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Situated in the Peloponnese Region in eastern Greece is the authentic, traditional harbour town of Ermioni. This charming, laid-back, off-the-beaten-track town rarely makes it onto Greece travel itineraries (unless you’re on a sailing holiday). Ermioni is built on the tip of a peninsula covered in pines. With the sea on three sides, it’s classed as a town or city-island.
Ermioni is divided into three parts, the commercial port and harbour side of ‘Limani’in the North. The picturesque, lively side of ‘Mandrakia’ in the South, and on the eastern tip of the pine forest of Bisti. There is a coast road running right around the peninsular and the remaining space in the centre is the old village filled with winding cobbled streets, lined with delightful traditional Greek streets and houses, and a few small shops.
We liked Ermioni so much that we decided to base ourselves there for the next five months whilst we bought the house and a car, even sitting out the first 3 months of Greece’s second lockdown there.
Even now, although we don’t live there, we still visit Ermioni most weeks for market day, a swim, and a bite to eat. So, we thought it was about time we pulled together a travel guide to Ermioni to help you plan your holiday or visit there too. We are going to look at a very brief history of Ermioni, check out some of the things to do there, give a few recommendations for places to eat drink, and of course, where to stay!
Quick History of Ermioni, Greece
Ermioni (Ancient Hermione) was named after the hero Ermionas of the Dryopian tribe and honoured Helen and Menelaus King of Sparta sometime between 1750 and 1150 BC (You’ve seen the film 300, right? The one with Gerard Butler? Well, this was about a thousand years before that film is set). So Ermioni is at least 3500 years old.
By 600 BC it was a true town complete with a stone citadel, theatre, and stadium. The church on the hill is built on the ancient temple of the goddess Hera. The remains of some of these ancient buildings can still be explored when walking around the Bisti area.
Ermioni became famous for the red or purple dye from Porphyra seashells used in royal clothing of the roman and medieval ages. During the crusades, it was turned into a castle town and named Kastri until the Greek revolution of 1821. The remains of the main castle are a little out of town at Thermisia.
Ermioni survived the throws of the civil wars, two world wars and years of military dictatorship relatively unscathed. Then, the 1970s saw a growth in the tourist industry with people wanting to experience the “real Greece”.
Although this growth has spawned some new bars, restaurants, and hotels, Ermioni has managed to retain the authentic Greek fishing village charm that attracts the more adventurous tourists and travellers today.
Things to Do in Ermioni
At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much to do in Ermioni. However, scratch the surface and there’s more than enough to keep you occupied for a couple of days, maybe longer if you venture further afield into the surrounding areas. During our five months living in Ermioni, we explored every inch of the town and quite a lot of the surrounding area.
Here are the best things to do in Ermioni, Greece.
Whether you’re on holiday, or in Ermioni to experience the “real Greece” it’s time to start behaving like a Greek!
Spend some time sitting in Marias Taverna on the Limani port side, with a coffee or a suitable adult drink and just relax. Watch the people go by, watch the ferries, boats and yachts come in and take in the view. Have a little meze and make sure you are adequately hydrated.
Then, take a short walk (7 minutes max) through the centre of the town to the Mandrakia side of the peninsular to Millennium Café. Again, order a refreshing drink and sit on the quayside and just relax and watch what is going on. Now you have two bases to explore from and return to whenever you feel like it.
Remember the afternoons in summer can get really hot (40C+) and most Greeks have a little sleep in the afternoons and resurface again around 4 pm (ish). It is fine to copy them.
When you are fully relaxed, and it’s okay if this takes days, it’s time to explore a little.
Self-Guided Walking Tour
Ermioni is small, so put the map away as you don’t need it. Two or three hours will give you plenty of time to get your bearings and see what Ermioni has to offer.
First, walk around the coast road to take a look at both the long sides of the town.
Limani port has several tavernas and cafes, plus souvenir and boutique shops.
Mandrakia is lined with pine trees, and has beautiful sea views, plus more tavernas (some with octopus drying in the sun), cafes and bars.
