The gorgeous island of Spetses is not too far from Athens and can be reached as a day trip… or better yet- as an overnight destination. Spetses is romantic, relaxing, and absolutely jaw-dropping. This is a Spetses travel guide that will detail where to stay, where to eat, and the other many things to do in Spetses, Greece.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Ultimate Guide of Things to Do in Spetses, Greece
- Practical and Basic Information about Spetses
- How to Get Around Spetses
- Where to Eat on Spetses (Spetses Restaurants and More)
- What to Do in Spetses, Greece
- Spetses Beaches
- Where to Stay on Spetses
- Final Thoughts on Spetses
- Want More Greece Inspiration?
Ultimate Guide of Things to Do in Spetses, Greece
I recently had the pleasure of visiting Spetses, Greece. I didn’t know much about the Saronic Islands in Greece, to be honest. And I certainly knew nothing about Spetses prior to going there. But, I did know that it was a chilled out island that marched to the beat of its own drum and I liked that attitude. I knew it needed to be added to my Greek Island itinerary, especially since it is an easy trip from Athens to Spetses.
Spetses stands out amongst other Greek islands, which are normally known for the characteristic orange and brown rugged terrain. Spetses is green and covered with thick trees and foliage, allowing the island to really stand out. Previously, the island had been the same as the other Saronic Islands after mass deforestation removed most of the trees on Spetses. However, in the early 1900s, a man named Sotirios Anargyros purchased large areas of the island and planted over 100,000 pine trees and gave the pine forests to the islanders upon his death.
The island of Spetses comes with a rich maritime past and its name is derived from its former role as the epicenter of the Greek spice trade. Even today, it is rumored that the whole island used to be thick with the smell of spices and still does (um.. I never smelled this). This maritime tradition continued and the island was the first to declare independence in the Greek War of Independence, later becoming the destination of choice for the naval captains to build their grand villas.
I spent two days on the island of Spetses as part of my recent jaunt to the Saronic Islands along with some time in Athens visiting the Acropolis. After doing some research and seeing photos of the white-walled and orange-roofed houses crawling up the hill in the main town, I was completely intrigued by the place.
There are no cars allowed on the island apart from a few taxis and those required for building works. However, unlike the island of Hydra, there are plenty of scooters and ATVs whizzing around the streets and available to rent.
Spetses was the second of the three islands I visited and geographically the furthest away from Athens of the three… but it was perfectly located as it was a quick hop to Hydra from Spetses (you can also easily travel from Athens to Hydra). Click here to read about taking the Athens to Aegina ferry to the island known for pistachios.
Practical and Basic Information about Spetses
Getting to Spetses from Athens
Spetses is around two hours from Piraeus Port in Athens and serviced by the Hellenic Seaways FlyingDolphin or FlyingCat boats and costs €38.50 one way per person. There are no car ferries to the island as cars are very limited on the island. It’s advisable to book your tickets in advance, especially during the high season as the boats can sell out.
I used this website to book my ferry tickets in advance to Spetses. Once the tickets are booked, you will need to pick them up from one of the many vendors as tickets will not be sent to you, nor can they be printed out.
For more information about purchasing ferry tickets see my complete guide of how to get to Spetses from Athens.
Arriving in Spetses
You will arrive in the newer port on Spetses which is located centrally within the town. If your hotel is located by the old port, you will need to get a taxi or some form of transport to reach it depending on the amount of luggage you have. After you disembark from the ferry, you will find yourself in the middle of the town center.
There will be taxis waiting but most of these will likely have been pre-booked, so if your hotel is not in the center of town, you will need to have them book you one or you could pop into a local restaurant and ask. During the high season, there are also horse-drawn carriages and public buses.
Wildlife on Spetses
Like many other Greek Islands, there is an abundance of feral cats who will be waiting for you to feed them any scraps of fish that you may have left on your plate. The cats are generally clean and plenty of charities are involved with looking after the cats on these islands to ensure that they are free of diseases. They also do their best to sterilize them to keep the population controlled.
