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Spetses

A charmed islet of dense pine forests and turquoise bays, mansions and monuments

At a glance

A charmed islet of dense pine forests and turquoise bays, mansions and monuments, Spetses has long been a destination of choice for wealthy Greeks, be they Athenians jetting down for long weekends, expats returning from the New World eager to flaunt their new-found fortunes, or even members of the former Greek royal family.

This small island off the jutting tip of the north-east Peloponnese has escaped mass tourism, apart from a brief flirtation with package tours from the UK during the 1980s. Culture-vultures may recognise it from John Fowles’ novel The Magus. Others might remember it from their history books, as putting up a brave and successful fight during the Greek War of Independence; still others may recall seeing the handsome villas and horses-and-carriages in Hello magazine when the exiled prince of Greece got married there in 2010.

But over the last five years, Spetses has upped the ante, partly thanks to the opening of two globally-renowned resorts just across the water in Porto Heli, and partly due to its reinvention as a sporting hub for runners, swimmers, cyclists and–not surprisingly, given the island’s proud nautical tradition–sailors.

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