Next head uphill away from the coast into the centre of the peninsula to the village which is the main residential part of Ermioni.
Spend some time wandering the shaded narrow streets and take some photos, because Greece doesn’t get any more real than this.
You’ll find plenty of resident and ‘community’ cats more than willing to pose for you. White houses, colourful doors and windows, pink bougainvillaea and yia yias chatting on their doorsteps.
The old village also has the Historical and Folklore Museum, the Toy Museum and the 9th-century Byzantine church of Taxiarches (Archangels). We’ve actually still to visit these as they were continuously closed when we were living there due to lockdown restrictions. There are also a couple of random shops, including a butchers, greengrocers, dry cleaners, and a hairdressers.
Remember Greece is generally very friendly, be sure to greet anyone you meet coming the other way on the street with a smile and a yassas / kalimera / kalispera.
If you ever find yourself lost (temporarily misplaced) just head downhill towards the sea. You will end up at one of three places. Limani side, Mandrakia side, or the tip of the Bisti.
Ancient Ermioni was founded right on the end of the peninsular. This peninsular has since been preserved as an archaeological site and is now covered in beautiful pine woodland that smells delightful, especially just after rain (that doesn’t happen often)!
Walking from Marias, you pass a few cafes and tavernas (all are different, and all serve different food, and all are great) then a couple of small friendly hotels before continuing off the road and onto the gravel path of the Bisti.
On the left, you have the sea. Be sure to explore the steps leading down to sunbathing and swimming spots as you go. Suss out your favourite as you may want to return later for a swim or nap. On the right, you have pine woodland, with the endless, shrill noise of the cicadas or the ‘the sound of summer’ as it’s known in Greece
Hidden in the woodland are several ancient archaeological remains to explore. These include the ancient Temple of Poseidon, a warrior’s tomb, the temple of Athena and various other artefacts of Ermioni’s long diverse history. Theres’s also an old white windmill at the highest point of the Bisiti.
The Bisti is used by locals as a kind of park area. It is great for relaxing with a book, walking, running, jogging, and even hiding in the trees practising yoga. The tip of the Bisti is also great for fishing and snorkelling. At the end of the path, you find yourself at a small white church perched on the edge of the sea. There’s a set of steps into the sea, which is a wonderful place for a swim.
There are no real sand beaches in Ermioni town but there are a couple on the coast road to Porto Heli. They are usually empty even though they are really nice. Personally, though, I find sand overrated and an inconvenience as it gets in all the wrong places.
The best swimming spots in Ermioni depend on which way the wind is blowing. If it’s blowing into the port side, Limani, from the sea then walk round to the Mandrakia side of the peninsular. There you can swim either off the Bisti via the steps down to swimming spots, near the small white church at the end of the Bisti path, or near the deeper water quayside next to Cavo Bianco bar. If the wind is blowing into Mandrakia, then go to the Limani side of the Bisti and swim off there.
A word of caution: Many of the rocky areas around Greece are dotted with sea urchins, so we advise you wear swimming (water) shoes. It is also sensible to protect yourself from the sun. It is easy to forget you are getting roasted by the sun when you are in the water. Factor fifty sunscreen or a sun-protection top (Andy has a rather fetching luminous orange one) are good ideas. You see the locals bobbing around in a hat for good reason!
Okay, to be honest, Ermioni is not that great for snorkelling. There is no coral or reef system around here, so fish species are a little limited. The water is, however, generally clear with good visibility to 10+ metres being common. You will find some interesting things around the end of the Bisti and along the Mandrakia side around the small white church going down to the deep-water quay.
Be aware the wind and current can change as you round the end of the Bisti, and one side is normally slightly choppier than the other. The calm water side will generally be better visibility. You can buy swimming and snorkelling gear from Asterias shop next to the triangular traffic island near Marias taverna. They also sell fishing gear.
There is recreational fishing all around the Ermioni coast. Andy has joined the locals a couple of times fishing near the big car park at the back of the harbour on Limani side. Simple pole rod using bread and cheese paste as bait resulted in a fair few fun-sized fish. Nothing worth eating really but still good fun. Octopus is also a real possibility; you could try an octopus rig baited with a chicken foot.
