The island of Aegina is located in the Saronic Gulf, about 25 kilometers southwest of the port of Piraeus, the main port of Athens. Aegina’s proximity to the capital makes it an ideal spot for a weekend away or even a day trip for those weary of the city.
The island is also close enough to have become something of a city suburb. Aegina enjoys frequent daily ferry boat service, as well as high-speed catamaran service all year round so you can visit anytime. Travel times range from 40–to–75 minutes and ticket prices range from 10–to–20 euros one way,
depending on the type of vessel and your choice of seating. It costs an extra 24 euros to take your car onto the boat.
Aegina is a humble island; not glamorous or stunningly gorgeous but lovely, lively and interesting. There is actually quite a bit to see and do there, and not just in the summer, as is the case with many other Greek islands.
It has a decent number of year-round residents so it doesn’t close up completely off-season and it is flat and perfect for a long bike ride around its perimeter. You can rent bikes in Aegina Town. There are also a number of inland villages and sites which are worth exploring.
If you are only in town for a day or a weekend and want to stay put in the port (there is after all a lot to see there!), this is the place for a swim or, in chillier weather, a walk on the beach. It is located on the other side of the temple of Apollo. There are two beaches right on either side of the port as well and, while those might be even more convenient, Kolona Beach is the cleaner and quieter choice for most.
Sunbathe among the deer and peacocks, a unique experience for sure. Take a water taxi from town or from the village of Perdika to uninhabited Moni Island to enjoy a swim in the clear but rocky waters. The main beach has sun beds, crowds and noise, but you can easily walk along the trails to find your own little cove for more private swimming or snorkeling. Be sure to take water shoes though, wherever you decide to take a dip.
Located South of Aegina Town, this is an easy, sandy easy for all ages and skill levels. Popular during the high season, it is more peaceful in spring or early autumn and easy to reach by bicycle. For those who like a buzzy experience, go to the main part which you will come across first when arriving from town. The southern part of it (Marathonas Beach B) is generally quieter all year round.
Aegina Town is where the ferry from Piraeus docks and it serves as the main hub of the island. You can enjoy food and drinks all along the charming waterfront, but be sure to explore the little streets that sit behind the main drag, Many of those shops and eateries are of better quality and better value for money. That is where you will see more of the locals, of course.
The Archaeological Museum of Aegina and the Archaeological Site of Kolona (including the Temple of Apollo, well the one column that is left of it, anyway…)
The museum is small but packs an archaeological punch and has its own magical little courtyard. It was founded in the 1800s and is connected to the ruins of Kolona. The humble 4 euro entrance fee is well worth it. A delightful hodgepodge of artifacts and ruins awaits visitors.
Great sea views too!
Dating back to the 1600s, Markellos Tower (Watchtower), though in disrepair (come on guys, please fix it!), is a lovely building to behold. There’s just something about historical structures, isn’t there? Grab a coffee or an ice cream (Aegina pistachio flavor, of course!) and you can sit opposite the tower on a bench and take it in its faded glory.
Exploring farther afield
This remote village sits at a higher altitude and offers great views. Bird watchers will be
pleasantly surprised to see numerous feathered friends around and hikers can enjoy a lovely
easy/moderate hike which begins on the steps of the village church.
Temple of Aphaia
This stunning ancient temple is located in eastern Aegina, approximately 13 kilometers east of the main port of Aegina Town. It is dedicated to the mountain goddess Aphaia, who is thought by some to have been considered the protector of pregnant and nursing women, as well as babies. The panoramic views include the gorgeous green of the many surrounding trees and the deep blue of the beautiful Greek sea.
This abandoned medieval settlement was built when the residents of Aegina felt too threatened by pirate attacks to live on the coast. It served as the island’s capital for many years and spring is a great time to walk around. The site explodes with colorful wildflowers and some of the three dozen remaining churches (there were originally hundreds!) still contain their original frescoes.
Be sure to climb up to the remains of the castle at the top of the hill to soak in the atmosphere and take in the impressive views.
Fill your belly
Located at the end of the pier that runs out from Panagitsa Beach, smack-dab in the port, this is a simple but quality spot to enjoy a nice fish meal (though of course there are many other options on the menu if you are not a seafood lover). The service is friendly and the location is divine since you sit surrounded by water and also have a lovely view of Aegina town.
Perdika Village Harbor
This small but picturesque fishing village is the perfect spot for a swim or a walk on the pebbled beach and a waterfront dinner of well-prepared catch of the day.
Aegina is known to grow some of the most flavorful pistachios in the world and on the island
you can eat them in pretty much any form – fresh (unexpected goodness!), roasted, in honey and nut snaps, in a pesto sauce, as an ice cream flavor, as a liqueur flavor … and the list goes
My personal favorite? A bag of classic roasted and salted pistachios from the Aegina Pistachio Cooperative. Experts say Aegina pistachios are so tasty because of the trees’ proximity to the sea and the growing area’s unique soil composition.
Whatever the reason, they are delicious so be sure to take a few bags back home for gifts or for yourself, to enjoy with your favorite alcoholic beverage.
Read more about Greece here in Dispatches’ archives.