Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece

November 29, 2023

Picture this: a sun-kissed island cradled by the Aegean Sea, where the air carries the sweet scent of pine, earning it the title “Island of Aromas.” Welcome to Spetses, a place where history dances with modernity, creating a haven for those in search of a Greek escape like no other.

As you embark on your journey to Spetsopoula, imagine peeling back the layers of time and discovering a tapestry woven with tales of the past. This insider guide is your ticket to unveil the secrets of Spetses, from its rich history to the delectable flavors that define its cuisine. Join us as we delve into the heart of Spetses, promising you a holiday brimming with exploration, relaxation, and the magic that makes this island truly special.


History of Spetses: Tracing the Footsteps of Time

Now, let’s rewind the clock and journey into the captivating history that has shaped Spetses into the enchanting destination it is today. This sun-drenched island, proudly nestled in the embrace of the Aegean, boasts a narrative that weaves together tales of valor, maritime prowess, and cultural richness.

Spetses has etched its story across the centuries, with whispers of ancient civilizations and conquerors who left their mark on this hallowed ground. The island played a pivotal role in the Greek War of Independence, earning its place in the annals of history as a fervent supporter of the cause. Picture the cobblestone streets lined with neoclassical mansions, each telling a story of resilience and spirit.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece
Houses in the harbor of Spetses Island

As you wander through the historic heart of Spetses, imagine the echoes of naval battles and the bravery of its inhabitants echoing through time. The island’s maritime heritage is proudly displayed in the Spetses Museum, a treasure trove of artifacts transporting you to a bygone era.

In the rhythm of Spetses, the past harmonizes with the present, creating an atmosphere that resonates with authenticity and charm. Dive into the history of Spetses, and you’ll discover a narrative that adds depth and meaning to your holiday on this captivating Greek island.

Things to do in Spetses

Now that we’ve stepped into the vibrant history of Spetses let’s turn our attention to the myriad experiences awaiting you on this captivating Greek island. Spetses is not merely a destination; it’s a mosaic of activities that cater to diverse tastes, ensuring that every moment of your holiday is as rich and varied as the island itself.

Explore the Old Harbor

Begin your Spetsopoula adventure with a stroll along the Old Harbor. Picture postcard-perfect scenes unfold as traditional wooden boats bob gently in the crystal-clear waters, offering a picturesque backdrop for your holiday snapshots. The waterfront is lined with charming cafes and tavernas, inviting you to savor local flavors while soaking in the laid-back atmosphere.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece
The old harbor in Spetses

Bike Rides and Horse-drawn Carriages

Embrace the unhurried pace of Spetsopoula by exploring the island on two wheels or aboard a horse-drawn carriage. With no cars allowed in the town, these modes of transport add a touch of nostalgia and let you appreciate the island’s natural beauty without the hum of engines.

The ‘Armata’ festival

Unearth the vibrant spirit of Spetses through the annual ‘Armata’ festival, an integral part of the European Network of Historical Reconstructions. Every second weekend of September, this historical event breathes life into the crucial sea battle of Spetses, which occurred on September 8, 1822. The intense naval clash, where Spetses and neighboring Hydra joined forces against the Ottoman fleet, played a pivotal role in Greece’s fight for independence. 

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece
Fireworks at Armata festival

The festival’s pinnacle is the spectacular revival of the heroic torching of the Turkish flagship, symbolizing the crushing defeat. A week of festivities, including the celebration of Panagia Armata, unfolds, honoring the church built to commemorate this historic event near Faros. Immerse yourself in the cultural legacy and heroic tales that echo through the enchanting streets of Spetses during the Armata Festival.

Bouboulina Museum

Pay homage to Spetsopoula’s heroic past by visiting the Bouboulina Museum. Housed in the mansion of Laskarina Bouboulina, a heroine of the Greek War of Independence, the museum showcases artifacts and exhibits that provide a glimpse into the island’s role in shaping Greek history.

