Spetses – a small but quite distinct island – impresses with its strong personality, which sings from every corner and alleyway. It is there in the houses and neighbourhoods, in the pebble-mosaic courtyards, and in the churches where white dominates, and the sea-blue and pine-green take up the harmonies. With the inspirational landscape on the one hand and the freedom-loving, rebellious nature of its people on the other, Spetses’ place in hearts and history was always a certainty.
Located in the Myrtoan sea, close to the southern part of the Argolic Peninsula, Spetses is 1.5 miles from the coast, and is traditionally regarded as part of the Peloponnese.
To the east is the entrance to the Argolic Gulf. The island can be reached by both land and sea. The journey by road from Athens to Porto Heli is 180 km, and takes a little less than three hours, with the crossing from the small harbour at Costa (1 km from Porto Heli), 15 minutes by ferry boat or caique, 5 minutes in a water taxi. There are regular hydrofoils from Piraeus which also take around three hours.
The eponymous town of the island is its municipal capital, which also covers the areas Ayia Paraskevi, Ayioi Anargyri, Holy Apostles, Vrellos, Zogeria, Kounoupitsa, Kokkinaria, Ligoneri, Old Harbour, Parapola, the convent of All Saints and the Spetsopoula islet, owned by the Niarchos Family.
The winter population of Spetses amounts to around 4,070 inhabitants.
The distance from Piraeus is 52 nautical miles.
The area of the island is 22.5 square kilometres and the length of coastline is 28.7 km.
The inland area is made up of pine-clad hills, whose highest peak of 291m sits at the centre of the island and is known as Prophitis Ilias.
The island covers an area of about 20,000 hectares and most of that is pine-clad, giving Spetses one of the key elements of its beauty. Multicoloured jewels of wildflowers grow among the trees and shrubs, particularly in spring, decorating the many footpaths through the hills that lead the happy hiker to a refreshing dip in one of the island’s many pretty and unspoilt coves.
In ancient times Spetses was called “Pityonisos” and “Pityousa”, meaning pine-covered. The origin of the current name is said to come from the Catalan, Genoese and Venetian sailors of the Middle Ages, who called it “Isola di Spezzia” or “Island of Spices”. There is another version, in which the name comes from the word “Petsa” , allegedly an Arvanite anagram of the ancient name of Pityousa.