Perfect hiking weekend in Agistri (a trip from Athens)

Perfect hiking weekend in Agistri (a trip from Athens)

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Lying only an hour away from Athens, Agistri is a perfect destination for a quick island getaway. But it’s not just the close proximity to the Greek capital that makes Agistri worth a visit. With a coast filled with beautiful beaches, crystal clear sea and sweet-scented pine forest covering most of the island, Agistri can easily compete for your affection with its more famous neighbors.

Getting to Agistri from Athens

Agistri is one of the easiest and cheapest islands to visit on a short trip from Athens. There are multiple ferries running between the port of Piraeus and Agistri each day and the journey only takes between one and one and a half hour. Additionally, water taxis connect Agistri to the neighboring Aegina, ideal if you are after island-hopping around the Saronic Islands.

There are two types of boats running between Piraeus and Agistri, fast (Flying Dolphin) and slow. Flying Dolphin is faster obviously but it also has a better timetable with earlier departures from Athens and late departure from Agistri. If coming for a day trip, they are definitely the better choice.

However, they are slightly more expensive, sensitive to the weather and not a pleasant experience for those of us suffering from seasickness. Also, even though Flying Dolphin allows bicycles on board, they don’t have space for cars or bikes.

All ferries to Agistri leave from Gate 8 conveniently placed just about 600 hundred meters to the left from the Piraeus metro station. There are ticket booths of all the main ferry companies at the gate, too, making the ticket collection easy. It is not always necessary, but I recommend booking your tickets at least a few days in advance especially during the main summer season or over the weekend.

Tip: When booking a return ticket online, try to pick the same company for both journeys as there may be a discount!

Where to stay in Agistri

Most of Agistri’s accommodation is located in Skala with few exceptions in Megalochori and Metochi. Skala is the best choice, though. It sits right at a beach, in walking distance from the port and close enough to the best beach of the island – Chalikiada. Its seafront is filled with taverns and cafés, as well as souvenir shops and minimarkets.

The accommodation is generally quite cheap in Agistri with prices starting at around 30 euros for a double room per night. We went for one of the priciest hotels in Skala, Saronis, and still paid only 60 euros including a lavish breakfast. The Saronis Hotel was an awesome choice and one of the main reasons why we enjoyed our stay in Agistri so much. From lovely hotel owner to cute colorful rooms and convenient location right in the center of Skala, everything was perfect.

But the highlight of our stay was breakfast! Even though I usually settle for coffee and a bit more coffee in the morning, here, it was impossible to resist all the freshly baked pies, bread, homemade marmalade, and delicious omelets! With fresh juice and a wide choice of coffee or tea, all served in a pretty outside patio, this was one of the best hotel breakfasts I’ve ever had!

Saronis Hotel, Agistri, Greece
The lovely Saronis Hotel in Agistri
Saronis Hotel, Agistri, Greece 1

Day 1 – Exploring the northern coast: Megalochori, Skala and Chalikiada Beach

The northern coast of Agistri is the most developed part of the island as well as the most touristic. It contains the only port of the island in Megalochori, the main resort Skala and some of the island’s best beaches.

Upon arrival at the port, a lot of visitors rush straight to the bus for Skala omitting a visit of Megalochori altogether. It’s a shame though, the “old town” of Megalochori, with its picturesque old houses, narrow streets and gangs of curious street cats, is charming and well worth a short detour.

Megalochori, Agistri Island, Greece 3
Megalochori
Megalochori, Agistri Island, Greece 1
Megalochori, Agistri Island, Greece 2
Megalochori
Megalochori, Agistri Island, Greece 4
Walking to Skala from Megalochori

As mentioned before, there are somewhat regular public buses running between the port and Skala. However, unless you are dragging a heavy suitcase it really isn’t necessary. Walking to Skala along the cost only takes between 15 to 20 minutes and is quite pleasant thanks to beautiful sea views.

Skala itself is a lively seaside town with plenty of taverns, cafes, souvenir shops, apartments, and organized beaches. Being a newish settlement, it doesn’t have the same charm as Megalochori or Metochi but its a great base for trips to the rest of the island.

My favorite spot in Skala ended up being the small fisherman marina at the end of the village. Filled with picturesque wooden boats or “kaiki” bobbing on the waves and with a beautiful view of Skala’s characteristic Agioi Anargyroi church, this is the perfect place for a romantic sunset walk.

When dinner time comes, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Skala has a lot to offer in terms of taverns and fish restaurants and you probably can’t go wrong with any of them. But for the best views and classic Greek flavors head to Alkyoni only about 10 minutes away from the center of Skala. Hidden in a beautiful pine forest on the way to Chalikiada beach this is one of the best restaurants on the island offering simple yet tasty dishes, reasonable prices and welcoming atmosphere.

Agioi Anargyroi Church in Skala, Agistri
Agioi Anargyroi Church in Skala

However, during the day there is no point to spend too much time in Skala, especially when one of the islands most stunning beaches, Chalikiada, lies right around the corner! It only takes around 15 minutes (1.5 km) to reach Chalikiada on foot but feels miles away.

There are no signs for the beach anywhere along the way but it’s not difficult to find. From Skala, follow the coastal road and later a paved alley towards Agistri Club Hotel. At the and of the alley you’ll see two narrow trails, one descending down to the left to the small yet pretty Skliri Beach and another heading to the forest.

Follow the second one for about 500 ignoring any diversions until you reach the top of the cliffs above the beach. The scramble to the beach looks terrifying from the top but is not all that difficult in reality. However, precaution and sensible shoes are in order, this is not a place for flip flops.

