Getting around Aegina island

aegina-getting aroundIf you want to explore Aegina and getting around the island, car hire is not essential as frequent buses connect the west coast capital with the busy east coast resort of Agia Marina stopping at the island’s two main places of historic interest en route. Buses also run to the beach resorts of Perdika in the south west and Souvlava on the north coast. But you may wish to hire a car or moped for at least a day or two of your stay here so you can explore the island at leisure.

There are several offices behind the main waterfront in Aegina Town where you can rent a car, jeep, moped or mountain bike. Many hotels both in the capital and in Agia Marina also provide a vehicle rental service for guests. Prices depend on the model and condition of the vehicle as well as the duration of the rental period.

Your day’s exploration of the island might begin with a trip out towards Agia Marina, stopping half way along the route to admire the impressive bronze and white church of Agios Nektarios which is one of the biggest places of worship in the whole of Greece. It was built to honour a miracle-working hermit monk, Anastasios Kefalas, who died in 1920 and was canonised 41 years later (the first Greek Orthodox saint of the 20th century). A partly paved road nearby leads to the 17th century convent of Chryssonleondissa which is worth a visit for its spectacular views.

About kilometre further east along the road from Agios Nektarios you’ll find the medieval ghost town of Paleohora, built on a hilltop in the 9th century as a refuge for islanders plagued by marauding pirates. The town was the island capital until 1826 but was abandoned after Greece gained independence from the Turks and has been deserted every since. About 20 of the town’s original 365 monasteries and churches (one for each day of the year) remain in tact and a couple retain some remarkably well preserved frescoes.

Aphaia-temple-aeginaAegina’s star attraction, the 5th century BC Temple of Aphaia, is perched on a pine-covered hilltop two kilometres above Agia Marina. The temple pre-dates the Parthenon and is one of the best-preserved ancient temples in the whole of Greece. Bring some binoculars and you’ll be able to see the Parthenon in Athens from the temple ruins which, somewhat miraculously, include 25 of the original 32 columns.

Take the road leading south west from Agia Marina to the small holiday hamlet of Portes then head west into the island’s interior passing through the villages of Anitseou and Pahia Rahi. If you’re feeling fit, abandon your vehicle at the road’s highest point and make the one-hour hike to the 532-metre summit of Mount Oros, the island’s highest peak. You’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the whole of the island and the Saronic Gulf.

At Pahia Rahi you can visit the Hellenic Wildlife Rehabilitation centre where all kinds of wounded birds and mammals, including eagles, owls, bears and jackals, are brought for treatment from all over Greece. The stricken creatures are victims of various horrendous human habits such as illegal hunting, pesticides and poisonous bait.

Take the steep winding road down to the west coast resort of Marathonas and from there you can follow the coast road down to the picturesque fishing village of Perdika – one of the best places on the island to enjoy a leisurely fresh fish lunch or dinner at a peaceful waterfront taverna.