Spetses is a very nice
little island where you get the choice of just relaxing, going
out at night and visiting some interesting sites. It is small
enough to get around by bike in 4-5 hours (the road is not the
best, though) and there are very few cars. After 2AM there is a
ban on driving mopeds, but even until then it is quiet here.
The people here are very friendly, even though the island has been visited by holidaymakers for many years. A lot of Athenians also have summer houses here since it is quite close to the capital.
Spetses was already
inhabited in the 3rd Millennium BC, and archaeological excavations have
revealed an important past on the island. Because of its many pine
trees, it was called Pytiousa in ancient Greece, and the islanders seem
to have been skilled in making and repairing ships, since Spetses was a
place for the ancient ships to get new stock and careening.
The Macedonians had conquered almost the whole of Greece in the 4th century BC, and after them followed the Roman and the Byzantine empires. In the beginning of the 13th century AD, the Venetians took over the Aegean, only to be followed by the Turkish invasion in 1490. It was during the Venetian rule the island got its current name, since the Venetians called it Isola di Spezzie - "Island of Aromas" because of the many flowers that grew here.
The most important time on Spetses was during the war of Independence against the Turks that started in 1821. A Greek heroine called Laskarina Bouboulina lived here and through her organisation skills, warship "Agamemnon" and financial support, the island was able to hold back the Turks both here and on the mainland. The "Armata" festival on Spetses is the celebration of a naval battle just outside the port where the Turks were defeated on September 8 1822. Tradition holds that the Greek flag was first hoisted here.
What to see
The capital of Spetses is very pretty, and has many old
buildings where a strong sailing tradition can be discerned. The
house of Bouboulina is a private museum today which is open to
The monastery of Ag. Nikolaos (St. Nicholas) is situated just outside Spetses town, and is open to visitors. Note: you'll have to dress eight in order to visit the nunnery: long trousers for men, and covered shoulders and long skirts for women. The patron saint of this monastery is also a patron of sailors, and it was here the Spetsan leaders took the oath of freedom when the war of Independence was about to break out in 1821.
What to do
There are water sports on
some of the more organised beaches, and the island also has some great
spots for snorkelling.
Because it is close to the mainland, there are also daytrips offered to Athens and ancient sites like Mycenae and Epidauros, as well as to the neighbouring islands.
You can find both pebble and sand beaches on Spetses. The most popular ones are Agia Paraskevi and Ag Anargyri, but there are many more to enjoy.
For such a small island it is not bad. Spetses town has several bars and clubs, and there are many lovely little cafes by the harbour as well.
The restaurants serve mainly Greek food, but there are also a few international alternatives. Explore the town and find your own place, and remember that the best places are those that are crammed with Greeks.
You can get jewellery, art, icons, rugs, textiles, clothes and leatherbelts in one of Spetses town's many shops.
The more popular ones can be reached by small boats that leave the harbour several times a day, but there are also road connections. You can rent mopeds and bikes, but cars are prohibited. There are also horse carriages and a few taxis.
There are several boats between Pireus and Spetses every day, so the easiest option is to get a flight to Athens and then take the ferry boat. Spetses is also connected with the other Saronic islands
Size:23 sq. km
International code: 0030
Population: about 4.000
Local code: 22980
Cash machine: Yes
Port Police: 72245
Tourist Police: 73744
Tour Operators JMC, Apollo
Telephone company (OTE)