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Aegina island Greece

aegina townAegina is one of the islands in the Saronic Gulf, just outside Athens Greece. Many Athenians have summerhouses on this pretty island, and it is a perfect destination for those who want a nice holiday by the sea and also do a bit of sightseeing.
The people of this island have always been involved with the sea: either as fishermen, sailors or shipbuilders. Some are also farmers, and they grow olives, pistachio nuts and fruit. The town of Aegina has many attractions, a ride through the town with a horse carriage is a nice experience and a good way to enjoy the sights of the capital.

The town has many interesting buildings and neoclassical houses, among them is the first Greek government building, the Orphanage building that was founded by the first governor of Greece Ioannis Kapodistrias, the houses of the Greek revolution leaders Kanaris and Kountouriotis and the houses of the Greek politicians Spyridon Trikoupis and Harilaos Trikoupis. On the dock you can visit the small white church of Agios Nikolaos and near by the church of Agios Dionysios the cathedral of Aegina.

On the north peak of the town following the road from the port are the ruins of the ancient temple of Apollo. Aegina is close to the port of Pireaus on the mainland. Visitors must arrive by boat but the journey is short (between 40 and 80 minutes depending on which boat) and an enjoyable part of your holiday experience. Enter into the bustling port of Aegina town and drink in the view: a moon crescent harbour with fishing boats, fruit filled caiques, and glamorous yachts jostling for position. Once on Aegina you can enjoy island life but easily leave for day trips to Athens, the Saronic islands ,  Agistri, Poros, Hydraand the Peloponnese.

History of Aegina

According to mythology, Aegina was a beautiful princess with whom Zeus fell in love with. In order to be alone with her, he took her to this uninhabited island, and they had a son, Aeacus, who became the first king.
The island was inhabited during the Stone Age, and was to become an important place in antiquity. An interesting fact about the island is that the first coins of the western world were made here in the 7th century BC.
When the Persian wars broke out in the 5th century BC, Aegina sided with them, probably because of its rivalry with Athens. The island changed sides though, and after the battle of Salamis it allied with Sparta. War broke out with Athens, and most of the islanders sought refuge on the Peloponnese.
During the middle ages, the island was constantly raided by pirates, and the Venetian and Turkish invasions took their toll. The island was liberated in 1830, and Aegina’s town was the first capital of free Greece. The first modern drachma was also minted here picturing a Phoenix rising from the ashes. The island also had the first newspaper and prison.

What to see in Aegina

aegina townThe villages and surroundings on Aegina are lovely, so it is well worth it to explore the island. Because of its important position in antiquity there are still many ancient sites to see, the most famous being the temple of Athena Aphaia from the 6th century BC.
 You can also visit the ancient sites on Mt. Oros, where the ruins of a temple to Zeus stand amongst others. Aegina’s town is very nice to walk around in, and here there is a very interesting archaeological museum. The monastery of Ag. Nektarios is a very interesting place to visit. The saint himself is buried here, and is said to hold miraculous, healing powers. Paleochora is an abandoned Byzantine town which can be visited as well. In Aegina also is the house where Nikos Kazantzakis the editor of Zorba the Greek  lived for some years. Worth seeing is the mansion that hosted the first government of Greece under the leadership of Ioannis Kapodistrias. In the town of Agia Marina you can visit the ancient temple of Aphaea near by there is a nice beach, Agia Marina is the only place of Aegina that attracts package tourism due to the vicinity of the Ancient temple and the developed tourist infrastructure. In Souvala 10 km from Aegina town there are the famous Spa of Souvala as well as nice beaches and many accommodations. Perdika is another picturesque town of Aegina where you will find nice small fish taverns next to the beach of Marathonas. Palaeochora is the old capital of Aegina here is the monastery of Agios Nektarios, in the area there are the ruins of a medieval

What to do

aeginaApart from relaxing on the beach, you can also take day trips to Athens and the surrounding islands. You can also rent a horse carriage to go around in Aegina town.The island of Agistri is the nearest to Aegina. The beautiful resort of Peloponnese Methana is only 20 minutes away by boat and further on is the green island of Poros, all ideal for daily excursions.

Those visitors who are excited by learning about history will not be disappointed by what Aegina has to offer. Indeed there are many excellent books available and a separate section on this website. The island has a special place in Greek mythology and history. The myth has it that the island tookits name from the most beautiful of the twenty daughters of Asopos, the river god, who eloped with Zeus to the then deserted island. In historical terms, there is evidence that the island was inhabited from as early as 3500 B.C.

The island enjoyed strong economic and social growth between around 900 B.C. and 480 B.C., including minting the first coins anywhere in Greece during the 7th. Century B.C. In more modern times, Aegina was briefly the first capital of modern Greece from 1827 – 1829.
Arguably one of the main attractions of Aegina is that it is a real living and working island.

Thankfully not a victim of mass tourism, Aegina is the perfect destination for the independent traveller who yearns to experience some reality of the country she is visiting. Those who are well travelled in Greece will note that Aegina is not as “manicured” as some islands popular with foreign tourists. It hosts mainly Greek weekend visitors. This simply adds to the charm. Populair sites to visit are: the temple of Aphaia and the church of Agios Nektarios.

Aegina Beaches

The beaches on Aegina are very nice. Agia Marina is probably the most popular one, since it is long and sandy. It is also suitable for children. Other beaches you can find on Marathonas ,Suvala, Vagia and Perdika. In Kypseli you can swim at the beaches of Kavouropetra and Leonti. But also in the town of Aegina there are some quite nice beaches. One towards the temple of Apollo and the others towards the other side of the town.

