Greece has 227 inhabited islands. Of these, just a handful are close enough to Athens to visit on a day trip, via either ferry or flying dolphin (a type of hydrofoil). These islands are a perfect place for visitors to unwind for the day on a sandy beach or stroll along cobbled streets, looking at mansions perched precariously on hilltops overlooking the sea. Compared to your stay in the bustling city of Athens, a visit to a Greek island can be a relaxing change of pace.
Aegina is less geared to tourism than other Greek islands and attracts mainly Greek visitors, so it gives you a better opportunity to see what life on a Greek island is really like. Aegina’s harbor is a bustling place filled with water taxis, fishing boats and sailboats. As with the other islands, you will find plenty of restaurants and cafes; but these establishments do not cater to tourists and instead emphasize the taste of authentic Greek food. Aegina is most famous for its pistachios, considered by some the best in the world.
Popular spots to visit include the fifth-century Temple of Aphaia, which offers spectacular views of the island,the Monastery of Agios Nektarios, the patron saint of the island, and the Hellenic Wildlife Hospital, a rehabilitation centre for wild birds.For a change of pace, the AeginaWaterPark is just a five-minute drive away from Aegina town.
To make the Greek mythology short, Zeus, who was the father of gods, fell in love with the god Asopo’s daughter (he had 20 daughters!), who was of course very beautiful and her name was Aegina. Zeus kidnapped her and took her to the island of Oinoi. There, they had a son called Aiakos and the island was named after her. Aegina was also Achileas and Aiada’s hometown and they were both two of the most important heroes in the war of Troy. In historical terms, there is evidence that the island was inhabited from as early as 3500 B.C.
Prices include ferry tickets for car and driver only.
We deaprt in the morning from Athens catching the first ferry from the port of Pireaus. As the boat leaves the Port of Piraeus you can see the whole Attica Basin and the peaks of Parinitha, Penteli and Hymetus mountains. Within 10-15 minutes of departure you will be passing over the west coast of Salamina, where fleets of cargo and container ships lay in anchorage near and around the coast of Salamina waiting their turn to unload or load their goods from the commercial Port of Piraeus in Keratsini and Ikonio.
After only a further 5 minutes Salamina is left behind and, in the distance to the south, Aegina can already be seen across the glittering blue Saronic Gulf. When you enter the harbor, the small, white church of Saint Nikolas welcomes you (This tiny church can be your first stop after the hydrofoil docks and we enter into its beautifully painted interior). Your first impression is the modern type classical buildings, which are located along the sea front of the island and have earth tone colors which make them look even more beautiful at sunset.
Then you are free to walk in the narrow, paved streets and see the traditional houses, the churches with the blue domes and the shops with folk art. Don’t miss seeing the fish-market, the traditional restaurants that serve snacks with Ouzo (a Greek drink). Also the fishing boats, that are not only used for fishing but for sailing groceries as well.
You must try the world famous Aegina gourmet pistachio nuts, homemade rizogalo (rice pudding), marmalade and local cheese mizithra.The pistachios trees have been cultivated in Aegina since 1860. The ideal climate of the island and the unique soil composition lend exceptional flavor and aroma to the Aegina pistachio. This has distinguished it from other pistachios and earning well-deserved recognition as the finest pistachio in the world.
Also, you will find in Aegina picturesque houses, winding alleys, horse drawn carriages, fertile plains, olive trees, aquamarine waters and an abundance of wind flowers in the spring.
However, the most famous and interesting ancient monument of Aegina is the Temple of Athena Aphaea- situated in the centre of the island- which used to be among the most important religious centres in ancient Greece. The Temple of Aphaia, the ancient Aeginetan deity related to the Cretan Britomartis (Artemis), was built about 490B.C. Its Doric peripheral construction (having columns surrounding the building) of local gray limestone has been partially restored.
Alternative Tour Options:
There are so many other things to see in this area. Keep in mind that your driver is at your disposal, so if you would like to adjust the proposed itinerary at all, just let him know!
Comfortable clothing and sensible, flat-soled walking shoes are recommended. Sun glasses and sun screen are suggested.
Did you Know?
The Famous TV Chef Jamie Oliver visited the Greek island (Jamie does Athens), explored it and cooked all sorts of delicious food.
The Temple of Aphaia, the Acropolis of Athens and the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion geographically form an isosceles triangle known as ” the sacred triangle of antiquity”.