As always, sunrise and sunset are great times. Sunrise is actually really beautiful in Ermioni harbour so you should go even if you are not fishing!
There are several options to go out on a boat fishing. We didn’t explore this. Fishing is not my thing and Andy gets seasick on a wet road. The best place to enquire is Asterias fishing and swimming shop near Marias. There are some gigantic fish out there! I’ve seen photos to back up the stories.
Also, check out Ermioni Fishing Tours on Facebook. Alternatively, just go to the market and buy fish from the stall.
Market Day on Thursdays
Thursday is by far the busiest day in Ermioni. It is market day. The car park at the back of the harbour (next to the harbour master’s office and the school) boasts the biggest market for miles around.
We don’t have a farmers’ market in Ermioni, just a market where local farmers come and sell their goods. It really is packed full of delicious local produce. If you have never been to Greece, you might not realise that, due to the amount of sun we get, the fruit and vegetables grown in Greece are huge compared to western Europe’s pathetic attempts. And it’s cheap. Like really cheap. I’ve seen seasonal fruit go for as little as €0.70 a kilo and vegetables for less.
Go and get stocked up on local fruit, veg, wine, honey, fish, and nuts. Get there early for the best variety. Farmers go home when they have sold out and you are only left with the pro-market traders. You can also browse stalls of homeware and clothes, and even grab a quick souvlaki for lunch.
Hiking in Greece is well underestimated! It is a fantastic way to get out into real Greece and explore the hidden gems that lurk around almost every corner. The combination of coastal paths and mountain trails means there is something for everyone.
The flat coast paths offer a fairly easy flat walk with some spectacular views of hidden bays and beaches. The more “interesting” hill walks get you out into the countryside and the wilds. It is worth the effort to top out some of the hills around Ermioni as you are rewarded with some great panoramas of the nearby Saronic Islands.
You can wet your hiking whistle with an afternoon hiking from Ermioni to Katafyiki Gorge. It is not too far but it leads you through the olive and pomegranate groves and out into the countryside. You will need to take water, sun protection and something more than flip-flops. You can stop at the church and have a snack in the shade under the trees in the churchyard. There is a spring there for some of the year so you could fill a filter water bottle.
The best online resource we found for hiking and rock climbing in and around Ermioni was Olympus Mountaineering which has several posts on hiking and rock climbing in the area. For those climbers amongst you there are alot of bolted climbing routes in Katafiki Gorge and in many other places around Ermioni.
As always, make sure you a prepared properly if you go out in the mountains as the weather can change quickly. It is extremely hot and dry for most of the year so all walkers should take water with them. There are not many opportunities for refilling from springs or streams. This advice is also applicable if you want to explore by cycle.
Rent a Bicycle to Explore the Countryside
Greece isn’t very flat (that’s an understatement). If you love biking up hills, then this is truly the place for you! It is more of a mountain bike trail riding sort of place than a road racing or long-distance touring place.
Although saying that, some people do cycle tour here and find it as rewarding as it is challenging. Not many Greeks cycle, and as a result, cycle hire opportunities are few and far between. There is however a Rent and Ride cycle hire shop in Ermioni. It is up the street directly opposite the AB supermarket. They also hire ATVs / quad bikes.
Quad biking is really popular on the Saronic Islands as the roads are often too narrow for cars and 4x4s. Here on the mainland, despite there being not so many ATVs, It is still a fantastic way to get around and explore the countryside. It’s also more cost-effective than car hire. In fact, we sometimes leave our car at home when we go for a local break, and just hire an ATV. They are great for two people and a small beach bag. You can hire a quad bike in Ermioni at Rent and Ride opposite AB supermarket.
Island Hopping Around the Saronic Gulf
If you are staying longer than a few days, you might get the excellent opportunity to explore further afield, around the Saronics. Don’t be scared of jumping on a ferry and seeing where you end up! Okay it’s not quite that easy, you first have to buy a ticket from the ticket office in the harbour (near the triangle-shaped traffic island thingy).
