Spetses © Jean Housen
Spetses is a popular weekend destination in the Saronic Gulf, with towns full of white-washed mansions and fragrant pine forests. Catering more for wealthy travellers than package tourists, the island's gently rolling hills are good for hiking, and intrepid explorers will find good swimming holes and beaches. The island's little port of Dapia, the first impression visitors get of Spetses, is surrounded by whitewashed, Neoclassical houses and ringed by smart cafés and stylish boutiques. The highlight of the season in Spetses is the celebration of the Panaghia Armata, which re-enacts an 1822 naval battle between the Greek forces and the Turkish Armada. Although the island is now as peaceful as they come, cannons still line the promenade as testament to its proud militaristic past. Part of Spetses's appeal is that the island remains comparatively undiscovered and travellers still get the feeling of being somewhere authentic, instead of touristy. Cars are banned from the central town area so locals still use horse-drawn carriages and bicycles to get around which adds to the charm. Spetses is quite a pricey island, thanks to the upper-class Athenians who retreat here for holidays, but it is a very rewarding one.