When you start from ATHENS, you can sail to Saronic & Argolic Gulf, but, you can also sail to Cyclades area. In this article, we will focus more on the Saronic and Argolic sailing area, as they are closer to Athens and less demanding for inexperienced sailors.
Athens, a 5000-year-old city, is the main starting port for yacht charter in Greece. We decided to present Athens as a separate sailing region, not because it is a special sailing area, but because it has the main airport, and because it has so much to offer, culture-wise and sailing-wise, and because someone who does not know Greece yet, might need some extra explanation about it.
Also, Athens is a big attraction for all visitors, so many of our guests often decide to take some extra days before or after their sailing trip, to visit and explore the city and its attractions.
When you fly to Athens, you can start from Athens city or Lavrion.
Lavrion is situated on the southeast of the Attica peninsula, and only 20 minutes ride from Athens airport, while main marinas in Athens are quite further away from the airport.
THIS MEANS, WHEN YOU FLY TO ATHENS, YOU CAN OPT TO CRUISE CYCLADES AREA OR SARONIC AND ARGOLIC GULF AREA.
If you start from Lavrion, Cyclades area is much closer than if you start from Athens. Lavrion is typically a good starting port for Cyclades sailing area, with beautiful Kea as the closest island in the Cyclades which offers good port.
If you start from one of the marinas in Athens, typically, you will go and cruise Saronic Gulf, or even the Argolic area.
Main marinas in Athens:
Bus from the Athens airport: there is a direct bus line (x-96; direction: Pireus port) from the airport to marina Alimos, but this same line also goes to other marinas.
Marinas in Lavrion:
Closest sailing destinations when you start from Athens:
Closest sailing destinations when you sail from Lavrion:
Major starting ports: Athens and Lavrion. (Although Lavrion is often used as a starting port for Cyclades area too)
We decided to present Saronic and Argolic gulfs as one sailing region in Greece, although they might be seen as two close, but different sailing areas. This is because they are geographically close to each other, and also due to their proximity to Athens as a major starting port with a great choice of boats, and of course, Athens airport.
The closest island to sail from Athens is Aegina, only 16 NM approximately. There are so many boats which start on Saturdays, so Aegina will be very busy.
SUGGESTED PORTS FOR THE FIRST DAY starting from Athens:
TO AVOID THE CROWDS – start early and try to do a lot of mileage on the first day. Some say the best choice for sailing Saronic and Argolic Gulf is a two weeks yacht charter. In general, further away you go towards Argolic Gulf, less busy it will be.
Saronic Gulf is the most popular sailing area, because of it's proximity to Athens as a major starting port. Not only that, but it is full of places gifted with ancient history heritage. Methana, Aegina, Sounion, Epidavros, Poros are popular sailing destinations in the Saronic Gulf, but also places that attract 'normal' tourists due to their cultural heritage and charm.
Meltemi is the prevailing wind. Blows from NNE – NE, usually Force 4-6. More southern in the Saronic Gulf, (Poros, Epidavros, Methana) winds are milder. Up the cost of Athens and more east winds are generally stronger. Also, Meltemi is considered stronger and more often in the Cyclades sailing area.
Volcanic peninsula, with a beautiful port 26 NM from Athens. Go stern-to opposite of local fisherman
In the year of 273 BC, a great volcano eruption separated island Poros from island Methana. A bit strangely, but Poros consists of two islands connected by a small bridge. These two islands are Spheria and Kalavria. Poros town is nice amphitheater-shaped across two hills. It is separated from the Peloponnese peninsula by a very narrow stretch of water – only 200 meters.
Poros town is the port, you can dock on the northern side of the town, only if you come early. It's a quieter, and some say, really beautiful side of Poros town. If you dock on the southern pier of town, you will be close to bars which might have some late night entertainment. You can also anchor nearby.
Island closest to Athens, from 13 to 17 NM depending on the marina you start from. Very rich in history, it is full of archeological sites and monuments and quite a few museums for such a tiny island. Aegina was once a rival of Athens, in the ancient times.
Highlights: Aphea Temple
EPIDAVROS (Palaia Epidavros)
30 NM from Athens, a small town with a nice port. The main attraction is a big archeological venue, about a 20 minutes ride from the village by taxi. You can take a taxi, it's worth the ride. It's a 14 thousand seat theatre with extraordinary acoustics. The village itself is very nice. Anchor away from the town or the beach (Port Authority will warn you anyway). It is also possible to go stern to the pier if there are available spots.
A relatively narrow strip of the sea separates island Hydra from the Peloponnese peninsula. About 37 NM away from Athens, direction SE, you can find a very famous yachting destination – island Hydra, with Hydra Port as the main town and the main port on the island. Hydra got the name due to a few natural water springs on the island.
It is located just between the Saronic Gulf on the north, and the Argolic Gulf on the south, on the eastern side of the Aegean Sea.
Hydra Port is full of beautiful restaurants and bars, all along the waterfront which is the main center of the town and the island itself. As Hydra is rich in its history, there are also a few museums on the island.
International fame island Hydra owes to the movie called 'Boy on a Dolphin', which was filmed on the island in 1957 and had Sophia Loren as the main actress.
ERMIONI (Hermione) village
Hermione is located on the mainland, right across from island Hydra. It's a charming village, we could say preserved from mass tourism. You can anchor just a bit outside of port, or go stern to on the outer pier. You can also anchor on the other side of the peninsula, for more peace and quiet.
With mountains on both sides of the Argolic Gulf which tend to fall intensively at the very top of the bay, giving way to Argolic Plain, a legendary valley from Homer's heritage, this area offers more peace and tranquility for the happy sailor. Although, it is important to mention that this area is quite far from Athens, and is better to be visited on a 2-weeks charter route.
About 16 NM direction WSW from Hydra you will find island Spetses. Famous for its long naval tradition. Old Captain's Mansions are the architectural trademark of the main town on the island – Spetses, and they witness its glorious past. Bay of Spetses is a town with a port, you can anchor outside of the port with long lines to the land, or if you are early enough to dock in town.
All the way in the Argolic Gulf, in it's NW part, a relatively big city of Nafplio is settled. From 1821 to 1834 Nafplio was the capital of Greek Hellenic Republic and the Kingdom of Greece. Some people see it as a very romantic city. Historically, Nafplio was conquered and fought for by Venetian Republic, Ottoman Empire, and Frankish. They all left their marks, so the town is very rich in historical sights.
A town on the Peloponnese peninsula, famous for its egg-plant festival in August.
A village on the Peloponnese peninsula, some say the most beautiful village in Greece. Very preserved and unspoiled.
All the way down south in the Argolic Gulf, a medieval town of Monemvasia can be found. Monemvasia Castle town is one of the most stunning places in Greece. It is situated on the small island, which was later connected (1971) to the mainland by a 200 meters narrow causeway you can walk on. The town was entirely carved in stone. In history, the island was not connected, thus enabling locals to defend from unwanted visitors. July 23rd is the date to be in Monemvasia, as the locals celebrate Independence day in the main port.