The proximity of this island chain to Athens makes it the perfect target for day-trippers. On tiny Agristi, I’ve seen speedboats pull up packed with diners for one of the island’s toniest tavernas. But the islands are also a refuge for more extended stays.
The islands have a verdant, lush landscape complete with pine forests, crystal clear water, and secluded beaches and bays. While some of the islands can be toney and cosmopolitan with boutiques, others are decidedly throwback. On Poros, Ydra, and Spetses, there are no cars.
Each of the islands has a personality of its own: Kythira and Aegina being my favorites. Aegina for its temple of Aphaea, Agios Nektartios, and its serene paleochora. Kythira for its deserted beaches and beautiful villages.
Kos, the second largest island of the Dodecanese chain, is known for its pleasant climate and fertile soil. The island has was first settled in 3000 BC. By the 4th century, Kos was a very strong trading power in the region; it remained in this powerful position for many years before experience a long steady decline after the arrival of Romans in 130 BC. Hippocrates, the doctor, brought the island fame as well.
The Knights of St John ruled here after 1315, and then Turks governed from 1522 to 1912. Italian occupation followed, then the Germans captured the island in 1945. The island was finally unified with Greece in 1948.
Henry Miller’s famous line upon entering Poros by boat
“To sail slowly through the streets is to recapture the joy of passing through the neck of the womb. It is a joy almost too deep to be remembered.”