Portes beach Aegina
The tiny sea port of Portes lies on the east coast of Aegina. Reached along the coast road south of Agia Marina, Portes perches rather dramatically over the sea with a long beach of steeply banked stone and shingle.
A little way inland is the Ekpaz Wildlife Sanctuary which has around 5,000 animals and birds. Entry is free and visitors get guided tours throughout the day. The sanctuary has a small souvenir shop where a donation can aid the excellent work going

Vagia beach Aegina
Vagia, is a small port located about four kilometres east of Souvala. It has a small sand and shingle beach and a couple of old-style traditional tavernas.
In the centre of the resort are more tavernas and a cafe. Having missed out on the tourist explosion of the main Aegina resorts, Vayia has the relaxed air of a bygone age.
Eastwards, along a coastal path, are isolated coves while the neighbouring village of Agius, smothered in pines, is noted for its water jug pottery and for the church of the Apostle Crispus.

Agia Marina

Agia Marina is the busiest and biggest beach resort on the island with a long, wide sandy beach that’s gently shelving, so it’s ideal for families with children, and with every sort of tourist facility including a bewildering array of watersports.
It’s popularity has left it’s mark with ranks of hotels behind the beach robbing the resort of any charm it might once have had while sun loungers cover every scrap of sand along the busy shoreline.
Resort life centres around the busy beach and the streets leading to it. Tavernas, bars, shops and cafes are plentiful and weekending Athenians will pack the marina out with boats.
Steep wooded slopes lead to the Temple of Aphiaia, one of Aegina’s major attractions while the charming village of Alones, nestling in a deep green valley nearby, has scores of excellent tavernas
Pony traps ferry romantic diners to and from Agia Marina while other tavernas are a favourite for ‘Greek Night’ excursions.
Also nearby is the mountain village of Mesagros, much boosted by its proximity to the Temple of Aphiaia, and known both for its wild flowers, some unique to the area, and for its fine ceramics.
Mesagros visitors often head for the house of Rodakis, a fine example of 1880s architecture and in very good condition.

Souvala Aegina
Souvala was once a busier trading harbour than Aegina Town but the explosion in tourism left it trailing behind. Its workaday past is reflected in some drab industrial buildings and a general utilitarian air but Souvala still has some charm and a small, if unremarkable, beach of coarse sand and shingle.
Souvala is mainly a holiday village for Greeks and its crammed with flats and small houses, many of them second homes for rich Athenians – this being the nearest port to the mainland.
There’s a good range of tavernas around the harbour where the bright lights of Piraeus can be seen on a clear night. Souvala is also well known for a health spa that attracts sufferers of rheumatism and those with skin disorders.

Kipseli village Aegina

In the midst of the pistachio and olive groves of north-west Aegina is the attractive village of Kipseli with a fine central square and traditional two-storey homes.
The name Kipseli means ‘beehive’ and local tales have it that the village was renamed following protest over at the former village name of Halameni which meant ‘ruined’.
Kipseli is at the heart of the most prosperous area of the island with extensive orchards and farms stretching over the green plain. The village is noted for its huge number of chapels, another reflection of the area’s great wealth in times gone by.

Nightlife in Aegina

At Aegina town you’ll find many little bars and club. The venues are both Greek and foreign, and you can choose between quiet, atmospheric places or more hectic ones. If you want to drink your coffee in Souvala, then take a walk through the relatively new store “Anasa”, which even has a floor for frantic clubbing.
In Agia Marina on the other hand, it is impossible not to pass by the “Lighthouse”, where you can sit by the sea and enjoy the sun.
Respectively, the cafe  Liotrivi  in Perdika is next to the beach and stays open from morning until late at night offering coffee, drinks and snacks. In Perdika, however, is the Music, a place where you will drink your coffee on the white balcony overlooking the Saronic Gulf, while at night it offers perfect cocktails. 

What to see in Aegina

aegina sightsNear the port is the first museum of Greece, built in 1829, in the area where the archaic temple of Apollo was located. There stands out the famous Column, which is located in a place that offers a unique view against the backdrop of the clear blue sky that blends with the sea. Also plan a visit to the Sanctuary of Aphaia, a truly impressive monument that attracts many visitors and will strongly remind you of the Parthenon. Even more are those you will encounter in the church and the monastery of Agios Nektarios, imposing architecture buildings both. Near the monastery begins one of the paths that lead to Paleochora. During a one-hour hike on a walking route, you will have the opportunity to see  some of the 365 churches that were built in the medieval capital of the island, which was built on a hill to be protected from pirate raids.

Food

There are both international and Greek restaurants in Aegina town. In the little fishing villages you can also have really nice meal, and the seafood is excellent. Tips: Just behind the fish market of Aegina town located some very nice and cheap restaurants, at the Restaurant Agora you can enjoy fresh fish especially Gavros and Cod fish (Bakaliarakia) , the small fried fresh shrimps are excellent mezes for ouzo or retsina.

Shopping

Aegina is best known for its ceramics, but you can also find many shops with jewellery, clothes and textiles. Try to get some local pistachio nuts with you. Aegina use to be a commercial passage between the islands of the Saronic gulf and Piraeus. In the promenade of the town many commercial boats (Kaiques) used to dock sailing fruits and several products. Even today you can see some of them among the fishing boats along the dock.

Getting Around

There is a local bus that can take you across the island, as well as taxis and vehicles for rent. Small boats go to some of the beaches as well. In the town you can go around the small streets and explore the hidden attractions like the market place and the small shops all the way along the pedestrian market street. Near by the fish market you will find many taverns, restaurants and cafeterias.
Getting There :Aegina is only an hour boat trip from Piraeus, and 30 minutes with the hydrofoil. Therefore, its best to get a flight to Athens. Aegina is also connected to the other Saronic islands, as well as to the Cyclades, since many of the ferryboats Catamarans and hydrofoils continue there. Daily ferry connection to Aegina from the port of Piraeus at Akti Tzelepi