The Secluded Greek Isle Where Athenians Head For A Summer Escape

The Secluded Greek Isle Where Athenians Head For A Summer Escape

A two-hour catamaran ride from Athens, the pine-scented island of Spetses beckons, home to white-sand beaches, farm-to-fork dining and sultry bars


Spetses, Greece.

Why visit?

Located in the Attica region of Greece, the sleepy isle of Spetses sways to a slower
beat than that of its Sarconic siblings. Think secluded coves
flanked by tangled olive groves, sprawling pine and citrus trees,
warm-hued passageways peppered with whitewashed villas and
old-school tavernas, and a local community that takes huge pride in its culture
and traditions. With a population of just 4,000 full-time
residents, the magic of this dinky island is that there are no hip
chains or big-name faces moving in.

Just 27km in length, and having only one dusty road leading into
the main town, this is an island best explored on two wheels –
visitors are banned from bringing cars. We suggest getting your
hands on a bicycle and peddling around the cobblestone streets.
Start by swinging by the Psaragora, the daily fish market, to pick
up the catch of the day to cook up for lunch, then head for a
splash in the gin-clear waters of Agia Marina’s beach, before
taking a scenic stomp along the seafront from Kounoupitsa village
to the old harbour, Palio Limani.

Spetses, Greece
Spetses, Greece

A secluded cove, left, and a palm-fringed tuk tuk. | Photo
credit: Taylor Simpson & Ramon Kagie /

Don’t miss

Spetses was the first island in Greece to raise the flag of
revolution back in April 1821, declaring independence from Ottoman
rule. To learn more about its proud history, visit the Bouboulina Museum, which is crammed with historic
artefacts. The whitewashed, 300-year-old mansion was the former
home of Laskarina Bouboulina, naval commander, heroine of the Greek
War of Independence, and the first woman to attain the rank of

Where to stay?

Poseidonion Grand Hotel. Open since 1914, this sleek
and stylish bolthole was the first Greek hotel to offer spa
facilities. The wellness centre has come a long way in a century:
today’s visitors can expect a state-of-the-art pool, organic
treatment services and a fully equipped gym. The whole property
underwent an intricate refurb in 2009, which carefully preserved
the original architecture while adding contemporary details. In the
old wing, 38 rooms marry a neutral colour palette with antique
furnishings; in a new annexe, all 17 rooms offer sweeping views
across the private manicured garden. Insider tip: be sure to visit
the hotel’s farm-to-fork open-air restaurant Bostani. There are also cooking classes to book onto,
should you wish to hone your kitchen skills.

Where to go for dinner?

Al fresco dining doesn’t get much better than at Mourayo Spetses. Housed in a 19th-century farmhouse,
the restaurant’s outdoor terrace offers front-row sunset seats,
plus palm-flanked parasols, cushion-clad sofas, lantern-laden
tables and old-school crossback chairs. Arrive for 7pm to see the
whole space illuminated in a warm coral glow, then order an
extra-large plate of the salmon linguine – best washed down with a
chilled glass of white.

Main Entrance, Posiedonion Grand Hotel
Pool Suite, Poseidonion Grand Hotel

Poseidonion Grand Hotel main entrance, left, and a pool

And for a drink…

This two-storey water-facing hotspot is renowned locally for its
light bites and craft cocktail menu. The lower-level wood-decked
area is decorated with rattan chairs and hanging plant pots;
upstairs, plush sofas and a bar draw party people. Order a few
plates to share. Standouts include feta-studded salads, black
truffle risotto and cheeseboards – there’s a great selection of
sorbets, too. Our order? A topless cocktail – a Hendrick’s gin with
cucumber and green apple infused with fresh lemon juice and ginger

Who to take with you?

Spetses is the sort of place where you could go an entire day
without crossing paths with another human being. For that reason,
we suggest bringing your low-maintenance mate, who’ll have no
qualms about settling down on the beach with a good novel.

Essentials to pack

Every fashionista will tell you that the straw hat is the staple
accessory for any sun-filled getaway – shoutout to Grace Kelly and
Audrey Hepburn for that one. For effortless poolside glamour, pack
this Ruslan Baginskiy straw hat.

How to get there

Take a direct flight from London Heathrow to Athens
International Airport, from where it’s just a two-hour catamaran
ride from the port of Piraeus to Spetses.

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