The 2020 Aegina Travel Guide
Hello all, and welcome to this extended Aegina island review.
What you will get here:
My goal is to provide a detailed description of the island with local tips and suggestions for you to use on your next Aegina vacations.
Also, I have done my best to answer questions as to what Aegina is famous for, why visit Aegina and Aegina activities.
Aegina has a special place in my heart.
You see, my father was born on Aegina island, and I have spent most of my childhood summers on the island.
Besides, I am also living here at the time of writing, which is during the Coronavirus lockdown in April 2020.
Now, get ready to read about the inside out of this astonishing island that, surprisingly, does not receive the attention it deserves; God bless.
How big is Aegina?
The island of Aegina is the most popular of the seven Argo-Saronic islands; the first island group one reaches when setting sail from the port of Athens, Piraeus.
So, how big is Aegina?
With a surface of 87.4 km2 (about 33.75 sq mi) and approximately 10,000 full-time residents, it’s an average-sized island for Greek standards.
What is Aegina known for?
The above, combined with the shortest distance to Athens compared to all other islands, make Aegina a comfortable winner for day trips from Athens as well as short vacations.
However, the lack of really stunning beaches is the main reason some people, including many Greeks, do not recognize the island for its significant advantages.
Nevertheless, Aegina does have a plethora of acceptable beaches, and it has another yet advantage: The proximity to islets with stunning waters that can be easily reached by boat.
In this post, I want to tell you about Aeginas many beauties.
So, let’s dive in and get down to the nitty-gritty of what Aegina has to offer.
Well, let me start by telling you that you will be more than busy visiting and seeing all that the island has to offer.
Here is a shortlist, click on the headings or read further down for more details on each.
Jump to this interactive map.
- The “hora” town of Aegina – is a real beauty that has remained mostly intact throughout the centuries. Its classical architecture, picturesque port, charming fishing boats as well as alleys, restaurants and monuments will keep you busy for half a day at least;
- Temple of Aphaia – A truly astonishing temple, well preserved and open to the crowds. Very similar to the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens, it’s a must-visit;
- Palaiochora, the medieval city of 300+ chapels – Immerse in this easy trail with a lot of history;
- Eleonas – submerge in the scenery from an ancient era and touch, look and feel olive trees 2,000-2,500 years old;
- The hill of Kolona – An archaeological site walking distance from the town with a museum and a close-by beach;
- Perdika fishing village – An ideal destination to escape the crowds;
- Monastery and the byzantine church of St. Nektarios – Pilgrimage destination for all orthodox population of the Balkans and beyond;
- Monastery of Chrysoleontissa – A truly secluded, sacred environment full of unique history and natural beauty;
- Agistri island with crystal clear waters;
- Moni islet for a relaxing day trip;
- Pachia Rachi – a stone-village from another world;
- Oros mountain for hiking – the highest point of the island offering the best views of the Saronic gulf;
- Anitseo – The highest located village with stunning views and food;
- Philippos olive oil producer – get a tour at the island’s best virgin olive oil producer;
1. The town of Aegina
The town and port of Aegina are one of the most picturesque traditional sceneries that you can encounter on a Greek island.
It is well preserved from the time when Aegina served as the first capital of Greece after the independence of the country from the Ottoman empire in 1821.
The promenade is the place to be where, for the entire stretch of approx. 450m (1,476ft), you can find a mix of restaurants, cafes, gelaterias and jewelry stores.
Somewhere there in the middle lies the fish market, which I recommend strolling through.
Close to that and towards the south, lies my absolute favorite fish tavern, Skotadis.
One road back, inside the city, at a beautiful cobblestone narrow pedestrian street you will find more decoration stores, souvenirs, handcrafted art from local shops, more cafes and restaurants as well as bakeries.
Continue inland to will find a road where cars share the space with motorbikes and pedestrians.
Here you will find drug stores/pharmacies, bakeries, electronics stores, butcher stores, hairdressers, patisseries, and mini markets.
