The island of Spetses is in the Saronic group of islands, which are the closest to Athens. Tucked in around the Saronic Gulf to the southwest of the capital these islands have relatively good weather year-round and are protected from the famous Meltemi wind that can blow hard on some parts of the Aegean. Spetses is a special island and is popular with wealthy Athenians and discerning travelers. Find out why and how to make the most of your visit to Spetses Greece in this article.
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When to visit Spetses
As for most Greek islands, the best time of year to visit is Spring and early summer. This is the time of year from May to June when temperatures are warm (average 17 to 21°C) and tourist crowds aren’t yet as big as they’d be in the high season (July to August). Temperatures in the high season can reach highs of 34°C – a huge increase from the prior months!
Those looking for a more affordable trip with fewer tourists, but still with pleasant temperatures, shouldn’t rule out September. The temperatures at this time of year can still reach the late 20s.
Towards the end of the year the temperature does start to drop, but thankfully with its semi-arid climate, there’s little rain – in fact, this is one of the driest places in the country. And it’s not too cold either: The average high for November is 20°C, which is still great for hiking and sight-seeing.
The winter months are much colder. December to February see highs of only 15°C and lows of around 9°C. That said, it’s still much warmer than a lot of Europe at this time of year and coupled with the sunshine, it could make for a good place to soak up some winter sun and explore the history of the island.
There is also a weather phenomena in the Saronic Islands referred to as Halcyon Days. While cool, these days are clear and very pleasant and are the reason the Saronic Islands are often suggested as the best winter islands destination in Greece.
Best beach and swimming weather: June to September
Best sightseeing weather: March to June and September/October
Where is Spetses?
Spetses is located in the Saronic Gulf and is part of the Saronic Islands. It belongs to the prefecture of Attica, whose capital is Athens. The municipality of Spetses also includes the islands of Spetsoula, Falkonera, and Velopoula, which are all inhabited.
Why is Spetses so special?
Amongst other Greek islands, Spetses stands up for the characteristic orange and rugged brown terrain. On the island, luxury and local tradition coexist, which makes it an ideal destination for a quick retreat all year round.
Spetses is easily accessible from Athens, and cars are not allowed in many parts of the island, which is why the nature in Spetses is beautiful and pristine. It also makes it, like Hydra, a more tranquil island than many.
Spetses has been a favorite escape for high society members for a long time, as this is reflected in the art stores, stylish boutiques, and beautiful cafès.
How to get to Spetses
There isn’t an airport on the island, so you will need to travel there from the mainland. The only option is to take a ferry or a private boat to arrive on the island.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there are no car ferries to Spetses, as driving cars is limited on the island.
Getting to Spetses by ferry
To arrive in Spetses, you can take the ferry from the harbor in Porto Heli, from the Argolis peninsula. The ferry transfer will last 15 minutes.
If you are in Athens, you can catch the ferry from the Piraeus port to Spetses. Usually, this transfer is made by a high-speed catamaran or hydrofoil, which will make you arrive on the island in about two hours. Several companies offer the transfer from Athens to Spetses.
Since ferry boats are the only way to travel to Spetses, make sure to book your tickets in advance during the high season.
Transport on Spetses
Getting around in Spetses is quite straightforward. The island is largely a pedestrian-only place, so you won’t be able to use a car while there. However, other transportation options are available if don’t want to do a lot of walking.
Bikes are a fantastic transportation option to get around while in Spetses. You can rent classic bikes and motorbikes; however, remember that riding motorbikes is not allowed in certain areas of the island, such as the coastal road.
Two bus lines operate during the tourist season. The first starts from the beach of Agios Mamas, while the second departs from the square of Poseidonion Grand Hotel, right by the harbor. With the bus, it’s possible to reach all the main beaches and towns on the island.
Water taxis are a great way to move around Spetses’ coasts and nearby areas. You can easily book them as you would with a normal taxi, and the service runs 24 hours daily. They are found in Dapia Harbour as well as Kosta on the Mainland and you will find prices posted by the steps.
These horse-drawn carriages are the traditional mode of transport on Spetses and are unique to the island. You will find them along the harbor where they are used for short trips and they can be prebooked or just flagged down on the spot. Negotiate a price before you get in the carriage.