There are also a few dogs on the island who will provide hours of entertainment as they bounce around the island and play in the sea. The dogs all seemed relatively well looked after so I think they likely have homes on Spetses and just roam around free as there are no cars. There are also horses on the island but they tend to be for work purposes since there are no cars.
There are several supermarkets on the island of Spetses but the one I frequented the most was the Kritikos supermarket on the main promenade. The supermarket was surprisingly large and well stocked and the pricing was fair. If you are lucky enough to have a kitchen, this supermarket has a great range of fresh produce, cheeses, and meats… along with the standard basics.
There is a daily fresh fish market towards the port called Psaragora where you can check out the latest haul and pick up some spectacular fish for dinner. However, the market is small and by noon most of the stock seemed to have been sold.
ATMs / Cash Machines on Spetses
Within the town center, there are many cash machines that are available 24/7 so getting cash shouldn’t be a problem. All of the shops and restaurants I visited took all major credit cards and I could have gotten by without any cash at all, in retrospect.
How to Get Around Spetses
As mentioned before, there are a limited number of taxi cars available on the island which can be booked to transport you to and from where you need to go. This is especially useful if you are wanting to go to the main beach, Kaiki, which is on the edge of the main town to the west.
Your hotel should have the numbers for pretty much all of the drivers on the island and if they are busy, it’s small enough that you won’t have to wait long for one to be free. If the taxis are all booked, you can try your luck with horse and carriage or public bus. I didn’t see any horse and carriage options when I was there so I don’t know much about it or the treatment of the animals, to be fair.
Public Buses on Spetses
During the high season, there are two public bus routes that are in operation on the island. They both depart from the main town with one line heading east and the other line heading west. They mainly stop off at the various beaches along the way, making it easy to visit a variety of beaches on the island of Spetses.
The buses depart every half an hour from the town. To take the bus to the east of the island, you need to go to the bus stop at Ayios Mamas Beach where you will catch the bus that terminates at Ayia Paraskevi Beach. The other bus departs from the Poseidonion jetty and heads west terminating at Vrelos Beach. You can either buy a round trip bus ticket or just a single journey.
Spetses Water Taxis
There are also water taxis available on the island that provide a direct way to get back and forth from beaches or nights out in the old harbor. The taxis, along with the phone numbers and price list, can be found at the Dapia harbor in the main town of Spetses. They will take you to any beach on the island and provide an alternative way to get to the closest points of mainland Greece.
Where to Eat on Spetses (Spetses Restaurants and More)
Restaurants on Spetses
One of the best things to do in Spetses is to eat! There are plenty of places to eat on Spetses with the main areas being between the central town and the old harbor. Along with all of the restaurants, there are plenty of Spetses cafes and bars that provide the perfect place to stop for a break and look out over the sea.
As I went during the offseason, there was a limited choice of places to eat as most were under renovation preparing themselves for the high season. In fact, one night it was nearly impossible to find a place to eat and I had the daunting thought I would not be having dinner that night (which for me means a bag of Lay’s Potato Chips from the grocery store). Nevertheless, all panned out well.
Argyris is a traditional Greek restaurant located in a square in central Spetses. The restaurant had a homely feel and provided a relaxing dining atmosphere. It seemed to be more of a local haunt, maybe just in the offseason, as some locals came into to set up the TV and watch soccer. The restaurant specializes in traditional Greek food and I opted to have saganaki (fried Greek cheese) and grilled fresh fish. The price was incredibly fair and I was even given a free dessert to try that was really tasty.
Clock Eatery (Pizza, Pasta & Burgers)
While struggling to find a place open for lunch and not particularly wanting seafood after having it for nearly every meal since I had arrived in Greece, I opted to try Clock Eatery. Lured in by the friendly owner, I ordered a Greek salad and a pizza. I am a self-proclaimed Greek salad expert (or maybe I just have an affinity for feta).