The Spetses Museum

Uncover Spetses’ rich history at The Spetses Museum, housed in the 200-year-old residence of Hatzigiannis-Mexis, a key figure in the Greek Revolution. This historic mansion showcases artifacts from the Revolution era, including the flag, Bouboulina’s remains, firearms, costumes, portraits, heirlooms, and archives. The museum also spans millennia, featuring artifacts from the Classic to the Post-Byzantine periods, offering a comprehensive journey through Spetses’ cultural evolution. Step into this historical haven, where exhibits narrate tales of resilience and cultural legacy, bridging the past and present in a profound exploration of Spetses’ enchanting history.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece
The Spetses Museum

Monastery of Agios Nikolaos

On the way to the Old Harbor, discover the historic Monastery of Agios Nikolaos with its exquisite bell tower and pebble-paved courtyard. This is where the people of Spetses raised the flag of the Revolution against the Turks in 1821. 

Explore the permanent exhibition, “The House of Spetses,” within the monastery’s premises, which transports you back in time with the reproduction of a typical old island house. Enjoy folkloric collections of traditional furniture and artifacts, local costumes, woven crafts, and more.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece
The monastery of Agios Nikolaos

Shopping in Dapia

Dapia, the island’s bustling commercial center, invites you to indulge in retail therapy. Quaint boutiques and vibrant markets offer a delightful array of local crafts, textiles, and souvenirs, allowing you to take a piece of Spetses home with you.

Traditional Boat-yards

Finally, explore the traditional boat yards on the harbor, the very place where local boat-builders have been crafting the renowned wooden vessels of Spetses for centuries. Witness the artistry and tradition in every boat, a testament to the island’s enduring maritime heritage.

Taste – What to eat in Spetses

Embark on a culinary journey through the flavors of Spetses, where each dish tells a story of tradition, local ingredients, and a deep connection to the island’s maritime heritage. From seaside tavernas to charming cafes, Spetses invites you to savor the essence of Greek cuisine in a setting that elevates every meal to a celebration.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece
A taverna in Spetsopoula Island, Greece

Fresh Seafood Extravaganza

As an island blessed by the Aegean’s bounty, Spetses treats visitors to an array of fresh seafood delights. Indulge in the catch of the day, from succulent grilled octopus to tender calamari, served with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of local herbs. Seaside tavernas along the Old Harbor offer the perfect ambiance to relish these maritime treasures.

Try Fish ‘a la Spetsiota’, fillets of fish cooked in a tangy tomato, wine, and parsley sauce.

Propyra – Spetsiot Yeasted Bread

Wake up your taste buds with Propyra, a delight made in Spetsopoula. This artisanal bread is a local specialty, crafted with a blend of yellow and black flour, yeast, sugar, salt, glykaniso (sweet anise), and olive oil. Immerse yourself in the island’s authenticity by savoring this traditional bread, an integral part of the island’s culinary heritage.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece

Alfresco Dining with Souvlaki

Head to the picturesque squares of Spetses for a leisurely evening of alfresco dining. Savor the iconic Greek dish, souvlaki, featuring skewered and grilled meat, usually served with pita bread and a refreshing tzatziki sauce. The simplicity of this dish perfectly complements the relaxed atmosphere of the island.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece
Traditional Greek Pita Gyros

Local Wines and Mediterranean Views

Complete your culinary exploration with a glass of local wine. Spetsopoula, known for its vineyards, offers a variety of wines that perfectly complement the Mediterranean cuisine. Pair your meal with a crisp white or robust red while soaking in panoramic views of the sea.

Sweet Endings – Amygdalota from Spetses

Conclude your gastronomic adventure in Spetses with a sweet touch: Amygdalota, a local type of marzipan highly prized by Greeks. Among the connoisseurs of these almond delights, Politis stands out as the most famous purveyor on the island. Crafted with the finest almonds, sugar, and a hint of citrus, Spetses’ Amygdalota encapsulates the essence of local sweetness. Indulge in these delectable sugar bombs, savoring the tradition and craftsmanship that makes them a must-try delicacy during your holiday in Spetses.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece
Amygdalota, traditional Greek powder sugared almond delicacies

Nightlife in Spetses

As the sun dips below the horizon, Spetsopoula comes alive with a lively nightlife scene, especially during summer weekends when Athenians flock to this island retreat. The old port takes center stage, adorned with various bars and clubs that keep their doors open well into the early hours. It’s a place where the rhythm of the island’s nightlife beats vibrantly, drawing locals and visitors into the lively pulse of the night.