The Poseidonion Grand Hotel
The Poseidonion Grand Hotel has been the main landmark on Spetses since 1914 and indeed is one of the most iconic hotels in Greece.
The hotel has hosted many celebrities, royalty, and wealthy Athenians over the decades and is still a highly coveted spot for a weekend stay. The french inspired decor is evident throughout the grand neo-classical building and the service and amenities are what you would expect of a hotel of this caliber.
For something a little less expensive and certainly smaller MareMonte Luxury Suites is a very charming boutique hotel with only 6 suites, one of which has twin beds that can sleep 3 and 4 with sofa beds. It is a historical residence built in 1762 by a wealthy Spetses family and today has a lovely swimming pool, outdoor BBQ, and open-air bar.
A new hotel in 2022 is the Yayaki, a very chic small hotel that focuses on health and wellness with activities including yoga, vegan cooking classes, and hiking on offer. Yayaki is also a member of the highly coveted Mr & Mrs Smith collection too.
For groups and families wanting a self-contained house all to themselves, this magnificent beachfront villa can sleep 16 people in 8 bedrooms or this smaller waterfront villa is half the size (and half the price).
Food in Spetses
One of the best things to do in Spetses is to try out the delicious Greek cuisine!
Along with the restaurants, plenty of cafes and bars on the island provide the perfect place to have a coffee or drink break while looking out at the sea.
There are plenty of traditional Greek dishes that you can enjoy while in Spetses. A must-try is souvlaki, a local variant of kebab. Eaten since ancient times, souvlaki can be made of lamb, chicken, seafood, or even vegetables.
The protein is grilled on a skewer and usually eaten straight off the skewer. Souvlaki is a typical street food; when the souvlaki is put in a pita with vegetables and a sauce is called gyro.
Another great dish is the horiatiki salad. Also known as “Greek salad” and “village salad”, it has different variants, but it usually includes olives, cheese, tomatoes, and pepper.
Spetses is also popular for its many types of fish, mostly served fresh. Among the typical dishes using seafood products, there are scrambled eggs with octopus and taramasalata, an appetizer spread made with caviar mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, and a starchy base of bread or potatoes.
Spetses restaurants and cafes
Argyris is a traditional Greek restaurant located in Spetses’s central square. The restaurant has a homely feel: come here for a relaxing dinner while tasting delicious food for an incredibly fair price.
Bouboulina restaurant serves fresh seafood dishes. It’s located by the port and right in front of the fish market, so you can be sure that the fish served in the restaurant is fresh! Price-wise, Bouboulina is on the higher end compared to other restaurants in Spetses.
At Liotrivi, you will find delicious Mediterranean food and an excellent selection of Greek wines. The restaurant is perfect for a romantic dinner with your partner: Liotrivi is housed in a 19th-century olive press building, which sits right above the old harbor.
Patralis is a traditional taverna that only serves fresh seafood cooked on the spot. Patralis is also famous for desserts, all made in the house following the same recipe since 1935.
Mourayo is an all-times-classic when it comes to eating in Spetses! Mourayo Bar and Restaurant has been open since 1975, and it’s located inside a 19th-century storehouse. The restaurant is perfect for enjoying a sea-view breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. At Mourayo you will find gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options.
Clock Eatery is a good option if you want to eat a different cuisine from Greek cuisine. At Clock Eatery, you will find Italian comfort food with all the classics: pizza, pasta, and handmade burger plates. The food here is available for eat-in reservations, take-out, and deliveries. The restaurant is also suitable for families with children and large groups.
Cafes and Bars
There are plenty of cafes and bars on the island, perfect for a coffee break or a sunset drink. Most of them close during the offseason.
Cielo Mar is an all-day cafe that serves delicious breakfasts, coffee, and signature cocktails for the evening. Cielo Mar is located near the sea, and from the cafe’s terrace, you can enjoy the view of the harbor.
Mamas Café overlooks Agios Mamas beach, and its outdoor terrace decorated with a nice nautical theme is a great place to sip a coffee or a smoothie before returning to the beach.