The city stretches for about 500m to each side of the promenade, and both sides offer lovely walks with the south side being best equipped with pedestrian stripes and nicer restaurants and cafes.
2. Temple of Aphaia
Undoubtedly I have placed this magnificent monument in the second position simply because it is an astonishing ancient site that fascinates me every single time I visit.
Majestically set on the top of a hill facing North to Athens and West to Cape Sounion, Aphaia temple will have you immerging in ancient Greece.
You will feel that you are walking on the steps of Socrates and Homer.
Built between 500 and 490 B.C., the temple was apparently devoted to Cretan Goddess Vritomartis, who was hiding from King Minos of Crete, ferociously in love with her.
Aphaia means vanished because Vritomartis finally disappeared after arriving in Aegina, and her statue was found at the position where the temple was later built.
You will find the temple about 12km (7.5mi) from Aegina port, inside a pine tree forest, towards the north-eastern town of of Ag. Marina.
3. Palaiochora, The Medieval city of 300+ chapels
Are you more of a discoverer?
Then head inland towards the medieval/Byzantine city of Palaiochora, a remarkable site of unparalleled beauty.
I suggest you time it right with the weather though, because in summertime the heat can be unbearable during the day.
The best time to visit is the end of the day when the setting sun illuminates the faces of the chapels, and the temperature has cooled down a bit.
Do you want to be romantic? Bring a bottle of a that stunning Greek wine and have it right there at the patio of one of the remaining chapels.
The site is what remains from the ancient capital of Aegina during medieval times when the Greek islands were frequently under siege from pirates, yes you read right, pirates.
Out of the initially estimated 350 chapels, only about 50 remain now as the ancient city was burned down by notorious pirate Barbarossa in 1537.
One more unique place to visit during your travel to Aegina, this time an ancient olive tree plantation set inside a plateau.
We go there often for pick-nicks with the kids, and the whole family loves it.
Its age is estimated somewhere between 2,000-2,500 years, no kidding, and you will be blown away by the beauty of the olive trees and the serenity of the place.
Again, choose to go there in the afternoon to get the evening light on the sides of the trees, and the view will hypnotize you.
To get to this special place, you have a few options, and all require some walking since it is somewhat hidden.
If you’d like to hike instead, there is a marked trail that starts from the beach of Marathonas, here and ascents about an hour on an easy hike that my mother did at 75. Just follow the marked trail “3”.
Or else you can descend from Pachia Rachi on another equally easy trail.
5. The Hill of Kolona
Kolona hill and the attached archaeological museum of Aegina are yet another attraction for all you history lovers.
This site is worth a visit since it is located North of the town, about 450m from the port.
The Kolona (=column) you will see is the single standing remainder of the temple of Apollo built around 520 B.C.
Just behind the hill, there is a beautiful non-catered sand beach, best for an afternoon swim with the sun setting right in front.
6. Perdika Fishing Village
Are you feeling the need for some of the freshest and best-prepared fish and seafood of your life?
If yes, then head to the southern tip of the island to find the fishing village of Perdika.
Personally, I prefer Nontas restaurant, which is the first one arriving from Aegina town.
My father was a fan of this place, and although more expensive than most other options, you can be sure that you get what you pay for, and service is top of the line.
Besides the food, Perdika is great for a relaxing walk by its tiny port, a swim from the docks in its crystal-clear waters or the rocks further down the shore.
Another cool idea is to go for coffee or a beer at one of its cafes located toward the end of the promenade.
The view is impressive, and it’s a great spot to enjoy the Greek breeze at the end of the day.
7. Monastery of Holy Trinity and adjacent church of St. Nektarios
Are you the religious kind of person?
Without a doubt, Aegina has something for you too, namely many charming churches and three monasteries.
The first one is the monastery of the Holy Trinity and the adjacent church of St. Nektarios, which is the largest church of the whole Balkans.
