-6 hours. The Sporades islands like Skyros, Skiathos, Alonissos and Skopelos can be reached by bus and ferry from Volos a few hours away from Athens. Only the islands of the Ionian sea like Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos and Ithaca are a bit tricky to access from Athens as you have to fly or to travel to Patras and get the ferry.