This is the second part of our sailing trip with Bearing true south. In part one we were sailing the Cyclades, here is the link to that post- Sailing with Bearing True South Part one
After Kythnos and Serifos we crossed the Aegean and went on to the Saronic Gulf Islands. This was not our original plan but with high winds and a storm heading towards the Cyclades, we changed course to stay in calmer seas as we sailed. The crossing took about 7-8 hours of sailing. After that, we spent time on Ydra (Hydra is the English spelling and pronunciation), Ermioni peninsula, Poros, and a few small uninhabited islands on the way back to Athens.
The port town on Ydra was more crowded than the other islands we visited but don’t let that deter you. It has a lot to offer and was one of our favorite spots. The street-facing the water is lined with tourist shops and restaurants but if you walk further back into town you can find some really amazing and authentic food. There are no cars on the island so the streets are lined with donkeys to carry supplies. This island is also the one with by far the most cats we saw on this trip!
Ydra is one of the wealthiest islands in Greece and has a long pirate history. There is a pirate mansion in the town (Lazaros Koundouriotis Historical Mansion) that is open for tours and offers great views of the water. There is a small entrance fee to tour the house. The house is beautifully restored and decorated. You can take pictures of everything you see inside. It takes about 45 minutes to walk through. We would highly recommend seeing this place!
There is also a small museum in town, The Historical Archive. The museum focuses on Ydra’s cultural history, it took us about an hour to wander through. It is full of paintings and different artifacts relating to the island. There is a small entrance fee. Next to the museum is the old fort which you can walk up to and take photos of the water and the port town itself.
After exploring the pirate mansion and the museum we headed to lunch at Xeri Elia. This is a small family-run restaurant a few blocks back away from the water and the tourists. We have traditional stuffed tomatoes and soutzoukakia or traditional Greek meatballs in a tomato sauce with greens locally grown on the island.
After we toured the museum and the mansion and stopped for some lunch we were ready for a swim! We walked along the road near the water until we came to Spilia. This is a small café with tables offering water views and steps down to the water so you can swim, snorkel or just lay in the sun and relax. It was a bit wavy the day we were there but that didn’t stop us from snorkeling and enjoying the water. This was actually one of our favorite snorkeling spots on this trip. We saw the most variety of colorful fish in the spot. You can get to the water from the cafe, but there is also a public beach just past it. The cafe had changing rooms you can use and great coffee!
The marina at the port of Ydra was actually full when we went by so we ended up staying on Ermioni and taking the Ferry to Ydra for a day. We stayed on the south side of the Ermioni peninsula. The ferry leaves from the marina on the north side. It is just a short 5-10 minute walk through town from one side to the other. The ferry ride is only about 15-20 minutes and we were able to leave in the morning and take the last ferry back in the evening so we still enjoyed a full day of Ydra.
Ermioni itself is a really nice area. There is a small park on the far end of the peninsula. The landscape here is more forested, it reminded us of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with its pine trees along the coast. There is a path that goes along the park in the forested area which only takes about 30-40 minutes to walk through. Along the way, there are a few areas with steps down to the water if you wanted to swim.
We stayed in Ermioni for two nights. The night after we sailed across the Aegean and the night after we had spent the day on Ydra. The first night we ate dinner at a restaurant right on the water called Tzieris. This place offered authentic Greek food and awesome views with tables right on the water! We did not take as many pictures of all the food here but everything we had was great. Here we tried several appetizers including tzatziki, a fava bean dip, saganaki (Greek fried cheese), we also had grilled octopus and muscles in a tomato and feta sauce- which we did take a picture of.
The second night we had a lighter and more casual dinner on the boat. We happened to be anchored right across from a restaurant called Souvlaki Bar. They had some tables outside on the sidewalk but we just did take away and ate on the boat.
Another food recommendation on Ermioni is the Drougas Bakery. This is on the north side near where the ferry leaves. They have amazing coffee, bread, pastries, and desserts. They also sell wine, olive oils, and jams that you can buy to take back home.
Poros Island: From Ermioni we did a short sail to Poros.
The clock tower on Poros is an iconic landmark on the island and a must-do! The clock tower is located on the highest point of the island so it is a bit of a walk up to see it. From this area you will get amazing panoramic views of the water, the view cannot be beaten!
The Archaeological Museum of Poros is a museum located on Koryzis Square in Poros, Greece. The displays of the museum date from the Mycenaean era to Roman times. There was also a small modern art exhibit there the day we went through. The museum is very small and only took us about 30 minutes to go through. There is a small entrance fee to walk through. You can take photos but are not allowed to use a flash went photographing inside the museum.
After walking up to the clock town and through the museum we had some time to kill in the afternoon. We walked from the marina to Mikro Neorio Bay Beach Bar. This place is located on a small, quiet beach. They offer lounge chairs with umbrellas at no cost as long as you purchase something from the bar. We enjoyed relaxing, taking in the views, and doing some swimming.
We headed into town for dinner at Platanos Taverna. This may have been the best meal we had the entire trip! We ate really well the whole time so that is really saying something. We loved this place, we ate outside and had great views of the water and the boats at night. The restaurant is up high on a hill in the town just a short walk from the marina. We had zucchini ball appetizers which were awesome and highly recommended by our guide. He talked them up all week and they lived up to expectations. We had roasted lamb and veal in a tomato sauce with sweet onion for our main courses. Both dishes were excellent. If you are on Poros you have to eat at this place!
On our last day we left Poros and stopped at a few very small uninhabited islands for more swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing on the boat before heading back to Athens. We ended back in Athens in the evening after our day in the sun. We spent one last night on the boat in the Athens marina. Once we got back to the marina our skipper left us for the night. Our guide went to dinner with us one last time in Athens before also leaving us for the night. The next morning our skipper came back to help get us all checked out and on our way. Again we would highly recommend Bearing True South, they were awesome! Here is the link to their website again- http://www.bearingtruesouth.com. They also offer hiking, biking, and other adventure travel in Northern Greece if sailing isn’t your thing.
Tell us your favorite places in the Greek Islands, leave us a comment below!