On the Saronic Gulf, the small island of Poros is an hour’s ferry ride on a “Flying Dolphin” from the Port of Piraeus.
On its south coast, Poros is separated from the Peloponnese by no more than 200 metres, so it’s one of the most convenient Greek Islands if you’re travelling from the capital by road or boat.
Awaiting visitors is a pine-decked paradise trimmed with sand and pebble beaches on its tranquil south shore.
In ancient times the island was believed to be the home of Poseidon, and the vestiges of a sanctuary to the god can be found commanding the north coast from a hill.
Poros Town, the main settlement is a chic harbour with a seafront promenade and yachts bobbing in the water.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Poros:
1. Poros Town
Laid out on ancient volcano, Poros Town is in fact an island in its own right as it is separated from the rest of Poros by a small canal.
The waterfront is hemmed by a promenade, with fabulous vistas of the strait and the coastal mountains of Peloponnese.
The line of private yachts adds a dash of class, as do the Neoclassical villas across the road, where the next cafe or taverna is only a few metres away.
You could sit by the promenade’s flowerbeds for a while and watch the ferries and yachts float by.
After that, head in from the waterfront and you’ll be in a cool warren of twisting alleys with local shops and restaurants that are off the radar of most tourists.
2. Archaeological Museum of Poros
In Poros Town is an archaeological museum built on a plot donated by the wealthy Koryzis family, children of Alexandros Koryzis who was briefly prime minister in 1941. The museum has artefacts that were mainly discovered on Poros at the Sanctuary of Poseidon, and across the channel at the Sanctuary Aphrodite Akraia in Troezena.
These finds date from the Mycenaean Period in the Bronze Age, all the way up to Roman times.
Mycenaean artefacts include figurines and pottery from tombs in Galatas, and a fantastic clay figurine of a horseman, dating to 1300 BC and unearthed in Methana.
But most interesting of all are the votive bronze vessels and Ionic column capitals from the Sanctuary of Poseidon, which you can visit in the north of the island.
3. Holy Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi
A bit further east from Askeli Beach is a monastery founded in 1720 after the Metropolitan of Athens, Iakovos II drank from a nearby spring, which supposedly cured his lithiasis.
The monastery is on a pine-clad slope overlooking the water and its main church (katholikon) is rich with art from the 17th and 18th centuries.
The iconostasis was crafted in Central Anatolia and is composed of gilded lime wood, and to its right is the Panagia of the Zoodochos Pigi, an icon of the Madonna painted around 1650. On the western wall of the church is a magnificent Christ Pantocrator, composed around 1780. Before you see all this, flanking the vestibule are the tombs of Nikolis Apostolis and Manolis Tombazis, two decorated naval commanders from the Greek War of Independence (1821-1829).
4. Poros Town Clock Tower
Rising behind the ferry port is one of the symbols of the island, a dignified clock tower on a rocky pedestal.
The tower is younger than its neo-Renaissance lines make it seem, and was only erected in 1927. To get up to it you have to labour up a stairway, which can be tricky in the midday heat, although the steps are partly shaded by fig trees.
At the top of this rock you’ll know why you made the effort, as you can see the whole strait and the Aderes ridge on the Peloponnese.
The tower also faces west, so the sunsets are photo-worthy up here.
5. Vagionia Bay
At the base of a long steep-sided inlet on the north coast is the alluring Vagionia Bay.
The beach is a blend of sand and pebbles, easing down to waters of startling clarity.
The sea is so clear that if you bring snorkelling gear you can make out the foundations and cobblestone streets of ancient town on the seabed.
On the shore is a single taverna renting out sun loungers for a small fee and preparing trusted Greek classics like souvlaki, tzatziki and tirokafteri.
The remainder of the cove is practically deserted, with no signs of habitation amid the pines, scrub and cypress trees.
6. Askeli Beach
Skirted by eucalyptus trees on the coastal road east of Poros Town, Askeli Beach is a long sandy bay on a gentle bend.
Most of the beach is taken up by sun loungers and palm sun shades in the summer, and these fill up quickly so you need to arrive early in the day.
The private sun loungers belong to hotels, while others are tied to the plentiful beach bars and tavernas around the bay, and are included in the price of a drink or snack.
On the west side is an open space where you can pitch your own parasol and relax on the sand.
The sea at Askeli Beach is inviting, but the shore drops away suddenly, which may not be ideal for youngsters.
7. Love Bay
At this coarse sandy cove around three kilometres west of Poros Town, the pines come right down to the beach and almost touch the water.
The beach also has a very soft gradient, with water as shallow and pure as you’ll get on the island.
Aimed at younger sun-seekers, Love Bay has a party atmosphere, and a volleyball net is set up in the water.
