Aegina: a dream destination in the heart of the Argosaronic Gulf
The second biggest island in the Argosaronic Gulf, Aegina, has a unique ambience. It takes you back in time, it generously offers its extraordinary beauty and it relaxes you so much, that you forget you are just a stone’s throw away from the capital city, Athens.
Home of the artists
Steeped in rich history and boasting important sights, Aegina enchants with its past and mesmerizes with its present. It preserves an alluring atmosphere of past times and remains a place that is authentic and unspoiled, a long-lasting pole of attraction for important figures of the Arts and Literature, from Greece and abroad. It’s no wonder that the internationally acclaimed Greek writer, Nikos Kazantzakis, chose Aegina to be his permanent residence and refuge.
Town as beautiful as a painting
The very first images that catch the visitor’s eye from the port of Aegina are the stunning neoclassical buildings and the whitewashed church of Agios Nikolaos Thalassinos (“St. Nicholas the Mariner”). Stroll into the town and take in all its beauty: the scenic narrow alleys, the stone Byzantine chapels, the traditional coffee shops, the carriages and the houses with the colorful bougainvillea and the jasmine scented gardens.
Along the stone-paved alleys, apart from galleries and little pottery shops, you will also come across the town’s old fish market and its small tavernas. Take time to relax and enjoy a glass of ouzo or tsipouro, accompanied by fresh and delicious seafood.
At the port, you will see the local fishermen measure the day’s catch, the picturesque boat-shops on the quay selling fresh fruit and vegetables, and of course the numerous stalls and shops that… specialize in the island’s “treasure”, the world-famous Aegina pistachio and all the delicious pistachio-based products and treats. Just say yes to the merchandisers’ sample offers of this flavorful delight!
Medieval settlements and ancient monuments
A visit to the unique tower town of Aegina, Paleochora (“Old Town”), a place scattered with beautiful churches and stone trails that are ideal for hiking, is a must. The Paleochora settlement was built in around 896 AD, aiming to protect the inhabitants of the island from the sea raids of the Saracen pirates. For many centuries it was the capital town of Aegina, but it was gradually abandoned at the beginning of the 19th century, when its inhabitants decided to relocate closer to the sea.
In the north of the island, dominating the peak of a pine hill, rises the Temple of Aphaia, the greatest preserved monument on Aegina island, of rare architectural and geometrical value, that is definitely worth your visit. The temple was built in around 500-490 BC and is very well preserved, since 24 of its total 34 columns are still standing today. The Doric temple is considered an outstanding creation of Archaic architecture, and is thought to have served as a model temple for the Parthenon architects, Ictinus and Callicrates. When the weather permits and the sky is clear, from the top of the hill you can even see as far as the Acropolis and the Temple of Poseidon at cape Sounion!
Crystal clear waters and gastronomic temptations
Speaking of an island, how could we possibly leave out the sea! The beaches in Aegina satisfy all preferences and dispositions. At the top of the list is Agia Marina beach, with its golden sand and the pine trees reaching down to the sea. Aeginitissa beach is ideal for endless activities and sports on the sand (beach volleyball, racket ball etc). For a beach-bar right by the sea choose Marathonas, whereas if you seek quiet and relaxation go to Klima, a beautiful cove with sand and pebbles. When you go to Sarpas beach, don’t forget your diving mask and snorkel, since its waters are crystal clear and the underwater life is rich and ideal for exploration!
If you love good food, Aegina will certainly thrill you! At the island’s small tavernas or restaurants you will taste delicious fresh fish and exquisite seafood, with the island-famous lobster spaghetti taking the central stage on your table! Should you wish to end your meal with a mouthwatering dessert, try the addictive “amygdalota” (traditional crushed almond confections) and of course the numerous pistachio-based sweet temptations.