Aegina is a Greek island that belongs to the Saronic (or Argo-Saronic) group. The capital is Aegina Town, which is also the main starting point for boat trips to surrounding islands such as Moni, Agistri and Dorousa.
This is a guide to Aegina to help you plan your vacation on this island. You’ll read about ferries and speed boats, about the best things to do on Aegina, about the best hotels, the foods to try and the day trips to take.
Is Aegina Close to Athens?
Yes. Located in the Saronic Gulf, at 27 km from Athens, Aegina is the fastest island to reach from Piraeus. There are multiple ferries and speed boats going back and forth everyday. The main ferry and speed boat operators that provide services from Piraeus to Aegina include Saronic Ferries, Blue Star Ferries, Anes Ferries, Nova Ferries, Aegean Flying Dolphins and Hellenic Seaways. Depending on the type of craft and service operator, the journey can take between 40 minutes and one hour and 15 minutes.
Even though speed boats such as Aegean Flying Dolphins and Hellenic Seaways are faster, I prefer traditional ferries. The main reason is that on speed boats you have to sit inside for the whole journey. I find it much nicer to be able to step onto the deck, to enjoy the fresh air, the seagulls and the magnificent scenery of the Greek islands. The other reason is that I don’t like the gasoline smell inside the speed boats.
You can find more details about getting to Aegina from Athens by reading this article on Aegina ferries.
Top 20 Things To Do on Aegina
These are my favorite 20 things to do on Aegina. I could find more, but I let you discover some of your own.
1. Watch the Sunset
The high coastline between Aegina Town and Souvala is one of the best spots to watch the sunset on Aegina. There are several trails going down from the main road to the water.
If you want to take some scenic photos, take the first dirt path after you pass the Archeology Museum. There are cacti and other succulents you can use as props for your photo session. You can get creative and find different views with or without sailing boats, with or without people swimming, with or without pine trees as frames.
Here are some of the photos I took from that spot.
Other great spots to watch the sunset are: the restaurants on the Aegina Town harbor promenade, Marathonas Beach, the harbor of Perdika, and any hilltop you can reach.
2. Eat Fish and Seafood at the Aegina Town Fish Market
The fish market is the very heart of Aegina Town. The taverna by the market is one of the best places to eat on Aegina, as it always offers a wide selection of fresh fish and sea food.
Grab a place of red mullet (barbounia) or ask for the capture of the day. Sit, enjoy your meal and watch the fish sellers doing their job and the town cats seeking for opportunities to feed themselves some fresh fish.
3. Roam Around Aegina Town to Find the Tower of Markellos and the Solar Clock
The narrow back streets of Aegina Town are perfect for an early morning or late afternoon stroll. There are barely any people but you’ll encounter some lazy cats sleeping in the shadow of colorful trees.
While here, seek for the Tower of Markellos. Even though there’s no written evidence of the construction year, specialists believe it was built during the Venetian occupation of the island (late 1600s – early 1700s) to serve as watchtower. After the Turks returned, the tower was abandoned. Later on, during the 1800s, a revolutionary leader named Spiridon Markellos bought the tower to renovate it and use it as his residence. You can read the full history of the Markellos Tower (also known as Pink Tower) here.
One of the churches in Aegina Town has a tower with a perfectly functional solar clock. I found it at 11 am (daylight saving time = real time + 1 hour). It shows 10 am sharp.
The Tower of Markellos was closed when I visited Aegina. Apparently, you can only get inside it on special occasions or events.
4. Have Dinner on Marathonas Beach
Marathonas is considered one of the best beaches on Aegina. However, don’t go there expecting to find the wide and long sandy beaches of Crete, as this is not at all the case.
The best thing about Marathonas is that the tavernas have their own sunbeds you can rent for the day. They also have lots of tables set directly on the sand, under a pergola. You can enjoy a day at the beach and have breakfast, lunch and dinner directly on the sand. Sunsets in Marathonas are fabulous, too. So is the food. You’ll never want to leave.
5. Have Dinner in Perdika Harbor
Perdika is a cute fishing village with a pretty harbor and lots of lovely cats. The harbor is the perfect place for a dinner with friends.
My favorite taverna is Alkyoni – I can’t get enough of their fresh fish, seafood, tzatziki and other Greek specialties.
Furthermore, Perdika is another excellent spot to watch the sunset on Aegina.
6. Rent a Car and Drive Around the Island
Renting a car on Aegina is as easy as handing the car rental manager the money and your driving license. There’s no need for credit cards or anything other than this. The catch is that there’s no full insurance, so you’ll have to pay for any damage you’ll cause to the car. I surely scratched it, and that set me back 90 Euro. I’ll be more careful next time.
If you can drive a motorbike, choose this rather than a car, as it will allow you to feel more at ease on the narrower streets of Aegina.