Throubi bar is the meeting point for all international jet-set celebrities visiting Spetses. Throubi is famous for its lively nightlife! Relax with your favorite drinks while gazing at the harbor, and then hit the dancefloor to have a memorable night.
The Palms is one of Spetses best places to enjoy an evening drink. Overlooking the waterfront promenade, the Palms is an elegant bar with marble counters and an extensive menu of cocktails with an original touch.
Things to do on Spetses
Hiking in Spetses
There are plenty of trails to hike on Spetses. Trails lead up to the island’s hilltop, from which you can admire breathtaking views of the sea and the various villages. Popular routes include the one that goes along the seafront from Kounoupitsa to the west of the island or the trails from Palio Limani, the old harbor, to the east.
Another great hike is the one that leads up to the lighthouse, located on the right-most edge of the old port of Spetses. The lighthouse, one of the oldest in Greece, cannot be visited from the inside because it is fenced off. However, the walk to the building is beautiful and will take around 45 minutes.
The two must-see museums on the island are the Spetses Museum and the Bouboulina Museum.
In the Spetses Museum, you can discover relics and archaeological finds from the island. The permanent exhibition displays findings from the Early Helladic period to the 18th century, including manuscripts and pictures of the Greek freedom fighters.
The museum is housed in the Mansion of Mexi, a wonderful 200-year-old building belonging to Spetses’s first governor.
8:30 am to 3:30 pm. Closed Tuesdays.Winter – November 1 to March 31 8:30 am to
Cost: 4 euro or 2 euro concession
The Bouboulina Museum is a special museum dedicated to Laskarina Bouboulina, who is known to be the first-ever female admiral in the world. Visiting the museum, you will learn about Bouboulina’s life, one of the most prominent figures in the Greek War of Independence. The museum is hosted inside the mansion where Laskarina Boumboulina lived.
Agios Nikolaos is the most popular church in Spetses. The church was originally a monastery, and it was from here that the people of Spetses declared their participation in the Greek Revolution in 1821. Aghios Nikolaos was located by the sea and can be easily seen from far away thanks to its tall marble bell tower. On the inside of the church, you can see a pebble yard with beautiful archways.
The church of Panagia Armata was built to commemorate the defeat of the Ottoman fleet by the Spetsiote one in 1822. The church has a gorgeous little chapel from which you can admire the harbor.
Agion Panton is an active convent of nuns with an impressive marble gateway you will reach after walking through a forest of cypress trees. Next to the church is a cemetery where several historical people are buried.
Beaches in Spetses
There are plenty of beaches along the entire coast of Spetses. All the beaches on the island have picturesque spots perfect for a relaxing time.
All the beaches are accessible by water taxis and by the two bus lines operating on the island.
Agia Paraskevi is a sandy beach on the western coast of Spetses. Shaded by a thick pine forest, this beach owns its name to the cube-shaped chapel standing a few meters from the edge. At Agia Paraskevi, you will find some water sports facilities and a snack bar.
The beach of Agia Marina is located only a couple of kilometers away from Dapia. This is the most popular beach in Spetses, so it’s particularly busy during the high season. Agia Marina is equipped with umbrellas, sun loungers, and a beach bar; here, you can practice a wide range of water sports.
Kaiki Beach is the main beach on the island. Also known as Scholes or College Beach for the university’s proximity, it is easily accessible from Dapia. Along the beach, there are sunbeds and umbrellas to rent, and it is famous for its party atmosphere.
Town Beach is part of Spetses’ main town. The beach is close to the church of Agios Mamas, which is why you can hear it is called Agios Mamas beach. The beach is mostly pebbled and quite small, although it gets very crowded in the summer due to its central location.
Vrellos Beach is located to the west of Town. A pine forest surrounds this idyllic beach, with a mixture of sand and pebbles. The crystal clear waters at Vrellos Beach make it perfect for swimming.
Xilokeriza Beach is quiet and not as busy as many other beaches on the island. It is located on the southeastern coast of Spetses, 8 kilometers from Dapia, inside a cove. The beach is mainly pebbly, with a small bar selling drinks and light snacks.
