Home Destination Guides Accommodation 27th January 2020



   Lovely Aegina is the perfect antidote to the bustling city centre of Athens. Located only 16 miles (20 Kilometres) south west of the capital, in the Saronic Gulf, Aegina’s close proximity and easy access to Athens, its good sandy beaches and attractive main town have resulted in the island becoming extremely popular. It does become very busy during the peak summer months, but July and August aside, Aegina retains a peaceful atmosphere and is a good choice for those wishing to combine sightseeing in Athens with the relaxed ambience of a Greek island atmosphere.
    The island interior is scenic with pine clad foothills rising to a peak of 532 metres above sea level at Mount Oros, and Aegina is well known for its prolific pistachio trees, producing more pistachio nuts than anywhere else in Greece.
     In the 5th Century Aegina was a very powerful island and was the first Greek island to issue its own currency.  However, Aegina took on more than it could handle when it tried to compete with Athens to become the regional capital and with Athens inevitably winning the struggle, the local people returned their concentration to their nut orchards.
     The main town and port is Aegina Town, located on the west of the island. The waterfront is the focal point and comprises of three sections; to the north is the ancient Trireme harbour – named after ancient vessels powered by tiers of oars, in the centre is the ferry quay for the larger ferries, and to the south is the old harbour where hydrofoils, catamarans, private yachts and local caiques all rub shoulders.  This attractive waterfront is flanked by tavernas, cafes, souvenir shops and old merchant’s houses, many of which have been carefully restored and have consequently retained their elegant neo-classical architecture.  Opposite the quay where the ferries dock, there is a horse and carriage stand, ready to whisk sightseers around the town at a leisurely pace. Alternatively, a short walk toward the ancient trireme harbour brings you to the local bus station. There is a good local bus service operating along the northern coast to the island’s other town, Agia Marina. Taxis are also available.
     The southern section of the waterfront is full of character. The local caiques offer a grocery service, their boats full of fruit and vegetables and a fresh fish market is tucked away in a small side street near the quay. Wandering away from the quayside, through the small streets, the town is relatively unspoilt and has good facilities.  In addition to the usual shops there is a cathedral, bank(s), doctor(s), a medical centre and a hospital, as well as some very interesting archaeological sites.
      Behind the ancient harbour on the northern outskirts of town lies the site of Aegina’s ancient acropolis, at the Hill of Kolona.  This would have been a magnificent sight in ancient times but the Athenians destroyed most of the acropolis, leaving only the foundations and a single Doric column, dating from the 6th Century BC, which was once one of many supporting the Temple of Apollo.  It is from this solitary pillar that the site takes its name of Kolona, the Greek for column.  If the ruins don’t tempt you to this site, maybe the views will.  There are great panoramic views across the Saronic Gulf, over Aegina town and to the lovely beaches further north.  Next to the ruins, on the site of the ancient theatre, is an interesting Archaeological Museum, which has on show some of the first coins minted by Aegina and is home to the Aegina Sphynx, made in the 6th Century BC. Another site well worth visiting is Markello’s Tower, in the centre of town.  Built in the early 1800’s it was the former home of the first Greek Governor, and is now used as a local art exhibition centre.
     However, the jewel in Aegina’s archaeological crown is the superb site of the Temple of Aphaia, which dates from the 5th Century BC and is one of the best preserved Temples of its kind in Greece.  The Goddess Aphaia was one of Zeus’s not-so-well-known daughters and her Temple sits on a pine clad hillside overlooking the tourist town of Agia Marina (a 2 kilometres walk up a dirt track and some 10 kilometres from Aegina town).  This wonderful Temple has some unique features with a rarely seen inner colonnade and a mix of architecture spanning both Archaic and Classical periods, making it a very popular site which is quite busy in high season.  Unfortunately, like the Parthenon, the Temple of Aphaia has suffered the loss of some of its beautiful sculptures, which were removed and taken to Germany.  When visiting the site, good walking shoes, a sun hat and bottled water are recommended.
    Another important temple on Aegina is the Temple of Zeus, situated on top of Mount Oros and reached by a mountain footpath.  This is not such a dramatic site as Aphaia however, as only the foundations remain in tact.
     Located on the eastern coast, Agia Marina is the tourist hot spot on the island, sitting on a pretty bay with a backdrop of the island’s aromatic pines.  There is a good, long sandy beach with crystal clear waters, and a varied choice of shops, tavernas, restaurants and bars.  Being a popular tourist resort Agia Marina has quite a lively nightlife, with a selection of bars and discos staying open well into the night.  The resort also has its own small port where passenger ferries arrive direct from the Athens port of Pireaus.  Agia Marina is the closest town to the Temple of Aphaia and draws day-trippers from the mainland that specifically wish to visit the site.
     Along the bus route on the north coast, between Aegina town and Agia Marina, is the small resort of Souvala, which has a nice beach and a small port.  Souvala is known for its warm sulphur springs that are reputed to be beneficial for a series of ailments.
     On the south western tip of Aegina is the attractive, unspoilt fishing village of Perdika.  From here, there are boat trips to the lovely offshore islet of Moni, where the pine trees meet the sea and peace and quiet reign supreme. 
Aegina does not have an airport and the only way to visit the island is by boat or hydrofoil from the Athens port of Piraeus, or possibly Methana on the Pelopennese coast.  Package holidays are available from only a few Greek specialist tour companies with charter flights to Athens, onward travel to Pireaus and ferry to Aegina.  Ferries take approximately 1 hour 10 minutes from Pireaus to Aegina.  Alternatively there are many low cost airlines as well as scheduled airlines flying to Athens.  Taxis are readily available at Athens airport to take you to Piraeus, journey time anything from 30 minutes upward depending on traffic.  Taxi prices are metered, so check that the driver sets the ‘meter’ when leaving the airport.  There are ferries and hydrofoils running daily services throughout the year if you wish to do-it-yourself or spend more than a day on the island.  For those having a holiday based in the Athens area, tour boats run every day from Piraeus throughout the summer, perfect for those wishing to spend the day in Aegina and return  to the mainland in the evening.  However it is wise to book your return ticket as soon as you arrive on Aegina, as the ferries can become fully booked.   From central Athens there are buses and the new underground (metro) to Piraeus, as well as taxis.     For those seeking to island hop around the Saronic Gulf, there are daily ferries and hydrofoils from Aegina to the other Saronic islands of Hydra, Spetses and Poros.
The foregoing information was last reviewed in November 2006. Things change, and whilst we are often travelling in Greece we do rely to some extent upon others to provide updates in order to keep the site as current and accurate as possible!  If you have updates or information that you think should be included here, please   email the webmaster@aguide2greece.com - thank you.


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