Alternatively, you can easily grab a bargain ticket on Ferry Hopper. Destinations include Hydra, Spetses, Poros, which are some of the most beautiful Greek islands, Porto Heli (although a taxi is easier) and Piraeus Port (Athens).
The best way to get to Hydra from Ermioni is on the ‘Christos Passenger Ferry’. Tickets can’t be bought online, only from the ticket office in Ermioni or on the ferry itself. €8 each way per person.
The ferries are really convenient and a fun way to see some of the local area from a different perspective. Again, don’t forget your camera to capture some amazing real Greece memories.
If you find boats scary and class yourself as more of a landlubber, then hiring a car might suit you better.
Driving Around the Eastern Peloponnese
By the time you get this far out of Athens, there are very few cars on the road. The roads are generally good, and driving is easy and a laid-back affair.
There are a vast number of things to do within an hour or so’s drive from Ermioni. These include day trips to Kilada, Lepitsa Beach, Porto Heli, Kranidi, Didyma Caves, Franchthi Caves, Salanti Beach, Galatas, Methana, Nafplio, Tolo, Mycenae and Epidaurus.
There is so much to see that there is not enough room here to include it all. Car rental is easily available from Pops Cars in Ermioni Harbour area at a very reasonable rate.
Sailing Around the Saronic Islands
Ermioni is a beautiful place to sail from. You can hire a boat or yacht for as little as half a day to as long as you want/can afford. Centred in the Saronic islands you are a short hop away from Hydra, Spetses, Poros, Aegina and dozens of other beautiful places all accessed from the sea.
Like I said previously, Andy gets seasick looking at a cup of tea, so sailing is not something we have personally done in Ermioni. But, if it interests you there are several charter companies online that could help you such as Clickandboat.com, Yachtico or BoatBookings.
Where to Eat and Drink in Ermioni
This blog post is not big enough to include all the places to eat and drink in Ermioni, plus you would end up with choice paralysis. I can honestly say though that we have never had a bad meal or drink anywhere in Ermioni. Greeks pride themselves on getting food and drink right. Expect big measures and big portions! However, we do of course have our favourites that stand a head above the rest so let’s share them with you.
Where to Eat and Drink on the Limani Side of Ermioni
Below are all places to eat and drink on the Limani side of Ermioni.
The location, the people, the food, the drinks, the food, the weather, and the food (did I mention the food?) are all simply perfect here.
A very friendly family-based café / taverna located right on the quaint harbour side that offers exceptionally good traditional food at very reasonable prices. It is great for any time of day.
Be sure to ask about daily specials. My favourites are the fava, zucchini balls and grilled octopus (although you might have to ask for it as it’s not always on the menu) Andy’s favourites are the herring salad and moussaka.
Further along the quayside from Maria’s you have a fantastic restaurant called Ganossis. The local Ganossis family have been serving amazing food here since 1918. The menu is more of a restaurant menu with dishes like Coq au Vin, Filet Mignon, and Foie Gras. They also serve huge, excellent pizzas and a fine array of drinks.
If you have just stepped off a boat and are looking to relieve your thirst, then the Yacht Café is a must-visit bar. With a cool crowd of yachty types propping up the outside tables, you can sit and share stories of the sea with your newfound sea-faring friends. Aiming more for the high end, this lively bar is often open till the not-so-small hours of the morning.
You may have noticed that the bakery is one of the corner pillars of Greek society. Ermioni has many bakeries to choose from, but Karagiannis’ bakery near the harbour is a splendid example. It supplies locals and tourists alike with everything from fresh bread, filled rolls, local honey, and wine to the most remarkable ice creams. So, if you are looking for some quick and easy breakfast then chip over to Karagiannis’ and treat yourself. Ice cream for breakfast anyone?
Souvlaki or Gyros
What? You don’t know what souvlaki and gyros are? Get yourself down to the little souvlaki and gyro shop in the centre of the town and find out. Take the road to the side of Marias and you get to a small-town square. On the corner, you will find the souvlaki and gyro shop.
