Spetses opens to tourists in the spring and shuts down in the autumn, with some places closing for the season in September after the Armata Festival, and others in October after the Spetses Mini Marathon or the October 28th commemorations. This is the sweetest time on the island. But because September is a transitional month and many businesses are gradually closing, before you set out to have a coffee, visit a restaurant or an art space, be sure to call beforehand and check they’re open first.
Every place has its time. For Spetses, the best time is dusk. The island takes on a silver shade and is ideal for strolling around the old harbor.
You can reach Spetses via high speed ferries from Piraeus (2-2.5 hours, from 48 euros, one way, hellenicseaways.gr, alphalines.gr). You can also drive from Athens to Kosta (3 hours, 32 euros) and then take the ferry (15-20 minutes, 3.5 euros) or sea taxi (30 euros, one way, from 1 to 8 persons) from there.
Hotel Roumani (Dapia, Tel. (+30) 22980.722.44, double room with breakfast, from 73 euros) is located in an exceptional part of the port. It is a hotel with very friendly staff, simple, beautiful rooms and a lovely café.
The Argonaftis guesthouse (Aghios Mamas, Tel. (+30) 694.854.3869, from 50 euros without breakfast) is located in a more quiet neighborhood, has well-kempt rooms equipped with a coffee machine and tea. In the interior space there is a table with two chairs, where you can sit and enjoy a drink (which you will have already purchased to take away) surrounded by tranquil greenery. The guest house is pet-friendly.
Armata Boutique Hotel (Aghios Antonios parish, Tel. (+30) 22980.726.83, from 127 euros with breakfast) is a luxury town hotel with a historical name and 20 rooms, combining traditional architecture with high service.
Poseidonion (Dapia, Tel. 22980-74553, from 214 euros with breakfast) is a special hospitality offering. As with all the old, historic hotels, its soul is hidden in its communal spaces. Architecturally perhaps the most impressive option is the Cupola suite, in the hotel dome, redolent of an inverted fishing boat. Library Brasserie serves bourgeois cuisine, the Palms with its refreshing cocktails, the spa and Water Panda (for boat rides upon request), complete this unique experience.
FOOD & DRINK
Drink your first coffee at Kefeneion (Tel. (+30) 22980.722.02), a classic hangout where locals mingle with visitors, creating a lively atmosphere. Swing by Provenza (Tel. (+30) 22980.755.00) for good pizza, go to Argyris (Tel. (+30) 22980.295.55) for casseroles and grilled options, while Tarsanas (Tel. (+30) 22980.744.90) is perfect for fine dining, prawn spaghetti, lobster and fish a la Spetsiota. For a romantic evening on the sand head to Akrogialia (Tel. (+30) 22980.747.49), all roads for souvlaki lead to Souvlucky (Tel. (+30) 22980.294.73), while you can try the exceptional soutzoukakia and mousaka at Zogeria restaurant (Tel. (+30) 694.462.7851), on the beach.
A new arrival on the Spetses gastronomical scene is Agra Meat & Wine (Tel. (+30) 693.323.7845), with an unusual concept – it operates as a butcher shop and also a wine bistro. For one last omelet before the boat leaves, take a seat at Roussos (Tel. (+30) 22980.728.19), located at a key spot on the port. The traditional amygdalota (Greek almond cookies) are great presents to bring back for your friends. You can find them in several places, such as Politis (Tel. (+30) 22980.722.48) and Kardiasmenos.
The Magus Art Café (Tel. (+30) 22980.723.06) because it is located in the historic Anargyreos School, in an idyllic setting above the sea and in the pines. It serves coffee and food, and is named after “The Magus,” the famous novel by John Fowles who briefly taught at the school in the 1950s. Ask the managers whether they can give you a tour of the buildings and show you items from the time of Anargyros, such as his piano.
Bar Spetsa (Tel. (+30) 22980.741.31), because it is a beloved place in Spetses, a place out of a forgotten dreamworld, with 60s-70s rock music playing. It’s a bar for those who like to drink, and those who don’t, as for instance, they serve non-alcoholic gin. When we visited, we saw a series of names written on paper on the door to the left of the bar. This list was part of a game, which you can also participate in. For more information, ask the barman.
Jinx (Tel. (+30) 22980.722.41), because it is a simple place that focuses on essence. With an advantageous location at the Old Harbor, with its sign written on the inner, not on the outer wall, it sells rum, tequila, bourbon, whiskey, cognac, cocktails and drinks that impress twofold – in flavor and in appearance. Take a seat at one of the tables by the sea before sunset to enjoy the first cocktail of the day and enjoy watching the horizon painted shades of orange and purple. Do not leave until night has fallen.
Take a look at the program of Cinema Titania (Tel. (+30) 22980.725.16) and enrich your evening.
