On Poros and in neighboring Trizinia, on the mainland across the narrow strait, you will find all the elements of Greece’s beauty. Forests and mountains. Seashore and beaches. The verdant Lemon Grove and a charming canyon with cascading waters. It’s called the Devil’s Bridge and is located in the land of Theseus. You’ll find antiquities and monasteries. History is etched on every stone. Slightly further afield, at Methana, there’s a volcano and thermal baths. The Psifta lagoon.
Poros is the heart of the Saronic gulf. It’s just a hair’s breadth off the Peloponnese coast. The perfect base for exploring Nafplio and Epidaurus, even neighboring isles like Hydra. Everything is within easy reach. Just a short sail from Piraeus, and each port call along the way—first Aegina, then Methana—brings you closer to the dream, which begins as the boat turns into the channel and Poros Town beckons in the distance.
The view is framed by pine-clad slopes reaching down to the sea, the town like a scrap of lace tossed on a rounded promontory. On the other side of the channel, Galatas is like a child’s drawing beneath the imposing Aderes ridge. “Coming into Poros gives the illusion of the deep dream. Suddenly the land converges on all sides and the boat is squeezed into a narrow strait from which there is no egress,” wrote Henry Miller. And the description holds true to this date.
Poros can also be reached by car; the drive is about 2.5 hours from Athens. The route to Galatas is like a quick course in Greek history as it passes Eleusis, Megara, Corinth, and Epidaurus. The route is as charming as the sail as it alternates between thick forests and tracing the Saronic coast, the aroma of thyme and other wild herbs alternating with the salty breeze from the sea until your final destination, Poros, comes into view.
The small paradise could be considered a muse as it has been a source of inspiration for writers, poets, and painters. Konstantinos Parthenis fell in love with the island while on commission to paint the dome of Ayios Georgios and the Evangelismos (Annunciation) mural at the Zoodohos Pigi monastery.
Villa Galini on the road from the town to Neorio was host to many of the artists and intellectuals who visited the island. George Seferis summered there and wrote one of his best-known poems, “The Thrush” (Kichli) while staying there. He wrote “Denial” (Arnisi) at Neorio—“On the secret seashore/white like a pigeon—which is the beach where Miller swam.
Yannis Ritsos was also inspired to describe the “the desolate shores of Calauria” in his “Requiem on Poros”. Love Bay, Askeli, and the town’s white-washed lanes have served as the setting for some of Greek cinema’s best-loved films—and even the backdrop for their protagonists’ occasional real-life romances.
The island retains its simple lifestyle to this day. Locals rarely arrange meetings as there’s a good chance they’ll run into whoever they seek along the waterfront, either strolling or in one of the cafes, tavernas, or shops. The waterfront is the center of the island’s life—it’s where the covered municipal market as well as most banks and businesses are located.
The town slopes up from the waterfront, and most of the town’s residents get their daily exercise climbing up and down dozens of steps. The waterfront is also the hub for the water taxis to and from Galatas; taking a boat might seem quaint but on Poros, it’s as much a part of the daily routine as catching a bus is in the city.
The road leading from the town forks at Kanali, a small channel separating Sphairia and Kalavria, the two islands that comprise Poros. It’s also the beach nearest the town, where you’ll find two taverna-beach bars. A left turn at Kanali leads to Neorio; continuing straight, then veering left leads to Foussa while veering right leads to Askeli and Monastiri.
Poros’s location is its advantage over the other Saronic islands. It’s a great base for exploring nearby sites in the Peloponnese. Nearby excursions can be made to Kalloni’s beaches, Trizina’s mountain hamlets, the volcano at Methana, or the charming fishing harbor at Vathi. Nafplio and Mycene are just a 90-minute drive and day-trips can also be had to Epidaurus, Ermioni, and Porto Heli—even Hydra by hydrofoil.
Poros is often seen as a weekend destination, but there’s a lot more to it than that—including a vibrant cultural scene with the Poros Arts Festival in early July, the Saronia at Galatas in mid-July, with two other annual events, the Lemon Festival and the International Piano Festival, in August.
Poros remains largely unspoiled. It’s great for cycling and hiking. Take your time to explore it: swim at Russian Bay and Daskalio, follow the footpath along the top of the Sphairia ridge from the Old Mill to Ayii Anargyri, hike through the Diavologefyro gorge. When your arrive, check the horizon to note where the sun rises and sets. This will help you plan the best time of day for your exploration. And it will focus your attention on the island’s unique light which drew the eye of Marc Chagall.