Greek Island Inspiration for Creatives by Ferry

Artistic Isles Greek Island Inspiration for Creatives by Ferry

The Saronic island encapsulates the classic image of Greece: fishing ports set against turquoise sea, white houses clinging to hilly cliffs and scorching sunshine. But cars are banned, and the enchanting port town remains untouched by modern life.

No wonder it has inspired a plethora of artists. Here, a selection of must-see spots to inspire you and your camera.


The first step onto the cobblestones of Hydra’s port town and you instantly feel like you’ve stepped back into another century. Cannons and busts of admirals dot the harbour, aristocratic mansions overlook the water and marble-covered alleyways fan out from the main square – it’s an island that nurtured a revolution and won independence for Greece.

But cosmopolitan Hydra also has a bohemian side that attracted a community of artists in the 1950s and 1960s including Norwegian novelist Axel Jensen, Australian writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston (who wrote the book Peel Me A Lotus* here), and Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen who stayed at the house by the well known for his song Bird on a Wire. This period is documented in the 2019 film Marianne and Leonard and in Polly Samson’s 2020 novel A Theatre for Dreamers.

The best way to experience the island’s beauty is by walking its coastal paths and visiting its secluded beaches, which can only be reached on foot or by boat. There’s also a good selection of shops, cafes and restaurants where you can sit and relax with a cocktail or a glass of wine and enjoy the view. For a bite to eat, try Flora’s bakery – a pretty little spot in Hydra’s main square serving up traditional Greek treats from oozing orange cake to galaktoboureko (custard baked in filo pastry). This is one of the most popular places to dine on the island and tables here fill up fast so arrive early.


Aegina is perhaps the most beautiful of all the islands near Athens. A favorite quick getaway for Athenians – even in autumn – it offers an old-world vibe with gorgeous bays and delicious pistachios. It is also famous for being the birthplace of Greek democracy. You can easily spend a day here from Piraeus by hydrofoil or ferry.

You should start in the main town of Aegina, which is home to impressive neoclassical mansions that belonged to governor Ioannis Kapodistrias when the island was a capital during the Greek Revolution. Almost all the locals are Greek, so the backstreets of the port town will feel like a typical greek village. You will find many grocery and houseware stores as well as a variety of tavernas. The tavernas are known for their seafood, especially octopus.

The Temple of Aphaia is a wonderful example of classical architecture. With its perfectly preserved columns it predates the Parthenon. There is a lovely little museum at the site, and it is easy to spend an hour or so wandering this impressive temple.

Another must-see is the church of Agios Taxiarchis. It was built on the ruins of a temple to Zeus Hellanios. It has an unusual salmon-pink stone and an impressively wide staircase. Also nearby is the ruins of a unique, circular 4th-century watchtower of a style that was used in the later Venetian and Ottoman periods.


A quieter alternative to the likes of Mykonos and Santorini, Serifos embodies traditional Greek island life with its mountainous landscapes, picturesque villages and pristine beaches. A trip here is about slowing down, taking in the scenery and letting the natural beauty of this craggy paradise take your breath away.

The village of Chora, also known as Hora is the hub of the island and home to a stunning Medieval castle. Wander its cobblestone streets lined with whitewashed houses and charming cafes for an authentic experience of Greek island life. Make sure to visit the monastery of Agioi Taxiarches, a men’s monastery that was built in the 16th century and which survived many pirate raids over its long history. Inside you’ll find a church, courtyards, dining quarters and monks’ cells that can be toured.

It’s not a surprise that Serifos has attracted many arty Athenians who have taken the plunge and moved here to build stylish holiday hideaways, transforming this once-tired island into a unique destination. There’s no shortage of places to go to enjoy a sunset or two, sample some mouthwatering local cuisine or shop for locally produced souvenirs. You can also enjoy hiking along sign-posted trails or spend the day at the beach soaking up some sun. In fact, one of the best things to do on the island is to witness a sunrise over its cliffs as the sounds of rebetika folk songs ring out in the background.


The island of Nisyros, situated in the Dodecanese archipelago just south of Kos, is a very different kind of Greek island. It is an active volcano with unique settlements carved into its rocky landscape. Unlike many other Dodecanese islands that rely on tourism to survive, Nisyros remains largely untouched by crass commercialization. It is not the ideal spot for a party holiday, but it is ideal to unwind and relax.

In the heart of Nisyros lies its capital and port, Mandraki. Walk among its exquisite streets, all of which are paved with volcanic stones, and marvel at the white or painted two-story houses with their wooden balconies. Make sure to visit the magnificent ‘Porta’ (‘The Gates’), the village’s central square, whose elliptical shape and pebbled floor will enchant you. It is surrounded by the village’s main church, the school and Kazellaria, the town hall, but also hosts a wonderful coffee bar where you can enjoy delicious drinks and comfort food with an unbeatable view of the volcano.

The monastery of Panagia Spiliani is also worth a visit. It is built in the 13th century high up the cliff. Its carved iconostasis is decorated with gold and silver offerings. The castle of the Knights of St John, or ‘Enetikon’, is a spectacular sight as well. It was built between the X- and XI centuries by Genoese captains, who organized themselves in clans based on family ties.