In fact, this is what Aegina is famous for in the orthodox world.
The monastery was built in the early 19th century while the massive church started construction sometime in the 1970s and is still not complete.
Located very close to Palaiochora, inland, and towards the center of the island, this place is definitely worth a visit.
Read more at this site about Greek monasteries.
8. Monastery of Chrysoleontissa
I bet you will love this monastery.
You will love it not only because of its strong nostalgic character but for the stunning setting.
Majestically positioned on the top of a central mountain of the island, the monastery uniquely blends with the calming forest.
It got its current form around 1808 by replacing the former monastery, which was built at the beginning of the 16th century.
The later replaced the original one located at the north coast of the island and was regularly raided by pirates.
The nuns told me that the only item that remained from the old monastery was the image of the Virgin, which was brought to safety to the top of the mountain by the surviving monks.
It is one of our favorite places to come with my family for walks, pick-nicks and even by myself by bicycle.
9 & 10. Nearby islets for day visits
One of the many advantages of Aegina is its proximity to islets Agistri and Moni.
Agistri is a habited small island where you don’t even need a car.
It features one main town, another smaller port, some scattered villages, and a handful of genuinely world-class beaches.
If you manage to get to the later, you should try the food at the nearby taverna, which is delicious.
Moni islet, on the other hand, is uninhabited and offers just one main beach and some more entry spots to its divine crystalline waters.
There are no ferries to this one, but there is a small boat that does hourly drop-offs and pick-ups departing from the main port of Aegina.
If you wish you could also opt to explore all the beaches by motorboat which you can rent from the port of Aegina, just in front of the church of Panagitsa.
11. Pachia Rachi
Or as we call it “pachiorachi” meaning Old Ridge, is a picturesque mountain stone-village that one certainly would not expect to find on Aegina.
Minuscule and charming, this old abandoned village became revitalized in the 1970s when Athenians and foreigners bought the old fallen structures and transformed them into beautiful homes.
Most of the owners use their houses as second homes, and you can find here an exquisite crowd from diplomats to Swiss people and even Hermes’s family summer house.
What very few people know is that Jean-Louis Dumas Hermes had married a Greek woman, and they had fallen in love with Aegina.
The couple is buried now at a small cemetery on the outskirts of the village.
12. Oros Mountain Peak
Now, this is a special place right next to Pachia Rachi.
If you are in for a scenic hike, then this is something for you.
The Oros mountain is the highest peak of the island, offering unparalleled views.
My suggestion is that you schedule the hike for the early morning or the afternoon for the sunset.
To get there, park your car at the lake and start walking the dirt road.
After an easy walk of approx. 30min to the end of that road, you should see a sign to the left pointing to the beginning of the trail.
It takes about 45min for the ascent where a small chapel will give you shade if you need it.
Being on the top of the mountain leaves anyone speechless, and you will have 360-degree views.
The hike is of average difficulty, meaning that any healthy fit person can do it, and of course, wearing hiking shoes is recommended.
Anitseo is the highest situated village of Aegina conveniently lying on the ridge of Mount Oros.
Tiny, just like all the mountain villages of Aegina, it has some interesting landmarks.
One of them which I recommend you check out for the incredible view it offers is the small chapel of St. John.
14. Filippos Olive Oil Producer
Grab this excellent opportunity to see firsthand how Greek Olive oil, our nation’s pride, is being made.
They produce an excellent virgin olive oil that the island is proud of, and they also give tours.
You can contact them by accessing their website.
Where is Aegina?
The island of Aegina is the second largest of the seven inhabited islands of the so-called Argo-Saronic islands.
But, where is Aegina located?
The Argo-Saronic islands are situated inside the protected waters of the Gulf of Athens, which is called the Saronic Gulf.
Hence you can expect calmer and warmer waters compared to the other Greek islands, the main reason many tourists choose this island for their holidays in Greece.
