Travel Guide to Spetses

Best things to do and see in Spetses

Spetses: Why go

Despite its modest size, Spetses is one of Greece's most cultured and cosmopolitan islands, due largely to its popularity - and its historic connections - with some of the country's most prominent shipping families. There's no airport, so you'll inevitably arrive - be it by water taxi from the Peloponnese or ferry from Athens or Hydra - into buzzy, sprawling Spetses Town, the only real settlement on the island.

The maritime tradition continues in its twin harbours, where wooden boat building is still an art. Weekends see an influx of high society Athenians, drawn to the stately Italianate architecture and classy restaurant scene. You might see them - or join them - clip-clopping along the seafront promenade or past the old boatyards in a gleaming horse-drawn carriage; or zipping over the waves in a water taxi to admire the beautifully restored kapetanospita (ship-owners' mansions). Or jump on a restored caique and cruise to the private island of Spetsopoula, where the billionaire Niarchos family escape the paparrazzi. And there's every type of watersport available, from scuba diving and sailing to windsurfing and waterskiing.

Back on terra firma, explore the island's only road - around its oval coastline - on a rented moped or bicycle. There are secluded beaches and crystal-clear waters at Xilokeriza and Ayia Paraskevi, and some patches - notably in the northwest of the island - of the lovely resin-scented pine forest which covered the island until a series of fires in the 1990s, Our favourite beach is Zogeria, whose simple taverna serves delicious Greek food by the gently lapping shore (this beach is one of the most sheltered and child-friendly on the island).

History has marked Spetses, too. As every Greek school child knows, freedom-fighter Laskarina Bouboulina rallied troops in Spetses during the 19thC anti-Ottoman Revolution, and her gripping story has been carefully exhibited in her 300-year-old mansion, now the Bouboulinas Museum. You need to book the 40-minute tour, but it's worth it. Other sites worth visiting are the hidden monastery of Agion Panton, and the medieval church of Agios Nikolaos with its marvellous pebble mosaics.

11:06 | GMT + 2 Hours