Dapia, though quieter than the old port, possesses its own allure. Nestled in this area are cafe bars that provide a more relaxed setting, ideal for those seeking a serene night out. Here, you can sip on cocktails, feel the gentle sea breeze, and enjoy a more tranquil side of Spetses’ evening ambiance.

Poseidonion Grand Hotel
The stunning Poseidonion Grand Hotel at Spetses Harbor

For those inclined towards a more unhurried evening, the town offers many restaurants where you can indulge in a long dinner. Illuminated by ambient lights, these establishments set the stage for a night filled with delightful culinary experiences and leisurely conversations. It’s an opportunity to relish the flavors of Greek cuisine while immersing yourself in the relaxed charm that defines Spetses after sunset.

During the balmy summer months, consider enhancing your nighttime escapades with a visit to one of Spetses’ open-air cinemas. Beneath a star-studded sky, you can enjoy a cinematic journey, blending entertainment seamlessly with the island’s natural beauty.

Poseidonion Grand Hotel

Dancing in the old port, unwinding with cocktails in Dapia, savoring a leisurely dinner, or watching a film under the stars – Spetses delivers a nightlife that caters to diverse tastes. Let the vibrant pulse of the island guide you through an evening filled with unforgettable experiences.

Find your hotel in Spetses

Nestled in the embrace of the sun-drenched canvas that is Spetses, Greece, two distinguished hotels beckon travelers seeking a blend of opulence, history, and unparalleled luxury. Each has its own story to tell. Poseidonion Grand Hotel and Mare Monte Luxury Suites stand as a testament to the island’s cosmopolitan past and maritime heritage.

Poseidonion Grand Hotel

Poseidonion Grand Hotel, a beacon of timeless elegance, unfolds its story against the backdrop of Spetses’ cerulean sea. Born from the visionary dreams of Sotirios Anargyros in 1914, this illustrious hotel underwent a meticulous five-year restoration in 2009. The result is a seamless fusion of historic charm and contemporary indulgence housed within two resplendent structures.

Poseidonion Grand Hotel
Spetses landmark for its architecture since 1914, Poseidonion Grand Hotel

Superior and deluxe accommodations, some featuring private gardens or balconies with panoramic views, invite guests to transcend the ordinary. As the halls echo with a century of tales, Poseidonion has played host to high society, royalty, and Athens’ elite. Beyond being a destination, it’s an experience etched in time. Indulge in traditional gastronomic delights or unwind with a refreshing cocktail, epitomizing the art of leisure. Poseidonion Grand Hotel is an invitation to savor moments of luxury and relaxation, where history meets indulgence on the sun-kissed shores of Spetses.


Mare Monte Luxury Suites

Live Greek maritime history at Mare Monte Luxury Suites, a meticulously restored 18th-century mansion exuding opulence and tranquility. Formerly owned by seafaring aristocrats, Maria and her family have lovingly breathed new life into this architectural gem. Chandeliers glitter within, casting their glow onto elegant period furniture. Step onto the lush garden terrace, where a jacuzzi and a deep blue pool offer infinite opportunities for relaxation.

Family-Friendly Hotels
Mare Monte Luxury Suites in Spetses, Greece

As the sun sets, Mare Monte becomes an oasis of serenity. Hammocks sway gently, inviting guests to enjoy moments of pure bliss. The rustic bar sets the stage for sipping chilled wine and immersing oneself in the tranquility of the evening. Maria and her family’s devotion to creating an atmosphere of peace and intimacy shines through every room, making Mare Monte Luxury Suites a truly opulent sanctuary on the storied island of Spetses.