And, how far is Aegina from Athens? Well, just about 27km (17mi).
In fact, Athens to Aegina by ferry takes only from 35min to 1hr and 15min depending on the type of ship.
Hence, many Greeks and quite some foreigners have their summer houses here.
For foreigners, arriving at Aegina from any point in Europe on the same day is particularly easy due to the proximity of Athens airport to the port of Piraeus.
This is the reason why the population jumps from about 10,000 in the winter to over 60,000 in the summer.
Best Beaches in Aegina
Hmm, summer, Greek beaches, fresh breeze, salt, and calm waters; what a divine treat for all of us.
Below you will find a list of the most beautiful Aegina beaches that I have known for decades and recommend.
I will also give you their location on Google and the best day time to take full advantage of them.
Keep in mind that since we are on an island, the conditions depend heavily on the wind direction.
And for this reason, I will provide you with my local wind tips so that you can enjoy each beach at its best.
I get sad when I find out that tourists did not enjoy a great beach because they went there on a wrong day.
So, let’s dive in:
Marathonas 1 and 2
Two beaches one after the other.
Considered the best Aegina beaches for families on this side of the island as they are catered and offer shallow sandy beaches and banks.
Expect crowds in mid-summer as they are family-friendly and very well located.
In any case, you will not be disappointed.
The large protected bay is best in all kinds of wind directions.
Far out beach, but very worth the extra drive.
Facing South, on a remote part of the island, this beach is catered, has upbeat sounds, and attracts yachts and a beautiful crowd.
The beach is a wide sandy stretch with sandy banks.
Works with any wind directions except the South, which is also the most common.
Hip beach with trendy beach restaurant and bar playing excellent music.
Sunbeds, a narrow sandy beach and sandy bank.
The highlight of this beach is the sun setting right in front, so be there with a beer in hand.
Avoid winds from the West.
Great location too at just 10min from town.
Agia Marina beach
This is a great family-friendly wide sandy beach which attracts large crowds during mid-summer.
Probably the most beautiful sandy beach on the island, it is located in a small tourist town which has had its tourism peak in the 1970s.
Apparently, back then, it was the most popular destination for Athenians.
However, now, it is in the downturn.
Agia Marina has plenty of low budget hotels, in case you are traveling in a budget.
One of my favorite spots to jump into deep refreshing water that resembles a pool.
Built by the father of a friend, Dionisis, this rock-carved bar sits on the rocky side of Agia Marina.
You will be blown away by the clear waters, endless horizon views, rocky setting, and excellent cocktails coming from the bar, from Dionisis himself.
Sotos Grotto offers sunbeds, finger food, pizza, drinks, and great music.
To enjoy this place best go on a day with north or west winds. Do not go with south winds.
Cape plakakia - Lighthouse
Finally, I wish give you a secret spot that few people know.
Although this is not an actual beach, it is perfect for that quick refreshing jump in the water with easy parking access.
You will have to jump from flat, smooth rocks, and although both the entrance and exit are relatively straightforward, I do not recommend this place for young families.
It is located at the lighthouse you pass with the ferry just before entering the port of Aegina, and it has two sides.
Depending on the wind direction, I invite you to choose your favorite.
Avoid west winds by all means.
Best Restaurants in Aegina
Now that we have covered sightseeing and beaches, let’s get on to a part that you cannot afford to miss.
And that is the exceptional cuisine of Aegina.
Below I have listed my favorite Aegina restaurants with links to Google Maps, so you can get directions straight away.
So, let’s dive in with where to eat in Aegina:
Skotadis in town
My absolute favorite and not just because the owner, Giorgos, is a dear friend.
This 3rd generation seafood tavern is impeccable in all aspects.
Service is excellent, the dishes are beautifully presented and taste exquisite.
Located in a priviledged spot of the port of Aegina, it combines that typical island aura with excellent views to the sunset, especially from the roof garden.
Here order the grilled octopus, and you will remember me.
