Aegina On a BudgetThe island of Aegina is one of the Saronic Islands of Greece located in the Saronic Gulf. It is named for the mother of the hero Aeacus, who was born on the island and eventually became its king. The legend goes that the god Zeus swept Aegina away from her husband to the island where her son was bornhence the island's name became Aegina.
Located just off of Greece's coast, about 27km south of Athens, the island can be reached by boat from Athens' port in Piraeus. With a countryside full of pistachio tree orchards, sweeping views of the sea, beaches to swim on, archaeological ruins to explore, and plenty of hotels and restaurants to choose from, Aegina has a world of things to do to occupy your visit.
SightsAs with most of Greece, some of the most significant sights on Aegina, are the archaeological ruins. The Temple of Afea in northeastern Aegina is one of the oldest of Greek Doric temples, existing from 570 to 510 BC. Many believe that the temple forms an isosceles triangle with the Parthenon and the temple at Sounio, and on a very clear day you may even be able to see the other two from a distance. Another popular sight on the island is the Hill of Kolona and its accompanying museum. Located Just north of Aegina town, the hill has one single column (kolona in Greek), which stands as the last remnant of a Doric Temple of Apollo. The rest had been torn down in the 4th Century AD because they were deemed idolatrous. The Archaeological Museum of Aegina has a fine collection of artifacts to explore as well, including one particular vessel with scenes painted from the story of Odysseus and the Cyclopes.
Another beautiful site on Aegina is the church and monastery, Agios Nektarios. Located just a few miles from port, the place was built for the most recent Greek Orthodox saint, Agios Nektarios. The monastery is visited by the masses every year, many of them seeking help from this miracle-working saint, who died in 1920. Near the church is a complex of buildings which include chapels, a small gift shop, the old house in which the holy man lived, and the monastery inhabited by a community of nuns who tend to the needs of those who come to seek spiritual solace and healing.
NeighborhoodsThe town of Aegina is lined with shops and restaurants that cater to visitors who come into port. While the waterfront is lined with bustling activity, a walk down Aegina's alleyways will prove all the livelier. Every corner, every bend has a quaint shop full of seaside knick-knacks and postcards, a restaurant hidden in a cove of grapevines, or a hotel painted white with blue shutters in the traditional Greek colors. Horse drawn carriages, a port full of sailboats, and a sunset on glimmering waters all add to the timeless feel of the seaside town.
ActivitiesIn addition to the archaeological sites and museums, the island of Aegina has much to explore. If you prefer a nice relaxing day in the sun with a refreshing dip in the sparkling waters of the sea, maybe you'd like to spend your time on Aegina beach hopping. There are over 20 beaches that span the coastline of the island and each is perfect in its own way. If you prefer to be closer to the amenities of the town you may want to find a spot on the Aegina Panagitsa or Aegina Avra Beaches. Aegina Kolona is just a bit further, but there are so many others that you may have to rent a scooter to reach. You may find some gems, peaceful and secluded in your own little cove.
Other activities include horseback riding, bike tours, one day cruises out on the water, or even a day trip to the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus where it is possible to see a theatre play in the summer months.
Food and DiningWhen visiting an island like Aegina you cannot pass on the seafood. With a fish market of its own, the island serves fresh catches every day of the week. Once you have had a plate of fried calamari in Greece, you will not be able to go back. The textures and flavors of the dishes as you savor each bite will come to life in your mouth while you bask in the sea breeze of the waters around you. Just about any restaurant on the main stretch of town will offer some unbeatable food, but do not pass up the opportunity to discover some of the hidden gems off the beaten paths. In the winding alleys at the center of town you may stumble upon a romantic taverna, draped in greenery, with a native cat or two looking to be your new friend.
TransportationAegina can be reached from the Athens port of Piraeus by boat or ferry, which can cost anywhere from 8 to 14 euros, depending on the speed of the boat. A regular ferry will take between 60-90 minutes, while the speedier Flying Dolphins by Hellenic Seaways will take only 40 minutes.
Once you have arrived on the island, the most popular modes of transportation are by bike, 4 wheelers, or bus (And of course horse-drawn carriage!). Most information on transportation can be found by asking around when in port at Aegina.