Aegina Greece
ATTICA ISLANDS: Airview of the town of Aegina, Greece (Credit: C messier, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Aegina the Saronic island full of unique charms

Stunning temples, major churches, amazing beaches, PDO-awarded pistachios and a stone’s throw away from Attica


Located southwest of Piraeus, in the heart of the Saronic Gulf, Aegina, is one of the most popular islands for a quick getaway, thanks to its proximity to Athens, the Greek capital. The Saronic island, known for its prestigious ancient sites and PDO pistachios, offers plenty of delights to reward even longer stays. Mingle with weekending Athenians and laid-back locals all year round as Aegina is perhaps the most suited to being visited at any time of year.

According to Greek mythology, Aegina got its name from the daughter of the god of the river Asopus. Her son, Aeacus, whose father was Zeus, was born on the island and became its king. Historically, Aegina has been inhabited since at least the Minoan era. In ancient times, its port was important for trade, while from 1827 until 1829 the island was briefly the seat of government of the newly independent Greek state. It was during that period when Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias oversaw elegant neoclassical building projects that still stand today, which are well worth a visit.

The small island boasts a big number of attractions: from archaeological monuments to Byzantine churches to picturesque villages and rare natural beauty, idyllic landscapes and gorgeous beaches.

The Temple of Aphaea
The Temple of Aphaea (Credit: Mister No, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Explore ancient monuments 

The island’s highlight is the splendid 500 BC Temple of Aphaia dedicated to its namesake, a mother-goddess who was later associated with Athena. It forms in fact an equilateral triangle with the Parthenon in Athens and the Temple of Poseidon at Sounio, the so-called “holy triangle” of the antiquity. The Temple of Aphaia stands on a c. 160 m peak on the eastern side of the island approximately 13 km east by road from the main port.

Colour depiction of the Temple of Aphaia (Credit: Cedric B. assumed (based on copyright claims)., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Located at a short distance from the port, is the Temple of Apollo (also known as Kolona -which means “pillar”- after its one standing column of Doric type), dating from the 6th century BC, making it even older than the Parthenon in Athens. Mount Kolonas was a religious centre of the ancient town.

Temple of Ellanios Zeus: Standing on Mt. Ellanion (532m), the highest mountain on the island, the temple dedicated to Zeus, is the oldest temple in Europe (predating the Trojan War by three generations). Right next to the temple, there is the church of Agioi Taxiarxes.

Agios Nektarios Monastery (Credit: Ștefan Jurcă from Paris, France, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Visit old monasteries

Located 6 km from the centre of Aegina Town, the Monastery of Agios Nektarios, is one of the largest Monasteries of Greece and one of the largest orthodox churches in the Balkans. Agios Nektarios of Aegina (1846-1920), one of the most widely known Greek Orthodox Saints, is a patron saint for people who are suffering from diseases such as cancer, heart trouble, joint pain, epilepsy, arthritis, etc. Agios Nektarios is also the Patron Saint of Aegina.

Palaiochora: Also known as the “Mystras of Aegina”, after the fortified town in the Peloponnese, Paleochora represents Aegina during Byzantine times. It once had 365 stone chapels -one for every day of the year. Discover the 38 that remain and admire their beautiful frescoes. Two incredible monasteries have also withstood the ravages of time.

Walk around Aegina town

The capital of Aegina on the western side of the island, is a colorful little town with traditional Greek architecture. Here you can find neoclassical buildings from the early 19th century, as well as a great selection of cafes, restaurants, traditional taverns and shops.

Charming little villages

On the outskirts of Aegina town you can find villages with distinctive traditional character, such as Agia Marina, Perdika, Souvala, Kypseli, Agii and Vagia. Don’t miss a visit to the “House of Kazantzakis”, the permanent residence of the world-renowned Greek author between 1936 and 1944, known as the “Cocoon”, located in the coastal area of Livadi.

Hit the beach

Beach in Aegina
Beach in Aegina island, Greece (Credit: Sergio Fernandes on Pixabay)

Aegina has a variety of beaches, some are cosmopolitan, some more secluded and unspoiled. Agia Marina (sandy and well-organized), Avra (near the port of Aegina with many seaside amenities), Souvala (gorgeous sandy shore), Aeginitissa (astonishing range of water sports), Klima Bay (family-friendly), Marathonas Beach (swallow waters), Vagia and Tourlos (in the north), Agios Vasilis (for wind or kite-surfing), Sarpa (tranquility and crystal-clear waters), Zenobia (serenity and privacy), you will sure find one to fascinate you.

Agia Marina beach, Aegina (Credit: C messier, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Tastes of Aegina

As Aegina is famous for its PDO-awarded pistachios, special traditional food of the island is roast lamb or goat with a pistachio crust.  Don’t leave without trying pistachios in the form of spoon sweet (a traditional preserve), pasteli (traditional honey and sesame bar), ice cream and more. The Aegina Fistiki Fest, where the island’s pistachio producers sell their products directly, is the perfect opportunity to experience the island at its best in September.

Aigina PDO pistachios (Credit: akirEVarga on Pixabay)

What to buy

Aegina has long been recognized as a major production centre of a variety of widely exported ceramic containers not only in the relatively recent past but also in Classical antiquity and especially during the Middle and Late Bronze Age. Its ceramic ware was renowned throughout the ancient world for their unique ability to keep water cool.

How do you get to Aegina?

There are many daily ferry crossings from the port of Piraeus to Aegina all year round, all day long. The Athens – Aegina connection is usually operated by 4 ferry companies: Anes Ferries, Blue Star Ferries, Aegean Flying Dolphins, and Saronic Ferries. The final ticket cost depends on the type of vessel (conventional or high-speed), discounts, offers, seat type, and vehicle selection.