Just squeeze a lot of lemon on top.
Also, order any kind of seafood of the day as well as the taramosalata.
Actually, order the entire menu if you can.
Nontas seafood Restaurant
Founded by the late Nontas, it is now run by his daughter Sozia and her family.
Expect to eat the best grilled fish of your life, as well as delicious side dishes, grilled calamari, and much much more.
Also, just like Skotadis, they offer a fine wine selection.
Ostria on the sand at Marathonas
Located at Marathonas beach right on the water, this is one of Aegina’s best restaurants.
Come here to feast exceptional home cooked food like saligaria (snails), melitzanes imam (eggplant in tomato sauce) and the best dolmades.
This is also a fantastic choice if you have small kids as they will play in the water just in front of you in shallow safe waters.
Expect the service to be a little slow so I suggest you do not come already starving 🙂
NOA Yacht Club
On any hot day, especially during the night, it is tough to find a place that is cool enough to enjoy a pleasant meal.
Well, NOA is the perfect place for such days.
Located at the point of the port pier, it attracts the evening breeze uniquely.
Set between the docked sailing boats, it offers this authentic Greek island experience.
Dromaki Seaside Restaurant
Located on the beach in town, this is a beautiful location right on the sand.
This is a good value place and offers a large variety of traditional Greek dishes.
Babis Seaside Restaurant
Located right next to Dromaki, this place has mostly seafood and an impressive setting.
Il Posto by Kipseli
If Italian food is in your mood one day, then head inland to the picturesque small village of Kipseli.
Next to the church and the square, you will find Il Posto.
It’s the perfect location if you have children with you so they can play at the square away from traffic.
Owned by a Greek Italian, this restaurant offers exceptional Italian dishes with a Greek flavor.
Another Greek Italian addition to Aegina’s culinary scene, this is more of a wine bar with exquisite small dishes, an excellent selection of Italian and Greek wines, and sweet relaxing music.
Located in the inner alley of the port just behind the seafood market.
Kavouropertra Seafood Tavern
If having dinner in an original setting is what you are looking for, then head to north to this charming fish tavern.
Run by a friendly woman and her son who serve all the local seafood you can imagine at a reasonable price-tag.
This place is located on the Northern coast of the island and its name means Crab Stone.
Tassos Beach Tavern
For those of you who want to experience authentic Greek-style lunch with your feet in the sand with occasional jumps in the water, this IS the place.
Tassos family-run tavern will delight you with its dishes, its simplicity, and the romantic afternoons and sunsets.
Ideally located on Marathonas beach with its own sunbeds that you can use for free.
This old tavern offers excellent Greek food and is located on the north side of the island, slightly off the beaten track
Have you reached the other side of the island next to Agia Marina, or are you visiting the temple of Aphaia?
Then you might want to check out this great tavern.
Set on the rocky hill of the bay and magnificently overlooking the open sea, Tholos tavern will satisfy all your culinary wishes.
Kiriakakis Tavern With A View
An excellent choice located in the heart of Agia Marina.
Impressive views of the deep blue waters and tasty Greek food.
Finally, I need to mention that this list is just a small representation of what Aegina’s cuisine has to offer.
I invite you to explore every inch of the island and whenever you see a place that feels good, just get in, talk to the owners and ask for recommendations.
It’s almost impossible to be disappointed.
The Scenic Circle of Aegina
If you are interested in driving around the island, which I highly recommend, it should take you about 1h 20min for the 42.7km stretch.
This link from Google Maps shows the entire circle.
Starting from the port of Aegina, you will drive by Pachia Rachi, Anitseo, Portes, Agia Marina, the Temple of Aphaia, Vagia, Souvala, and Cape Plakakia before arriving back to the port.
Another scenic route for a drive is the 9.6km (6mi) stretch from the port to Perdika. Check it out on Google Maps.
This is a stunning one I never tire of taking because most of it goes right next to the seafront offering fantastic views.
