Less than 97km from Athens, Spetses is far enough to the capital to not feel too cut off from the outside world but remote enough to act as a true escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. A quiet and subdued place in the winter, come summer the island bursts into life, attracting affluent Athenians and a smattering of international tourists lucky enough to have discovered this secret idyll.
The eponymous main town is an elegant and peaceful place, filled with historic mansions and traditional villas. The streets are strictly car-free, meaning that locals go about their daily business on bicycles or mopeds, whilst visitors may opt for a more leisurely horse-and-carriage ride. The iconic Poseidonion Grand Hotel sets the tone for the whole town, with its grand French Riviera style modelled on the Belle Epoque buildings of Cannes and Nice.
The elegant signatures in Poseidonion’s guest book read like a roll call of the 1960s beau monde, with the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Bobby Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Ingrid Bergman choosing the hotel as their base
An atmosphere of old-money glamour pervades throughout the cafes, bars and restaurants that line the waterfront, where fine dining sits alongside traditional tavernas, and the clinking of coffee cups and ouzo glasses continues into the early hours. Take a walk along to the picturesque old harbour and admire the vast range of vessels bobbing in the water, from gleaming super-yachts to old wooden fishing boats.
Sailing enthusiasts will enjoy the Spetses Classic Yacht Regatta, held in June and featuring a range of vintage models and traditional caiques. Further along, the coastline, discover countless hidden coves and beaches, perfect for whiling away a hot summer’s day and catch a glimpse of Spetsopoula, the Niarchos family’s private islet.