spetses

Places to go, things to do.....

First off, buy a map. You may be content to stay around the town in which case... fair enough. But out of town it helps to know where places are in relation to each other. Click Here for my map page.

Please don't do the all too frequently seen tourist trick of unfolding the map in the shop, trying to memorise its content, then screwing it up and putting it back on the rack. They are not expensive and you don't win friends like that - the shopkeeper probably speaks good English and would have been happy to help you with directions - and the map may come in very handy once you manage to lose yourself - surprisingly easy, even on such a small island.


Beaches.

Prime importance for most visitors I suppose! We have a full range - though I have to say, not much sand.

Aghia Marina (Paradise Beach), Kaiki/Lefka at the edges of town boast ranks of sunbeds, beach bars and music - and people flock there in crowds. Other beaches around town like the Town Beach, Aghios Nikolas and Garifallo are less commercial but can all get busy at times and none of them are far from refreshments. Out of town, the only other settlement is Anargyri - and the beach here is not only one of the sandiest on the island but is also quite well served with a taverna and sunbeds. Xilokerisa, Vrellos and Zogheria also all have some facilities - sunbeds/cafes/bars/music and so on (very limited at times though).

For the more adventurous, Ligoneri and Kouzounos, Paraskevi can be reached by bus but Paradisos, and Korbi will take a bit more stamina, a boat or a bike to get there - but well worth the effort in my opinion. There are all sorts of other bits of beach and cove that are worth hunting out - and it is not too difficult to find a quiet corner, even in the height of summer.

If water sport is your thing then the main bit is at Anargyri with a limited amount at Kaiki and Aghia Marina beaches, but we are hardly the water skiing or windsurfing capital of Greece.

Getting to the beach... Caique boats go from the Dapia in town to some of these beaches on most days during the main season (look for notices at the Dapia harbour); there are also limited summer bus services to Kouzounos, Anargyri and Paraskevi in one direction and Kaiki, Ligoneri and Vrellos in the other.

In Town

The two focal points of town are The Dapia and the Old Harbour (Palio Limani). On a sunny day in summer the cafes around the Dapia harbour will be packed by late morning, whereas the Old Harbour gets into action much later on in the evening. Enjoy the traditional architecture... and the shopping.

The Forest.

In theory, most of the island is still forested and indeed the John Fowles quotation on the front page still holds good in many places. A series of fires during summer 2000 followed by a further big fire in 2005 destroyed much of the older forest and this will take many years to recover. Mature forest still stands though, in the west of the island and in sections above the town. For the rest of it, the scarred hills have greened over and the forest is steadily restablishing itself. From most beaches the forest backdrop is still quite magical. In summertime it's best to leave the forest as a visual attraction; you lessen the fire risk and save your suntan from being tattooed by the dry, thorny undergrowth. IF you do venture into the forest, make sure you at least take some water with you - there are no facilities up there and in 35 degree heat you will need it.

Other places

Try to visit the mainland. The nearest point is Kosta which has good beaches and is well served by caique, ferry and sea taxi. From there it is fairly easy to get to the nearby towns of Porto Heli, Ermioni and Kilada all of which show a gentle side of modern rural Greece - and you can find good seafood at sensible local prices. Further afield, the ancient sites of Mycenae and Epidavros, the spectacular rock at Monemvassia, the old capital Napflion with it's impressive fortress, the picturesque island of Hydra and the busy island of Poros are all accessible without too much trouble.

Special Events

Over the past few years, Spetses has build a reputation for several special weekend events each year. The Classic Yacht Regatta in June; The Triathlon in May and Spetses Mini Marathon in October (apparently the biggest Greek sporting event outside Athens); The Tweed Run; The Classic Car Rally. There may be more... worth checking out.



Eating, Drinking and Nightlife


At one time I included a list of personal favourites in this slot. I know it was appreciated by many - taverna owners and visitors alike told me so.

OK, so one bar owner made a point of cutting me dead in the street when they discovered that I was recommending their bar; which shows that there is just no pleasing some people.

BUT times change. Opening, closuresand staff changes had made the list pretty much out of date. And too many people started greeting me with lines like 'Oh you must mention my brother's restaurant'. SO I thought it was time to drop the list.

Now for newcomers to Greece there is a whole list of categories of eating place; bars, kafeneion, restaurants, tavernas and so on. If you really want to know, any good guide book will tell you what each name implies. In practice the lines get blurred though.....

