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Why Should I Visit Spetses?

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Spetses at a glance

Cosmopolitan and romantic, the “Lady of the Saronic Gulf” stands out for its superb architecture, characterised by magnificent neoclassical mansions and pebbled courtyards that resemble works of art.

It was known by the Venetians as the “Izola di Spezzie” (fragrant island) from the innumerable pine, jasmine and bougainvillea trees that fill the air with intoxicating scents.  In terms of Greek history, it was a great naval and shipbuilding power of the 18th and 19th century, and made an enormous contribution to the War of Independence.

The island of the legendary female naval commander, Laskarina Bouboulina, and other great sea captains of the struggle for independence, does not hide its proud aristocratic heritage. The sophistication and wealth of bygone eras, which can be seen in every corner of the island, are just two reasons to search for tickets to Spetses, a favourite weekend and holiday destination for people who appreciate stylish luxury and want to live the high life in a magical cinematic setting.

10 reasons to visit Spetses
  1. One reason to book tickets to Spetses is to discover the island’s glorious history at Spetses Museum, which is housed in the mansion  built by the island’s first governor, Hadjigiannis-Mexis. The most important exhibits include the Flag of the War of Independence and the ossuary containing the bones of Bouboulina.
  2. To walk round the marvellous Bouboulina Museum to learn all about the legendary naval commander of the Greek War of Independence, the only woman ever to have held the title of Admiral.  Housed in the family mansion, the museum displays relics of the 1821 uprising (including collections of weapons, old books, paintings, letters, and models of ships), personal belongings and old furniture.
  3. To visit the historic Monastery of Saint Nicholas, with its marble bell tower dating from 1805 and impressive pebbled courtyard.  The “Spetses House”, a re-creation of an island home, can also be found here.
  4. To go for a romantic evening ride in a horse-drawn carriage along the coastal road that connects the port of Dapia with the old harbour.
  5. To admire the magnificent Poseidonion Hotel, an architectural jewel and a favourite destination for high society since it first opened in the early 20th century.
  6. To stock up on amygdalota (delicious local almond sweets) from the island’s traditional patisseries.
  7. To explore the Old Port, the centre of the island's nightlife.  Make a stop at Poseidonion Square with its imposing statue of Laskarina Bouboulina.
  8. To see the sunset from Spetses Lighthouse.  Built on a pine-covered hill to a height of 27 metres above sea level, it began operating in 1837, making it one of the first lighthouses in Greece.
  9. To enjoy a cup of coffee at the popular Dapia Square, with a view of the imposing cannons of the old artillery, and of Porto Heli and Hydra.
  10. To watch the spectacular “Armata” in September, a re-enactment of the famous battle of Spetses, during which a replica Turkish flagship is burnt in the island's harbour while flares are let off.
The top 5 beaches

Agioi Anargyroi: The largest beach on the island combines sand with pebbles and deep crystal-clear waters that make it ideal for water sports.  It is well organised and is located 12 kilometres west of Dapia.  At the far end you will find the historic “Bekiri Cave”, also known as “Lovers’ Cave”.  Inside is a natural spring flowing with the “water of love”. According to legend, whoever drinks it will experience intensified passion and lifelong love.

Zogeria: A natural cove with verdant pine trees, olive trees and deep crystal-clear waters on the north side of the island.  The setting is simply magical, and is perfect for anyone looking for peace and quiet but with tourist amenities.  Many people consider this the best beach on the island.

Saint Marina: The island’s busiest and most cosmopolitan beach takes its name from the church here.  It has many tourist amenities, including beach bars and restaurants.  Just opposite is the famous private island of Spetsopoula (owned by the Niarchos family).

Saint Paraskevi: One of the island’s most popular beaches, due to its blue-green waters and good organisation.  The beautiful cove is surrounded by dense pine trees, providing natural shade.  It is located 12 kilometres from Dapia, on the west side of the island, and has a water sports club and snack bars.

Xylokeriza: A large beach with white pebbles, pine trees and emerald waters, situated on the south side of the island. Despite its umbrellas and sun loungers, it remains a haven of untouched beauty for lovers of quiet and relative seclusion.

Don’t leave Spetses without…
  • Discovering the island's iconic architectural heritage.  In all, 35 neoclassical mansions in Spetses Town have been declared “protected monuments”. They include the Anargyros mansion (1904), with its impressive Egyptian motifs, the Hadjianargyros mansion (18th century), the Anargyrios and Korgialenios School (1919), and the historic Poseidonion Hotel (1911).
  • Walking around the Cannon Station Park to admire the unusual bronze sculptures of mermaids and imaginary animals by pioneering Greek sculptor Natalia Mela.
  • Visiting the female Monastery of All Saints.  It has operated continuously since 1830 and its nuns have a great cheese-making tradition, so be sure to buy some of their excellent produce.
  • Enjoying a panoramic view of the island from the top of Mount Prophet Elijah (285 metres), where there is a chapel of the same name.
  • Exploring the island by bicycle, a favourite way to get around, as cars are banned.  Follow the 26 km coastal trail, which takes in beaches and idyllic spots overlooking the Saronic Gulf.  For mountain bike enthusiasts there is an excellent trail that goes inland to the summit of Mount Prophet Elijah, offering breathtaking views of the port of Kosta on the mainland opposite, and the mountains of the Peloponnese beyond.
  • Making a circuit of the island by water taxi.
  • Following the tree-lined path that leads to the Anargyrios and Korgialenios School (a 20th-century boarding school), one of the most beautiful walks on the island.
  • Get a handmade miniature wooden boat like the ones still repaired in the boatyards at the old port, the perfect souvenir of a visit to Spetses.
Tasty experiences
  • Be sure to try Fish a la Spetsiota, (a fillet of large white fish, usually cod, coated with dried breadcrumbs and cooked in the oven in a tomato sauce).
  • Take the ferry to Spetses and taste the rich, intensely aromatic pine honey produced locally.
  • Enjoy fantastic lobster linguine, seafood saganaki and fresh fish of the day at the island’s fish tavernas.
  • Don’t leave Spetses without sampling its ice cream waffles and chocolate doughnuts.
Trivia

The great English writer John Fowles (1926-2005) worked on Spetses as an English teacher at the Anargyrios School for two years (1951-1952).  Spetses was the inspiration for the imaginary Greek island of Phraxos in his famous novel The Magus (1966).  Both the historic Poseidonion Hotel and the Anargyrio School appear as settings in the novel.

MAP OF SPETSES
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