There’s single beach bar hiring out sun loungers, and in summer it’s even worth phoning ahead to reserve a spot.
As the beach is one of the most coveted on the island you’ll have to pay €6.50 for a sun lounger, but it’s good value if you want to rub shoulders with a fun crowd in an unforgettable setting.
8. Monastery Beach
Some 200 metres down from the Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi is a small sandy beach.
One of the advantages of this place is that even though it’s only 15 minutes by car or taxi from Poros Town, few tourists are willing to come this far.
The beach remains pretty quiet even in mid-summer and as it faces south there are sumptuous views of the Peloponnese.
In 2017 a sun lounger and parasol cost €5 for the day, and there’s a little kiosk on the beach for refreshments.
For a more substantial meal the tavernas in Askeli are just two kilometres to the west.
9. Russian Naval Station Beach
After the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca in 1774 Russian naval bases cropped up all over the Ottoman Empire.
The first Russian naval base on Poros was taken over by the Greek navy after independence in the 1830s, and a new space was offered on this cove on the west coast.
The second base was even larger, and in the 19th-century there was such a large Russian population on Poros that the island had a Russian school.
The base had fallen to ruin by the 20th century and today is a shell behind a small gravel beach with shallow waters and views to Daskalio, a tiny island in the strait with a church.
10. Megalo Neorio
A brief cab ride or 30-minute walk from Poros Town is a small sandy beach fronting a row of low-key hotels and apartment buildings.
Standing on the small stone jetty in the middle of the beach you can take in the full majesty of the Aderes ridge to the south and west.
Being small, Megalo Neorio isn’t packed with facilities; there’s just a small line of sun loungers and parasols, a kiosk and a taverna on the other side of the road.
But it’s another beach where you can lie in the shade of the pines and a large eucalyptus tree, growing right out of the sand.
11. Outdoor Activities
Provided you come prepared, Poros is an island made to be seen on foot.
You can walk paths beaten for centuries by villagers and farmers.
Trekking in the aromatic pine-decked hills you’ll journey past olive and citrus groves, historic presses and peaks like Vigla at 358 metres.
One trail leads from Sinikismos, past the fountains of the Virgin Mary and the churches of Profitis Elias and Agios Atathis, to the ancient Sanctuary of Poseidon, which we’ll talk about below.
Found near Vagionia Bay, “Dontas Horses” is a riding centre arranging guided treks along the rocky north coast where you can gaze down from the trail to deserted deep blue inlets.
12. Water Sports
There are a few reasons why Poros has emerged as a big water sports destination.
First the sea off the south side of the island, especially west of Poros Town has warm, lagoon-like waters as it is almost landlocked between Poros and the Peloponnese.
The Greek islands are notorious of the vicious Meltemi north wind, but Poros is well out pf its path.
In this calm environment there are water sports centres at Neorio and Askeli, with tubing, banana boating, waterskiing, wakeboarding, kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding all on the menu.
13. Sanctuary of Poseidon
In a dominant position, with views north over Vagionia Bay are the remains of an ancient temple to Poseidon at a site that was used from the Bronze Age onwards.
The Sanctuary of Poseidon is one of those archaeological sites where you’ll need to use a little imagination, but is a worthwhile stop while you’re exploring the island.
Demosthenes, one of antiquity’s great orators, took his own life by drinking hemlock at this very place.
Faint foundations are all that remains of the temple, dating from the end of the 6th century BC and once composed of 6 x 12 columns.
Also on the site are four stoae (covered walkways with columns) and the remains of an imposing propylon (gate).
14. Lemon Forest
On Peloponnese, across the narrow strait from the port of Poros, are colourful plots of lemon and orange groves, amounting to one large forest that you can stroll through.
It all lies in the countryside around the port of Galetas and was immortalised by a much-loved novel written by Kosmas Politis in 1930. Many of the trees are no longer cultivated for their fruit, and it’s not hard to see which plots are still being tended and which have been left to the weeds.
A walk through the forest, estimated to contain 25,000 trees, will last an hour or so, leading you into olive, cypress and pomegranate groves among the citrus trees.
15. Citronne Gallery
Partly because of its proximity to Athens, Poros was an escape for a few Greek cultural figures in the 20th century, like the novelist Georgios Theotokas or the poet and Novel laureate Giorgos Seferis.
So it’s only right that you should squeeze in a bit of culture in between trips to the beach.
Named after the lemon grove made famous by Politis, the Citronne Gallery is in an 18th-century house in Poros Town, just around the promenade from the ferry port.
The gallery is open only for three months during the summer and stages temporary exhibitions.
Some of the prominent artists represented at the Citronne Gallery over the years include the Critical Realist painter Yiannis Psychopedis, sculptor Costas Varotsos and photographer Robert McCabe.