Athens-born British designer Mary Katrantzou has spent all her childhood summers in Spetses – a haven for Athenians. Who better then to show us around the little Greek island than she?
Armed with a suitcase-worth of MARY-MARE – Katrantzou’s beach-inspired resort collection comprised of kaftans and swimwear featuring fun, travel-orientated prints – to complement the quiet glamour of Spetses, our OOO is set and we’re ready to vegetate beachside. The isle of Spetses is in contrast to the busier islands of Santorini, Mykonos, and co., making it a great option for those looking to truly unplug.
Here’s a rundown of all you need to know about Spetses, according to the inimitable Mary Katrantzou.
Essential items to pack…
SPF +30, sunglasses, our collaboration with Ancient Greek sandals, my MARY-MARE swimsuit, and my MARY-MARE pareo. I always wear comfortable clothes when in Spetses. These are my absolute essentials for days spent under the hot, Greek sun and to enjoy the crystal-clear waters. Vacation is the only time I don’t wear black and encourage everyone to wear colour as a wellness tool.
The best time to visit Spetses is…
We have a house in Spetses, so I enjoy visiting all year round! I’ve spent all my summers there as a child and that’s when it’s most lively, but Spetses is really special during Greek Easter and in September for the Armata Festival too. It’s just two hours from Athens, so it’s also the perfect weekend getaway.
Our first pitstop should be…
A walk around Dapia area and the Old Harbour; you get to breathe in the island and feel it the moment you arrive!
Your favourite hotel to check-in at is…
The famous Poseidonion Grand Hotel, which has become a landmark of the island thanks to its history and charm.
For an early morning workout head to…
The sea for a swim, there’s nothing better! If you are more into a morning trek, Spetses Town spreads over the slopes of a large hill, so hiking up and down its hilly terrain makes for a great workout surrounded by nature.
I love going for breakfast and have tried many places on the island. I always order a traditional Greek frappé coffee and one of my favourite cafés is Roussos in Spetses Town, where you can also find the best ekmek ice cream on the island.
How about for a long, lazy lunch?
Although it’s hard to choose, and I could recommend so many, my favourite is To Nero tis Agapis, which is the sister restaurant to my other favourite, Tarsanas at the Old Harbour. They both offer the best food, but the views and the atmosphere make them personal favourites.
And for dinner with friends?
I love going to any restaurant along the harbour for the picturesque view of the traditional little boats all lined up in front of the old port. One of my favourites is the terrace of Orloff’s restaurant, a historic local restaurant with amazing Greek cuisine – the perfect spot to bump into friends that you didn’t even know were on the island.
A must-try spot for date night?
Any restaurant with a sea view and live music is a go-to for a romantic dinner date at twilight. Mourayo Bar is a good choice – it’s right by the sea, the quality of food and service is great, and the atmosphere is perfect for a romantic dinner.
Your favourite restaurant in town?
On The Verandah at the Poseidonion Grand Hotel, which has a selection of cuisines: Mediterranean, European, Greek, and seafood. The ambience is great, as are the views.
Where should we head post-dinner?
BIKINI – the best location for drinks and great music; you really cannot beat it!
The drink to order at the bar?
A glass of Greek wine or retsina are my go-tos when in Spetses.
Sitting outside one of the numerous cafés or restaurants near the harbour, where it gets busy with locals alongside tourists. Oh, and a ride on the traditional amaxakia – the horse carriages, which are a staple in Spetses.
The cultural spot to rave about…
The Bouboulina Museum, located in Dapia, dedicated to Laskarina Bouboulina, one of the heroines of the Greek War of Independence in 1821.
The best place to treat yourself is…
The IDOLO Spa at the Poseidonion Grand Hotel is everything you could wish for when in need of relaxation. They take you on a wellness journey and use the most amazing products for relaxing massages and treatments.
For great shopping head to…
You can happily travel with an empty suitcase and treat yourself whilst in Spetses. There are many unique boutiques all around the island that attract the international crowd. My favourite is Magic Wrap, which sells one-of-a-kind and custom-tailored items. Also, On the Deck, which sells our MARY-MARE collection.
Your favourite neighbourhood(s)…
I love the Dapia area, there is really everything you need to enjoy your holiday to the fullest there. From bars, restaurants, the sea, the views, to the shopping area, open air cinemas, and more… It’s where I go to for a walk around town – the perfect time to visit is late afternoon. I also love the Old Harbour for dinner and after-dinner drinks.
The one place only locals know about…
Zogeria beach and its adjacent coves have beautiful, clear waters and a pine-tree backdrop. It’s not easily accessible – those who know it will reach it by sail boats or yachts.
For the best views head to…
The Old Harbour to explore and enjoy the mesmerising view of the sea and the traditional fishing boats all lined up from up close.
For a change of pace try…
Vrellos or Καΐκι Beach Club. They are both set up with great beach-bar restaurants and boast a lively scene.
Great day trips include…
I’d suggest hiring a bike or motorbike – or hopping on a water taxi – to really explore the island, its beaches, and secret corners; their beauty is truly astonishing. It’s the best way to get familiar with the island and experience it as a local.
A book to read before we go (or while we’re there)?
Memory of Spetses by Mary Irvine, a novel which will leave you wanting to visit Greece!
How should we spend the final day of our trip?
I would spend the day walking around the island and revisiting the spots you enjoyed the most – let its beauty sink in. For some last-minute fun, I would definitely take a boat trip around the island.
What’s your Grecian secret?
Greece will forever be my place of choice when I want to recharge. Spetses, in particular, has a special place in my heart, as it’s truly unique. The breathtaking landscapes, tranquility, and serenity of the island allow me to fully relax and recharge.
The island where I spent the best years of my childhood, I treasure the fondest memories from my time spent there. I have the strongest connection with the island – something which I never take for granted.