Be Active – Outdoor Activities in Spetses

Spetses, with its sun-soaked landscapes and azure waters, beckons outdoor enthusiasts to indulge in a plethora of stimulating activities that blend the island’s natural beauty with a touch of adventure.

Bike Rides & Hiking

Explore the island’s enchanting corners through leisurely bike rides or invigorating hikes. Spetses’ car-free town and network of scenic trails provide the perfect backdrop for those seeking to immerse themselves in the island’s natural charm. Pedal through the cobblestone streets, discover hidden gems or venture into the hills for panoramic views that reward your efforts.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece

Charter a Traditional Wooden Boat for the Day

For a maritime adventure, charter a traditional wooden boat and set sail for a day of exploration—cruise along the crystalline waters surrounding Spetses, discovering secluded coves and pristine beaches. The traditional wooden boats, a testament to the island’s maritime heritage, offer an authentic and memorable experience on the Aegean waves.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece
Old classic wooden sailing boat in Spetses

Spetses Mini Marathon

The Spetses Mini Marathon is a premier sporting event for those passionate about running. Held for over a decade, this marathon offers high-quality half-marathon races, making it one of Greece’s most significant sporting events. With races ranging from 5km to 25km, participants of all abilities can join this rejuvenating experience in the enchanting surroundings of Spetses. 

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece

The event, held in mid-October, becomes a celebration of energy and an excellent excuse to explore the island during this vibrant season.

Spetses Classic Yacht Regatta (SCYR)

Sailing enthusiasts and spectators alike can immerse themselves in the beauty of the Spetses Classic Yacht Regatta. Established for over a decade and held at the end of June, this international event attracts some of the most stunning yachts from national and international waters. 

The regatta showcases high-quality sailing races and pays homage to Spetses’ seafaring history, where traditional wooden boats still ply the seas. Whether you’re a participant or a visitor, the SCYR promises a unique and captivating experience.


Spring ushers in the Spetsathlon, a challenging triathlon event that draws persevering and courageous athletes to the shores of Spetses. Spetsathlon has established itself as one of Greece’s most well-organized triathlon events with running, swimming, and cycling races. Whether participating in the Spetsathlon Triathlon Race or the Cycling Race around the island, athletes find ideal circumstances to test their mettle by embracing Spetses’ natural beauty.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece

Spetses, with its diverse range of outdoor activities, invites adventurers to experience the island’s magic through sports, providing not just a vacation but a journey of exhilaration and exploration.

The Best Beaches in Spetses

The island of Spetses unfolds a tapestry of pristine beaches, each adorned with crystal-clear waters and embraced by pine forests. Accessible either by the scenic 22 km circular coast road or by sea through small boats or water taxis, these beaches invite travelers to immerse themselves in the beauty of the Aegean.

  1. Agia Paraskevi

On the southwest side, Aghia Paraskevi is a picture-perfect beach set against the backdrop of a lush green pine forest. This organized haven offers water sports facilities and a boat connection to Dapia Harbor, ensuring relaxation and convenience.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece
Agia Paraskevi Beach in Spetses
  1. Zogeria

Located on the northwest side, Zogeria is a dual bay gem, embraced by pines, with turquoise waters and golden sands. Sunbeds and umbrellas dot one side, and a small boat from Dapia can transport you to this secluded paradise.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece
Zogeria Beach
  1. Ligoneri

One of the island’s most peaceful retreats, Ligoneri graces the western edge of Spetses town. Despite its modest size, this organized beach, fringed by pine trees, boasts colored pebbles and azure waters, offering a serene escape.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece
Ligoneri Beach
  1. Agioi Anargyroi

Stretching along the southwest side, Agioi Anargyroi is a long, popular beach with water sports, a bar, and a restaurant. Accessible by boat from Dapia, it leads to the enchanting Bekiri’s Cave, adding a touch of romance to your seaside experience.