In the former home and current Bouboulina Museum (Tel. (+30) 22980.720.77, morning and afternoon, entrance 6 euros) you will see her pistol, a miniature of the “Agamemnon” flagship, and a photo of her great grandson, Admiral Nikolaos G. Bouboulis, with Irene Pappa in the mansion’s courtyard during the filming of “Bouboulina” in 1959. Look up and observe the ceiling – a veritable masterpiece of sculpted wood.
The Spetses Museum (Tel. (+30) 22980.729.94, everyday except Tuesdays, 08:30-15:15, entrance 4 euros) has a series of different exhibits, such as the first map of the island dated to the 16th century, created by French cartographer André Thevet, or the figureheads from the bows of the ships that participated in the Struggle. More than anything, the museum building itself stands out as the mansion of Hadjiyiannis Mexis, boasts a unique Pi shape and hues of faded ochre.
The monastery of Aghios Nikolaos is another beautiful structure with views over the town of Spetses, now home to the island’s Church Museum. A few months ago, a new library-archive was inaugurated here.
THE NATALIA MELA WALK
Along the peninsula north of the Old Harbor and west of the lighthouse a coastal walk has been created featuring the trademark zoomorphic sculptures of Natalia Mela. Traverse it to see two metallic goats grazing on olives, a goat with her kid, and the imposing mermaid with her rounded breasts, curly hair made of thick metal chains, and her right arm raised, saluting the sailors entering the Old Harbor.
AN ARTISTIC SECRET…
… It is located in the port, in full view, on the walls of the Roumani Hotel and the building complex that hosts the Kafenion. Here you will find a series of tile drawings, with signs ranging from “Barber,” and “Hotel the Saronic,” to “Kafenion” and “Pindos Agency.” The locals can approximately figure out when these images were created, but the island has probably forgotten their creator. The signature “PV” found on some of the tiles is a giveaway, while on others it is written in full: “Panos Valsamakis.” The great Greek ceramic artist (1900-1986) left a unique legacy of cultural heritage to the island of Spetses, fine examples of artworks in public spaces before the time of graffiti.
TOUR OF THE ISLAND
Cars are not allowed on Spetses, although motorbikes and mopeds are available for rental. The lack of space in Dapia and the narrow coastal road create an explosive setting, with motorbikes zooming past horse-driven carriages, electric scooters and pedestrians. There is also the alternative of the electric bicycle, which is more friendly towards everyone and everything. In addition to the walks between the old harbor and the new port, it’s worth leaving the settlement completely and touring the island (1 hour) via the paved ring road, so you can admire the grandeur of the huge pine tree forest of Spetses. There are benches with views of the beaches and Spetsopoula dotted along the way.
Spetses is a “low” island, with the tallest peak at 290 meters. Yet the island boasts a rather extensive network of footpaths, which the locals began to appreciate again during the quarantine years. Today, the Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage in combination with local residences and institutions (such as the Municipality of Spetses, the Anargyreon), is creating a program to showcase this old network. Around 19 trails measuring 65 kilometers in length are ideal for discovery and exploration of the wondrous natural environment of Spetses. The footpaths do not have signage yet, but they are accessible. To navigate them, download the application Anavasi Mapp for free.
BEACHES & EXCURSIONS
The beaches on Spetses boast the characteristic charm of the Argo-Saronic; they are usually pebbled beaches, embraced by pine trees and, in several places, the waters adopt an emerald color. Favorite beaches for locals and visitors include the large bay of Zogeria, Pisines, Aghia Paraskevi, Tsakonas, and Aghioi Anargyroi. Aghioi Anargyroi is also where the footpath for Bekiris Cave begins. In fact, the cave has figured in one of the most famous scenes of Greek cinema, with Karezi and Barkoulis from the film “Jenny Jenny.”
You can arrive at the beaches using the road, by boat, or both. Two large boats leave from the port of Dapia everyday (12 euros for Zogeria, 15 euros for Aghioi Anargyroi). Small fishing boats for private tours are available at the Old Harbor, while there is also a seasonal bus service. If you do not want to go far, there are also beaches within the town for a quick dip. You can take a water taxi for excursions around the island or across the way to mainland Peloponnese (Tel. (+30) 22980.720.72).
Spetses is one of the most active Greek islands in this field. In addition to the Armata (Battle of Spetses, 1822) that is directly linked to its local history, throughout the course of the year the island hosts Tweed Run, the FILPA summer rally, the Spetses Regatta and the Spetsathlon, organizations that have a renewing effect on the island’s tourism. Currently Spetses is also expecting to host the Spetses Mini Marathon, from 7 to 9 October.
SPETSES YACHT CLUB
You can support the work of the Spetses Yacht Club. For more information, visit nosp.gr