Driving is the easiest and also the cheapest way to explore the island. There are also taxis and buses on Aegina, but they are less convenient than renting your own motorized vehicle. Buses run on a schedule that restricts your freedom of movement. Getting a taxi requires you to wait even longer than 30 minutes, as the only taxi station on the island is in Aegina Town.
7. Visit the Temple of Aphaia
The temple of Aphaia is one of the top attractions on Aegina. You can get there by bus from Aegina Town. Taxi drivers would also take you to Aphaia Temple, but this is a very bad idea. By the time you’ll want to return, you’ll need to call a taxi to come all the way from Aegina Town to pick you (they will charge you double the fare, as well). If you decide to hire a car or a bike to visit the island, make sure you add Aphaia on your list of things to see.
The bus station is nearby the ferry docks. You need to take the bus to Agia Marina and make sure you don’t miss your stop. Also, check out the bus timetables, to ensure that you’re going to catch a bus back to Aegina Town.
If you drive, you’ll find the temple with ease, as there are road signs along the way. Any GPS app you may have would also do just fine.
8. Visit the Agios Nektarios Church & Monastery
The church of Agios Nektarios is on the same bus route from Aegina Town to Agia Marina. The bus stop is right in front of the church. The church is huge, so you can’t miss it.
You can reach it also by car or by taxi. Keep in mind, though, what I’ve told you about ordering a taxi to get back home (long waiting time and double the fare, as the car has to come from Aegina Town to pick you up).
9. Visit the Archeology Museum & the Archeological Site of Kolona
If you choose to stay in Aegina Town, you won’t need anything but your feet to get to the Archeology Museum. The archeological site of Kolona is part of the same complex. You can’t miss it, as the last pillar of the Doric Temple of Apollo on the hill is visible from a distance.
10. Hike to the Top of Mount Oros
Featuring a maximum height of about 500m, Mount Oros is more a hill than a proper mountain. Nevertheless, you’ll need at least three hours for this hike.
I’ve done only a small portion of the hike, as I wasn’t properly prepared for it. You need to wear long pants, a sun hat and plenty of sun screen. Also, you need to carry water with you. If you want to find out more about hiking Mount Oros, you can check out this article written by someone who did it.
11. Stargaze or Try Your Hand at Astrophotography
It’s a very long time I haven’t seen such a starry sky! Grab your camera and your tripod, get a car and go to the higher areas of the island, where there are barely any lights.
Bonus tip: get there before the sunset to catch the golden hour, the blue hour and then the Milky Way.
12. Explore the Avantis III Shipwreck by Dorousa Island
This shipwreck is close to the shore of Dorousa island. You need to hire a boat or to take a snorkeling trip to get there.
Snorkeling above this huge sunken ship is almost terrifying. It feels as if you’d touch the iron with your feet. There’s nothing to worry about, though, the Avantis III lies deep on the bottom of the sea.
I didn’t take any photos, as I would have needed an underwater camera.
There are diving trips to this spot, as well. I don’t dive, but I’ve found this video of a diver:
13. Find the Oldest Olive Trees on Aegina
Aegina is known for its pine trees and pistachio orchards. Nevertheless, it is home to some of the oldest olive trees ever known. They are in an area called Eleonas, which is located somewhere uphill, between Marathonas and Perdika. The only way you can get there is by foot. The olive grove belongs to a monastery. Apparently, these olive trees are between 1500 and 2000 years old.
14. Eat Fresh Pistachios
Fresh pistachios are different than the raw pistachios you may know from your grocery store. They have a softer shell and they taste differently. You need to keep them in the fridge.
To enjoy fresh pistachios, you need to get to Aegina by the harvesting time, which is between late August and mid-September.
15. Taste Olive Oil (& Buy Some)
Like everywhere in Greece, olive oil is so good that you can eat it on plain bread.
16. Check Out Local Jewelry Shops
Did I tell you how much I love to buy rings and earrings from places I travel to? Greek jewelry is gorgeous, but you need to take time to discover the best artisans.
17. Take a Boat Taxi to Moni Island
Taxi boats to Moni island go every 30 minutes all day long from Perdika and from Aegina Town. The boat ride takes about 10 minutes from Perdika and about 15-20 minutes from Aegina Town.
Moni Island is a great place to spend a full day enjoying the sun, swimming, snorkeling and walking through the pine trees forest.
Wild peafowl, deer and goats roam freely on Moni. The island is uninhabited but there’s a beach bar where you can find food and drinks.
18. Take a Day Trip to Agistri Island
There are several ferries and speed boats going to Agistri from Aegina Town. The journey takes less than 30 minutes. Make sure you check out the ferry schedule in order to be able to return the same day.
Agistri is worth a visit – it will make you want to book a longer stay.
19. Take a Day Trip to Poros Island
Poros is also a great destination for a day trip from Aegina. This was on my to do list in the summer of 2020, but I had to postpone it because of the pandemics.
20. Swim, Snorkel, Dive and Repeat
You can easily spend one week on Aegina doing nothing but swimming and snorkeling. The sea is always as calm as a lake.