Only a 40 minute hydrofoil ride from the port of Piraeus, Aegina is an easy and relaxing island in the Saronic Gulf. The frequent hydrofoil service means that it also serves as a commuter island to Athens, as well as being a weekend home to many artists, painters, singers, writers, who all value its picturesque town and joyful adherence to its traditional identity. Enter into the crescent harbour of Aegina town with fishing boats, fruit-filled caiques, and glamorous yachts jostling for position. As with all small fishing villages it gets very popular as a weekend destination.
The beauty of the landscape, the hospitality of the inhabitants and the rich archaeological material charm most visitors who set foot on this bright, colourful little island. One visitor who was charmed by Aegina was Nikos Kazantzakis, who loved the island, and was living there when he wrote Zorba the Greek. For those with cabin fever, or without a novel to finish, you can easily leave for day trips to Athens, the other Saronic islands and the Peloponnese.
Aegina is a fertile and verdant island, full of pines and olives, small villages, and a few good public beaches. The island has been famed for its pistachios since antiquity and offers a wide range of them served in all imaginable ways. It boasts one of the Aegean’s finest archaeological monuments; the beautiful Temple of Aphaia. During Classical times, the island was a major power in competition with Athens who, attacked in 459 BC, ddestrying Aegina’s fleet and ending its glory days.
The nearest airport is Athens International Airport. From there, you can take a taxi to the Port of Piraeus. From Piraeus, the Flying Dolphin takes 40 minutes and in the summer time they run every half hour.
Best forEasy access from Athens, yacht-spotting, (the big ones stop here), sightseeing in Athens, on the Peloponnese and neighbouring islands, and a varied programme of folklore, classical Greece, and contemporary buzz.
Worst forWeekends are BUSY and beaches are full and few.
Would SuitGroups of active friends, and families with a few restless types who hate being cooped up on one island – the museums and other glories of Athens are just one hour way, while Attica, the archeological sites of the Peloponnese and the other Saronic islands are all within easy reach.
Would Not SuitThose wanting a Robinson Crusoe idyll with deserted coastlines, quiet beaches and no people around. The beaches are few and mostly very public.
Don't MissThe temple of Aphaia.
Aegina is a favourite island for many Athenians and in the last few years, several really chic shops have sprung up mostly around the harbour area of Aegina Town. Aegina is particularly well known for its ceramics and two of Greece's most distinguished contemporary ceramicists, Theodora Xorafa and Margarita Eglisiarchou have their studios on the island.
ActivitiesIn addition to day trips to the neighboring islands of Poros or Hydra there are regular ferries, catamarans and water taxis that can take you the short 20 mins distance to Kosta or Porto Heli on the Peloponnese mainland. In high season, there is a ferry service to Ancient Epidavros each evening for the summer arts festival held at the ancient amphitheatre. The Peloponnese is where most of the major archaelogical sites are located and the beautiful Venetian town of Nafplion can be explored.
There are several sandy beaches on the island. Beach life can be simply enjoyed by finding a quiet spot for you, your towel and book. Otherwise, grab a bed with umbrella somewhere more organised where drinks and snacks can be delivered to you whilst you recline.
Take a ride on the horse drawn carriages, walk in the narrow, paved streets and see the traditional and Neo-classical houses, the churches with the blue domes and the shops with folk art. Aegina is also ideal for cycling.
Don't miss seeing the fish-market, the traditional restaurants that serve” mezes” with ouzo and the fishing boats, moored at the harbor that are turned into an outdoor green grocer, selling fruit and vegetables.
The clean, crystalline waters of Aegina are excellent for diving and dolphins are often sighted. Visit the Aegina Scuba Diving Club located in Aghia Marina