Shopping in Spetses
The best place to do some shopping in Spetses is its main city, Town. The shops are mostly gathered in Dapia, and you can find souvenir shops on the main street lining the waterfront.
Nord Ceramics Art & Design is a gallery that focuses on promoting a collection of Greek-based artists. With one physical space on Spetses island, they have an online store that ships products worldwide.
Ratih is a spacious shop where you can find unique baskets, house accessories, clothes, and accessories, all in Greek style.
Clubs in Spetses
Spetses might not be the most popular Greek island for nightlife, but there are many bars and some clubs that play music all night long.
If you are looking for a fun night, check out La Luz bar and Guzel Club.
La Luz bar is located in Town: with a fantastic view over the old port, the bar has live rock and folk music played by local bands.
Guzel Club is the most popular place in Spetses to party! Located in the old port, Guzel is the perfect spot for all night-walkers who want to dance to the rhythms of famous DJs, both foreign and Greek.
Daytrips from Spetses
A great thing to do while in Spetses is a day trip.
Hydra is a cosmopolitan Greek island located very close to Athens. Traveling between Hydra and Spetses is easy: you just need to take a ferry boat, and the journey lasts for 30 minutes.
Once in Hydra, get lost in its tiny streets (rigorously by foot! Cars are not allowed on the island) while admiring the local architecture. Don’t miss a visit to the Monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and the Museum of Hydra.
Another idea would be to make a day trip to Porto Heli. Located in the peninsula of Argolida, on the northeastern side of Peloponnese, Porto Heli can be reached by ferry in only 10 minutes. Water sports, hiking, and relaxing at the beach are among the best activities you can do while in Porto Heli which is full of upmarket villas and resorts.
Events on Spetses
Carnival is always a day of great fun on the island. The Greek term for carnival is Apokries. The carnival was essentially a pagan celebration to celebrate the beginning of spring. In Ancient times it was also a time to celebrate and worship to Dionysus, the God of Wine and Feasting.
The dates for Carnival change each year as they are linked to Orthodox Easter. Lent begins 40 days before Pasha and the main day of Carnival is held on the Sunday before ‘clean Monday’ before Lent begins.
A procession starts in the square in front of the Poseidonion Grand Hotel and goes around the harbor, with the spectators cheering the spectacular costumes while dancing and having fun. Festivities run late into the evening with lots of feasting and indulgence and plenty of goodwill and generosity.
Pascha is the Greek Easter, the most significant religious holiday celebrated throughout Greece. As with Western Easter, the actual date changes from one year to the next.
On Spetses, the celebrations start with fireworks and go on with church services and religious processions from the old harbor to other parts of the island. The Paska last from Friday to Sunday.
May 1 is May Bank Holiday. Although it is also associated with Labour Day, on Spetses, this festivity comes from the ancient pagan celebration “Festival of the Flowers”, associated with the gods Demeter and Persephone.
Since May Day corresponds with the peak of the flower season in Spetses, you will find homemade wreaths decorating doorways, balconies, chapels, and many other places.
Greeks celebrate the Virgin Mary on August 15. It is a big day for the Greek Orthodox Church. The Dormition of the Virgin Mary, also known as Panigiri, is celebrated in every local church in the morning and goes on with people joining together to dance and eat.
In the second week of September, the victory of the Spetsiote fleet over the Ottoman one is celebrated on September 8, 1822.
During the Armata Festival, there are many folklore dancing, music events, and theatrical performances for an entire week. The festival peaks on Saturday with the “burning of the Ottoman flagship”, the re-enactment of the naval battle.
Spetses is famous around Greece and beyond for its marathon, held every October since 2011. The Spetsathlon is an international sporting event with 3-foot races, 3 open-water swimming races, and children’s events.
The Marathon is open to all, regardless of amateur status.
Aegean Film Festival
The Aegean Film Festival is the biggest festival of this type in Greece. Every July, the festival has been offering film and documentary screenings, masterclasses, and networking events for the past ten years.
The Festival has been held in Spetses for years now, and during the opening night, the central Poseidonion Square is transformed into an open-air cinema to host outdoor screenings.