There is a wide range of cafes restaurants and bars in town. There are some very basic down to earth places .... and some that are quite sophisticated, partly in response to the fashionable status of Spetses. You can find restaurants on beaches, on roofs, on little platforms hanging over the water, in the streets - and even some that appear quite normal.

Bear in mind that a novel location may not always mean the best food. From traditional Greek to Pizza to Burger, there is a good choice in the town centre, along the seafront from the town hall to Kaiki, through the Old Harbour, at Aghia Marina and also tucked away in the back streets of town. Places you will want to come back to - and places you will wish you never set foot in - but different people have different ideas about what makes a good night out, so most manage to stay in business most of the time! It's worth hunting around a bit too - sometimes excellent food can be found in the most unpromising looking places.

Personal favourites?

Heading out to eat, my first choices tend to be... so many to choose! New places open (and old ones close), owners change each season, so wherever I used to enjoy may not be the same by the time you get there.... it's an adventure...enjoy!

Be bold and experiment
- many tourists (particularly the English) find a nice place on their first night and then never go anywhere else. Now they may, by luck have found the best place on the island - but how would they know??

Out of town. During summer months only, at lunchtime you can find food at Ksilokerisa, Anargyri, Zogheria. But as far as I am aware, the taverna at Anargyri is the only place out of town where you can get an evening meal.

The cafes, bars and tavernas can keep you occupied pretty much all night if you wish, but if you really need more....

Nightlife......

We have a variety of night clubs including a couple with traditional Greek pretensions, mainly in the Old Harbour. Many don't even open until midnight and they will keep you out till dawn if that's what you want. On the basis of my limited experience I can tell you they are lively, noisy and sometimes weird - an amazing and wonderful mix of Greek and Western youth culture. Strange that the loudest clubs should be right next to some of the most expensive houses; but then you get used to that sort of paradox in this country.

freedom_or_death
History

The standard line in many guides is 'Spetses had no importance in ancient times'. This masks the truth somewhat as the island does have a history of sporadic habitation dating back to the times of Mycenae (c1200BC) - but to be fair you won't find any ancient temples lying around here.

Spetses was a powerful seafaring centre in the 18th and 19th centuries and played an important role in the War of Independence in the 1820's. This recent history is well recorded in the local architecture, the pebble mosaics around the town, the town museum, and in the museum at the mansion of Laskarina Bouboulina (a Spetsiot and War of Independence heroine and, I am told, the only female admiral in history). Both museums are easy to find and both are worth a visit.

ligoneri_beach


aghia_paraskevi
Sandy beaches?

I happen to like the Spetses style of beach. But for those who want to use a bucket and spade, I have met visitors who stay here because they like it - and then commute the short trip to the mainland for the sandy beaches at Kosta, Kostoula or Hinitsa every day. So I guess we cater for even more tastes than I first thought.

zogheria_bay
Do take trip around the island.

Hire a motorbike, mountain bike or walk it (okay, you might persuade a taxi driver to take you). Apart from the inevitable rubbish tip, it is well worth the effort. It's an eight hour walk though, so treat that option carefully - you need to be reasonably fit and it's definitely not an advisable outing in the height of summer; it's a long long way between refreshment stops. There are boat trips around - they are good, but personally I think the views are better from the road.


Things to watch out for......

Water taxis and horse carriages can be great fun.... and convenient. But they can also be expensive. Make sure you agree the fare before you ride. Most of the owners are straight and honest and there should be notices up listing the official prices for each trip.

And if a horse carriage driver offers to take you on the 'island tour', take that with a pinch of salt. He will take you to the edge of town and (with luck) back again. With some of the drivers you may get a very entertaining ride; they can certainly spin a story or two - but you still have only seen 10% at most of the real trip around Spetses.....

yacht_beach


Problems??

If you do have a complaint about something then please don't keep it to yourself. If you inform the Tourist Information Office, the Tourist Police or somebody in authority, then maybe... just maybe something might get done. If you keep it to yourself or just grumble to your neighbour don't be surprised to meet the same problem next time you come here.


taverna_music
When in Restaurants...

A note of caution - quality control can be variable at times. I have had excellent meals, pretty average ones and occasionally bog awful meals all at the same taverna. Sorry if you get a bad night - order another jug of wine, it won't improve the food but it might help your memory of it.

And service? Sadly, although some of the restaurants in town have really raised the level (and prices!) of their menus in recent years, the same cannot be said for the quality of service you get. I've seen this elsewhere in Greece too..... Owners still have to undertstand that lesson and invest in training their staff. You? Well you just have to learn patience!