Aegina

The island escape one hop from Athens
Aegina is a small and charming island in the Saronic Gulf
Scroll
Today
27°
WED
25°
THU
25°
FRI
25°
SAT
26°
Thrace region-id="pin-13";Macedonia Macedonia Epirus Thessaly Sporades Ionian Islands Western Greece Central Greece Attica Peloponnese Crete Cyclades North Aegean Islands Dodecanese Dodecanese Karpathos Astypalea Tilos Sitia Faistos - Matala Patmos Kastelorizo Kasos Kos Leros Halki Rhodes Symi Sfakia - Loutro Rethymno Elounda - Agios Nikolaos Agia Galini Plakias Hersonissos - Malia Ierapetra Heraklion Chania Nisyros Ikaria Lipsi Tzia - Kea Thasos Samos Lesvos Samothrace Limnos Chios Kalymnos Paros Naxos Zante - Zakynthos Lefkada Corfu Santorini Milos Kythnos Kimolos Serifos Syros Sifnos Koufonisia Ios Kefalonia Mykonos Paxi Ithaca Arta Ioannina Tinos Parga - Sivota Metsovo Anafi Sikinos Folegandros Donousa - Iraklia - Schinoussa Antiparos Zagori Mountainous Arkadia Porto Heli - Ermioni Preveza Amorgos Andros Delos Messolongi Ancient Olympia Aegina Kythira Archea Epidavros Patra Nafplio Kardamyli Kalamata Ilia Corinth Western Messinia Kalavryta Elafonissos Nafpaktos Spetses Poros Hydra Alexandroupolis Pylos Mycenae Monemvasia Loutraki Piraeus Athens Arahova Xanthi Galaxidi Mystra - Sparta Mani Edipsos Delphi Chalkida Karystos Evia Skyros Vergina Alonissos Volos Karditsa Skopelos Skiathos Kastoria Thessaloniki Prespes Agios Athanasios Edessa Serres Veria Larissa - Tempi Elati - Pertouli Trikala Pelion Meteora Drama Ammouliani Mount Athos - Ouranopolis Nymfeo Mount Olympos Katerini Halkidiki Grevena Lake Kerkini Naoussa Kozani Kilkis Kavala Pella Lake Plastira
So near to the mainland and yet so far, Aegina offers an unexpected island escape all year round

small and charming island in the Saronic Gulf, Aegina will give you a taste of all the other Greek islands – and yet is only an hour from Athens by ferry. Its long summers and mild winters and proximity to the mainland make it a year-long holiday destination. You’ll find antiquities and traditional tavernas, a port town with a 19th-century atmosphere, beaches, deserted Byzantine chapels, pine-clad hills, acres of pistachio orchards and mounds of freshly roasted pistachios. Visit Perdika and you could be in a Cycladic village; or the Temple of Aphaia and you’ll discover one of Greece’s most memorable sanctuaries.

What to do in Aegina

A retro ride around Aegina’s town

First, you should explore the old town. But before you set off, don’t forget to buy a bag of those pistachios. If you’re feeling romantic or just a little laid-back, you can take a tour in a horse-drawn carriage and be transported instantly back to the 19th century. You’ll pass the dazzling white chapel of Agios Nikolaos and brightly painted fishing caiques, some of which double as floating greengrocers, and the fish market with almost as many tavernas as stalls. Make sure you come back here to sample the seafood with a glass of ouzo.

Here and there stand imposing neoclassical buildings and monuments, vestiges from the early post-independence days when Ioannis Kapodistrias, the country’s first governor, made Aegina its first capital (for a year before Nafplio took over). Venturing into the sidestreets, you’ll find cafes in shaded courtyards, galleries and shops selling hand-painted ceramics, clothes and various knick-knacks.

The power of Ancient Greece

On your trip to Aegina, you’ll come across the well-preserved columns of the Temple of Aphaia, predating the Parthenon. Rising out of a pine forest above the bay of Agia Marina, the peaceful setting invites you to sit and ponder the ancient triangle connecting this temple with the Temple of Poseidon at Sounio and the Parthenon – a symbol of the mighty embrace of Athens perhaps? 

Paleahora: A stroll through medieval Aegina

For a glimpse of a more recent era, a stroll along the steep hillside of Paleohora will take you back to Byzantine Aegina. This was the island’s capital, where the islanders moved to be out of sight of pirates. All that's left are the remnants many of its 38 stone chapels. As you explore them, you’ll find yourself scrambling to the top of the hill to see the twin chapel of Saints George and Demetrius where the medieval fortress once stood. The hike is especially delightful in spring when wildflowers carpet the slope.

Agios Nektarios: A place of pilgrimage

Orthodox Christians come from all over to visit the church of Agios Nektarios to honour Greece’s first modern saint. His body, which is considered to have miraculous powers, is interred in the monastery (also called Agios Nektarios), which you can also visit, just next door.

A trip to Perdika

You should definitely make time to visit the little fishing port of Perdika, which is on the southwest coast of Aegina but you’ll think you’ve reached the Cyclades: whitewashed houses, flower-lined steps, fish tavernas just like in the postcards. The best way to get there is by hiring a bike and cycling down the coast. And just opposite Perdika is the little island of Moni (famous for its emerald waters and collection of protected animals, such as peacocks and deer). There are boats that do the 10min crossing to Perdika throughout the day. (Alternatively, you can catch a boat to Moni from Aegina’s main port.)

Hidden gems of Aegina

The floating greengrocers

Even if you don’t want to buy anything, it will be a feast for your eyes. You won’t find fruit and vegetable sellers like these anywhere else in Greece. 

The Christos Kapralos Museum

Just outside the main town, this old studio of one of Greece’s most famous sculptors, houses some of his best-known works and drawings. The bronze portrait of his mother looks out to sea opposite the house, where he summered from 1963 to 1991. And very close by is the one-time home of renowned author Nikos Kazantzakis (of Zorba the Greek fame).  

The archaeological site of Kolona

The sounds and aromas of the Aegean wafted over one of the most important prehistoric settlements in Greece for thousands of years. Today, only the remains exist as at the end of the 6th century BC, the hill was transformed into a sanctuary and a Doric temple dedicated to Apollo came to dominate the site. The monolithic column that formed part of the temple was a familiar landmark for Venetian sailors, who named the area Colonna.

  • A retro ride around Aegina’s town
  • The Temple of Aphaia
  • The Monastery of Agios Nektarios
  • The floating greengrocers
  • A trip to Perdika
  • The archaeological site of Kolona
Highlights

Plan your trip

 

Travel ideas

Shining the light on stories
Spetses the Argosaronic island of captains

7 popular sailing destinations near Athens

The islands of the Argosaronic Gulf are ever-popular with sailors, primarily because they are so close to Athens.
Head up the pedestrianised street of Dyonisiou Areopagitou

The 7 most popular experiences in Athens

The Acropolis, Ancient Agora, Plaka, Anafiotika, Monastiraki… The famous ‘historic triangle’ of Athens is full of surprises.
Aerial-view-of-Parthenon-and-Acropolis-in-Athens

How to spend 72 hours in Athens

Spending three days in Athens will never be enough, but if you know where to look you’ll discover a city you never imagined