Spetses island

6 Reasons why families LOVE Spetses so much

    Spetses is a small island in the Saronic Sea, just a short boat ride or drive away from Athens. Families LOVE to visit because it offers everything they need when on vacation or just visiting for the day. From its rich history and cosmopolitan vibes to its unequaled natural beauty and pine-clad beaches, Spetses has a lot to offer for families looking for the ultimate destination.

    Here are just some of the reasons why you should visit this idyllic island:

    1. Spetses Town: A blend of traditional Greek charm and contemporary chic.

    The main town of Spetses is small but packed with things to see and do. It is the main settlement on the island and the center of activity, offering both tranquility and cosmopolitan vibes at the same time. As you stroll along its waterfront promenade, you will come across busy cafes, inviting restaurants, trendy boutiques, and old captain mansions. It is a truly delightful introduction to the charm of Spetses and the longer you stay, the more in love you will fall with this exquisite island.

    2. Car-free… and we mean it!

    Just like the neighboring island of Hydra, Spetses has been car-free for many years. There is no need for them as there are plenty of other ways to get around. You can take a leisurely jaunt along the seafront on a romantic horse-drawn carriage, which the children will absolutely love. The horses are very well looked after and the pride of their owners, who will also share their stories with you about the island during your ride. Otherwise, you can rent some mopeds to get about or hire some bicycles during your stay. As for the beaches, small traditional boats known as kaikis leave throughout the day from the small port of Dapia, dropping you off at the pretty bays so you can enjoy a day in the sun. This is a thrilling way to discover the island, especially if you have children, and you won’t be disappointed by the lovely sandy beaches you find.

    3. An island full of history

    Spetses has a long history, going all the way back to the Mesolithic Age. It was often attacked by foreign forces and played its role in the Peloponnesian Wars. Used as a naval base and once belonging to the Roman Empire, it also suffered from frequent pirate raids throughout the years.

    By the 15th century, Spetses was handed over to the Venetians, and then the Turks, before settlers came from the Peloponnese to live permanently on the island. These new inhabitants started the shipbuilding industry there to transport pinewood, eventually turning this small island into a large naval power that was instrumental in the Greek War of Independence.

    Laskarina Bouboulina, a Spetsiot woman, became a celebrated war hero after acting as a Greek naval commander. You can visit the museum dedicated to this courageous figure and it is a wonderful place to retrace the island’s history. Kids can learn all about island life in the 19th century while there and discover exhibits once belonging to Bouboulina herself.

    Laskarina Bouboulina Spetses

    After Greece’s liberation from the Ottomans in 1825, the merchant fleet of Spetses continued to prosper for a few decades before going into decline. It was Sotirios Anargyros, a son and benefactor of Spetses, who rejuvenated the island. Returning from the U.S. with his new-found wealth in the early 20th century, he invested in the replenishment of the pine forests and built the first hotel and spa in the Greek islands. Apart from staying at the Poseidonion Grand Hotel during your stay, you can also visit the private college Anargyros built where the Greek nobility was educated for over 60 years.

    4. The ideal island destination for a long weekend near Athens

    If you are looking for an unforgettable weekend break with your family when in Athens, Spetses is the perfect destination.

    By Sea

    The most popular way to reach Spetses is by sea. The island does not have an airport, so visitors typically embark on a sea journey from the mainland.

    From Piraeus Port: You will need to take a ferry from Piraeus, the primary port of Athens. High-speed hydrofoils and ferries regularly depart for Spetses, with the trip taking approximately 2 to 3 hours. The high-speed boats offer a swift journey, while the ferries provide a more leisurely pace for those looking to savor the sea breeze.

    By Road

    If you prefer to travel by land, you can drive or take a taxi to Kosta, a small port in the Peloponnese. The drive to Costa from Athens takes about 2.5-3 hours. The journey through the Peloponnesian landscape is an experience in itself, with beautiful vistas unfolding along the way (there is a 30-40 min drive where there are a lot of turns, so take some antinausea gums with you if you feel nauseous or make frequent stops on the way).

    Upon reaching Kosta, you can park your car (if you drive yourself) and transition to a sea taxi or ferry for the final leg of your journey to Spetses.

    From Kosta to Spetses: Kosta is a small port in the Peloponnese. From here, you can catch a sea taxi or a traditional ferry to Spetses. The sea taxi provides a quick, direct service to the island, getting you there in just a few minutes. Alternatively, the ferry is a budget-friendly option that offers a scenic 15-minute ride to Spetses.

    Alternatively, you can drive to Ermionu, and from there there are also ferry connections from Ermioni and the crossing takes 25 minutes.

