Ermioni is a small town in the North Eastern Peleponese, situated in a gorgeous position along a headland. Ermioni is a working Greek town, and while there is a certain amount of tourism here the town isn't focused solely around that, which makes it lively and more interesting. The tourist season is July and August, and a lot of the tourists are Greeks.
There are deep bays on both sides, and the island of Hydra on the sky line. The inlets and headlines along this bit of the Peloponese - between Galatas/Poros and Porto Heli - make for very beautiful and dramatic views.
Ermioni is built out over a long spit of land, with a pine forest, the 'Bisti' at the far end. The port side has a fishing harbor, shops, school, banks, cafes and tavernas.
The other side of the headland, Mandraki, has a real island feel to it, with cafes and tavernas lining a pretty harbor front. According to a tourist flyer about Ermioni, there is night life in Mandraki until dawn. When we were there in March it was very quiet, with one or two cafes open, and a single restaurant which was only open over the weekend. The closed up bars and empty spaces on the harbor front are evidence that it is quite different in season.
There is enough exploring to do in the town itself to keep you happily occupied for some time. The town is a maze of small streets, cobbled paths, steps and steep concrete roads that you have to scramble up. It's fun to explore and easy to get lost in - which might mean you do more up and down than is strictly necessary - but it's never far back to the port or Mandraki.
There are some pretty old houses, brick with red roofs and elegant balconies - some beautiful restored, others crumbling and home to legions of cats. Mixed in with this is quite a lot of newer apartment blocks or big modern houses. One of the landmarks in the port is a big crumbling chimney - apparently this used to be a tomato canning factory.
The Bisti is a pine forest with a lovely walk all the way round, little pebbly bathing coves with sparkly clear water, and the remains of an ancient site. In march the Bisti was covered in flowers, and was a delight to walk around. Swimming is possible from the rocks and coves, but there are no sandy beaches in Ermiopoli itself, although you can reach beaches easily by car
Ermiopoli has lots of good places to eat, and cafes along both the port and in Mandraki. There is a very lively local market along the harbour on the port side of town every Saturday.
If you had a car Ermioni is really well situated for exploring this interesting and beautiful part of the Peleponese. You can get to Nafplio, Myceane, Epidavros as well as Hydra, Poros and Spetse. It's more difficult to explore the area from Ermioni without a car - see below for more on public transport.
Ermioni is a very nice place to be in itself, but if your main aim is to see as much of the area as possible, and you are reliant on public transport, Nafplio would be a more convenient base.
Where to stay in Ermioni
There isn't a massive amount of tourist accommodation, but there are nice places to stay.
At the end of the port side of town, towards the Bitsi, there is a small hotel and a selection of rooms and apartments. A search of the internet will produce one or two small, traditional houses for rent, scattered about the steep little streets of the town. We stayed in a very nice apartment, The Treehouse run by Nicos and family. Their website is really worth having a look at just to get some more information about Ermiopoli - they have lots of photos of the town and the surrounding area, and information on places to visit and things to do.
The Tree house is right at the top of the hill and the far end of the village, about a 15 minute walk to the town centre, and a reasonably steep climb back up from the tavernas and cafes.
The apartment has a large balcony looking out over the mountains and the port side of town, and a pretty courtyard full of plants and trees in the front.
The apartment is on the ground floor of a large modern house. Nicos, Yiota and their son live on the top floor and split their time between Athens and Ermiopoli.
It is very well equipped and comfortable, with heating (useful at points in March) and was a great place to stay. Nicos and his wife, Yiota, are very welcoming and helpful. For us, this even included Nicos giving us a lift from Pireaus to Ermioni because a strike meant none of the boats were running. He also gave us a guided tour of the area. Their hospitality included a big dish of delicious home cooked pastitsio from Yiota plus a huge bag of oranges and olive oil from their farm. We can recommend it.
Getting to Ermioni on public transport
You can get to Ermioni by boat or on the bus.
In March 2010 a Sea Cat was running between Pireaus and Ermioni twice a day, taking 2 ½ hours. This is the quickest and most straight forward way of getting there, but more expensive than the bus. (30 euros each).
Buses from Athens go to Kranidi, the little town which is the administrative centre for the area. From Kranidi to Athens (Liossion station) in March 2010 they were going at 5.30, 10.45, 14.30 (via Nafplio) and 17.30. (15 euros each). This took us just over 3 hours, and could be slower if you get stuck in busy traffic on your way into Athens. It's an interesting journey through some nice countryside, wending along the coast and looking down on small villages. You go past a village famous for it's bread making, which seems to consist entirerly of bakeries.
Once you are in Ermioni the public transport isn't great. You can get a bus to Kranidi at 9.30am from the port side of town (and possibly at other times during the day, but the 9.30am was the only one we actually know for a fact exists!) Buses may or may not go from Ermioni to other places - we couldn't find a bus station or bus stop or any information of any sort about buses. We found out what we did by waiting for a bus to appear and then asking the driver.
Kranidi has a small KTEL (greek bus company) counter in a traditional Kafenion. They had a timetable they gave me which mainly gave information on buses from Nafplio. You might have to ask for this - it was hidden away on a shelf under the counter. We spotted a bus in Kranidi that was going to Costa (from where you can get a boat to Spetse) but we didn't discover any written proof to back up its existance or give you times.