Enjoy the south part of the island and Peloponnese, which is the large mountainous landmass you see in the background.
Get around Aegina
The best way to get around Aegina is by renting a bike or a car.
Driving on the island is relaxing, and parking should not be a problem unless it is mid-summer when the island gets packed.
Here is a list of car rental companies that I have used in the past:
Taxis are abundant but only worth it if you are planning to stay for one day or so.
The Taxi station can be found in the port, right on arrival and you can also call them for an appointment at +30 22970 22200.
Public transportation is basic, with just a few routes operating each day.
What you might feel Aegina is missing
This review would not be complete, in my opinion, if it did not include the possible reasons why Aegina could not be a good fit for somebody.
I have done my best to be unbiased and help you make your own decision.
So here is my list:
- Lack of lots and lovely beaches;
- Lack of those incredible blue waters of the Cyclades;
- Absence of the traditional Cyclades architecture with the picturesque white houses and the green or blue windows;
- Gets overcrowded during peak summer from early July to 20th of August;
- A limited selection of excellent accommodation;
- Lack of top-notch large hotels and resorts with facilities;
- Descent public transportation;
Expect a fantastic Aegina weather consisting of mild sunny winters, exceptional springs, and falls and medium hot summers.
The reason being Aegina benefits from the Attiki/Athenian micro-climate, which is considered the best weather in Greece.
The prevailing winds are a lot calmer than our other famous islands such as Mykonos and Tinos, so you will never feel the need for a sweater in the summertime.
Summers can get hot at times, though.
Sun prevails in all seasons, while temperatures range from 10-20 °Celsius in winter to 28-38 in summer.
In extreme cases, you could encounter lows down to 2-5 in winter and highs of 45 in mid-summer, usually at the end of July.
Expect no more than five days in a row of these extreme conditions.
IMO the best of Aegina weather is spring and fall, while in the summer, I would prefer a fresher option deeper in the Aegean Sea.
Oh, did I mention the incredible, astonishing sunsets?
when to visit aegina
Let me start by stating that Aegina is a real all-year-round island.
I can affirm this 100% as I have lived here from 2018 to 2020.
Aegina enjoys steady traffic throughout the year due to its convenient position close to Athens AND the frequent ferry schedules.
Note that Aegina is the perfect day trip from Athens on pretty much any day.
So, if you happen to be spending some days in Athens, whenever you see pleasant weather, grab a ferry and hop on for the day.
Try to avoid the peak summer period which starts from the beginning of July to about the 20th of August due to crowd congestion.
The crowds bring traffic, hotel availability, congested beaches, and waiting times for seating at restaurants.
How to get to Aegina
Two types of vessels go to Aegina from Athens.
Both depart from Gate E8 at the Piraeus port.
- Ferries – 1hr 15min
- Flying Dolphins – 35min
The Ferries offer the best experience, in my opinion, because they provide a lot of outside space to sit and enjoy the sea breeze.
If you are in a hurry, though, then definitely get the Flying Dolphins, which are closed cabins.
You can purchase your tickets directly at the port in front of the ferries, at local travel agencies or online.
Buy Ferry tickets to Aegina online
We offer online bookings in association with our trusted partner FerriesInGreece.
Online booking is only possible if you are traveling in more than 48 hours.
Buy Ferry tickets to Aegina at the port
I’ve written this post, so I can inspire you, folks, who are planning your next Greek vacation.
Feel free to choose whatever suits your type of group and remember that Greece is full of surprises.
So, if you see anything exciting like a small beach, taverna, a climb or whatever, just go for it and make your own experience.
I’ll be more than happy if you send me a comment later on so I can check it out myself.
Happy travels to everybody.
What about yourself, what are your favorite parts of the island?
Share below; the other readers and I are looking forward to read all about it.
Find Aegina on Google Maps
Aegina is the largest island in the Saronic Gulf and the closest one to Athens.