    5. An island full of festivals, fun, and fitness

    The Armata Festival

    Spetses is well-known for its spectacular Armata festival’, which takes place during the second weekend of September every year. The Armata festival was first established to commemorate the major victory of the naval forces of Spetses against the Ottoman fleet during the Greek War of Independence of 1821. This great achievement was possible thanks to the bravery of the Spetsiot Captain Kosmas Barbatsis, who set fire to the Turkish flagship and blew it up while his own ship was on fire.

    Every September, this courageous act is played out, with a replica of the Turkish flagship being burnt, followed by a jubilant firework display and music. It’s a celebration not to be missed, with the townsfolk and visitors rejoicing together as the summer draws to an exciting end. During the festival weekend, you can enjoy festivities like traditional dancing, concerts, theatrical performances, and athletic events. A special mass also takes place at the church of Panagia Armata, located at the Old Harbour, and at the church of St. Nicholas, which is the Metropolis church of Spetses.

    The Spetses Classic Car Rally

    Spetses also hosts the annual Classic Car Rally around April, which is organized by FILPA (‘Friends of Old Cars’). Participants drive their vintage vehicles from Corinth down through the Peloponnese to Kosta, from where they sail across to Spetses by ferry boat. It’s a great event for all the family and you will have plenty of opportunity to check out the fantastic cars parked up in the grand Poseidonion Square. On the Sunday of the event, the cars set off on a 25 km leisurely race around the island and the winner is awarded a prize in front of the joyous onlookers.

    The Spetses Classic Yacht Regatta

    If you love sailing, you will be thrilled to witness the Spetses Classic Yacht Regatta, which takes place each year in June. This international event is a chance to admire some fine sailing craft in the Kosta Strait, with classic yachts racing alongside traditional schooners and lateens over the course of three days. A truly vibrant event for both participants and spectators!

    The Spetsathlon

    For sporty families who love a challenge, Spetses also hosts the yearly Spetsathlon in May: an exciting three-day event for runners, swimmers, and cyclists. The island becomes a hub of energy during the event as competitors from all over the world arrive to take part in the Triathlon sprint, The Triathlon endurance, the Swimming & Cycling races, and the 5 km run. Young and old can enjoy the biggest triathlon event in Greece, surrounded by spectacular scenery.

    Greek Easter

    Greek Easter on Spetses is a wonderful way for you and your family to learn more about the traditions and customs of this important Orthodox celebration. The actual date changes from one year to the next, and Orthodox Easter doesn’t usually coincide with the non-orthodox Easter so be sure to check when it falls before you book. Easter is a Spring event and there’s no better place to celebrate it than on Spetses, where nature erupts in an explosion of aromas and colors across the island.

    Follow the solemn church services from Good Friday and the somber candlelit processions along the sea road toward Dapia with the Epitaph bearers. Then, attend the Midnight Mass on Easter Saturday alongside the islanders, who turn out dressed in their finest to witness the Resurrection of Christ. When the holy flame that has traveled from the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is lit, cries of ‘CHRISTOS ANESTI’ (Christ Has Risen) fill the air, as well as the sights and sound of celebratory fireworks. Easter Sunday is a time to rejoice, with the cracking of traditional red eggs and the smell of roast lamb cooking on the spit. On Easter Monday, a reenactment of Judas being executed takes place in Kounoupitsa, much to the joy of the Easter revelers who end the day with more fireworks!

    Spetses is a year-round destination and offers so many attractions that you will find something to please the whole family during your stay.

    6. What to do in Spetses

    While visiting Spetses, you can easily arrange a day trip to some of the region’s most outstanding archaeological sites and lively towns. Ancient Epidavros is just over 1 hour away and is worth visiting. At this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will find the Sanctuary of Asklepios and the fantastic open amphitheater, which still hosts live performances to this day. You can combine your visit to Epidavros with a trip to the pretty seaside town of Nafplio, only 40 minutes away. The family will love the Medieval Old Town, the lofty fortress of Palamidi, the beautiful beaches, and the excellent Greek cuisine served at the local taverns.

    With Spetses as your base, you can explore the surrounding points of interest very easily. To plan your days out, it will help to know that:

    • From the Port of Kosta to Spetses, it is 15 minutes by water taxi or boat
    • From Kosta to Epidavros, it is 35 miles (1 hour by road)
    • From Epidavros to Nafplion, it is 22 miles (45 minutes by road)
    • From Spetses to Hydra, it is a 30-minute boat crossing, making it extremely doable.
    • From Athens to Spetses by car (and boat): you go to Kosta by car (2 ½ h) and then from Kosta to Spetses by water taxi or boat (15-20 min)
    Kosta to Spetses boat car
    From Nafplion to Spetses by car (and boat)
    Address: Spetses, Argosaronic

    Best season to visit

    • summer
    • autumn
    • winter
    • spring
    • All
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      • Fantastic article! I love how you present the truth in such a funny way…. it reminds me of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” movie and the way stories about Greeks are presented! Well done!


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