The Greek salad I had at Clock Eatery is probably one of the best I have had; it was truly delicious. The pizza was also incredible and well-made. I recommend giving this place a try just to eat the Greek salad alone, but also its great food that provides a nice break from seafood.
Located opposite the fish market, this is a restaurant that is more on the higher-end price wise and specializes in fresh fish. I ate here for my final meal on Spetses and the first day they had opened for the season. The food was good but not much to write home about, in all honesty. I had the fried calamari and mussels in a white wine sauce, all of which I found slightly lackluster, but this might just be because it was the first day and they were getting back into the swing of things.
There was also a large group of people who sat down after me and they were disturbingly loud, making the whole experience slightly unpleasant. The central location of the restaurant by the port makes it a good location to grab some food before boarding your ferry.
I didn’t actually get to eat here as they are closed during the offseason, but it came highly recommended by a Greek friend, so I am adding it here. Located by the old harbor, the restaurant focuses on traditional Greek food. The location of the restaurant is amazing and dining on their terrace allows for amazing views over the harbor and sea.
Spetses Restaurants Around the Old Harbor
There are plenty of other places located in and around the old harbor, and while I was there all of them were closed or renovating for the high season. The owner of my hotel had told me that this was the best area to go out for dinner because you could find the best, fresh fish, but it just sucks that all was closed. This is definitely a place to venture to during the high-season and a place to also party at.
There are plenty of cafes on the island but most of them were shut due to it being the offseason. There were two that were open that I enjoyed a coffee at while taking in the views out to sea. Both cafes are located next door to each other and overlook Ayios Mama Beach.
The first one is Mamas Café which has a nice nautical theme to the outside and a spacious terrace that is party covered and provides some relief on warm sunny days. The other café is Point of View, which also over the looks the beach and has a lovely terrace although it is somewhat smaller than Mamas Café. Both have a fully stocked bar allowing you to enjoy a nice range of alcoholic drinks if you are not feeling that cup of coffee.
What to Do in Spetses, Greece
Walk to the Spetses Lighthouse
Spetses is home to one of the oldest lighthouses in Greece. Located east of the main town and past the old harbor, it is an easy walk that takes around 45 minutes from the main town. Simply follow the road as you get to the righthand side of the old harbor and then take the road up the hill. You will enter a forest with a quaint little church and at the end of the path, you will reach the lighthouse.
The actual building is fenced off, but the walk is enjoyable and it’s possible to look out over the sea in some of the clearings. On the way up to the lighthouse, there are some of the best views of the old harbor. I have also heard this is one of the best places to watch the sunset from but I cannot personally vouch for this as I went in the morning. I mean, I can’t imagine that there is a bad place to watch a sunset on Spetses.
Go to the Bouboulina Museum
Located in the center of the main town is a special museum dedicated to one of Greece’s naval heroines, Laskarina Bouboulina. Bouboulina is said to be the first ever female admiral in the world. The museum is located in a 300-year-old mansion that once belonged to Bouboulina. You will learn all about her life and how she rose to become one of the most prominent figures in the Greek War of Independence.
The museum is full of interesting artifacts that belonged to Bouboulina during her accomplished lifetime. To visit the museum, it is required that you take the 40-minute tour and the times for the tours are advertised at the entrance as well as at Daipa harbor. At the harbor, you will find a statue of Bouboulina looking out to sea. Her name is written in various places throughout the island and you will definitely know it by the time you leave Spetses.
Explore the Island on a Scooter or ATV
One of the best ways to explore the island is by renting a scooter or ATV. Since the island only has one main road that loops around it, you can quickly explore the whole island atop a scooter or ATV. Renting one of these vehicles will also allow you to easily head up to the hillier roads which lead into forests above the main town.
There are plenty of places to rent scooters/ATVs in the main town with every street having a place or area to rent them for an affordable price. If the slower life is more your style, you can rent a bicycle and enjoy the scenery at a more leisurely pace. The main road isn’t too strenuous and a full loop of the island is quick as it is only around 15 miles long.
