Once upon a time, as was woven in the rich tapestry of ancient Greek mythology, the river-god Asopus was blessed with not one, but twenty breathtakingly beautiful daughters! So gorgeous these legendary nymphs were, they soon attracted the attention of the gods and were swept away in the arms of the Olympians. One of those sought-after beauties even caught the wandering eye of the father of the gods, Zeus, himself, who fought with thunderbolts to keep her at his side. Aegina was her name and her namesake island today reflects her beauty, charm and mystical allure…
It seems quite fitting that this small island, just an hour away from the Athenian capital, is just as popular and beloved a destination for locals on weekend-getaways as it is a Saronic beacon of attraction for visitors from near and afar. An exquisite recipe for historical importance, traditional beauty, wonderful locales and sights to discover, this shining gem, nestled in the clear blue waters of the Greek seas, completes the perfect island-hopping trifecta along with other exclusive islands, such as Hydra and Poros.
Boasting a beautiful waterfront lined with cozy cafes and restaurants, Aegina welcomes you with open arms so don’t hesitate. Pull out a chair in one of the many small ouzo eateries that specialize in serving classic fish “mezes” delicacies and enjoy yourselves. Keep an eye out for the freshly caught octopuses hanging at the storefronts and make yourself at home.
Explore this unique tiny destination overflowing with tremendous historical importance and cultural heritage considering that Aegina Town even served as capital of the newly founded Greek state back in the day. Take a horse-carriage ride along the harbor or go for a stroll around the well-preserved neoclassical mansions which once housed the headquarters of the first administrator of free modern Greece, Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias,
More than half the island was created by a now extinct volcano while its beautiful rich plains provide the locals with grain, vines, almonds and figs. In fact, Aegina is renowned for its production of delicious pistachios. Locals harvest them passionately and visitors always opt for souvenir baggies of the famous nut. They even hold a whole celebration dedicated to it in mid-September, called the Fistiki Festival, which attracts thousands of visitors annually. So while you’re there, don’t skip on visiting any of the many small local stores and giving some of these famous roasted pistachios a go
Treading through the main town, you’ll also come across the Markellos Tower, dating back to the War of Independence, which now houses the Kapodistrias Cultural Center. Its imposing pink facade is sure to catch your eye.
At a walking distance from the port, you will discover the Doric temple of Apollo, also known as Kolona (column) since a single remnant column juts out and marks the spot. Built in 520 BC, it was heavily damaged in the 4th century AD along with many other temples and monuments, as they were all considered idolatrous at the time. One of its preserved statues, depicting an impressive Sphinx, is housed in the neighboring Archaeological museum where you can also check out artifacts from the beautiful 500 BC temple of Aphaia and Neolitihic pottery in permanent display.
The great Doric temple of Aphaia, part of the sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Athena, completes the world famous Holy Triangle of temples along with the Parthenon and the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion. This is also known as the Sacred Triangle. Trace it on your map and be amazed! To add to the mystery and the myth dictating that these 3 temples are part of a grander plan, they were in fact built within a few years of each other…Archaeology enthusiasts often flock to the tiny island to explore the sight up close, speculating about what it could all mean.
Another popular attraction, drawing the crowds in, is the Church of Agios Nektarios (Saint Nektarios) and the Monastery of Agia Triada (The Holy Trinity). Saint Nektarios of Aegina is one of the most beloved saints of the Greek Church and people often visit the church to pray for healing and to ask for his blessing. A famous healer and hard worker, he was the one who built the Holy Trinity Monastery for women, overlooking the beautiful church. Nowadays, 14 nuns reside at the monastery and consider their home to be a “hospital for the soul”. Every year, on the 9th of November, the locals hold a huge celebration and procession in his honor and if you happen to be around, you can even attend night service and gaze upon the remains of the saint which are on display and carried around the streets of Aegina Town. The immense church, along with the saint’s marble tomb, features on the most prominent list of sites of religious interest to visit.
Sandy beaches, ideal for a cool swim in natural creeks, frame this Saronic jewel. From Agia Marina to Loutra, from Portes to Vrohia, there are countless options to choose from and visitors can take their pick among organized beaches with sun-beds and beach-bars to secluded ones, where they can enjoy the sun and beautiful sea in a more private setting. Why not even try the Souvala beach, known for its warm, therapeutic waters, or the pebbly Perdika beach, right off the traditional namesake village?
In the spring and autumn periods, locals and visitors also opt for hiking along the scores of charming footpaths which will lead you to the most picturesque chapels and settlements, sprinkled all over the island. You will find yourself, atop small hills gazing at unforgettable views of the surrounding sea.
Whether you are a history buff, a fun-loving seafood and ouzo lover, interested in sites of religious importance or looking forward to a cool swim or a memorable hilltop photo op, Aegina has got you covered!
Do not miss the chance to visit Aegina with our one day cruise to Aegina, Poros and Hydra