Sit outside, order souvlaki or gyro and a beer or wine, and sit with the locals for a while. It’s about €3 for basic chicken or pork souvlaki, or gyro. I recommend having it in pita bread with all the extras. It’ll give you some energy for an evening stroll, or even a bit of a hike!
Where to Eat and Drink on the Mandrakia Side of Ermioni
Below are all places to eat and drink on the Mandrakia side of Ermioni.
A favourite all-day hang-out for locals and tourists alike Cafe Ermioni serves an array of food and drink directly to your table overlooking the water. If you have never tried greek coffee, then be sure to ask for one. Put it this way, you only need one a day!
Souvlaki Bar is, as an extremely popular souvlaki joint serving traditional greek grilled meat and accompanying dishes. Try the chicken gyro pita here washed down with a bottle of Mythos beer. Get there early for a table.
Millenium Cafe Bar
Millenium Cafe Bar, is our favourite bar on the Mandrakia side of Ermioni. Chill out on the quayside, supping a cocktail and watch the yachts and fishing boats come in and moor up for the night. The afternoon is chilled but in peak season it can get lively later in the evening till the sun comes up.
They have an excellent selection of drinks and often give you a small meze if you look like you are going to stay a while. They also have a mirror ball, smoke machine, DJ booth and bubble machine.
Where to Stay in Ermioni
There is a smattering of Ermioni hotels and guesthouses. Most of them are spread out near the water on both sides of the peninsula, with a few tucked away down side and back streets. There is something for all budgets but here are our favourites
Our number one favourite has to be Philoxenia Ganossi. It ticks all the boxes. It is in an excellent location right next to the Bisti and within easy walking distance to all the swimming spots, bars, and restaurants. It’s also only about one hundred metres from the ferry port.
You can rent self-contained apartments at very reasonable rates. Julie, the owner is British but has been in Ermioni for over 30 years and is extremely helpful and friendly. We’d have been completely lost without the kind help from both her and her daughter Zoe (who’s a lawyer), when we first relocated to Greece.
The apartments at Philoxena, are all modern with great fresh décor. Some of the apartments have a lovely balcony (some with a seaview) to sit on in the evening before heading out for food.
Definitely, our favourite place to stay in Ermioni.
Zoe Pension is located right in the middle of the harbourside close to Marias. This family-run hotel is located in a quiet neighbourhood of Ermioni, overlooking the port. There is a large communal terrace, with panoramic views, and it offers free Wi-Fi.
Tree House Holiday Homes
Tree House Holiday Homes are out on the edge of the town and a little way up the hill towards the Church of Nicodemus (big church) and the Church of Hermione (small church). Up here it is a little quieter and cooler. It sits on a peaceful, panoramic view hilltop of Ermioni village and is within walking distance of the sea and the centre. The views and the tranquillity of the location are the key features
How to Get to Ermioni
There are several options to get to Ermioni which vary depending on where you start from and how you are going to get around whilst you’re there. Each method has its pros and cons. Saying that, none are going to be a bad option, just one will suit your circumstances and preferences better.
From Athens by Road
Here are the ways to get to Ermioni from Athens by Road
The most convenient but not always the most cost-efficient is to get out of the airport and straight into a hire car. We have done this, and it is so easy. You can hire a Pops Car and they will pick you up and drop you off again at the airport. The good thing about Pops is that you can normally drop the car in Ermioni (for a small premium) instead of returning it to Athens. This is handy if you are sailing out of Ermioni to somewhere else. There are also other car hire companies in Athen’s airport itself or you can book in advance online and hopefully get a bargain.
The road journey takes about 3 hours give or take depending on the time of day and traffic around Athens. Once out of Athens the roads are deserted in comparison to western Europe and progress is swift. You will need a small change or an ATM card for the tolls on the road.
Once you get off the toll road it is about another two hours on single carriageway roads. The roads are a little bendy (under exaggeration) and travel-sick pills might be an idea for susceptible passengers. On a motorcycle, these roads would be a lot of fun! There are lots of places to stop on the way, indeed, sometimes it is about enjoying the journey as well as getting to your destination. So why not stop for food and drinks and a rest.