Drink in the Sunset
There are many rooftop and beachside bars that are open during the summer months that are the perfect places to enjoy a relaxing evening drink as the sun sets on the island. While not many places were open during the offseason, I was able to witness the views from the few cafes that were opened (or my hotel terrace).
There are plenty of beaches along the entire coast of Spetses- many of which are serviced by the two bus lines operating on the island. The island is not renowned for its beaches as they are mostly pebble-filled and not the picturesque white sandy beaches that are often thought of when thinking of the Greek Islands. All the beaches are accessible by water taxi although it is advisable to pre-book your water taxi back prior to heading to the beach.
Kaiki Beach, also known as Scholes Beach, is the main beach on the island and is relatively large. It is located around a mile from the main town and is very accessible. It is famous for its party atmosphere and there is a large bar and plenty of beachside seating. As the beach is spacious, it’s possible to set yourself up away from the bar and enjoy a more peaceful experience. The beach is accessible by all means of transport available on the island or is an easy and enjoyable walk from the town.
Ayia Anargyri is located on the southern side of Spetses and is the largest beach on the island. This scenic beach is a great place to spend the day and enjoy the tranquil waters. From the beach, it is possible to swim to the Bekiris Caves and explore the inside of the caves where it is rumored that families sought to hide from the Ottoman Army.
There is a beachside tavern with outdoor seating to relax and eat. The beach is accessible by the bus route heading east from Spetses town or otherwise, it’s possible to reach the beach by a water taxi.
Situated directly in the main town of Spetses, Ayios Mamas is a small, albeit nice beach that is a quick walk from the town center. The beach is pebbly with clear water and large palm trees providing some much-needed shade.
There are two cafes located next to the beach and this is where you’ll find the main supermarket on the island. Due to its location, the beach gets extremely crowded during the high season as it is the starting point of the eastern bus route and if you find the beach is too crowded or hectic, you can head along to the next one with the bus.
Another thing to note about this beach is that dogs frequent it. That sentence is probably the most important one I will write on this entire ‘things to do in Spetses’ guide.
Vrellos Beach is located to the west of the main town and is an idyllic beach surrounded by pine forests. A mixture of sand and pebbles, the beach has crystal clear waters that are perfect for swimming in. If you get tired of the beach, you can head up into the pine forest to Prophet llias, the highest point on the island. There is a quaint restaurant and bar that serves seafood and cocktails. To reach the beach, you can either use a water taxi or take the western bus route that departs from Daipa harbor.
Situated five miles from the main town, Xilokeriza is a quiet beach that is not as busy as many of the other beaches, but is still insanely beautiful. Located in a cove, the beach is mainly pebbly with varying shades and hues of water. There is a small bar that sells drinks and light snacks. The beach can be reached by water taxi or the public bus that departs from Ayios Mamas.
Where to Stay on Spetses
I stayed at Villa Marina during my time on Spetses and I have to say it was a very nice hotel/guesthouse at an affordable price for 40 euros a night in the offseason. My room came with a private bathroom and a shared terrace that had amazing sea views. The owner was hospitable, friendly, and helpful and he was ready to help you find what to do in Spetses. The hotel was located in the main town only a stone’s throw from the Ayios Mamas beach.
Final Thoughts on Spetses
I enjoyed Spetses quite a bit for its chilled and relaxing atmosphere. The island was also extremely clean. However, I am not sure I would recommend it for the offseason unless you rent an apartment there and are able to cook and relax for a while.
Unlike some of the other islands close to Athens, Spetses is just a little too far away for people to travel to it in the offseason if there is not much to do because things are closed. I look forward to heading back here in the high season to see the island from a different perspective and be able to enjoy all it has to offer as it really is a gem of a place! If you have any recommendations of things to do in Spetses, please drop them in the comments.