With only 2.7 miles (3.5 km) miles between the ports of Athens and Salamis, the Saronic Islands are the closest cluster of islands to the capital of Greece. Some of the main islands to visit are Aegina, Spetses, Hydra, and Poros, although there are many smaller and lesser-known ones.
Since they are all isolated islands, the quickest and most convenient way to get from Athens to any of the Saronic Islands is by ferry. The travel time can take anywhere from a 15-minute ferry ride to a 1-hour and 30-minute trip, depending on which island you're traveling to.
While it's not convenient, another option is to drive west and then south to ports near islands that are farthest from Athens. This allows you to see other cities and towns along the way, like Mycenae, a city known for its Greek mythology, and the modern port town of Corinth. While renting a car is the cheaper option, you can also book a private transfer that takes driving off your hands so you can take in the scenery.
Duration: 15 minutes to 1.5 hours (depending on the island)
Since part of Athens is located on the coast, it makes sense that the best way to get to the Saronic Islands is by ferry. It takes a 10-minute taxi ride to get from Athen's city center to the port of Perama. If you're traveling to the port of Paloukia on the closest island of Salamis, the ferry only takes about 15 minutes. However, the other islands range in trip duration: Aegina takes 40 minutes, Agistri and Poros both take 55 minutes, and Hydra takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes, just to name a few.
There is limited information online about the ferry schedule, so it's best to visit the port in advance as it can change seasonally.
By Car or Private Transfer and Ferry
Duration: 2-3 hours (depending on the island)
While there's no need for islands like Salamis and Aegina that are closest to Athens, it might make sense to drive for islands that are farther south if you have an interest in seeing more of Greece. For islands like Hydra, Poros, and Spetses, you can drive west from Athens on the A8 highway and then take the ΕΟ10 exit and head south down the coast, where you can get to various ports in anywhere between 2 to 3 hours.
Renting a car allows you to see more destinations along the way when you otherwise wouldn't on a ferry, so take advantage by stopping in places like the city of Mycenae and the port town of Corinth. If your budget allows, taking a private transfer also elevates the effort of navigating and lets you take in the scenery.