While Greece has a number of fantastic cruising grounds (the main being Ionian, Dodecanese, Sporades and Cyclades) they all entail an extra flight or transfer which is more suited to a 2 week or longer charter.
For those with only a week to charter, the convenience, access and ease of boarding near Athens is enticing, with a number of advantages often overlooked in this cruising area.
While some Cyclades Islands are accessible from Athens, the predominant North-Westerly breeze means that it is often a hard slog getting back to Athens. The better option offering great protection, smooth water and a mostly reaching itinerary is to head west to the Saronic Gulf.
The first port of call is usually the triangular shaped island of Aegina. A 15 mile sail from the main marinas in Kalamaki and possible to reach well before dark on the first night. A number of moorings and marinas offer a variety of anchorages, the township of Aegina a good option with tavernas lining the waterfront enticing you ashore for your first night and generally again in the morning for breakfast.
It’s a short hop across to Epidhavros located at the base of a steep wooded forest. From here, the 30 minute transfer to Greece’s best preserved Amphitheatre is well worth the effort. The acoustics are perfect and the classical architecture renowned as one of the finest in existence in the world.
Sailing south, the Methana Peninsula offers some small villages such as Vathi and the main harbor of Methana which offers bubbly Sulphur baths which have medicinal healing properties.
Only 5 miles south, Poros is said to offer one of the most beautiful approaches by sea. A good lunch stop as the music from the bars on the quays can go into the early hours as it has a bit of a party island reputation.
Next stop is the busy port of Hydra which like Croatia has retained much of its 18th and 19th century architecture. Again, Hydra has many anchorages that are not frequented by the tourists from Athens and it is possible to find many secluded quiet coves.
If you have time, the Island of Spetses can also be included in an itinerary as well as the mainland anchorages of Peloponnisos before returning to Athens.