Getting the bus to Ermioni is not quite so easy as driving. First, you need a bus from the airport to the KTEL Kifissos Bus Station in Athens. This is not so much, maybe about €5. You then need to get the bus (only one or two a day) to Kranidi (between €15 and €20). The bus times do change regularly so check out the KTEL website for details. From Kranidi you can easily jump in a taxi for about €15. The taxi ride is about 15 minutes in a nice Mercedes.
It is easier by ferry!
From Athens by Ferry
This is how to get to Ermioni from Athens by ferry. The process is the same if you’re starting from places other than Athens, but you’ll just need to tweak Step 1, accordingly, depending where your ferry goes from.
First, you need to get from the airport to Piraeus Port on the other side of the city. Luckily, this is easier than it sounds, and you have three options:
- Get a taxi from right outside the airport straight to the port gate in around 70 minutes for about €55. This is a good option if there is a group of you.
- Get the train/metro for around €10. Take the blue line from the subway station in Athen’s airport to Monastiraki Station in Athens. Change to the green line and head to Piraeus Port. It takes about 80 to 90 mins depending on train/metro times.
- Get the bus from the airport to Piraeus. Jump on the X96 bus at the airport bus station and off again at the port. It is only about €6 and takes 90 minutes in good traffic.
Once at the port you need to find your gate number and head to the gate. But first, be sure to stock up on food at Piraeus port in one of the many bakeries or kiosks because ferry food is not so good and is pretty expensive.
Boarding the ferry as a foot passenger means just walking up the ramp and showing your ticket. Boarding in a car means queuing up and driving on when directed. Both are quite easy. Then once on board make your way to your seat and enjoy the ride.
A window seat is great if you have a camera. The slower ferries might let you out on the deck and are good for picnics and photos. The fast ferries are fast, and you might get wet outside! Two and a half hours later you are arriving at Ermioni harbour. Right next to Maria’s Taverna. I recommend a refreshment.
The process is the same if you’re starting from places other than Athens. You’ll just need to tweak Step 1, accordingly, depending where your ferry goes from.
Sailing into Ermioni Port
Sailing into Ermioni gives you three choices. Mooring in the old harbour, mooring in the south side quay area, or anchoring in the Kapari Bay area. All options are good.
Sometimes the inner harbour gets crowded so it might be better to anchor off rather than stern moor. Apparently, the holding is not always good so beware.
The south side is exceedingly popular and a great place to moor. The local council have recently put in electric and water points along the quay. The south side is less sheltered and the water is up to twenty metres deep, so allow for a lot of chain—most people stern on moor which can be tricky in windy conditions, so be prepared. Normally some friendly person will catch your lines for you.
I’m not sure about Kapari Bay anchoring, not so many people do it but maybe that’s because they want to be next to the taverna!
I have not seen a refuelling station in Ermioni so you might need to fill by cans. The coastguard radio is VHF 12.
Whatever you chose to do, however long you stay and no matter who you are, you have to love Ermioni. It’s real Greece with a slight twist that adds to the excitement whilst not spoiling the relaxed chilled-out atmosphere.
So next time you are in Greece or the Med, don’t forget to drop in for a while, you won’t regret it!
Have you been to Ermioni in Greece, if so what did you love about it? If you haven’t been why you think you’d love Ermioni?
Greece Travel Resources
Planning your trip to Greece and wondering what to pack, here’s a Greece packing list to help.
Here are also some of our recommended useful resources to help you have the best time possible:
|● DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE. If you’re travelling long-term and from the EU True Traveller is best. If you’re from other countries worldwide, World Nomads is good.
Another contender for long-term travel insurance is SafetyWing, which you can pay for on a month-by-month basis. This is also good for shorter trips.
● For great prices on ferries to the Greek islands check out Ferryhopper.
● Our go-to for self-catering accommodation is Vrbo.
● Before booking accommodation, check reviews on TripAdvisor.
● Even in the days of Google we still like to use guidebooks for ideas.