  1. Kounoupitsa

Running along the coastal road to the left of the harbor, Kounoupitsa offers a succession of smaller beaches with pebbles or sand. Swim in the town’s proximity and relish a meal or drink in picturesque taverns and bars by the sea.

  1. Xylokeriza

Located on the south side, Xylokeriza Beach is remote and peaceful, although organized.  With blue-green clear waters against a beautiful natural setting, the beach also has a small bar for drinks and snacks.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece
Xylokeriza Beach on Spetses Island

Explore the bustling charm of Aghios Mamas, the famous Agia Marina with its impressive views, the secluded serenity of Kouzounos, the remote allure of Xylokeriza, or the youthful vibes of Vrellos—each beach on Spetses assures a unique and rejuvenating experience where the azure waters meet the pine-fringed shores.

How to get to Spetses island

Embarking on your journey to Spetses Island, nestled in the captivating Saronic Gulf, unveils a variety of routes, each offering its own unique charm. If Athens is your starting point, consider the hydrofoil or catamaran from the bustling port of Piraeus. In just about 2 hours, you’ll be treated to a swift and scenic voyage.

Alternatively, the ferry from Piraeus provides a more leisurely maritime experience, taking around 2.5 to 3 hours. As the vessel cuts through the azure waters, you can savor the beauty of the Saronic Gulf at a relaxed pace.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece
Kosta to Spetses transportation

A road trip from Athens to Kosta on the Peloponnese peninsula is a delightful option for those craving a picturesque drive. From Kosta, a short ferry ride connects you to Spetses, allowing you to enjoy both land and sea travel.

If you’re feeling adventurous, a cost-effective choice involves taking a bus from Athens to Kosta and then hopping on a ferry to Spetses. This route combines the scenic landscapes of the Peloponnese with the soothing sea breeze of the Aegean.

Transportation in Spetses

As you step onto the enchanting island of Spetses, navigating its picturesque landscapes is a seamless and enjoyable experience, thanks to a range of well-organized transportation options.

Walking becomes a captivating way to explore the car-free town, with its cobblestone streets and charming alleyways. Take strolls, uncover hidden gems, and immerse yourself in the island’s rich history as you wander its narrow paths.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece
Horse carriage on Spetsopoula Island

For a touch of nostalgia, traditional horse-drawn carriages offer a unique and romantic mode of transportation. Clip-clopping along the waterfront or through the town, these carriages add a charming and scenic element to your exploration of Spetsopoula.

Bicycles provide an active and liberating way to discover the island. Rent one and navigate the coastal roads, reaching remote beaches and embracing the natural beauty of Spetses at your own pace.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece

Scooters and motorbikes are popular choices if speed and independence appeal to you. With rental services readily available, zip around the island, exploring its diverse corners and attractions.

Given Spetses’ coastal allure, water taxis offer a scenic and efficient means of transportation. Connecting various beaches and harbors, these taxis provide a picturesque journey along the island’s shores, granting access to secluded coves and hidden gems.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece
Water Taxis in Spetses

Spetses’ well-organized public bus system is another convenient option, ensuring efficient transportation between key locations on the island. This is particularly useful for those seeking to reach destinations a bit farther from the town center.

Places to visit around Spetses

As you immerse yourself in the allure of Spetses, consider extending your journey to the neighboring gems that enrich the tapestry of this region.

Hydra: A Shared Revolutionary Heritage

Hydra, a kindred spirit to Spetses, shares a poignant history shaped by the Greek Revolution. Its narrow, winding streets and picturesque architecture have lured artists, painters, and musicians seeking inspiration. The heroic tales of shipowners Andreas Miaoulis and Lazaros Koundouriotis echo through the cobblestone streets, honoring their bravery and sacrifice for the revolution. 

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece
The island of Hydra

Hydra’s cultural renaissance in the fifties, starring in films like “Boy on a Dolphin” and “Phaedra,” adds a cinematic layer to its charm. The late Leonard Cohen, captivated by Hydra’s beauty, composed his iconic song “Bird on the Wire” during his stay here.

Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus: A Marvel of Acoustics

A short journey from Spetses takes you to the ancient theatre of Epidaurus, a 4th-century BC masterpiece and one of the best-preserved ancient theatres globally. Renowned for its impeccable acoustics, the theatre accommodates 15,000 spectators and continues to host performances during the Greek festival season. Nestled in a region once celebrated for its healing center dedicated to Askleipios, the god of healing, the theatre offers a captivating blend of history, culture, and remarkable sound design.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece
The ancient theater of Epidaurus

The Corinth Canal: A Triumph of Engineering

Embark on a voyage through history at the Corinth Canal, a marvel connecting the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf. After centuries of attempts, the canal was completed in 1893, a testament to human ingenuity. Designed by Hungarian engineer Béla Gerster, the canal’s single channel allows ships to pass through one at a time, and its submersible bridges add a modern touch to this historic waterway. Today, it welcomes around 11,000 ships annually, predominantly used by tourist vessels.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece
The Corinth Canal, an artificial canal in Greece

Nafplio: A Historic Seaside Town

A short drive from Spetses leads to Nafplio, the first capital of Greece, during the Greek Revolution. Constitution Square, adorned with impressive architectural buildings, beckons exploration. Delve into the Peloponnese Folklore Museum, which boasts over 20,000 items of regional art, costumes, and woven articles. Don’t miss the chance to visit Bourtzi Castle, a fortress built in 1473 to thwart pirates. Enjoy a traditional Greek coffee in Constitution Square and soak in the historical charm of this captivating seaside town.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece
The beautiful city of Nafplio

Learn more about Nafplio here.

Each destination surrounding Spetses unfolds a unique chapter of cultural richness and historical significance, inviting you to delve deeper into the vibrant tapestry of the Saronic Gulf.

When to visit – Weather on Spetses, Greece

Embarking on a journey to Spetses is a delightful prospect at any time of the year, each season adding its unique charm to this enchanting island in the Saronic Gulf.

Spring (March to May):

As nature awakens from its winter slumber, spring paints Spetsopoula in a vibrant palette. The temperatures gradually rise, ranging from mild to warm, making it an ideal outdoor activity and exploration season. Blooming flowers carpet the landscapes, and the island exudes a fresh, invigorating ambiance. Spring offers a balance between comfortable weather and fewer crowds, creating a tranquil backdrop for your Spetses experience.

Summer (June to August):

The quintessential Greek summer graces Spetses with long, sun-drenched days and balmy evenings. This peak tourist season attracts visitors with its crystal-clear waters, perfect for indulging in the island’s inviting beaches. With temperatures ranging from warm to hot, summer is ideal for water sports, strolls through the town, and vibrant nights filled with music and festivities. Be prepared for bustling energy and a lively atmosphere as Spetses comes alive under the summer sun.

Poseidonion Grand Hotel

Autumn (September to November):

As summer bids farewell, autumn ushers in a more serene ambiance on Spetsopoula. The temperatures gradually cool, offering a comfortable climate for exploration. September is particularly charming, extending the summer allure into early autumn. The beaches are still inviting, and the island begins to embrace a quieter rhythm. This season is perfect for those seeking a more relaxed and contemplative experience, with the added benefit of fewer tourists.

Winter (December to February):

While winter on Spetses is milder compared to other parts of Europe, it is the island’s quietest season. The temperatures can be cool, especially in January, making it a less popular time for beach activities. However, the winter months bring a unique charm to Spetses, with the island draped in a peaceful atmosphere. Winter is an excellent choice for those who prefer solitude, serene walks, and cozy moments in local tavernas.

Insider Guide to Spetses, Greece

Whether you’re drawn to the lively energy of summer, the blossoming landscapes of spring, the tranquility of autumn, or the quiet charm of winter, Spetses welcomes you with open arms. Each season unveils a different facet of the island’s beauty, promising a memorable journey tailored to your preferences. Before you embark on your Spetses adventure, consider the timing that aligns with your desired atmosphere and experiences, ensuring an enchanting and personalized getaway.