The islands of the Saronic Gulf are so close to Athens that each summer Athenians flee there for some relief from the heat and the crowds in Athens. If the summer of 2007 -- the hottest in at least 90 years -- really is a sign of the future, more and more Athenians will head for the Saronic Gulf islands each year. In addition, these islands are popular destinations for European and American travelers with limited time who are determined not to go home without seeing at least one Greek island. You can make a day trip to any of these islands, and some day cruises out of Piraeus rush you on and off three islands! Usually, that involves quick stops at Hydra, Poros, and Spetses before you're deposited back on the mainland. If you plan to spend the night on any of these islands in summer, book well in advance.