Chalikiada is a large pebbly beach with unbelievable clear sea and beautiful views of the neighboring Aegina. It is an unorganized beach with little to no shade so come prepared with plenty of water and umbrella or at least a hat. Snorkel is another must, the rocky coast and crystal clear water are perfect for underwater explorations.

The beach is popular among nudists and free campers as well so be ready to see some naked behinds running around (or take out yours if that’s your thing). It can get pretty crowded during the main summer season, too, with tents occupying the beach and surrounding forest.

During July and August, come early in the morning to enjoy some peace and quiet. Or, avoid the summer months altogether saving your visit for spring or autumn. On our May trip, the island was still pleasantly quiet with just tens of people arriving for the weekend. However, the weather was already warm enough for swimming and all the shops open and eager to accommodate the first visitors.

The trail to Chalikiada Beach at Agistri, Greece
The trail to Chalikiada Beach
Chalikiada Beach at Agistri, Greece
Chalikiada Beach
Chalikiada Beach at Agistri, Greece
Chalikiada Beach

Day 2 – Hiking through the pine forest of Agistri: Skala, Metochi, Dragonera Beach and Megalochori

First thing first, preparing a hiking trip to Agistri is confusing! There is no printed hiking map available and very little information online. Therefore, I planned our route solely based on Google Maps and after a while come to a conclusion that there are no paths around the island only a maze of forest roads. Upon our arrival to Agistri, I discovered a newish looking map of the island in the port and Skala with a bunch of hiking trails loosely following the same route we had planned.

Full of excitement we adjusted our route based on this map just to find out in the morning that the hiking trails are nowhere to be found in reality! I don’t know if we missed them (highly unlikely) or if their creation is something planned for the future but in the end, we had to return to our original plan of forest tracks and old trusted Google Maps.

The trail, even if unmarked, was easy to follow and walking on the dirt track didn’t cause any challenges. Keep in mind though that we did the hike on an overcast spring with temperatures of about 20 degrees – the perfect hiking weather. On a summer day, it would be much more tiring both due to an elevation gain of almost 300 meters and a lack of shade. If I was to repeat the hike in hotter weather, I would start very early in order to complete the initial climb at a reasonable temperature.

Hiking in Agistri, Greece

We started our hike in Skala and followed the only asphalt road to Metochi. Metochi is a tiny village with only a few narrow streets, rusty old houses and beautiful views across Skala and the sea towards Attica. At the end of the village, the asphalt roads turn into dirt road continuing the climb through beautiful pine forest.

After a while, you’ll meet two smaller track branching to the left. Stay clear of them, they lead to the islands garbage dump! Instead, continue on our main road towards left enjoying the lovely smells of the forest and occasional views towards the main port of Agistri in Megalochori.

Once we reached the highest point of the island we met another set of smaller dirt roads heading to the right, the second one leading right down to Dragonera. At this point, the forest gave way to shrubs and bushes allowing for stunning views across the southern tip of Agistri towards Methana and Peloponnese. The rugged silhouette of Methana, a volcanic island famous for its thermal springs, was especially impressive on a still moody day like ours making this viewpoint my favorite part of the hike.

A view of Skala from Metochi, Agistri, Greece
A view of Skala from Metochi
Hiking in Agistri Greece
Hiking in Agistri Greece
Hiking in Agistri Greece
A view of Methana from Agistri
A view of Methana from Agistri

The descent down to Dragonera beach was straightforward without any confusing crossroads even if much steeper. When we arrived on the main asphalt road connecting the port with Limenaria and Aponisos in the south, we turned right and after about 5 minutes of walking reached a crossroad for Dragonera. From here, the beach is only a couple hundred meters away.

Dragonera is a pretty pebble beach with amazingly clear water and few adjoining rocky coves. With a lush, bright green pine forest covering the slopes above and a couple of sailboats bobbing on the waves, this is a place made for relaxation.

Unfortunately, the beach was completely taken over by a beach bar with sunbeds and umbrellas (7 euros for the set). As much as I enjoy a glass of cold beer after a hike, here the combination of sunbeds covering most of the beach and loud music trying to drown the even louder power generator was just obnoxious.

To return back to the port we followed a narrow path starting at the northern side of the beach. The beginning of the path doesn’t look very promising due to a large amount of toilet paper collected over the years (thankfully nothing worse). However, after just a few meters it turns into a scenic trail running on top jagged cliffs all the way to Mikri Dragonera (Small Dragonera). It is the last chance to enjoy the colorful nature of Agistri before heading back to the port.

Hiking in Agistri, Greece 1
Descending towards Dragonera Beach
Dragonera Beach, Agistri, Greece
Dragonera Beach
Dragonera Beach, Agistri, Greece 1
Dragonera Beach
Agistri, Greece
Agistri, Greece

What else to do in Agistri

Wandering around Agistri I stumbled upon these few fun looking activities and decided to include them in this post even though I didn’t have time try any of them myself (yet). They all look like an awesome alternative to the above if staying on the island for a couple more days or visiting for the second time.

— Discover what’s hiding under the surface on Interdive scuba diving and snorkeling excursion.

— Explore the varied coast of Agistri by kayak with Go Kayak

— Rent a boat for a self-guided motorboat tour of the island

— Enjoy a bike ride through the pine-clad island of Agistri to one of its beautiful beaches or charming villages

Scuba Diving Agistri

Check out this post about our awesome scuba diving trip around Agistri with Interdive!

Sunset over the Agioi Anargyroi Church
Sunset over the Agioi Anargyroi Church

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